Dru Jay has a good article on voluntary micropayments,
June 20, 2000 4:43 PM   Subscribe

Dru Jay has a good article on voluntary micropayments, and the theme is something the failed micropayments crowd never thought of: instead of forcing the charge before you see it, treat a site as shareware, and pay after you've enjoyed it. Thanks to two individuals, I'm $0.50 richer today. Are voluntary paypal donations the wave of the blogging future?
posted by mathowie (74 comments total)
Side question - if I posted a link to send me money to keep MetaFilter going (for server upgrades, bandwidth, etc), would users voluntarily donate funds? Should I keep the cash or come up with a dispursement scheme where the favorite posters at MetaFilter get a small cut? Do people expect more when they voluntarily donate money to something?
posted by mathowie at 4:47 PM on June 20, 2000

You also have to deal with the cultural disparities at work here. In the US, it's customary to tip for a wider range of services; in Britain, it's often considered rude to ask for money in reward for services, or to receive money as a gift. Favours are repaid with favours: hence the old-boy network.

[And PayPal doesn't work outside the US, anyway.]

Amazon and other places allow you to create wishlists, so that you can receive gifts from friends and strangers alike; how about adapting that, so that instead of tipping someone a dollar, you're buying one-fifteenth of a sought-after CD?

But for fuck's sake, does everything have to be regarded in raw cash money terms? Johnson may have said "none but a fool ever wrote but for money", but still... If "I blog for micropayments" becomes the order of the day, then you might as well sign up with the warez d00dz who force you to banner-click porn links or sign up to AllAdvantage before you get FTP access.
posted by holgate at 4:57 PM on June 20, 2000

Color me cynical, but I pray to whatever god there is out there to not let this paypal meme spread though blogspace. The last thing we need is for people to start meta conversations about the meaning behind the contribution frequency of certain individuals... :P

And no, I would not pay for metafilter. I might pay for a team-based blog with public, moderated discussions threaded off of each post, assuming the subject matter was something I was interested in.
posted by Calebos at 5:56 PM on June 20, 2000

Uh, say it with me once again folks:

"People ain't going to pay for what they can get for free"

Can you say "MP3"? I knew you could!!!
posted by Mr. skullhead at 6:40 PM on June 20, 2000

here's my dollar! keep it comin.
posted by phooey at 6:53 PM on June 20, 2000

I'm not saying payment is at all mandatory - this is entirely voluntary, there's no gun to anyone's head.

There's some sites I would gladly pay for, long after I've been using them. Imagine if slashdot were ad banner free if you donated $5 to them. Would that seem fair to you? You'd get a faster loading, less cluttered site, and they'd get your support.

Maybe it's just me - I feel like I've been "stealing" by enjoying all the great content from people like Greg Knauss, Lance Arthur, and Jeffrey Zeldman for years.

I don't want this to be an incentive to writing or design, just a voluntary donation sort of thing. People do things for love, and will continue to keep doing them, but I see this as a small way to thank people for all that free content.

There has to be an alternative to banner ads.
posted by mathowie at 7:06 PM on June 20, 2000

But when you pay, you aren't just getting what you can get for free--notice how Matthowie and Derek Powazek (where I first saw this service) have linked to their contributors? It's like paying for the registered version of software (eg. RealPlayer): money has its privileges.

While surely unintentional (and really, the amounts being paid here are trivial), this may mark the dawning of a "links for cash" philosophy in the realm of personal web-pages.

Whether or not this is a particularly disturbing development is neither here nor there to me, but it should be pointed out.
posted by cardboard at 7:09 PM on June 20, 2000

Isn't the best repayment to these sites simply to start a site of your own and share your own words?

Interesting the way opinions shift whenever new gadgetry pops up.
posted by gsh at 7:09 PM on June 20, 2000

i would much rather contribute a few bucks to my favorites sites if it meant that i wouldn't have annoying animated banners distracting me from the content. i frequently get errors generated from those banners. i think that a one time contribution is much more convenient than slow loading pages all the time.
posted by phooey at 7:19 PM on June 20, 2000

Running a website takes lots of time and a little bit of money (hosting, domain name, computer maintenance). I don't have any way to pay people back for the time, except, as gsh suggests, to contribute my own time to the commons, but I do think it's a nice gesture to contribute a small sum. A very small sum along with a few words of thanks.

I don't think the 25 cents makes as much difference as the words really, but think about the impact of doing that at any site you regularly visit or who provided you something exceptional? What if we could toss enough coins in someone's hat that s/he could take a day or a week or a year off and share more creativity? Imagine if this had been available when Justin Hall started http://www.links.net and http://www.bud.com. How much more would he have been able to do if he didn't have to worry about all the expenses? Who is doing something like that now? Rebecca Blood comes to mind. Who else? Who is giving you something without demanding anything in return? Why not thank them?

Do you know any artists or musicians or writers or programmers who have it in them to produce great things, but who have to spend 40 hours a week at some job so they can pay the rent? Everyone I know is or knows someone like that. What if they could make their art without having to sell it? No banner ads, no price, just "If you like it and you can afford to, put a little money in the tip jar."

The reason I started this particular meme at this particular time is that a reliable technology for donating very small amounts is now available. Most of us online these days are rich. When you think about the world as a whole, most of us are filthy disgusting rich. PayPal and whoever else comes along and does the same or similar things allows us to share that wealth.

It doesn't mean much when I give Matt or Derek or Lance or Lane a quarter. They don't need a quarter. What they need is the idea to give someone else a quarter. I want people online to reward the sites which give them something, be it useful information, a laugh, food for thought or a glimpse into what it is to be human. I want people who create to be able to support their creativity through the direct appreciation of those who experience their art.

We are all patrons of the arts now.
No ads.
No fees.
No obligation.

Welcome to the World Wide Web.


posted by MetaGrrrl at 7:57 PM on June 20, 2000

mathowie wrote: "I feel like I've been "stealing" by enjoying all the great content from people like Greg Knauss, Lance Arthur, and Jeffrey Zeldman for years."

whaaa?? Stealing from them? You'll have to explain how, by viewing their fine works, you've been somehow stealing from them. Makes no sense to my simple mind.

A buncha bobo's swapping quarters is a waste of time. Now, maybe if you could hook this into a givequick kind of thing, where people could make micro-donations to a variety of causes, that just might add up, and wouldn't require the signing up of sponsors a la The Hunger Site.

If someone wanted to sent me a quarter as a way of telling me they appreciated my work, I'd rather they didn't. Send me an email message instead -- that will be alot more valuable to me then any tip you chose to send.

