Salon.com today opened up its new hosted blog network, Open Salon, which not only allows its readers (or anybody else for that matter) to create their own blogs, but also has a built-in tipping mechanism to reward writers for their best content. As a blog host, Open Salon's feature set is similar to that of Wordpress.com or Blogger, but the differentiating feature for Open Salon is clearly the 'Tippem' tip jar which is prominently featured on every page.Online magazine
Standard Blogging Platform
As a blogging platform, Open Salon is about as standard as they come. The front page features a number of especially interesting posts as determined by the editors, as well as the ability to see the top rated, most read, and latest posts. Users can comment, rate, and save the posts on popular bookmarking sites like delicious, digg, and reddit. Open Salon also provides profiles and RSS feeds for every user. We were not able to determine if there was any way to post to Open Salon from a desktop blogging client, but at least for now, there is no indication that this would be possible, so users are restricted to posting from the rich-text editor provided on the site.
To process micropayments from the Tippem jar, Salon.com has chosen Revolution MoneyExchange, which is still officially in beta, but must have proven stable enough by now to be chosen by Salon.com over competitors like PayPal or OboPay. Salon.com has set the default tip amount to $1, with $0.10 being the minimum and $1000 the maximum amount one can tip (for tips of $1000, Open Salon advises you to contact the author directly).
It's important to note here that everybody who signs up from a Revolution MoneyExchange account from Open Salon immediately gets $10 to give away as tips from Open Salon. While this will surely seed the system at the beginning, the real question, as Caroline McCarthy also points out, will be if users will keep tipping after those first $10 have been exhausted. After all, it's easy to tip if it doesn't cost you anything.
Good Fit For Salon.com's Culture?
Given that most users on the web consider content to be free, it will be hard for Salon to foster a culture where paying for blog content becomes a regular event. But then, Salon.com is, of course, one of the few sites where a lot of the content is not free, but only available to subscribers or after being forced to watch a 15-second full screen advertisement. Because of this, Salon.com's audience might be more willing to pay for content than the average Internet user.
Tippem, by the way, is only available to US citizen at this point.