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Support for Web Monetization

I would be excited to see Web Monetization support added to Observable. Then people who create posts could receive a bit of money from for their work on Observable, and I just think Web Monetization is a really cool idea with a great community behind it.

Web Monetization is an API that provides a way for micropayments to be streamed anonymously from users to creators. It’s a more open and fair way of monetizing content without resorting to gross things like ads.

To make Web Monetization work, Observable posts would have to contain a <meta name="monetization" content="<<payment pointer>>"> with the post creator’s payment pointer.

I see two ways that Observable could allows its creators to use Web Monetization:

  1. Add a “Payment Pointer” field in the user’s profile settings. Once the user has entered a payment pointer in their profile, all their posts will have a <meta name="monetization" content="<<payment pointer>>"> tag with their payment pointer.

  2. Add an allow="monetization" attribute to the iframes which display cell values . Then users could just use html cells to add their own meta tags like so:

Here’s some more resources on Web Monetization:

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Actually the meta tag does not work on iframed content: Web Monetization

So idea 2 would not work.

So it needs to be a feature that affects the top level domain (observablehq.com) but I think it’s an excellent idea for motivating content production. The monetizatation system rewards total dwell time spend on a page, so it lends itself to browsing notebooks, where long lived content that people keep coming back to is rewarded more than a 5 second glance while rummaging.

I think it be a good feature maybe post it to Issues · observablehq/feedback · GitHub


I was part of some discussion on whether that part of the spec on support for iframes is up-to-date or not. Some other requests for comments, other pieces of official documentation, and some production apps using Web Monetization in iframes contradict the W3CCG spec you linked. But I think you are right, the spec should be followed in the case of adding a new feature to Θbservable.

I will look into posting it to the observablehq/feedback issues! I really appreciate your comment with research into the spec, your opinion on the idea, and your advice @tomlarkworthy. Cheers.

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I really want to see Web Monetization added as a feature here. Sites like write.as support this, and would be a great way to encourage folks to create notebooks here with substantial content.