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Re: [libreplanet-discuss] appreciation payment protocol

From: Miles Fidelman
Subject: Re: [libreplanet-discuss] appreciation payment protocol
Date: Thu, 23 Aug 2012 11:15:28 -0400
User-agent: Mozilla/5.0 (Macintosh; Intel Mac OS X 10.6; rv:14.0) Gecko/20120715 Firefox/14.0.1 SeaMonkey/2.11

Ramana Kumar wrote:
Dear LibrePlanet

I am writing about the service that Flattr provides, and whether it can be done better.
Flattr provides a way for people to make "micropayments" to each other.
How it works: people put special links on stuff they made/own/want appreciated, and when people click those links, it gets recorded as "spend some money on this at the end of the month". Every month, the clicks are tallied and the amount you choose to spend is divided between the things you clicked on and sent to them.

I see two problems with Flattr:

  * People must have accounts with Flattr for it to work.
  * Flattr collects fees on all transactions.

Is it possible to let people send financial appreciation to each other for things on a large scale without running into those two problems?

I guess BitCoins are one possible solution.

Not that I really have a strong opinion on Flattr, one way or the other, but it strikes me that if "clicks are tallied" and then funds are divided later, SOMEBODY has to be doing the tallying, collecting funds, and dividing them, and that there are real costs involved in doing this.

Maybe BitCoins may be a way to avoid transaction fees associated with credit cards or paypal, but.... it seems pretty hard to avoid having some kind of account and accounting system and having to collect some fee, somewhere, to pay for things.

It strikes me that the real questions are how to make such a mechanism fair, trusted, as easy-to-use as possible, and keep the fees to a bare minimum.

There are models for doing so - mostly in the music industry. Check out how ASCAP and BMI work for distributing funds received for public performance, or for distributing funds received from jukeboxes (remember jukeboxes?).

Miles Fidelman

In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice.
In practice, there is.   .... Yogi Berra

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