I guess, for people that want to make a serious go at making a living off thier personal web endeavors, this is probably a good tool to have available.
posted by Calebos at 8:23 PM on June 20, 2000

... and the fact that there's referrer data in the link to Matt's original post is way cheezy. :/
posted by Calebos at 8:35 PM on June 20, 2000

oops... meant to say, "and the fact that there's referrer data in the link to paypal in Matt's original post is way cheezy."
posted by Calebos at 8:36 PM on June 20, 2000

Way cheezy, unless, Matt, like me, is taking every bit of that referrer kickback and sending it out to people whose sites I appreciate.

I agree that swapping quarters is a waste of time. If you never visit any sites outside a small circle of friends then it's just a cute little clusterf... (uh, Matt, are we 'sposed to keep it clean in here?)... But if you browse widely and support people all over, and if many many people do that then we start to see some very cool things happening. Perhaps it starts very small, some folks who put a lot of work into their sites make enough to, I dunno, buy a new CD every week or pay for their hosting or whatever. Neat! If it stopped there, hey, that's pretty damn cool by itself.

Eventually, I'm hoping, it reaches the point where it's really easy to just click something and say "Give the owner of this site a penny" (or a nickel, whatever) and the sites that many people visit and appreciate begin to generate real money for their owners and allow them some flexibility to devote more time to their creativity. And I'm really hoping it becomes a means for people who are not raking in the New Media $$$ to afford a presence online.
posted by MetaGrrrl at 9:11 PM on June 20, 2000

Sorry, a little pronoun trouble, I meant "unless, Matt, like me, is taking every bit of that referrer kickback and sending it out to people whose sites he appreciates."
posted by MetaGrrrl at 9:12 PM on June 20, 2000

There's an old movie in which Woody Allen plays a guy who works in a strip joint, helping the strippers change into and out of their costumes.

His incredulous friend can't believe this is Allen's job.

"Forty dollars a night," says Allen.

"That's not much," says his friend.

"I know. But it's all I can afford," says Allen.

Most artists would pay the audience if they had to. It makes me happy to know that somebody enjoys what I do. Matt, you're not stealing from me any more than I'm stealing from you.

Thanks for the thought, I do appreciate it. But I think most of us do this for the pleasure of creating and connecting. And while I hate ad banners (and don't use them) I also find the micropayments idea kind of creepy.

Yes, someone sent me a quarter today - or the promise of a quarter - and that's how I found out about this. And it just kind of makes me feel all oogy.

I do think the thought is very sweet - the notion of "giving back" - but most web people give back by creating something themselves. Or by writing to share their comments. I think that's the real payment.

If we're talking $100,000 or more, of course, I'll be happy to reconsider my opinion. ;)

posted by Zeldman at 9:20 PM on June 20, 2000

Ed, I meant "I feel like I've been 'stealing'" because I feel guilty enjoying someone's writing for years and years and never giving them anything in return. Maybe it's just me, but if I like an author or a band, or anything else you can think of, I go out of my way to support them.

I know a heartfelt email is first and foremost the nicest thing you can give to a person, but I find myself doing whatever I can to support people I enjoy visiting. When Lance had his amazon affiliate site, I bought about $100 worth of stuff, both because I didn't know about the cool books shown, and because it gave Lance a kickback.

I know money can change things, it could taint the free expression that takes place on personal sites, but I keep thinking there has to be something better than a banner ad.

I'll never have paid banner ads on MetaFilter. Ever. I've been asked and I've refused. When someone did the math for me (7,000 page views a day x 1-3 cents per view x 30 days x 12 months), I actually thought twice for a second. I could almost quit my job and build this site full time for that kind of money. I could actually respond to all the feature requests I never have energy to code when I get home, I could launch a dozen more sites that help people communicate with one another. I could pour all my energy into this, something I love.

But it would require big, ugly, annoying banner ads. There *has* to be something else, but is there?

BTW, I'll agree that putting my referrer info in the link was ultra-cheezy, but I just wanted to see what kind of response it'd get. Actually this entire thread is about the cheeziest thing I've ever done on this site, and I know I've lost some cred with people, but I don't care. Coming up with an alternative to the banner ad has to be possible. Somehow, we can get some form of micropayments to work.
posted by mathowie at 10:12 PM on June 20, 2000

I've said it before and I'll say it again. Content + Micropayments = Future. That's my One Big Prediction. And the reason i redesigned the site.
Show me the money.
Note that micropayments don't work in Australia yet, so you can't *actually* show me the money, but you could always scan it and send the .gif by e-mail.
posted by Neale at 2:14 AM on June 21, 2000

I dig what Matt says about 'feeling like you're stealing', though I've never felt like that about web content. Music, yes - it cuts so deep I feel like a vampire sometimes and feel I should give back to the artist. And I've done that, sometimes going a bit over the top.

But being the audience (reader or listener) = the payment. Being read is the reward.

I'd shove quarters around for fun for a while, but don't think I'd fork out for something I've already enjoyed. Maybe I'm stingy. Or maybe I don't understand the thought behind paypal.

Is web content going to be the online equivalent of busking?

(... if you don't know what busking is, it's playing music in the streets for money)
posted by prolific at 3:33 AM on June 21, 2000

Not be low-tech or aything, what about merchandising? It'd require a little bit more of your time, but not that much more, what with all of the "clicking-to-shipping" type shops out there now. It's still voluntary support, and you could charge enough to cover your touble, not just the merchandise.

Yes, this is all an evil plot to get a 006699 T-shirt.
posted by Freakho at 5:29 AM on June 21, 2000

As a devout capitalist, I like supporting that which I enjoy. But there are two things making me shy away from jumping on the micropayment bandwagon. One is that the minute financial support I'd provide would be a net detriment to many. People love appreciation and people love money, but when you combine the two, people can come to feel that they're being paid to produce. There are benefits to having your work funded, especially if it means you can spend more time on it (which is not always true), but if it turns it into a job, the work can suffer.

I'm in favor of feasible micropayments, but I think they'll be more useful for supporting less personal endeavors in which paying the producer won't harm the product.

The other problem I have is more personal. I value my privacy. I strongly prefer a system that provides transaction anonymity to one that further enables authorities and high-bidders to track my actions. The technology exists, but most people don't value privacy much, so it hasn't caught on. And if it did, it would probably be outlawed anyway. But despite the gloomy outlook, I'm not ready to surrender the last bit of privacy to convenience, at least not until doing so gives me more benefit than this appears to.

I'll continue to verbally support people who enrich my life, and to toss coins into the hats of performers who have them. But I'm not ready to toss tracked money, and I'm certainly not ready to throw money at someone who doesn't have a hat out.

posted by aigeek at 6:28 AM on June 21, 2000

I don't think anyone here should be loosing any cred for bringing up the issue of micropayments. We can't stop the technology from becoming available: it's already here, and will continue to (hopefully) improve in more innovative ways, giving people more and more options on how to transfer funds over the Internet. For that reason alone, we need to talk about it, because it will have an impact on the content being developed.

