After having using a tip-model for a while, I find that on average I tip 7-8 articles per day on a pretty consistent basis. This comes to a total of 35-40 cents per day or $10-12 bucks per month.

I think this is a fair contribution to support “quality programming”. It’s what I would be willing to pay for a print magazine that had all my favorite stuff in it.

The model I use is called TipTheWeb.org. I find this the easiest to use. If you click on the link, you see a button “Tip it!” which is dragged and dropped onto your bookmarks bar in your browser. Then whenever I read a good article, I click on the button, an overlay pops up, I click “5c”, I click “Fund now”, done. Very easy.

The idea is of course that if many people do this, similar to how most people leave tips in restaurants, bloggers would receive a great many small tips which would all add up. For example, if I write a post, then 3500 people will read it. If 10% of those 3500 like it and each donate a nickel that results in 350*0.05 = $17.50. If it was a really good article, then maybe 30% would deem it worthy enough to leave a nickel leading to $52.50. It should be obvious that if tipping was universal, then content writers could make a living from their tips and they would strive to write the highest quality material in order to get the most tips.

As it is with tipping not being widely adopted on the internet (for instance, I get about 3–8 tips per day or about 1 out of about 500–1000 visitors), content writers (and I know several who have to do this for a living and need to write 5-10 posts per day!) write posts not with quality or their readers in mind but with the goal to optimize search engine keywords because they make their money with advertising.

I think this is ultimately not the best solution for anybody other than the advertising industry.

TipTheWeb is but one model, there’s also readability.com, flattr.com, and others. These work a bit differently. On readability you decide how much to contribute monthly, say $10, and then mark articles that you think are good. At the end of the month the $10 then gets evenly divided between the marked articles.

One interesting problem that I hadn’t considered is that microtipping might not work as well because 1) the number of tippers is very small, and 2) those who tip will readily tip much larger amounts. This is a problem that the nonprofit world is struggling with. The argument is then that it’s better to ask the small number of people who already give for larger tips than it is to ask a larger number of people to tip a very small amount. This may be true in an expedient kind of way, but I still think it’s better that a larger number would contribute less than having a smaller number of people carry the whole load.

Thus I’m trying to “be the change”. If you’re a content producer, these guys (including me) may already be tipping you (see the sites I’ve tipped). Thus if you have a blog or a youtube account or somewhere else where you contribute to the net, you should definitely check into the sites above and claim them as yours (by inserting a meta tag identifier in your html header).

You might have tips waiting for you already.


Further discussion here.