Why ChangeTip is Important for Bitcoin Activism
If you haven’t used ChangeTip before, it’s pretty neat. The service, primarily used by Reddit up until recently, is simple: ChangeTip creates a digital “tip jar” for each user of a service. People can put money into their jar by linking a Bitcoin wallet, and can then transfer money into other people’s tip jars simply by posting on the service and invoking the right magic words.
A ChangeTip command might look something like this:
“This is a great comment! /u/changetip $1.00 verify ”
This command, posted publicly, transfers one dollar’s worth of Bitcoin out of the user’s tip jar and into the tip jar of the person they’re replying to. That money can be tipped to someone else, or withdrawn to a privately-controlled Bitcoin wallet.
All ChangeTip transactions are off-blockchain, so they happen instantly, although you do have to trust the ChangeTip service to actually deliver your money. Due to the trivial sums involved, this trust is less odious than it might otherwise be (worst case, you’re out the $20 you keep in your ChangeTip jar at any given time). Changetip can be used, for now, on Reddit, Twitter, and YouTube. Its creators are looking to expand it pretty much everywhere. Their long-term goal is to fundamentally change the nature of e-commerce.
In practice, ChangeTip represents a kind of whuffie: a way for people to publicly show appreciation of content and commentary that they enjoy. Bitcoin value is scarce in a way that “upvotes” or “likes” are not, and the ability to signal appreciation in a more meaningful way is really cool. It also creates a direct way to reward people for creating things you like – and, as Bitcoin grows, it isn’t out of the question that it could become possible for artists and journalists to make their livings directly from these sorts of low-fee tipping microtransactions – a model that is notably less problematic than advertising.
In the more immediate term, though, ChangeTip is important because it represents one of the largest (and certainly the most pleasant) public face of Bitcoin for internet users. Getting money thrown at you is one of the most pleasant ways to be introduced to a concept, and Bitcoin is no exception. Plus, the existence of ChangeTip drops the barrier to entry of participation in the Bitcoin economy to it’s minimum possible level: existing. There’s no managing wallets or registering accounts needed to receive transactions: it just happens, and that’s important.
If you’re excited about Bitcoin advocacy and would like to help improve its reputation and get people using it, ChangeTip is a powerful tool to help you use that, and it’d be wrong to neglect it. A single tip can cause both the recipient and other observers to get interested in Bitcoin – it might even help to overturn negative preconceptions they have about the currency.