Adblock Plus and (a little) more

Flattr Plus update · 2016-08-25 16:50 by Ben Williams

Howdy! The dog days of summer are passing over us hotly, turning most people into lazy sun seekers and vacationing hordes. But not us. Nope, we’re keeping our shoulder to the wheel, diligently hammering away at this revolution called Flattr Plus.

Ugh? Nope, actually, zero “ughs” are being uttered round here. We’re having fun reinventing the way the internet gets paid. Our summer labors come amid a bit of crisis in publishing, as more and more users reject ads that are too intrusive. So it’s no surprise that according to recent research, most publishers are looking beyond ads for monetization. In fact, only a scant 11 percent rely exclusively on ads – a full 78 percent rely on the “ads-plus-other-stuff” model.

That is to say, Flattr Plus’s timing couldn’t be better, because while some of that “other stuff” is just fine, the web needs an easy, automatic solution that is not exclusive to particular sites. Here’s a rundown of how our project to do just that is progressing:


The data science we’re tinkering with here is always the most interesting category. Sorry, other colleagues, but it’s theoretical and expanding and evolving from week to week. This time is no disappointment, because recently we’ve been working on creating a whitelist of sites that are “flattrable” by default. A “flattrable” site means one that users will be able to automatically flattr by default (users can add sites beyond this list to their personal whitelist). But what qualifies a site for flattring? And how are we specifically deciding what to include on the default whitelist?

Well, we broke it down to a single, core question that must be answered affirmatively in order for a site to qualify: do you think the majority of internet users would like to flattr this page? Clearly, though, that means we have to figure out what content most people would want to flattr. This has been a big challenge, but here are the (very) simplified criteria we’ve been using to fill that list:

  • The website provides content for free, e.g., journalistic content, news, blog articles, information, videos, music, podcasts, etc.
  • The website monetizes via ads, donations, a (soft or hard) paywall or does not have a monetization model in place.
  • The website does not mainly serve as a way to promote or use a product or service that needs to be paid for, e.g. shops, marketplaces, product websites, restaurants, banks, insurance companies, etc.
  • The website is not provided and/or maintained by the government.

But there are other sites that we felt should not be automatically flattrable? So even though our approach is pretty much content agnostic, websites that serve pornographic, racist or illegal content do not qualify for the whitelist.

Where to begin to fill up such a list is a wholly separate challenge. We started by looking at the top 100,000 Alexa domains, but because we don’t have the person power to go through 100,000 sites and compare them against the criteria above, we’ve been hiring this out by posting short-term, crowd-sourced jobs.

We’ll let you know when the list is full!

Design and development

We’re working on integrating Flattr Plus into the existing Flattr system. This means that there will be a brand new, shiny user flow on Among other things, that includes a new homepage, new sign-ups, email verification and budget-setting.

Development-wise, the next big step is rolling out a first release of Flattr Plus to non-employees in a closed beta, and in pursuit of that we finished a system to anonymize data that beta-testing volunteers would send to Flattr for testing. Beyond that, we are working on implementing a way to retrieve author information from websites, and we are also implementing a review/audit page for users to give feedback on what Flattr Plus flattrs.

Comment [10]

  1. Vintage Leather Bags · 2016-08-27 06:10 · #

    Thanks for the article really interesting

  2. boring · 2016-08-27 12:16 · #

    There was a browser that came out using google chrome source that tried the same thing. Where people signed up and it would block ads and they would pay the webmaster a small percentage. That failed so bad like the ads on facebook and that had many news outlets covering it.

    Reply from Ben Williams:

    What was it called? You mean Contributor? Contributor is completely different; only works with Google’s ads, and in works by an exchange: you see fewer ads in exchange for paying. And it only works on specific sites.

    Flattr Plus basically has nothing to do with ads, because it is independent of Adblock Plus, i.e. you can use either, neither or both. And what it does is it lets you assign a monthly budget, then automatically apportions that budget to the sites you engage with the most — across the entire web.

  3. jamshid · 2016-08-29 15:26 · #

    Reklama yoqatuvchi


    Reply from Ben Williams:

    Is this about that shitty band 311? In case it is, well, they need to be investigated.

  4. Frank Nostro · 2016-08-29 20:25 · #

    Pay to play is certainly better that being bombarded by ads, but now you’ve place the burden on the user rather than the advertiser.

    How does this work exactly? It sounds like my budget would be allocated to sites where I’ve clicked some sort of “FlattrPlus” link. Which would be fine, except I do that already via subscription or donatation links.

    Are you saying Flattr will just consolidate or replace existing subs/donation mechanisms?

    Because I absolutely refuse to have my budget squandered on sites I hit as the result of a web search for a single, “one and done” situation especially if it’s just informational. Or on sites for which I already have a subscription or am a “patreon”.

    Reply from Ben Williams:

    Flattr was an existing project, which did exactly as you guess: it was a button on sites that users could click or tap to allocate part of a budget to the site/article in question.

    But it failed because it relied on too much user interaction. Who wants to go to that trouble every time they read something? So we teamed with Flattr to develop Flattr Plus … and solve that problem. So you would allocate a budget and it would be disbursed automatically to the sites you engage with the most. But, very importantly, if you want more fine-grained control over where your money goes you can have it. Or if you prefer to donate and spend in a one-off fashion, maybe it’s just not for you.

    Check out more info here:

  5. Anonymous · 2016-09-01 00:58 · #

    Comment 1 might be talking about the new Brave browser at

    “Brave’s goal is to speed up the web, stop bad ads and pay publishers. One of the ways we plan to accomplish this is with ad replacements. We will also invite users to fund their wallets and to use those funds to pay the publishers of their favorite websites.”

  6. stivenlopez osorio · 2016-09-06 10:09 · #

    Bloquear publicidad por favor

  7. Hernan acosta · 2016-09-10 17:17 · #

    Ojala lo resuelvan

    Reply from Ben Williams:

    We will eventually!

  8. roger · 2016-09-11 14:48 · #

    Ping pong assholes

    Reply from Ben Williams:


  9. Artem Kozlyuk · 2016-09-18 10:20 · #

    С неба падают слезы, слезы ночного дождя,
    Ветер куда-то уносит, куда-то зовет меня;
    А я стою на крыше и сверху смотрю на жизнь,
    Которую я так ненавижу, которую я так люблю.

    Припев:Прыгай вниз прыгай вниз не бойся,тихо шепчет мне в душу дождь,
    Прыгай вниз и не беспокойся о том, куда ты попадешь.
    Прыгай вниз прыгай вниз не бойся, твоя жизнь сплошная ложь,
    Прыгай вниз и ни о чем не беспокойся все равно когда-нибудь умрешь.

    Вечер, лишь сигареты тихо гаснет уголек,
    Согревая своим светом, свет, – который так жесток,
    И выходит дым из легких, превращаясь в капли дождя;
    В этот вечер никто не укроет никто, тебя от дождя.

    Припев:Прыгай вниз прыгай вниз не бойся,тихо шепчет мне в душу дождь,
    Прыгай вниз и не беспокойся о том, куда ты попадешь.
    Прыгай вниз прыгай вниз не бойся, твоя жизнь сплошная ложь,
    Прыгай вниз и ни о чем не беспокойся все равно когда-нибудь умрешь.

    Reply from Ben Williams:

    Thanks for the poem, Artem! This is a first in our comments AFAIK.

  10. Fashion Bags · 2016-10-06 14:49 · #

    Thanks for your post!!

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