Thursday, March 6, 2008

Woohoo! I made my first $0.10!

...on EconWeekly: A generous reader gave me a tip today.

If you visit the website you'll see this at the end of each post:

starting with my post from last week. (For people reading this on an RSS reader: there's a link to the tipping button at the end of the post. The company that created the tipping system still needs to figure out how to "embed the button" in the RSS feed. There's also a permanent link near the top right corner of

This is a service provided by tipjoy and makes it significantly easier to tip the creators of online content. It is more convenient than the "tip jars" that blogs and websites have used so far.

Felix Salmon and Aaron Schiff explain how it works. Here is tipjoy's FAQ.

Basically, the first time you want to give a tip you enter your e-mail address. Tipjoy will later request that you confirm your account, and they'll add the tip to your tab. The amount of the tip depends on what the tipped person specified. It can be $0.05, $0.10, $0.25 or $0.50.

You can pay your tab at any time, in amounts no smaller than $5 (you can have a credit and deduct the tips you give from there). Tip owners can collect their money as soon as they have a $5 balance in paid tips. For now, tipjoy can only pay in the form of gift cards at Amazon or by giving the money to charities. In the future, it looks like they'll be able to pay cash. Oh, and they keep 3% of earned tips.

When will this take off? There need to be enough websites that receive tips to make it worthwhile for readers to sign up for the service. For authors, there need to be enough tippers around to make it worthwhile to insert the buttons. On both sides, however, transactions costs are small.

My main concern is that users will neglect to pay their accumulated tab. Because the payment of individual tips is deferred (the tipper's credit card is not charged immediately) it's easy to imagine that tippers can accumulate unpaid tips and postpone the actual payment indefinitely. If tipjoy has no way to enforce the payment, the tipping never actually happens.

We'll see. For the moment, I'm letting the (still virtual) dough roll in, one dime at a time.

(Clicking that button gives $0.10 to Francisco.) Join tipjoy! How does tipping work?

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