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Feb. 11, 2009, 8:01 a.m.

Paid content: Time for Tip Jar 2.0?

Steve Outing adds another angle to the ongoing debate about paid content with a discussion of an upcoming service with the unfortunately Dot-bomb-era name of Kachingle.

Basically Kachingle is a voluntary, centralized system that allows users to support the online publications they like. It’s compared in the article as an NPR-style donation system for publishers, but I like to think of it as a universal tip jar. If it works — and, like my post from yesterday said, “if” is the key phrase here — it would allow for a simple way for a user to pay any amount monthly that would be divvied up — minus a 20% cut for Kachingle — among all the sites that user had tagged as favorites.

As you can see, other than the initial effort of signing up for Kachingle and thus deciding to financially support online content, there is no mental transaction cost to the online user in visiting a news site or blog. Click, read, share any content as you’ve always done with no barriers in the way. The only mental effort expended is one time per Web site: Do I financially Support this site or not? If I support it, I make one click.

My mind immediately starts to try to poke holes in the idea — how to prevent click-fraud and spoofing, what to do about power-users who spend most of their time in a feed reader, how to marry it with social networking services to give supporters of particular publications the opportunity to share stories and influence readership patterns — but overall Kachingle, or something very much like it, strikes me as a no-brainer source of potential additional income for publishers. Why not give your fan-base the means to support you?

If there’s no costs to the publishers, and it’s treated as additional, not primary, revenue, what’s the downside? Tell me what I missed in the comments.

POSTED     Feb. 11, 2009, 8:01 a.m.
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