If someone wants to try to make a living off of their online projects, then having access to a service like paypal rocks. However, if they seriously want to make a living doing it and come to depend on it as a steady source of income, they are going to have to consider their audience and create with them in mind. There's nothing wrong with that. Their site will be less of a personal site, thought it may still be a really, really great web site.

I can't think of a single personal site that I would tip. The only blog that I would pay for is xblog, which isn't a personal site at all, but an excellent resource. Maybe Advogado as well, but again, it's not a personal site.

Personally, I've already experimented with Amazon's affiliate program (haven't made enough for them to send me a check -- Why can't they just give me the money as a credit to shop at their store?). I have a project or two in mind where something like paypal would be a possible source of revenue generation (although it doesn't work up here in Canada yet).

I'd better get back to work, or else I'm gonna need something like paypal to help me pay the bills. ;)
posted by Calebos at 7:24 AM on June 21, 2000

Um, Matt? On the street cred topic, I treat it like I do interpersonal relationships: it's the checkbook theory.

Your balance is high enough you can afford to spend some of it on this topic, 'k?
posted by baylink at 9:25 AM on June 21, 2000

It's been very interesting to hear the range of reactions to this idea. Thank you, Matt, for providing this wonderful forum.

I donated to the webloggers first because we talk a lot and I have an idea I want to spread, but the sites which I think really deserve and need donations are sites which are less focused on the author. (I hesitate to use the term "less personal" because many non-diary/journal sites can have a very personal flair).

One of the least focused on "my personal life" of the weblogs to which I donated was Zeldman's, so it seemed ironic that it made him feel "oogy". I hadn't thought of a quarter as a corruptive force until hearing his, jack and Seth's reactions. A couple other people jumped to the idea "Hmm, maybe I could make a regular income from my sites." Overall, the majority seemed to react to it more as Dinah saying "I've really been enjoying your site lately. More coffee? Oh, don't worry about it, I'll cover it. So anyway, thanks for writing." Which is good, because that's pretty much all I intended to say.
posted by MetaGrrrl at 9:31 AM on June 21, 2000

MATT: you haven't lost any cred with me. heck, you had cred with me back when you were working on your tilde site. you rock. 'nuff said.

and there's nothing wrong with talking about micropayments or anything else. that's what this place is for, right?

banner ads here would be a nightmare, i agree. somehow commerce has a chilling effect on intelligent conversation.

do i wish i could make a living from a list apart and zeldman.com? sometimes, i guess, i have had that errant wish. but - and maybe it's an adolescent mentality, maybe it's an "artist" mentality - but but but, i always have more pleasure working on ALA and zeldman.com than i get from any commercial site i've done. no matter how spiffy. no matter how good the client. no matter how worthy the cause. somehow a personal site always feels like pleasure, and somehow when i'm getting paid it always feels like work.

i think mark twain made a similar observation and said it better.

i would pay to send a jezebel or waferbaby or webmistress postcard, but i don't know that the postcards could be any better than they are, and i don't know that a five or twenty five cent payment would motivate these artists to do better work than they already do for love.

i would pay to take a flash seminar from joshua davis, or to buy a book lance wrote, but i don't know that praystation or glassdog would be any better if i sent them a quarter.

in a strange way i think this has something do with our feelings about love. we want our lovers to say "i love you," or "you make me happy" or "god, you are an animal." we don't want them to reach into their wallets. somehow i think personal sites are closer to love than to work - no matter how much work we put into them.

maybe it's me and maybe i'm stuck in time.

i tend not to trust companies, and not to trust moneymaking schemes for web content. the ones that haven't failed pay so little, and the exchange of money seems to tarnish the transaction. buying a CD, paying for a book or a movie, somehow that's different.

i have strong feelings about this but it doesn't mean i'm right. feelings are feelings, not facts.
posted by Zeldman at 9:32 AM on June 21, 2000

METAGRRRL: Thanks for the coffee. :)

posted by Zeldman at 9:34 AM on June 21, 2000

ZELDMAN: You're most welcome.
Thank you for the insightful post. I think you've illuminated the source of much of the discomfort. The lovers analogy is particularly apt.

So, for sites providing a service, micropayments are good. For sites which are just a labor of love, micropayments can, to some people, be, uh, shall we say, oogifying.

Tricky thing is those sites which I see as providing me a service (e.g. 0sil8, Rebecca Blood, A List Apart), but which may, to their creators, be merely a labor of love.

If you get a micropayment, don't assume the giver thinks you're a whore. Instead think of it as a very very small art grant. Or if it makes you uncomfortable, quickly give it away to someone else who's more clearly trying to earn money from their site.
posted by MetaGrrrl at 9:53 AM on June 21, 2000

My two cents - I too have to fully agree with the lovers analogy.

Please don't cheapen my writing, bitching, etc. by paying me for it. I *would* feel like I was whore-ing out my personal site. It might even start to feel like work, "oh geez, if I don't produce something good today, no one will love me and pay me." Ack!

I CAN'T turn my personal stuff into a money generator. It would ruin it for me. I NEED my personal sites to blow off steam and to have total creative freedom that I don't neccessarily have in my work stuff.

If you wanna give me something for my personal work, please give me a kind word, a hug, a beer, a kiss, a slap, a cookie, but please don't give me a quarter.
posted by thinkdink at 10:47 AM on June 21, 2000

This whole idea makes me a little bit sick. Can't we have *any* part of public life that isn't in some way based on the exchange of money? Must everything be about payments, fees, subscriptions, commerce?

Maybe I would have different feelings on the subject if edgecase cost more than ten bucks a month to run, or if that ten bucks represented a larger portion of my monthly income than it currently does, but right now I would really like to believe that creative people can still do creative things without necessarily needing to be paid for it to make it worthwhile.

posted by Mars Saxman at 11:14 AM on June 21, 2000

I can only speak from my own experience here.

I have been making websites for love and not money for five years.

I spend over a thousand dollars a year on hosting. That's a one and three zeros.

I don't put ads on my sites (with one exception, as an experiment) because I don't want them ruined by it. The money I make from fray.net goes to support fray.org.

I can say, with confidence, that this is not about the money for me.

But now, finally, there is a way for people who like the sites I've made to easily send me some money. It's totally voluntary. In fact, I didn't even ask for it.

Love is the right metaphor, Jeffrey. But you've got it upside down. The donation is an expression of love. It's a contribution to the cause. It's wonderful. And it may just be the long-awaited answer for those of us who have been looking for a way to support ourselves (or, at least, defray some of the costs) while persuing our digital passions.

