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Passive tip jars?

As a user of the Adblock Plus add-on for Firefox, every time I visit the Daily Kos I’m asked to Subscribe! since I’m not contributing to the site by viewing ads. While I feel a bit of a freeloader, and I’d be OK with paying some nominal amount per visit, I also don’t feel particularly inclined to charge my credit card in dribs and drabs all over the Web.

The problem of micropayments has plagued the Web since the late 1990s, and a combination of Adsense and iTunes has band-aided several aspects of the problem. But, as Doc Searls’ Project VRM asks, why are the vendors managing consumers rather than the other way around?

I think most of us now realize that good content is rarely free, but I am not content paying for it with my “eyeballs” (and mindshare). Imagine, instead, if a plug-in like Adblock Plus replaced all your ads with a tip jar — either one that passively paid the site $.01 from your kitty with each view, or that offered you the affirmative choice to throw a few coins in the hat. Why not cut out the middleman?

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