1may2011: It is hard to make any money just from having a web page, even one which gets a decent amount of traffic. Advertising is really only profitable for a small minority of sites that draw obscene amounts of traffic. The 'digital tip jar' model has only worked for sites with dedicated fans, because there is no way for casual visitors to drop just a nickel in the tip jar. What the web really needs is a workable micropayments system.
The conversation from this point devolves into moon beams, infinite canvasses, and grumpy curmudgeons arrhythmically dance fighting against starry-eyed optimists.
When Flattr began over a year ago, there was (in addition to the usual dance fighting) a lot of discussion about how Flattr is not a micropayments system. It does not allow a visitor to tip two cents for a blog post that makes them smile.
Here's what it does do: Someone with a Flattr account pays some amount into the account every month. They give a nod to the blog post that makes them smile, to the picture that makes them fondly remember summer camp, and so on. At the end of the month, the user's tips for the month are divided among all the things which the user voted up.
The problem was this: People were hesitant to pay into the system, because they could only use it to tip at sites which were listed in the system. Yet only paying users could list their pages as eligible for flattr-y. The system strangled itself.
As of today, they have opened the system to pages which do not belong to registered users. If this makes more sites add Flattr buttons, then the service will be more useful. Then maybe more people will be willing to join.
And, yes, I've added Flatter buttons. We'll see how this goes.