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idea for a web app that could make billions (plumnickel)

paul wheaton
Trailboss

Joined: Dec 14, 1998
Posts: 20538
    ∞

(I ran this by the staff years ago and realized that nobody ran with it - so I offer it here to see if it might be of interest to anyone else)

Something just clicked in my head ...

I remember on-line services of the 1980's and 1990's .... and the larger ones ended up charging to have access - rightly so. Hell, compuserve was $12.50 per hour! These charges made these sites possible. The better sites were able to earn more money, and, thus, provide more quality content.

Today, we sorta take quality internet content for granted (or, for granite - a common substance of nearly zero value).

I remember and old scheme in the 1990's that had evolved was where people would pay pennies, or fractions of pennies, for downloads, or for articles, or whatever. In the end, somebody that used a service a lot might pay $5.00 per month (keep in mind that this would include the cost of the service provider providing a phone line on their end for you to dial into). With the internet, common, everyday people are providing excellent content and seeing something like $3.00 per month income for 5000 views.

When I'm trying to figure something out, or learn something new, it seems that I usually come across five pages that are crap and then one page that is quite helpful. That helpful page might save me hours, or even days, of trial and error to figure something out.

What if, on one's browser, one could have a sort of tool bar that could have an image of a coin. And when you are on a lovely page, one could click on the coin and then pick something like a penny, or a nickel, or even a tenth of a cent. Your browser would then submit that to some sort of authority that would move funds from your account the author's account.

Later, the author of, say, 20 articles, can see which articles seem to be the most appreciated ...

Oh well ... just a thought ... it seems like one of those things that if one expresses it, it could turn into something real some day.


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Ulf Dittmer
Marshal

Joined: Mar 22, 2005
Posts: 41591
    
  55
You may interested in the PayBITS scheme that the Apple site www.tidbits.com is using. They have a weekly newsletter where every so often an article has a link to Paypal, asking for a small donation if the reader found it useful. There's a lengthy writeup about it at http://www.tidbits.com/paybits/ It also goes into some depth on what kind of content might be suitable/profitable for something like this.


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fred rosenberger
lowercase baba
Bartender

Joined: Oct 02, 2003
Posts: 11250
    
  16

i've seen a lot of little flash games that are free to download/play in your browser, but on the menu of the game is a link to make a donation to the creator. when you click it you go to a paypal screen and can donate as little or as much as you want - it's really not that much unlike our 'tip jar', except a little more 'in your face'. I'd honestly have to search a little to find it here - i think it's off the main www.javaranch.com page, but i'm not positive.


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Bert Bates
author
Sheriff

Joined: Oct 14, 2002
Posts: 8815
    
    5
Us author-types are hoping that folks will realize that while there's lots o' free stuff on the internets, their time has value too!


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Paul Clapham
Bartender

Joined: Oct 14, 2005
Posts: 18541
    
    8

Granite? No value? That certainly wasn't the case when I redid my kitchen counters last year.

But yeah, micropayments, people have been wishing for that for a long time. I think their time has passed, though... I can easily imagine some malware that lives in your browser and sends a few pennies off to the russian mafia from time to time. Get that malware into a few hundred thousand computers and you could get rich quick.
paul wheaton
Trailboss

Joined: Dec 14, 1998
Posts: 20538
    ∞

I guess the idea I'm trying to throw out there is something where instead of it being the author asking for money, that it is something that I could put into my browser and then as I go along I could drop a few nickels. And that's another thing - the paypal stuff is usually a whole lotta clicks - generally too much hassle for a nickel.

This way, the author doesn't ask for nickels, but does get nickels. And if the content is really good, then maybe 1 person out of 3 will toss in a nickel. And for 5000 views, that would be getting close to a hundred bucks. At a rate like that, Bert and Kathy might earn more on-line than via printed media.

I suppose in many ways, some ad stuff sort of does this now. And usually pays about a nickel.

Maybe that's the interim solution. When I see a page that I like, I should make it a point to click on advertisement-ish stuff on the page. Not because I care about the product advertised, but because I wish to express value for the content.

.... I just had another thought ... what if forums showed a nickel next to the name of all posters. Anybody/everybody could collect nickels. The person with the original question might throw a nickel at the person with the best answer. And then the 500 people that read the thread later because google brought them there because they had the same question ...

I read the paybits thing Ulf - the dollars are a bit higher, and that's cool. I guess I'm just thinking that it would be neat to have a system where you could single click and then go on with your life. Maybe the toolbar could have a penny, a nickel, a quarter, a dollar and a coin with a question mark on it where I can specify something else. Some people might set theirs up to be $10, $5, $1, etc. And others might be more like a dime through a tenth of a cent.

I like the idea of dropping a nickel without clicking on an ad.

I like the idea of dropping a nickel without having to turn it into five clicks where I am worrying about security stuff.

I like the idea of dropping off a nickel for a page that doesn't ask for a nickel. Maybe after a few months, the intermediate organization will have accumulated $50 for a cool page and the author just needs to step up and claim it.

It seems like a business model that could make some java programmers that implement it freaky rich. After all, it seems like there isn't all that much to it. And then maybe when said java programmers have earned 20 billion, you'll remember that Paul guy and slip him enough to buy a farm.
paul wheaton
Trailboss

Joined: Dec 14, 1998
Posts: 20538
    ∞

Originally posted by Paul Clapham:
Granite? No value? That certainly wasn't the case when I redid my kitchen counters last year.



