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Please note: I do NOT want to bash Kachingle.  Actually, I hope it thrives–competition is good and so is choice.  This is just a personal reflection on why I think Flattr stands out above the competition and why it is my choice for supporting creators.

Pay A Blogger Day is right around the corner (pssst: it’s tomorrow!), and it’s time to start thinking about the best ways to share the holiday spirit.  From buying artists merchandise to straight out donations to micro-payments there are many ways to celebrate.  But since no one really needs instructions on buying t shirts or using PayPal, I thought I’d throw in my two cents on the less well-known methods of payment–those of the micro variety.

Since I’ve been going on about Flattr, I thought I’d talk a bit about how it compares with the competition, another micro-payment system called Kachingle.

Flattr and Kachingle are functionally the same thing.  You put in a few bucks, click on creator’s Flattr buttons/Kachingle medallions and the money/love gets cut up evenly between them all.  There are, however, two things that seem to set them apart:

1) If you Flattr someone who’s not on Flattr (via Twitter) you may feel like a jerk.  If you Kachingle someone who’s not on Kachingle, you really are a jerk.

I’ve been Twitter-Flattring writers without Flattr accounts because I really want to spread the love and I don’t have any other way.  I know.  I look a bit like a douche.  But these writers can choose not to accept the donation.  If they don’t end up joining Flattr, no money changes hands, everyone goes on their merry way, no harm no foul.  When you Flattr someone without an account, the money is NOT taken out of your account until and unless that person signs up.  This means that if the money is taken out of your account you know it went to the person you intended it for.  And if that person decides not to join the Flattrverse, your money stays safely where it is

I always assumed this was how Kachingle worked.

It’s not.

Kachingle has created quite a stir lately for its practice of donating unclaimed money to charity.  Hey, everyone hates cancer, right?  But as noble as it is to give to charity, taking money intended for someone else–especially struggling creators–is not so noble.  Robin Hood didn’t steal from the poor and give to the poor.  If netizens want to give to charity, they give to charity.

And then there’s the problem of Kachingle’s fee.   Like Flattr, they take a percentage of every transaction, (supposedly, business people need to eat too.)   While Kachingle’s takes 15%, Flattr only takes 10% (they do need to eat, but I guess since they are European, they don’t have that American appetite.)  But the percentage is not the problem.  The problem is that even when the money does not go to the intended recipient (when they choose not to join) Kachingle gets 15%.  Not so with Flattr because if they can’t find the intended recipient, they don’t take the money.

Besides the handling of money, there’s another key difference between the two companies…

2) Flattr is a community and you know it.

The feeling when you walk through the “doors” of the Flattr site is entirely different from the feeling when you walk into the Kachingle site.  Again and again and again from their site to their blog to their tweets, the Flattr folks are all about community.  I love recommending it to people because you’re not recommending a paycheck, you’re recommending a great and growing group of people who love online creations and creating.  While this is not absent from the Kachingle site, it is less emphasized.  I see Kachingle as a payment system and not much more–not because it can’t be more, but because it isn’t painted as more.

This is not a functional difference but a … symbolic one.  I’ve spoken before on approaching the internet from a money-making vs. community-building standpoint, and I believe that Flattr’s position firmly in the latter category will be a positive force in their development and success.

With all that said, I hope Kachingle evolves and thrives and gives the online community some choice and competition for supporting great content.

But whatever your preference . . . have  a happy Pay A Blogger Day!

3 Responses to “Flattr and Kachingle – What’s the difference?”

  1. Lawrence Krubner

    I strongly agree with this statement:

    “I believe that Flattr’s position firmly in the latter category will be a positive force in their development and success.”

    At this point I am having trouble seeing the argument for type of “tip jar journalism” that Kachingle has promoted. I am sure someone will eventually find a way to pay for great journalism, but I don’t think Kachingle is the company that has done that. I briefly worked for Kachingle (for 4 weeks) and was surprised at the level of internal disharmony. The founder, Cynthia Typaldos, had very serious disagreements with the CEO, Fred Dewey. I am being polite here: really, the style and tone of the arguments were shocking. Fred Dewey has a fascinating personality, but it is often difficult to figure out how sincere he is. He promotes what he calls “Loved based leadership.” He even offers workshops about how love and spirituality can change your life. He is active on the New Age circuit. And yet he demonstrated a volcanic temper. The company continues to move forward, but I am not clear what they can promise at this point. It seems clear the basic idea is not catching on. So who would want to trust the future of their magazine or newspaper to them?

    • aeliusblythe

      That’s fascinating.

      I didn’t know anything about the inner workings of Kachingle. Don’t know much about the inner workings of Flattr either – though they seem like a happy bunch, always talking about community and encouragement, and constantly looking for ways to evolve Flattr how and where it’s needed. On the Flattr blog you can see all the ongoing work they are doing with different platforms and developments and whatnot. Seriously, those guys (and girls!) are tireless!

      But there’s one thing that the Internet’s flood of ideas always reminds me: everyone’s got ideas, opportunities, something to say, something to contribute; some of them take off, some of them don’t, some of them evolve, some of them stagnate. Sometimes, you just need the right people at the right time to get something to catch on. I don’t know if Kachingle are the wrong people, or if Flattr are the right people. But time will tell…

  2. Lawrence Krubner

    You make a very good point about the evolution of ideas:

    “everyone’s got ideas, opportunities, something to say, something to contribute; some of them take off, some of them don’t, some of them evolve, some of them stagnate”

    Most startups change their basic idea a few times on the path to success. I would guess that one of the factors that allows success is having the right team. I am impressed with the way that the folks at Flattr manage to present themselves to the public — there is a lot of positive talk about supporting the community. At least so far, Flattr seems to have read the mood of what people want in terms of supporting content. And they seem ready to evolve their idea further. By comparison, the folks at Kachingle also want to change their model and evolve their idea, yet they spend so much time fighting, I have trouble imagining that they will have an easy time of growing.


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