Sure, it's just a tip jar. And I'm glad the web finally has one. No one's gonna get rich off of this, and, speaking for myself, it's not going to alter what I do on the web already.

But don't vilify other people's good intentions. If you feel that it'd make you a "whore" to get a quarter from someone who just loves what you do and wants to express it, then I feel sorry for you.

I'd also suggest that you raise your rates.
posted by fraying at 11:18 AM on June 21, 2000

The subtly bad feeling about micropayments stem from it's inevitable erosion of privacy on the web. I am not against the concept of tipping, but I prefer to do it anonymously and on my own terms.

It just seems that a lot of the weblog and related online crowd are seeking validation. The spectre of web fame seems to create a peculiar kind of guilt that fuels some sort of communication fetish. There's no tangible pause or "silence" in the internet conversation. I think you might be listening and you might thinking I'm listening. Maybe we've become good at paraphrasing each other's posts and webs just so we can continue talking.

I keep thinking "Wow, Metafilter is up over a thousand members now, I remember when it was only..." that's enough to fill a large hall. I can only picture some of the faces, but what are those conversations about? Here's this big network thang and we got all these new communities not new commodities.

I have this dream that as long as everyone keeps talking we can replace those things that are no longer relevant (war, nations, tv, organized religions, and non-alcoholic beer). I don't know how many US soldiers would want to go killing in places like Bosina or Albania if they knew and talked with the people there. Maybe they won't need to send soldiers once we figure out how to make our bombs smarter and make machines to stalk the streets.

My little website went down and I've been too busy to put it back up. Writing for it was like unwrapping a gift a little bit everyday. I know that I'd find myself when I'd get done, but I'd never finish. There's always another layer taped up more securely and sometimes I'm afraid I might damage the contents if I struggle with the tape.
posted by john at 11:26 AM on June 21, 2000

Yes, it's expensive to keep something you love going sometimes. And yes, we have to find ways to fund that.

Maybe I have money issues, but what I am saying is that monetary feedback or validation seems so impersonal to me - like getting a check for your birthday. Money is good and useful and utilitarian, but getting a check for my birthday hurts my feelings. Unless I asked for that, it's like you didn't have time or didn't care enough to put thought into it.

Maybe I got use to the martyrdom of being a starving artist when I was in Fine Arts. I like getting paid for doing a job I love, web design. But my personal stuff is not my job - and for me, personally - *I* absolutely have to keep a distinction between the two. Money, for *me* would blur the line.

I need a safe place to run to, a place that's mine. I'm much more honored to share that place with you than to have you pay me to rent it.
posted by thinkdink at 11:44 AM on June 21, 2000

So, is the next Beebo-type weblog ranking system going to be based on how much the site rakes in in micropayments? I don't have much opinion yet on whether PayPal for weblogs or weblog tools is a good idea. However, I'm dreading the first round of weblog entries crowing how much people are making, or bemoaning how much they aren't. If some writers manage to make a buck off this, I'm happy for them, but I hope they'll have the good taste not to make a big deal out of it.
posted by harmful at 11:53 AM on June 21, 2000

I'm half happy, half sad that I had overlooked this thread until now.

First, I find it an amazing bit of irony that the personal web space, where most of the denziens have commonly blasted the commercial aspects of the web and how it was being turned into a money for blood type of thing instead of the free-flowing openness we all envision at night under the covers are embracing direct payment - and that some of those advocating direct payment are still the first to claim that the personal web space should be for the love.

Derek made a comment that he has not put banner ads up anywhere for fear of 'ruining' his sites. I fail to see the difference between banner ads of any flavor and trolling for cash. Regardless if you are outright asking, or just giving the option of people 'tipping' you, I can only see one difference.

This paypal deal is worse.


You're asking others who are just like you, web surfers, appreciators, builders of the personal space, to give you THEIR money. To show their appreciation for you. Hits aren't good enough any more. Besides, they are so not-cool anymore. So let's get into gift-lists over the holiday seasons. No, that's not right. Let's just ask for money straight out.

At least with banner ads, you're taking the money out of the pockets of the corporately greedly faceless companies that everyone so often bemoans are even on the internet in the first place.

There are just so many things wrong with this idea, I'm at a loss on how to even come at it without going back and getting better organized. There is so much hypocracy in signing up for paypal type deals if you refuse to use banner ads for fear of corrupting the purity of the personal web space.

My brain feels like I just gulped a 7-11 slushy. Make it stop.
posted by rich at 12:35 PM on June 21, 2000

If you feel that it'd make you a "whore" to get a quarter from someone who just loves what you do and wants to express it, then I feel sorry for you.

Well. That's one of the most judgmental, self-righteous sentences I've read in a good long time. Nice going, Derek!
posted by solistrato at 12:50 PM on June 21, 2000

I feel like I'm in some wierd Twilight Zone episode.
posted by Calebos at 12:54 PM on June 21, 2000

I feel like I'm in some wierd Twilight Zone episode.
posted by Calebos at 12:58 PM on June 21, 2000

I feel like I'm in some wierd Twilight Zone episode.
posted by Calebos at 2:21 PM on June 21, 2000

(Sorry about that.)
posted by Calebos at 2:22 PM on June 21, 2000

Submitted for your approval... (and hopefully, your voluntary contribution)...

couldn't resist...
posted by wendell at 2:39 PM on June 21, 2000

My two cents:
What's the big deal? If someone is producing a site that provides a free service to any and all comers, what's wrong with financially supporting that person? What's wrong with that person admitting they spend a lot of money on those sites and, hey, if you want to contribute, we'd appreciate it?

I don't buy the line that taking money somehow cheapens a creative work. Surely recognition of the creator would also cheapen that work, since it provides personal satisfaction to the creator. So should creative work all be hidden so as to preserve its value?

If you don't think the person behind the site deserves your money, don't pay them! If you can tell they've somehow started compromising their integrity for the money, tell them and/or quit using the service. If you don't feel comfortable accepting payment for your work, if you want it to be a "gift" to all-comers, then return the money, or even better, donate it to your favorite cause.

As for me, if anyone wants to send me cash for The Stuffed Dog, my posts on Metafilter, or for my mere existence, I'm more than happy to take it. I assure you it will be put to good use. My PayPal account is waiting for your contributions: dave@stuffeddog.com

posted by daveadams at 2:53 PM on June 21, 2000

I blame PBS.
Twenty-odd years of those annoying Pledge Drives with the long begging sessions tossed into the middle of programs they'd never show at any other time of the year (If it's Suze Orman or John Tesh, they must be fundraising) have totally degraded the concept of voluntary contributions.

