Flattr works as a social micro-payment services . You register an account to be able to click a Flattr button on a web site the user likes, which means that the creator, the person behind the content , is donated a sum of money by the one who clicked. The member predetermines a sum which at the end of the month is awarded to all those whose button he/she clicked. The social in the service means that it is open for all to see who previously clicked on what, for example, by all Flattr buttons showing the history of clickers. Once you have logged in to the service, you don’t need to do so again to pay for one page.
A creator can choose to put a Flattr button on their own material for other members to click. Flattr takes ten percent of the amount donated, the rest can be collected via PayPal or Money Brokers, or donated to someone else in the network . Behind the service is an organization of eight people. They themselves select certain activities that get a special Flattr button that defines them as a charity , which means that Flattr does not take a percentage of the money donated ( Flattr 2012) .
Flattr was said in 2010 to have about ten thousand users but the network does not provide official figures, according to spokesman Martin Thörnkvist. It may be because it is a new network that possibly have small numbers but don’t want to scare off potential investors or members (Chapin 2011) .
The network has formed its name from the English words flatter and flat-rate fee . The name alludes thus partly to flatter someone, but also on what can be translated as a flat rate or a flat fee , ie a fixed predetermined fee. It’s called ” flattra ” when a member presses a Flattr button. The content can be as broad as a song put up by a producer, a book that an author has published on its website, but also as a simple as a picture you took of your garden, or a Twitter comment someone posted.
The network itself describes it like this on their website:
Flattr can be used as a complement to accepting donations. Or to having advertising on your blog. Or to help getting small donations you never get for your open source software.
Flattr’s website and blog is (unlike previous blog issue CouchSurfing) also open to non-members, probably due to it being a young network that need to get the message out about what it is and spread awareness of their existence to media and potential members. It may also be due to the creator Peter Sunde being a controversial figure since he is one of the founders of The Pirate Bay, and that his new position therefore is followed with a stronger interest from media. For Flattr to grow , it must first be accepted by potential partners as a legal service, as opposed to how The Pirate Bay is probably understood, and it may therefore be important for the network that media and others easily can access their version of what they are and do.
Following blog posts will discuss Flattr from a communicative perspective, with discussions of payment, medium and power