Retribute, a decentralized community wealth sharing platform

Hi there, I’ve originally joined Grant For The Web, because I’m contributing to a project called Retribute. However, I forgot to introduce the project properly, so here I am today :wink:

What is Retribute?

At its core, Retribute is a lightweight set of standards, and APIs to make the job of supporting creators on the web easier. It’s heavily inspired by technologies such as RSS feeds or Indieweb’s rel-me.

The general idea is that we’re interacting with a lot of content nowadays, on many distinct platforms. Twitter, YouTube, an indie blog, you name it. And as much as we me want to fund the people behind this content, it’s not possible to keep a track of this and remember to tip each creator individually. The information isn’t structured enough: sometimes, links to donations platform are in a video description, sometimes in a page footer, sometimes in a dedicated page, etc.

Retribute is an attempt to solve this problem by allowing:

  • Content creators and platforms to expose their donation links/info is a structured, machine-readable way
  • Community members and potential tippers to automatically receive suggestions of creators to tip based on their activity on various platforms, and their budget

All of this without relying on centralization, and without compromising user privacy.

How does it look?

We have a prototype app that showcase our advancement and rely on the standards and piece of technologies we’re building, at https://app.retribute.me/. If you’re a Mastodon, PeerTube or Funkwhale user, you can connect your accounts on the app, and it should suggest you creators to tip based on your activity on each of this platforms.

I’ve also included a video demo below:

A few notes about this app:

  • All the account and activity data is handled in the browser
  • The only third-party service called is an open source API we develop as part of our effort. It is called without any user data, and only to retrieve donation links from creator profiles.
  • We’re developping it as a way to showcase our progress, but other apps with different features could be built. E.g a native mobile or desktop apps, browser extensions, etc.

Backward compatibility

A huge part of our work is to ensure Retribute is backward compatible and frictionless for creators. It means that creators don’t have to know or do anything about Retribute to start appearing in suggestions of Retribute users.

This is done primarily through the crawling of creator profiles and extraction of links to popular donation platforms (Patreon, PayPal, etc.).

Of course, though, creators willing to leverage more Retribute features would be able to do so, but we don’t want this to be a requirement.

No lock-in

Retribute in itself doesn’t handle user payments. Contributors and creators are free to use and advertise the donation platform(s) of their choice. We believe this is important for backward compatibility, as well as for not forcing everyone into using a single ecosystem or provider (which creates centralization).

As a creator, you can use virtually advertise any URL as a support mean. A Patreon, PayPal or Ko-Fi profile, but also an Amazon wishlist, a tip jar, a page where people can post “thank you” comments… Support for non-web payments providers like bank wiretransfers or cryptocurrency can also be implemented.

Simplicity

There’s a huge emphasis on simplicity in all the components of the project. The main reason is that we want this to be accessible and hackable by the widest possible audience.

As a creator hosting your content on a third-party platform (e.g YouTube or Twitter), our end goal is to make Retribute work for you without any action.

As a creator with a personal website (such as a blog or static HTML sice), our end goal is to make Retribute integration as easy as copy pasting a JSON file in your site and adding a <meta> tag in your HTML.

As a content platform owner or developper (YouTube, Twitter, Reddit, etc.) willing to support Retribute, our end goal is to make this as simple as possible. If you can generate a RSS feed, then you basically can generate a Retribute suggestions feed for your users.

Conlusion and links

I’m going to stop there, but if you are interested in knowing more about the project, you can check out these links (I’m not allowed to post more than two links, so check post below).

And of course, I’d be happy to answer any question you may have, here or in private!

Thank you for reading!

2 Likes

Official website is available at https://retribute.me, and I’ve included a few more links as raw text below, because Discourse won’t allow me to post more than two links:


- [Official website for the project](https://retribute.me)
- [Prototype app built around the standards](https://app.retribute.me)
- [Chat room](https://riot.im/app/#/room/#retribute:matrix.org)
- [Forum](https://governance.funkwhale.audio/g/L4AfDozC/funkwhale-retribute)
- [Current specifications (WIP)](https://dev.funkwhale.audio/retribute.me/spec/merge_requests)
- [Design considerations](https://eliotberriot.com/2019/06/16/retribute-technical-architecture.html)
- [First announcement of the project and non-technical overview](https://eliotberriot.com/2019/06/09/introducing-retribute-a-decentralized-open-effort-to-support-creators.html)

I wonder what fraction of consumers actually donate to content creators this way (voluntarily). Do you have any numbers?

By the way, the arrow between the Contributor and Content platform in the “square” diagram should point the other way (IMHO).