Maybe if a few non-profit individuals* on the Web pulled off the incredible feat of making a system of voluntary contributions that doesn't degenerate into "begware"...

Which brings up this thought: What happened to the people who made TRUE Shareware (that didn't have self-destruct timers going off after the 30-day trial period)? None of them became Microshafts, but did anybody actually make a living from it and are still out there after umpteen years keeping the faith?
(I'm sure the examples will be obvious when you remind me)

*I've called myself that since college; any accountant would concur
posted by wendell at 2:56 PM on June 21, 2000

Dave: If you're ever interested in mechandising, I would buy an official "Stuffed Dog" stuffed dog.

Let's see... M3tacubed branded Rubiks Cubes, Considered Harmful bulk Warning Labels....
but I wouldn't touch the Baylink Bay Shrimp.

But seriously, does anybody know anybody who actually did something with CafePress when they did their "easy merchandising" pitch last year? Even a couple mugs for personal use (NOT for resale)?
posted by wendell at 3:11 PM on June 21, 2000

the paypal angle is new. But TidBITS has had reader-sponsors for a long time, as well as regular commercial sponsors. It's not a personal site (maybe that's where people's queasiness comes in?), it's a cool free resource.
posted by anitar at 3:17 PM on June 21, 2000

In the words of Saint Bill:

"Here's the deal folks, you do a commercial, you're off the artistic roll call forever, end of story... If you do a
commercial there's a price on your head, everything you say is suspect and every word that comes out of your
mouth is now like a turd falling into my drink."

Which is pretty much how the PayPal concept makes me feel. "Whores at the capitalist gang-bang." Yep.

A friend who studied theology in my year left college with a good degree, then went home to work in a sweet factory. Not a bad job per se, but not a graduate job. But he was quite happy with the setup, because he wanted to separate the things that earned him money from the things he wanted from life. And that's really admirable.

As for me, I hack out pieces for magazines to pay my way, and take freelance work when the overdraft goes no further. But to associate a price on the stuff I actually care about demeans it and demeans me. Send an email saying "thank you", buy me a book that you think I might like, get Kozmo to deliver me cookies. Sing me a song, encode it to MP3, and put it on your server. So long as its value isn't numerical.

To Caesar what is Caesar's.
posted by holgate at 3:32 PM on June 21, 2000

Derek, you know from experience the Dutch don't like to tip. ;-)
posted by prolific at 3:36 PM on June 21, 2000

Er, holgate, wendell, etc.:

Am I missing something here? Someone suggests that giving an unsolicited virtual tip might be a fine and lovely gesture. A few people act on that suggestion. A bunch people who receive such tips are pleased by the gesture. (A few are a little weirded out b/c it seems a strange thing).

This is not capitalism. This is not even a pledge drive. It's not even a busker with her hat out, although that's closer, because in most cases there WAS NO HAT. This is not a threat to anyone's well being or a plea for money or a gun to the head.

If you would prefer not to give out money, um, then don't. If you would prefer not to recieve tips, then post a nice note saying "Hey, guys, thanks for the thought, but I'd prefer you did other things with your dough."

Geez, you guys can get riled up about anything.

posted by feckless at 4:03 PM on June 21, 2000

Thank you, feckless. Nicely put.

Of course I'd rather do something sweet and personal like give you a book or a cd or something, but though I'm doing well (woo hoo! My net worth is now only negative $22K!), I'm not doing *that* well. What I'd like to do is give you a portion of book or a cd or something. If only there were some way to represent a small amount of value which could be exchanged for goods & services...

Snarkily, but with affection,
- Dinah
posted by MetaGrrrl at 4:12 PM on June 21, 2000

> Geez, you guys can get riled up about anything.

That's the opening shot!
The time has come for
Blog Nicely IV !!!
This Time It's About Money

Don't mind me; I'm just enjoying the comment preview too much.
posted by wendell at 4:29 PM on June 21, 2000

Exactly, Dinah.

(I've worked in bars for years. People don't tip bar staff in Britain, but they buy them drinks: "And get yourself one." Whether you get the drink then, or "have it later" is up to you. But it's about avoiding the idea that your services come at a price.)

It reminds me of when I was in Nepal. When it came to the end of the tour, our guide told us that he was saving to buy a motorbike, but needed hard currency to do so, since the Nepalese rupee ain't much good when it comes to getting items imported. So we all coughed up our tenners and twenties, knowing that we were contributing towards something concrete.

and feckless: the point is, the first time it's done, it's sweet. but because it's money... well, Dan Gillmor wrote on the way that value and worth need to be measured on a different scale.
posted by holgate at 4:44 PM on June 21, 2000

hmm... I see a new issue developing in this thread: personal vs. community projects and getting/giving money to creator.

For the {fray}, it's derek's baby, but I think of it as this wonderful community storytelling place that derek happened to setup. I own three fray shirts because I really think my life is enriched by reading the fray. But would I pay derek for powazek.com? Hmm...that's a bit different.

In the similar zeldman.com/ALA.com situation, I'd happily give money to support A List Apart, or pay for a subscription if there were bonuses that came with it.

I guess I thought of MetaFilter as a community service, a discussion area for everyone, and not a personal extension of me. But then again, I don't add all that much value to this place, the people that show up and partcipate are the real heroes.

So do I have to pay everyone now? :)
posted by mathowie at 4:54 PM on June 21, 2000

[my first post:]

I'm an experimental musician, been doing home recording for twenty years and so I've never paid for studio time. I make music (or what aspires to be such) because it's a big part of my life, both listening to others and making my own. I live on part-time wages and made $11.3K last year (Seattle median individual income is $43K, mine is 20% of that).

I don't work in radio, recording studios or record stores (classic musician's jobs) because I don't want to have to listen to or make crap for a living. (90% of everything is crap, including whatever I do, so let's just say I don't often agree with mass tastes.) There's nothing wrong with it, it's just a personal rule.

The autobiographical bit above is just for context for the following.

Music (and a lot of other stuff) is what I do, not a job. It's not money that I'm doing it for, and it amazes me that I've been able to acquire the equipment for multitrack recording and making CDs for 1/50th what it would have cost to make a "real" studio even ten years ago, while maintaining sound quality not too far off from commercial releases (did I mention that I'm my own engineer, too?). The analogy to this would be the ability to publish, in color, on the Web, which costs me about $20/mo -- affordable.

From my perspective, the problems with micropayments so far are 1) they usually require a credit card, which I doubt I'll ever have (40 years so far); 2) heretofore the payments have been pretty unmicro, tens or hundreds of cents instead of fractions thereof; and 3) lack of venues in which to use them.

