Popula’s goal is to restore a human dimension to the internet. Today we’re taking a huge step in this direction by offering readers a way to give direct support to the Popula writers and artists whose work they like. Tipping is here!
Here’s how it works: at the end of each Popula story, there’s now an option to send the author direct microtips in Ethereum cryptocurrency (ETH): All you need is a little ETH and a MetaMask wallet. Click the button at the bottom of the story or comic to leave your tip—it takes a matter of seconds.
Tips will go directly to authors’ wallets, which are registered at the Popula website.*
If you already have MetaMask installed and some ETH, tipping authors at Popula is completely self-explanatory and beautiful, thanks to our inestimable brother-in-arms Matthew McVickar, who designed and built this system.
If you’re new to crypto: MetaMask is a crypto wallet that goes right in your browser, and takes just a few moments to set up. It will take a little while to open an account to buy ETH (you can buy it using an ordinary debit card) at an exchange such as Coinbase, Kraken or Gemini; there are a few steps to it, but it’s not that difficult.
More detailed information can be found on the page, How to Tip Your Favorite Authors with Cryptocurrency on Popula!
So long as Popula is online, authors will be able to accept direct compensation from readers!! It’s true.
Special offer for Popula subscribers
with paid Reader or Galaxy Brain subscriber accounts:
Send us your MetaMask address (at email@example.com)
and receive $2 worth of ETH cryptocurrency
to try microtipping your favorite authors!
We don’t anticipate a huge revenue stream for authors, at least not at first. This is a first step. But the larger idea is that work with lasting value will attract tips from users well into the future; as a person keeps writing or drawing for years or decades, we believe it will add up to a meaningful source of income.
In other words, what we are trying to create is less a business strategy than a paradigm shift in how we share and compensate people for published work.
Machines can record facts, but only people can tell the truth. So if we want the truth, it should depend on people, not machines.
Instead of using machines to determine who is paid and how, people can decide for themselves. That encourages the production of writing and art that people like, and need, instead of writing and art that ad tech companies, platforms and investors like and need. And there’s a separate consideration: Instead of reading what Facebook, Amazon, or Google decide to put in front of you, you can decide for yourself, from what we believe will be an increasingly rich and varied free and independent press.
These goals are reflected in our magazine: People from all different backgrounds, professions, and places publish their work at Popula in their own voices. We get out of the way of what they want to say as much as possible. We investigate institutions and ideas of all kinds from new perspectives.
From a practical business perspective, though, institutional, corporate and even political pressures have grown so huge for independent publishers that a sustainable business model for the kind of work we are doing seems almost out of reach. However, we believe that aiming for sustainability rather than growth, and encouraging individual readers to support Popula—and through us, new models that other publications can benefit from—is a worthwhile and viable idea.
In December, Popula made history by becoming the first publication in the world to publish a news story directly onto the Ethereum blockchain, demonstrating that journalism can be archived beyond the reach of censors or bad actors. Direct tips are an equally valuable way in which blockchain technology can protect speech rights and the independent press. If you’re an author, imagine if everything you’d ever published was still out there and still able to earn income. Pieces you wrote years ago that have grown in influence, that are taught in schools or come suddenly back into vogue. Over the course of a career, we’re confident that this kind of revenue stream will add up to a new and more secure payment model for our profession.
Efforts in the direction of micropayments have been made since the dawn of the internet—some may remember Beenz, Readability or Flooz—but we think that cryptocurrency provides the frictionless, cost-effective method we’ve all been waiting for. Unlike cumbersome credit-card payments or bank transfers, cryptocurrency is cost-effective and (once you get the hang of it) extremely simple to use. Crypto puts direct support from readers within our reach as writers, editors and publishers.
Plus it’s a lot of fun to use these new technologies! Please come and take them for a spin, and tip the next Popula author whose work you love.
* This paragraph was updated 5/21/19 to reflect necessary changes based on recent guidance on cryptocurrency transactions from FINCEN.