With all of the drama that has been unfolding as of late about Bitcoin sites and payola one question that has come up repeatedly from many on all sides of the issue is how can we pay writers for content online.
Many of the sites in question went on the record of saying they would not stop the practice of accepting payola articles, many users on Twitter also said they were okay with the payola practice because authors have to eat as well and they didn’t know of a better solution.
Could Syndicoin be a potential solution for this issue and for helping to fund sites that are producing content?
Syndicoin is an interesting concept created by developer Julian Haight that according to the Syndicoin website:
As you browse the web, Syndicoin keeps a private account of payment requests from participating sites.
When you are ready, visit Syndicoin to review and pay for the content you like. Remove items you dislike, then click pay. Review the payment in your bitcoin wallet before broadcasting it to the network.
By paying for content, you reward publishers and encourage them to rely on direct funding instead of ads.
The concept certainly sounds pretty amazing. As a reader of sites you don’t have to prefund a wallet, you don’t have to signup for any service. You simply browse the Internet as you normally do and allow sites to send suggested tips for content.
Coin Fire recently implemented the Syndicoin API and when you visit if you really like what you are reading you have the option to help fund this sort of journalism. Since so few publishers support Syndicoin directly Julian has created a Chrome Extension to help bridge the gap – it collects bitcoin donation addresses from sites that provide them, even if they do not support Syndicoin directly.
While visiting Coin Fire you may have noticed the small box up in the top right hand corner on page load. That is Syndicoin in action!
From the end user standpoint things couldn’t be much easier. Julian shows us what it looks like from the other end of things and how sending your donation is simple with Syndicoin. An invoice is generated and allows you to pay for what you want. If you don’t want to pay for a certain page you can simply delete it from the invoice and it will go away.
Coin Fire sat down with Julian to have him tell us more about Syndicoin.
Coin Fire: Thanks for taking some time to speak with us. What prompted you to create Syndicoin?
Julian: Of course first of all, I’m a bitcoin enthusiast. I believe in it as a store of value and transaction system. At the same time, my day job is webmaster for a content producer, parentmap.com. That job has me thinking about the content producer’s business model. I wanted to give content creators another option to monetize their work.
Coin Fire: What sort of challenges have you faced working on Syndicoin?
Julian: Obviously, the main challenge is adoption and critical mass.
The other challenge so far is in working with the two main wallets (bitcoin qt and bitcoin-wallet on android), making sure my system is compatible with both.
The technology syndicoin uses (bip70 – https://github.com/bitcoin/bips/blob/master/bip-0070.mediawiki) is new and the wallets don’t yet fully & consistently support it. I fixed one issue with bitcoin-qt which was giving me headaches and developed a work-around for bitcoin-wallet on android.
Another challenge came when producing a QR code. Originally, I had hoped to keep all transaction data on the client. I had to abandon that goal in order to produce a QR code (transaction data is often larger than a QR code can store).
Coin Fire: What are your future plans for Syndicoin?
Julian: I don’t have any big plans for enhancements. Responding to feedback I receive, supporting as many use-cases as I can. I want to keep the system
simple and streamlined — in line with the original concept.
My main goal now is promotion. I’ll beautify the site – add a logo & some more color.
Coin Fire: Bitcoin solves a lot of the micropayment issues that have been brought up in the past. What do you think it will take to make content makers offer tipping via Bitcoin at scale?
Julian: I think content producers will adopt it gradually. First the bitcoin community, but gradually more mainstream sites – if we can prove that users will pay voluntarily. That’s still the big question. I hope syndicoin and bitcoin will make it easy enough that we can show people will pay.
It will be interesting to see how bitcoin deals with the transaction volume issue. Gavin has said bitcoin isn’t really appropriate for micropayments.
He’s talking about payments less than a penny and I’m handling payments more in the $.25-$1 range. So maybe these aren’t “micropayments” in the sense he’s using. I hope greater minds than mine will solve the problem, making bitcoin able to handle more transactions more cheaply.
Syndicoin is attempting to address the issue by combining multiple transactions that aren’t time-sensitive into one. But that only goes so far. Bitcoin will need a better answer ultimately, even if it’s as basic as increasing the block size or block frequency.
It’ll be fun to see what happens. It’s an exciting time for bitcoin and I feel I’m getting started with syndicoin at just the right moment. I hope and trust we can find solutions and keep bitcoin running smoothly as it grows .. to the moon!