If these problems were worked out I could contribute up to $20/month to various venues -- websites/logs, downloadable music and software, even dead-tree publications. And I'd be happy to, if I was sure the money was really going to the people I wanted to receive it (ie, 5% or less overhead to the brokerage functions). This isn't the only way I'd contribute -- enthusing to others about great cultural content (_Shanghai Noon_ [movie], _Those Annoying Post Brothers_ [comic book], Cafe Tacuba [band]) is sociable and costs nothing but some breath, and I do these already. This is part of the gift economy.

I would hope that an increase in micropayment credibility wouldn't lead to an increase in mercenary tactics (pledgeathons, pandering for $$, et cet.), and I suspect it usually wouldn't, as has been sorta proven with the macropayment systems so far, like _Slate_ and others -- right now I'm pretty sure that free content that is similar to paid content will always be there as long as someone thinks the subject is cool or deserves to be known, especially if there's "no way" to make a profit on it. A fair number of Metafilter stories link to such sites, and I hope that would generally continue.

I think micropayment schemes are pretty much inevitable, but it will take a system that meets the requirements I listed above (please lord, not NGWS, which sounds way too expensive and flaky and monopolistic) to reach the critical mass needed to change the system. Or maybe I mean supplement it.

Props to who started this thread, it's a real subject.

ps: didn't saint bill get paid for his records and appearances? if he didn't he was truly a saint, as well as the Dark Prince.
posted by caliente at 5:10 PM on June 21, 2000

I guess it all comes down to your intentions. As the site-maker, do you intend for your personal site to bring you wads of cash? I hope not. I hope you do it because you love it.

As a site-contributer, are you doing it because you feel you have to, or because everyone else is doing it? I hope not. I hope you do it to help support something you like, or even love.

Would I ever ask for "donations"? No. Would I feel good if someone donated? Of course, no creative person can have too much validation. Would I link someone just because they sent me money? Probably not. Would I thank them some other way? Very likely...

Whatever you do, make sure it's personal.
posted by ariel at 5:33 PM on June 21, 2000

Money is symbolic of worth in the US. A buck (or a quarter) is one way of saying, "Your work is appreciated."

An email does the same thing.
So does a donation to a charity in your name.
So does altering a photo so you look more hung than you really are.
So do naked photos of your girlfriend(s).

All of the above have brightened my day at one time or another.
posted by halcyon at 5:41 PM on June 21, 2000

Thought this thread has covered many of my rants, I feel compelled to step on the box and speak out.

This is a terrible idea. Asking people to pay money for reading a blog. Now metafilter is more of a service and such maybe should be supported. After all, I think most of the conversations here would fit nicely in such places as the Well.

However, I don't think it's a step in the right direction for individuals to ask for payola for their single line rants and pattings on the back.

Blogging is a way to share you life with others. It is a form expression and friendship.

Can you imagine the end of an evening with friends and extending your hand and reminding them that it cost money to pay for gas, food, movie tickets, a mocha, and there is that matter of time=money.

Ridiculous! And stupid. Stop it and stop it now.
posted by Brilliantcrank at 5:50 PM on June 21, 2000

Some reactions:

mathowie: So do I have to pay everyone now? :)

No, if you got anything it was a gift. Of course, the honorable thing to do is to put a little more energy back into your projects. Use the money and/or the pleasant feeling you got from any of the ways people thanked you to keep your projects alive.

caliente, I believe PayPal meets your requirements. You don't have to have a credit card linked. You can give as little as a penny. You can send it to anyone who has an email address and (at the moment) a U.S. bank account.

gsxl: You missed a very important point -

I never suggested bloggers should request or expect payment.

I suggested that if you visit a site and it gives you something, you might want to give back and PayPal offers a new way to do that. This doesn't change the fact that one of the best things you can do to give back to the Web is to build the Web. Join the conversation, create your own sites, share your own creations. In addition, if you feel strongly that someone has improved your life and you want to thank them and make it easier for them to continue to invest themselves in the Web, then giving them a small donation is a friendly and courteous thing to do.

Why did I give to bloggers? Because they have given me great pleasure and because I knew they would share the idea. I didn't give them money, I gave them virtual quarters with a meme attached.

posted by MetaGrrrl at 6:18 PM on June 21, 2000

In my mind, there are a few issues here:

(1) paypal as a service -- as a service, it rocks. It's a great way for individuals to transfer funds and can be used to implement the "tip" idea

(2) the "tip" idea -- basically, everything is free, pay what you want or what you can. we do it cause we love it. we'll do it for nothing, but if you want to pay us, great! This is probably what the pro-paypal people are gung-ho about

(3) tipping blogs/personal sites -- This is what the anti-paypal people are against.

So I don't think we're all talking about the same thing here. My personal opinion is the (1) is a great service, (2) is a great idea, but (3) is not going to happen.
posted by Calebos at 7:48 PM on June 21, 2000

I am too late in this thread, but I may have a different perspective: I was, back in my college years, a shareware author. Back in those days ('94), publishing shareware meant uploading your software (a unit converter in my case) to simtel.net, wuarchive or garbo.uwasa.fi (woke up any memories? :-)... Hell, you can still find it up there (tcc100s.zip; I aint giving a link though :-)...

Well, I didnot right my little utility to make money. I wrote it as an exercise in programming (i.e. to help myself) and to scratch an itch. I then uploaded the zip file to the usual places and asked for $8 American to send people an expanded version of the software. I figured I had no nag screens, no guilt-trips, the code was working (and actually at that point, it kicked ass) so why not ask people for $8 as a tip?

I sold that piece of code exactly 3 times. Twenty-four bucks. It didnot pay for my time, it didnot cover tuition (maybe a coupla dinners out) but it made me feel great to get a check from a guy in Japan for $8 to buy my little Visual Basic hack. It made a connection.

Today the Web makes all the connections you need; it's Usenet before AOL opened its doors out. Hell, some sites (like MF) are like Usenet, pre-AOL, in *August* :-)... So, I dunno if we need micro-payments or micro-tips. But it takes *work* for someone to go to PayPal, whip out a credit card and send you $.25. Almost more than $.25 of his/her time. And it's definitely harder than hitting a form and posting a comment, like I am just now. So, why the hell not? it's not like you're not basing your livelihood off of them (like /. does).
posted by costas at 8:02 PM on June 21, 2000

While this is an incredible forum to exchange thoughts and opinions, there's likely nothing that will change the fact that we each, indeed, will have our ~own~ views and feelings about a number of subjects.

The theory of micropayments is one of those that will be debated into an eternity now that it's snowball has gotten rolling. I doubt that anyone will say something profound that will cause all of us to revert to an agreed populus on this subject. That's something all of us should probably accept from the start. ;)

My personal thoughts on this subject started this morning when I saw the ball begin to roll on Halcyon's site, and then on Derek's.

