Advertising sucks. Everyone, with the possible exception of actual advertisers, seems to agree with that. Almost immediately after the invention of mass media, advertisers have been getting their stink on it, interrupting our televisions shows, inserting itself into what would otherwise be considered art, and censoring our journalists.
That is why we started CoinJournal, to attempt to build the next model, a model where the readers and not the advertisers decide what comes next. That is the same reason that Chris Ellis and five other team members created ProTip. After a fairly successful flex-funded IndieGogo campaign, personal illness and a long development cycle, ProTip is finally moving out of the beta stage and into something that can be used by regular users. It is available now, in the Chrome Web Store.
I wrote about ProTip during its IndieGoGo campaign while working at CoinTelegraph, and things are much the same as they were then. The difference is that everything (so far) is bug free and just works. For those out of the loop, ProTip is basically a bitcoin wallet inside of a browser extension that make it simple to donate to the content creators that users visit most often.
After filling up the wallet and setting a weekly budget, ProTip automatically looks for bitcoin addresses on websites and will keep track of how often you see them. At the end of the week or on the schedule the user sets, the top addresses will receive a portion of the user’s budget based on how often that user saw the address. The idea being, is that the most commonly seen addresses are the ones the user most likely wants to donate to.
Of course, bitcoin addresses are everywhere, and users may be hesitant to just let a chrome extension determine where their hard earned charitable donations go to. To handle this, ProTip allows users to white and blacklist certain bitcoin addresses and web domains. It also keeps track of what site the user ran into the address on. At the end of the week, the user can look them over before hitting the final approval button and sending out his or her donations. Every address it picks up is also highlighted in green and can be easily blacklisted through the browser.
The great thing about ProTip is that it doesn’t require anything, other than a bitcoin address, for the website owner to add. If your site has a publicly viewable bitcoin address in it, it is already set up to accept donations from ProTip. And privacy minded users will be happy to note that everything is stored locally. That means nothing, no addresses, browsing history or donation habits will be sent to outside parties or ProTip itself.
I loved ProTip during my time testing its beta phase, or perhaps more accurately, I loved its potential. But I had to stop short of advocating its use because it was simply too buggy. Sometimes sending tips was as easy as hitting one button, sometimes that button wouldn’t do anything at all.
But that has not my experience with the new “ready for consumers” version officially released on the Chrome App store today. This version has been silky smooth and while I have only spent a few hours with it, the improvements are noticeable. If you are familiar with ProTip’s beta, then you will have no issues here, things work exactly as they did, only now, they work more often.
One feature that is notably missing is their planned “tickets” feature that would have allowed sites to sell subscription services. No word yet on why it was removed, but likely it wasn’t stable enough to be used at this time. Perhaps the feature will make a comeback later.
If the internet community wants to avoid the traps traditional media fell into, then it needs a new monetary system. Advertising is subversive to both entertainment, art and truth. Entertainers plan their shows around commercial breaks, movie directors figure out how to add a box of Oreo’s to a scene without it being too distracting. Everything from serious journalism to children shows are negatively affected by advertising. ProTip won’t change the world by itself, it is going to require a change of culture. People will have to understand the long term value of giving ten or twenty cents to a site or content creator, and how that is more beneficial to them in the long run than pocketing that change and watching an ad.
What ProTip is doing, is opening that door a bit, making it easier for users to donate than it is to forget. With ProTip there is no excuse not to donate, outside of stinginess. The readers, watchers, listeners still have to walk through that door, but at least now, it is a little bit wider.
ProTip can be downloaded here. We should have more from ProTip in the coming days.
Speaking of donating, we could really use your help. If you think the article you just read is worth a mBTC, we would love to have it. 1mBTC is less than a quarter at today’s prices and it will help keep us afloat.
Check out our donation page where you can affect the direction of the site, or use the QR code below.