I think the value was in in moving and shaping the granite. After all, I suspect that you didn't drive out to the natural granit u-pick lot.
paul wheaton
Trailboss

Joined: Dec 14, 1998
Posts: 20538
    ∞

Originally posted by Paul Clapham:


But yeah, micropayments, people have been wishing for that for a long time. I think their time has passed, though... I can easily imagine some malware that lives in your browser and sends a few pennies off to the russian mafia from time to time. Get that malware into a few hundred thousand computers and you could get rich quick.


I guess the micro payment add in for the browser would need to come from a trusted source.

And there could be ways to verify your payments. If you know that all of your payments have to do with java, and you see some stuff about vacation stuff, you could be able to revisit the page and be able to mark the page as "I smell a rat".

Security and integrety would open a big door of "what if" questions, all of which, I think, could be mitigated.
Mapraputa Is
Leverager of our synergies
Sheriff

Joined: Aug 26, 2000
Posts: 10065
At a rate like that, Bert and Kathy might earn more on-line than via printed media.

He, just a couple days ago saw a similar idea trialed in this blog:
http://paperpools.blogspot.com/2007/08/cormac-mccarthy-semi-colon.html


"PayPal Donation Trial

Readers sometimes make the sensible decision to buy a book "As New" for $1.70 + $3.99 postage rather than for $14.95 with free shipping in an order of $20 or more. The author gets nothing on a secondhand sale -- but then, the author would get only $1.12 on the new book. To send the author $1.12 the reader would have to pay an extra $9.24. That's a pretty expensive goodwill gesture.

Goodwill doesn't have to cost that much. PayPal takes 30 cents + 3% on each transaction; if you send the author $1.50 by PayPal she will get $1.15. So only 35 cents of the goodwill gesture goes to a middleman. It would look like highway robbery if we hadn't seen the competition."


Uncontrolled vocabularies
"I try my best to make *all* my posts nice, even when I feel upset" -- Philippe Maquet
paul wheaton
Trailboss

Joined: Dec 14, 1998
Posts: 20538
    ∞

I think paypal would not make a good model for this. (unless you could do this only with the paypal stuff that does not allow credit cards)

I think something like this could be funded with paypal.

The idea is that I could give $20 to plumnickel.com (the domain is available) via paypal. I could then proceed to drop nickels all over the place. It would probably take me at least a month to get rid of $20 worth of nickels.

It is possible that half of that will not be collected in the next year. No big deal to me. I tried. I'll trust that plumnickel will hold on to those funds forever. If they wanna earn some interest on it in the meantime, that's fine by me.

I suppose some stuff could be provided as a pre-pay model: An author could charge a dime for a chapter in a book, or a buck for the whole book. And after reading a book or a chapter, a person could drop in a few more nickels.
paul wheaton
Trailboss

Joined: Dec 14, 1998
Posts: 20538
    ∞

This idea just keeps whizzing around in my head.

When people come to put in $20 (or whatever) to fund their account, there could be a legal agreement that says:


    (this is the part where we cover our ass)

    1) I hereby give permission to the geeks that run plumnickel.com to take this money and piss it away as they see fit. I understand I am basically throwing this money away.

    2) I promise to never sue plumnickel.com or anybody that works there.



    To claim funds, folks set up a plumnickel account and they then get something they can stick into the html to show that that page ties to their account.

    They can also get html fragments that can be stuffed into pages to harvest plum nickels. That way, if a person is using a forum and they want to give the opportunity to receive the nickel, they can put the plumnickel thing in their signature.

    Next, a variety of web services can be provided. Each web service call will cost something like a hundredth of a cent from a plumnickel account. One service could be fed up to a hundred URL's and they can then be returned in the order of ... what plumnickel thinks people like the most. Another service could be to retrieve a record of all donations to you from a specific PN account (they say they just bought a book).
paul wheaton
Trailboss

Joined: Dec 14, 1998
Posts: 20538
    ∞

I think that if this existed, the person that created it could earn billions.

I think that we will see a big shift toward quality content on the internet.

Ulf Dittmer
Marshal

Joined: Mar 22, 2005
Posts: 41591
    
  55
Sounds similar to what Flattr does (which of course didn't exist in 2008). You'd transfer a fixed amount each month to them (at least $2), and at the end of the month it's divvied up amongst all articles on which you clicked the "Flattr" button. If you clicked just one article, they get $2, if you clicked hundred articles, each gets 2 cents. Either way, the month's amount is given away fully. (I think if you didn't Flattr anything in a month it goes to charity).
paul wheaton
Trailboss

Joined: Dec 14, 1998
Posts: 20538
    ∞

Ulf,

I checked out flatter .... yes, it is close. I set up an account and put it on my cast iron article. I might set it up for a few more things and see how it goes.

Do you use flattr? Does anyone here use flattr?
Ulf Dittmer
Marshal

Joined: Mar 22, 2005
Posts: 41591
    
  55
I'm not using it on the "receiving" side, but it's on my list to sign up for on the "giving" side. I like the idea of micro-payments, and am convinced that they will come one way or another. Also, that it's a new twist on the concept, since everyone can sign up to be on the receiving end w/o having to deal with merchant accounts and such. I see it used more often around the web lately, although it's obviously still far from reaching critical mass.
paul wheaton
Trailboss

Joined: Dec 14, 1998
Posts: 20538
    ∞

I fiddled with flattr for a long time and in the end I decided that I don't like it.

What I do like, however, is http://tiptheweb.org --- I've been talking to them for a while now and have switched my cast iron article over to them yesterday. their stuff is set up VERY similar to my plum nickel idea. I'll let you all know how this works out.

paul wheaton
Trailboss

Joined: Dec 14, 1998
Posts: 20538
    ∞

I said a bit more about tiptheweb here.
 
I agree. Here's the link: http://aspose.com/file-tools
 
subject: idea for a web app that could make billions (plumnickel)