I love the idea of offering something tangible to the people who propell the sites I enjoy day after day. Be it a quarter, or a postcard or a letter dropped in Snail mail.

The unique position the web is in allows us to create friends and mentors without ever having a physical counterpart -- and I really believe that this is a blessing and a curse. But, after seven years on the web, it feels good to think that someone has come up with a way, however megar, however "chintzy" as some assumably think that the offering of your spare change through Email is, It feels exceptionally good to add some sort of tangible 'thanks' to people who have touched me in some way or another through their writing.

posted by Anathea at 8:04 PM on June 21, 2000

Everything has been said, but that never stopped me.

To me this is about the personal versus the professional.

I get paid for my professional work. Or I don't do the work. I may love the work - I may love the client - but I render professional services for payment.

I don't disrespect those who see this another way, and now that I know more about what was intended, I appreciate Metagrrrl's gesture. The same way I appreciate the pea pie recipe sent to me by a reader who wanted to help me get over the flu. I appreciate the comic book Jerkbox 'n Punkinhead sent me (they created it) and the novel John Sundman sent me (he wrote it). Postcards, digital postcards, doctored images - those are all gifts I've gotten from people who feel they got something from me.

It's all good. Money does feel a little different to me - like ThinkDink, I'd feel weird getting money for my birthday - but now that I understand what was intended, I have no problem with it and I appreciate it.

But I still, personally, wouldn't ask for money on a personal site.

I don't disrespect those who feel differently. (Can I say that again?) These are all just feelings.

Fray and k10k have tee shirts for sale. To me that is different from asking for money. When my book comes out, maybe some of you will buy it. Not to thank me for anything, but because you want to buy it. That to me is different from micropayments on a website.

Again, this is just my feeling. Not a fact. My feeling is that the tiny commercial gesture would somehow color what I was doing. I don't think I'd change what I do for a quarter. That's not the issue. It's just really an emotional thing. Based on the idea that the web is free, and the value of my non-commercial work is intangible.

As to Derek's comment: friends who respect each other can disagree about things without hurting the friendship or the respect. When I read Derek's post, I thought, "Gee, that's harsh and seems personal." Yet Derek and I are friends, and we communicated today, outside this forum, in a really nice way - having nothing whatsoever to do with this topic. We didn't even allude to it.

That may sound schizzy. But I think friends can and do (unless they are Stepford people) disagree, sometimes vehemently, and even get emotional about ideas - without any real negative consequence to the relationship.

I argued about politics with my uncle, but I always loved him and he loved me.
posted by Zeldman at 8:30 PM on June 21, 2000


I skipped this discussion a few days ago because I thought it was cool and we would all agree....
WhAt cHeApSkAtEs!!!

I lived mostly in an environment where a guy handed you 20 bucks for "to get the kids something", or you'd run a store errand and the let you keep the change.

If Matt & I were hanging out, I'd spring for drinks & like wise because we'd be buddies. You just gave money to people you like...that's the way it was. It's a nice thing he's doing & hey, I'd gladly to do a form of gesture to show my appreciation here....

Besides with all this talk of Outlaw Biker Gangs on the web I figure you're probably worried about raising "protection money" now... ("heheh...hate to see something happen to some of these nice posts.. heheh...") :0)

posted by EricBrooksDotCom at 9:25 PM on June 21, 2000

Opinion of a Non-Blogger:

The way I see it, the whole idea of micrpayment, at least in the blog context, is a form of narcissism. Blogger A visits Blogger B's site and makes a micropayment, with the implicit expectation of reciprocity. It is the linkback taken to another level. It does nothing but foster blogging for other bloggers, the new high school clique. What about those who don't have a blog, or a journal, or whatever, but read a blog because they like it? Where is their real economic incentive to pay? And take it to the next level, when people start demanding micropayments up front (which I saw a promise of on a blog that I frequently read, which shall remain nameless because I really like it). Besides, blogs are notoriously uneven. A great entry one day can become a "Too tired to blog" the next. Where is the economic incentive of the blogless? If I don't pay to read Salon, why sould I pay to read your blog, even though I may like both? This all really begs the question, who are blogs for, the world at large or just the other bloggers?

posted by Bezuhin at 9:52 PM on June 21, 2000

I have another question. Why does everyone keep referring to blogs? There's an implicit suggestion that somehow this whole micropayments thing applies to that one type of website only. Why?

Assuming I could get behind the micropayments thing - and I've made it clear that it's not my cup of tea (or nickels) - why would I give to, say, someone's daily personal ramblings or list of links? Wouldn't I be more likely to give money to ... oh, I don't know ... a site that offered tutorials on Flash? A site that provided free fonts? Or rare photographs? Or a site like the Gutenberg Project, where the complete texts of classic books are posted online?

Wouldn't I be more likely to donate money to the site of a software company that gives away its product? (For instance.)

Why a blog? These seem to be assumptions on top of assumptions.
posted by Zeldman at 10:53 PM on June 21, 2000

What I find is the hypocricy that is permeating the web is exemplified in this:

Today, on a blog, it was posted:

"Party poopers"

with a link to this thread, infering that the people who were against the paypal ideal were somehow infringing on other people's fun, even though that same person stated that paypal had the potential to change the web like never before. (Although, myself, I'd be afraid of what it would be changed into)

Tonight, that blog entry and any reference to it is gone. Unexplained. Removed with prejudice.

If you have a stance, fine. If you refine that stance, fine. Have the balls to stand behind both.

Don't hide behind the editing abilities of the blog or html.
posted by rich at 11:02 PM on June 21, 2000

Re Zeldman's Post @ 10:53pm PST

I think that the idea of micropayments is being thought of in the context of blogs for two main reasons.

1. It is being bandied about most by bloggers, most notably here.
2. Bloggers have the most to gain. Sites such as those you mention are more likely to have some sort of independent revenue stream.
posted by Bezuhin at 11:22 PM on June 21, 2000

If I could throw one more thing in without risk (I swear I won't throw this off-topic)....

There is one thing the Brother Zeldman said that made me think here...about the blogs (though there's a billion out there...there is more to the web). I tried the affiliate/banner bit for a while, and it was a total flop. The problem? Oversaturation. Why click on my Amazon link, when there's one on Aol.Com? Pick lesser known companies, and no one gave a crap.

My question: With such a high level of weblogs with their hands out, and various other sites that some may deem worthy... (basically, what I'm trying to say is: if everyone did it..), would it be as fruitless as the affiliate programs?
posted by EricBrooksDotCom at 12:12 AM on June 22, 2000

I noticed a few blog entries that pointed to this thread/meme that have since disappeared. That's fine with me. I'd prefer to see revised thoughts posted, but everyone in free to do whatever they watn with their web space. Besides, the blog is not the person. Just because they've made a decision to retract their statements entirely from the public sphere does not meant that they do not have "the balls" to stand behind their original comments.

