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A Proposed Web Bug-based Micropayment Model

Use the dreaded web bug for good, not evil. Librenix has the story. This system would have tiny overhead for each micropayment. The web bug plus the code and cookies could be as small as a few hundred bytes, perhaps less than 1 percent of the size of the typical web page. All of the actual micropayment would be automated, lowering the overhead cost for the micropayment to a properly micro amount. My guess based only on the costs of online advertising is that payments under a cent would be viable with this method. Note:Original author, come forth, and claim your user name, now that user logins should be good again.


I'm not sure I see why this is any better than any other system. You could do this just about as easily, with less programming, with, say, a hosting company that takes the micropayments as part of its own process (entirely hosted content, including a content management system, or whatever). Or with a site-proxied reporting system, which would at least allow the site to do some of its own auditing (there are a multitude of systems to make sure that the site vender isn't generating traffic for themselves on behalf of some lucky user, depending on how much work you want to go to). What's new here?

As a potential client, I'd be worried that I wouldn't know exactly how much I'd be paying to visit a given site. Plus, what if I turn off images, or have a simple proxy filter running? Also, what about people who browse behind caching proxies? Either few micropayments would occur, or they proxy couldn't cache the contents.

I would actually think that the only real way to do this (without breaking any existing stuff) is to have this be purely server side, with the server tracking the contents served. I'd be worried about being double charged if I refreshed the page.

A somewhat different question - why are micropayments better than near-unlimited subscriptions on a monthly or annual basis? I much prefer unmetered internet access, even if I'm paying a little more than I'd pay with metered access. This allows me to play online games if I want without worrying about bandwidth, etc, and I'd think I'd enjoy reading a magazine a lot more if each webpage didn't cost a little more.

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