The Internet is valuable.
The vast majority of content online is available to the public for free. This is one of the defining characteristics of our time— unprecedented public access to the world’s collected knowledge and creative works— and this access greatly benefits us all.
Good publishing is hard.
Although tools make online publishing easier than ever, creating valuable, useful content will always involve time, effort, and resources. The amazing thing about the Internet is how much of it is produced as part of a labor of love, community contribution, or personal endeavor.
Selling content doesn’t work.
Publishing online is often hindered by either the practical limits of an unpaid, hobby-level effort, or the misaligned goals of incompatible business models. Pay-walls and paid subscription strategies have mostly failed for web publishers, in part because on the Internet there is usually a free alternative.
Advertising is not sufficient.
Online advertising has become the primary monetization strategy for web publishing, but while it works for the very most popular sites, it isn’t fruitful for the majority of publishers. Most advertising doesn’t give publishers very clear feedback about the value of their content to their audience— it only tells them how well the advertisement matches their audience. Additionally, while advertising can complement web publishing in tasteful amounts, many struggling publishers choose to display so many advertisements that their audience suffers.
Community-supported web publishing can work!
We think creative works that benefit the public should be supported by the public, in a way that can steadily increase both the quantity and quality of these works. A voluntary service that lets users connect their donations with specific links to online content can enable such public support, but only if it is transparent in its operation and has goals worthy of public trust. This is why we’ve built TipTheWeb as a non-profit organization that focuses on helping the community support publishers instead of maximizing profits.
So we built TipTheWeb.
At the end of the day, it comes down to this: we think something like TipTheWeb should exist. Once we started thinking about it, we couldn’t stop— every time we found something online that we liked, we couldn’t help but think “I really want to tip this!”. So we built it!