There are a few discussions that I think we should be having:

(1) Discuss micropayments: the technology, viability, and the impact this could have on our economy at large. The ability to simply transfer funds electronically between individuals at no cost is a big deal, is it not?

(2) In regards to the web, what are some of the ways that micropayments could be used to the benefit of companies and individuals alike? What kind of (web) economy would this create? What new opportunities would it provide for web developers, particularly independant ones? Are their new fund-raising possibilities here?

(3) A subset of the previous question, what kind of content would people be willing to pay for? This last question is what we have spent most of our time here discussing, and it is, quite frankly, the least interesting of the three.
posted by Calebos at 6:19 AM on June 22, 2000

I hate when they take their remarks back on weblogs (we're just voicing opinions here, folks).
I also feel like I should make my stance on this a little clearer as I looked like I was making Brother Zeldman and the rest look like bad guys here (while he was so nice sticking up for me elsewhere)....

- I don't think there's anything *I do* on my site that deserves any kind of payment. I get paid to do other people's sites and when they recommend me for another job, that's a "tip" right there. My personal site gets rewarded by the attention, both good & bad... Pure vanity, that's all.

- I meant sites like MetaFilter, A List Apart, and Family Corner Magazine being worthy of my wanting to give something back for all they do... a weblog panhandling just to tell me their "Bond Girl Name" and what color they are can bite me (I stress: This is the opinion of just one guy)

- The blogs keep coming up because it's in the subject ("Are voluntary paypal donations the wave of the blogging future?")... not an opinion, just an observation.
posted by EricBrooksDotCom at 8:45 AM on June 22, 2000

On the point of personal vs. community - Yeah, I can make exception for personal vs. service... I'd be willing to donate to fray or metafilter or ALA because these create communities that I choose to take part in and/or learn from. I fund my own personal stuff, I want help fund what I take part in. Just like I donate to npr because I listen to it every day.

On the point of opinion - Please don't feel defensive about my feelings on paypal. We all live at our own comfort levels. I am uncomfortable with the concept of paypal as it applies to me. I am uncomfortable with accepting money in any amount for thinkdink. If I did a thinkdink t-shirt - you pay for the shirt and my design. I am uncomfortable being paid for my random thoughts, my latest pictures, my stories about my son, my complaints, my playground.

I won't judge you if you are comfortable. I won't think any less of you. I don't think that receiving money cheapens *your* work any. I just feel that way about *mine*. I don't feel that micropayments will reduce or improve the level and quality of your work - it may, it may not. You choose how to react to it.

It is not my place to judge what you are comfortable with EVER.

on money ratings - it was mentioned that if the paypal concept caught on - it would just be a matter of time before there were rankings on the dollar amounts donated to personal sites. Dollars and money signify worth, period. Rankings for hits are one thing, and they can be an uncomfortable thing. But I never want to attach a dollar amount to my personal site. I never want to see people quantified by the amount of their micropayments.

As always these are my opinions. Take em or leave em - this is how I, Jessica aka dink, feel.
posted by thinkdink at 10:42 AM on June 22, 2000

Yo, EB, babe... check's in the mail.

On the topic of the thread, my, but it seems to me like many of the most strident opinions on this topic are coming from people who set up straw man arguments that *were not implicit* in the original premise, so that they can knock them down.

But then, maybe it's just me.

So many things are just me...
posted by baylink at 12:42 PM on June 22, 2000

Earlier in the thread, Matt illustrated how much he could earn by having banner ads on the site, thank God he didn't go down that route, but what if micropayments allowed him to devote say, a day a week to personal projects? He could do all the things suggested in Metatalk, moderate this site and create new sites (or complete the ticketstub site) Wouldn't that be worth donating the odd *small* amount of money for?
Surely thats the issue, not necessarily PayPal, but if there were a way to reimburse those people who created something you appreciated not because you want to tip them, but because you like what they do and want to see more, would you be willing to do so?
Personally, listening to what Matt has said on recent posts, I for one would love to find a way to allow him the time to do all the things he seems to want to do with the whole MeFi concept, why is that so wrong? And, although I'm British, and I agree with Holgate that the whole cash idea leaves a bad taste in my mouth, the benefits, if this idea were to work, would far outweigh the negative aspects.
But then I guess you have to get enough micropayments to make a macropayment, that may be more difficult.
posted by Markb at 7:21 AM on June 23, 2000

I can see many sides of this issue, and I think what it comes down to is how the creator feels about it. I think there are good things possible if such micropayments take off, but that if this happens, those who don't want them (and would feel insulted getting them) should come up with a statement to that effect, to alert would-be givers. (maybe "Thinking of giving me a micropayment tip? DON'T! Give to xyz instead if you must.", or whatever).

It's a very interesting idea, that of how compensation changes art and other voluntary creative works. I think there's a tipping point between when it's just an added bonus, and when creators begin to expect it (or ask for or even require it) and visitors feel obligated (or manipulated) to give it.

Though for some creative people, there is no problem with receiving remuneration for their work; they thrive on it, and it doesn't seem to affect quality.

I was thinking about this as I watched Schindler's List last night, and considered Spielberg's motivations for creating the film. I think the greater part of his motivation stemmed from a personal desire to honor those wounded by the holocaust, and to bear witness to the horrors that occurred. I don't think making big bucks was much on his mind at the time. (but of course I could be completely wrong).

Sometims it's ok or even good for great creative works to be rewarded with money and recognition. And other times it's a Really Bad Thing. I guess it just depends, which doesn't sound very profound.

When in doubt, ask the creator - only they will be able to tell you what form they'd prefer appreciation to appear in (money, gifts, email, doing similar works, nothing, whatever).
posted by beth at 8:18 AM on June 23, 2000

Quick suggestion: "If you like this site, feel free to make a donation to $FAVORITE_CHARITY."
posted by harmful at 9:01 AM on June 23, 2000

Baylink, dude...what?

What did I say that was so vague? First I said "Sure I'd support Matt & Meta Filter", then I said "would it pay off if PayPal oversaturated the market?" Then I realized I was giving the impression that I was giving every bum with their hand out a quarter... so I elaborated on my stance.

I don't think I said anything vague in case the shift of opinion changed, and I had to make myself look good....I don't mean to put the weblogs down either (okay, maybe a little).

Set it up on your site if you want, see how it goes... if it works (because not everyone feels the way I do)...hey, great! (Jeez, anybody else feel like they're on trial here?)

Yeah, so many things are just me too, dude.
posted by EricBrooksDotCom at 9:20 AM on June 23, 2000

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