The Story about the new Flattr – The Flattr enabled list · 2017-09-27 14:00 by Laura Dornheim
Today it’s time for another of our core values when it comes to product design: user control. More specifically, control of what gets flattred. User control is very important to us, so we had to approach it in a serious way. Giving control in a product that is supposed to be automatic is not an easy task. It’s about you trusting the product, but still being able to change how it behaves. Simply put, you should control what sites to use Flattr on.
Here the real internet happens. The web contains millions of sites, a lot of which are not sites you, me and people in general want to support by giving money. The reasons range from you already paying for it, you not liking the creator, not agreeing to the views of the creator to it being a site you didn’t want to end up on in the first place.
It might feel bad to end up on a site you don’t like, but if there is a risk you would give them money via Flattr it would feel even worse. At the same time the idea of Flattr is to automatically support content creation you love, without you making an explicit choice to do so. We knew this was something we needed to solve.
Stats as the truth
When we dug into the statistics it quickly told us that the part of the web people want to pay for is quite small, as a percentage. Most of all because the internet is for work, communication, information and all the other tools we use to keep our lives running besides content consumption.
If we think binary, there are two extreme solutions to this. First, just don’t care and let Flattr flattr every single site on the net. Second we could let you manually enable Flattr on all the sites you want to use it for. The first solution is just bonkers so let’s leave that one well alone. The second obliges you to make a choice to flattr or not flattr each and every site you visit. We both know you would give up and just stop using Flattr. (Yes, we are also that lazy).
We figured we needed to make a list of sites that most people would want to support that would be enabled by default, and disable the rest. A list of sites where we believe most users want flattrs to happen automatically. So we made one. A list of hundreds of thousands of sites with great content. This is our “domains that automatic flattrs are default enabled on”. A list that will evolve over time when old ones die and new sites pop up.
Simply put, the sites that are on this list are sites where Flattr is on by default. For the rest of the internet it’s off by default. Of course you can always override this default setting to enable/disable Flattr for the sites you want.*
Updating and maintenance of the list
(This section was added after publishing to address comments)
It’s of utmost importance that this list will actually reflect what most of our users want to flattr. That means it will need continuous maintenance. Specially in regards to adding new sites. As the list serves as a gatekeeper to make sure the extension doesn’t flattr sites people don’t want to flattr. It also means that great sites that are not on the list might be easily missed by our users. Something we absolutely don’t want to happen.
The first version of the list was compiled by our team, but we definitely intend to open up that process. There are multiple mechanics that we are testing, evaluating and already implementing to solve this.
It’s though important to know that we can’t just automatically add any site people connect to their account to the list, as the whole purpose of the list – ensuring quality – then is bypassed. But we can manually or via community check the domains that people add to their accounts to see if they should be on the list. Same goes for sites that are flattred by single users but that are not on the general list, it’s an easy indication that people want to flattr them.
We are also looking into collecting data from users (anonymized and only with their prior approval) on which sites they enable/disable flattring on so we can learn if there are sites missing or sites that should be dropped.
In the end we are pretty sure we need to do multiple things to get this right. And we really want to get it right!
*Unless they’re on the black list. There are some sites that just can’t be flattred, your online banking for example. And some other sites for adults.