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comment by rrrrr
rrrrr  ·  394 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Anyone using the Brave browser?

I use it and I like it. It's fast and the user interface is nice and clear. And I like having ads and trackers blocked by default. And I like that it's open source. Brave is the browser I go to when Firefox is acting buggy. However, it doesn't support any extensions, which can be a pain.

But I have some doubts about their business model, which is basically to have users pay some money that gets distributed among the websites they visit, based on the amount of traffic they give to each site. The aim is to give the site owners a way to make money that doesn't depend on intrusive ads, and thereby to improve the quality of the web. Meanwhile, Brave takes a cut of the payments so they can stay in business.

It's a noble enough goal, but I wonder about the practicalities of it.

Firstly, buying bitcoin: I tried setting up their Brave Payments and got bogged down in the process of trying to buy Bitcoin. After a couple of attempts I decided it was too time consuming and I'd have to do it when I had a spare hour or two. This is a disincentive. (As is having your wallet managed by some site you have no reason to trust.) They need a more frictionless payment system if people are going to buy in.

Secondly, how are they going to pay the website owners? How do you track down and pay every owner of every website out there? How do you verify you're paying the real owner of the site? Grooveshark was a great music sharing site that promised to pay the rights owners based on the music you listened to, but they got shut down for not keeping up with payments. I don't know whether Grooveshark were acting in good faith but perhaps they did intend to pay, only to find the world of music licensing overwhelmingly complex. Others (Spotify, etc.) have kind of resolved the issue but only by giving too much power and money to middlepeople, while the actual content makers get squeezed. How complex is "pay everyone who owns a website"? Will we end up with a proliferation of website payment clearing houses, website rights management agencies, etc.? But maybe Brave has smart people working on this.

Thirdly, what happens when other browsers emerge using the same business model? Do they each set up independent payment systems for website owners? Do website owners have to deal with each browser maker individually? Do browsers then start to compete to get website owners to use their payments system and not their competitors', and to drive traffic towards their browser? Remember each browser maker takes a cut of the revenue. What then are the ramifications of this as it plays out across the web? When happens when one browser gets a market lead? Do you then have to use (and pay) that browser to see all the most popular websites? It seems like we could end up with something like Net Non-Neutrality Hell only with the browser rather than the intertubes.

Fourthly, isn't there way more money in amassing and selling information on users' habits than there is in one-off micropayments for content producers? Ad networks are partly about the ads and partly about the tracking. User profiling seems to be where the money's at these days (witness Microsoft charging you for Windows then using it go gather a ton of data about you). Faced with the choice of ads and trackers or micropayments and no ads or trackers, won't many websites simply choose the former because it's more lucrative?

I'm not a business person and maybe these aren't insurmountable difficulties. But I do wonder how viable the model is.

mk  ·  394 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I agree that these are all good questions. Brave is moving from Bitcoin to Ethereum, and they are going to be using a token called the BAT or basic attention token. I'm not sure if it will make the experience better or worse. There seems to be a number of approaches to get crypto into the browser (like the metamask extension, or dApp browsers like Mist). Who knows if this approach will work. At least they have a lot of experience behind them.

Content has been polluted by ads. I'm willing to support experimenting with new models.

rrrrr  ·  394 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Absolutely. These are questions, not reasons to give up on the project. I hope they can make it work.