Poll

If we have to move to a more expensive server, would you guys be OK with:

Ad banners
29 (22.5%)
Google text ads
48 (37.2%)
Annual donation drive
36 (27.9%)
Subscriptions for access to certain features
7 (5.4%)
Refer lots of people to PSMKay's webdesign company
8 (6.2%)
Another idea? Explain below
1 (0.8%)

Total Members Voted: 62

Voting closed: Mar 22, 2011, 07:00 pm

Author Topic: Too big for our breeches: Server update and poll  (Read 9805 times)

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PSMKay

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Too big for our breeches: Server update and poll
« on: Mar 15, 2011, 07:00 pm »
Hi guys.
 
You may have noticed that we had a little downtime today.  You may have also noticed the reason why up there ^^ in the news ticker.
 
3500 stage managers in one space do a LOT of talking.  Who knew? You guys are bestowing 10k-12k unique visits to the site per month, just over 2 million hits.
 
I'm pleased as punch that you love us so much.  My webhost is also pleased as they think they can jack me up from a $10/mo plan to a $200/mo plan overnight.  This is because we are putting about 10x the demand on the processor as most "normal" sites do.  I do not intend to comply with their dastardly plans, but we do need to move from our current baby-bear server over to a mama-bear server with all due speed.
 
I've taken several steps to keep us up and running.  You may notice some of them, others you won't:
 
  • Calendar of events disabled
  • Members who had not logged in for over 3 years and had never posted were deleted
  • Avatar handling has been adjusted.
  • I'm trying out Cloudflare to try and alleviate some of the demand on our server by distributing the load across many.
  • I've reset "unread posts" markers for members who have been inactive for more than a month.
  • List of "who's online" disabled.
  • Chat disabled.
These methods may be enough.  I'm seeing a big drop in server loads since I implemented the changes.  However, given that webhosts like mine are built to kick their users up to the most expensive plans by design, I don't hold out much hope.  Even if these stopgap measures are enough to keep us afloat for now, any future development to the site will be halted until we can expand our hosting capacity. 

Therefore, in addition to slimming down features for the time being, I'm also researching new hosts.  I'm hoping to transfer us to a more robust host without taking the hosting budget off the charts.  The transfer research and move will likely take several days.

In the event that we have to move to a more expensive plan, I'm hoping to get some feedback from you guys.  While I've accepted donations periodically (and am very grateful to the members who have donated!), I've pretty much covered SMNetwork out of pocket for the past 11 years.  I've considered it my donation back to the theatre industry.  However, there's a big difference between $200/yr and $500/yr.  I'm hoping you can give me some feedback on how best to help defray some of these expenses.


EDIT: have fixed poll to allow up to 3 choices.  I will only implement ONE of the choices.

EDIT to the edit for people finding this in the archives months later - we did move to a new server in March of 2011. A rapid-fire fundraising drive (detailed further on in this thread) raised about 2 years worth of hosting costs in less than four days.  The need for ads & donation drives is not quite so intense at this point although it may become so again come 2013.
« Last Edit: Mar 27, 2011, 01:03 am by PSMKay »

Mac Calder

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Re: Too big for our breeches: Server update and poll
« Reply #1 on: Mar 15, 2011, 07:16 pm »
Hey Kay -

All for adding google text adds - they are non-intrusive and don't add to the loading time of the page too much (and are occasionally a bit of a laugh to click on)...

Your host is definitely trying it on if they want 200 a month though (you can get a dedicated server which can handle far greater tasks than a forum like SMNetwork for way less than that)

MarcieA

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Re: Too big for our breeches: Server update and poll
« Reply #2 on: Mar 15, 2011, 07:56 pm »
I actually support all options, but could only pick 3 for the poll. Please keep us updated on costs, I want to donate!
Companions whom I loved and still love, tell them my song.

BayAreaSM

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Re: Too big for our breeches: Server update and poll
« Reply #3 on: Mar 15, 2011, 08:27 pm »
I would really prefer to subscribe/donate to the site. I love how this site is laid out and I hate seeing ads.

MatthewShiner

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Re: Too big for our breeches: Server update and poll
« Reply #4 on: Mar 15, 2011, 10:16 pm »
I would also be sad to see ads, but given that SO many students are here I am not sure a subscription would be great.

What's the cost are we looking at?  Maybe we have some levels . . . and there are some additional features for those who pay a bit more (I don't know what they could possibly be . . . ) but maybe be away to raise the money, keep ads down, etc, etc . . .

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Anything posted here as in my own personal opinion, and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of my employer - whomever they be at a given moment in time.

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KMC

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Re: Too big for our breeches: Server update and poll
« Reply #5 on: Mar 15, 2011, 11:50 pm »
I think google text ads are the best option to keep the site a free community.  Any required membership fee would certainly push membership numbers down, and a voluntary donation drive would likely wind up soliciting the same dedicated members over and over. 
Get action. Do things; be sane; dont fritter away your time; create, act, take a place wherever you are and be somebody; get action. -T. Roosevelt

PSMKay

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Re: Too big for our breeches: Server update and poll
« Reply #6 on: Mar 16, 2011, 12:05 am »
Hosting costs on the baby server are currently $9.95/mo.  The domain name is an additional $11/year.

For a VPS, hosting costs would go up to between $35-50 per month.  Domain name cost would remain constant.  If we got 50 people to contribute $8 per year, we'd be set.

I'm not looking to turn a profit here.  I don't want to make SMNetwork pay-to-play.  I hate ads myself and avoid them at every turn.  At the current rates, I'm fine with supporting SMNetwork out of pocket.  With the cost increases, though, and a predicted increase in traffic coming down the pike due to other plans in the works, this project is looking to go from a minor to a major portion of my already strained budget.

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Re: Too big for our breeches: Server update and poll
« Reply #7 on: Mar 16, 2011, 02:37 am »
I would really prefer to subscribe/donate to the site. I love how this site is laid out and I hate seeing ads.

There are plenty of us on this site who are actually making a living as stage managers and could probably support an NPR style donations drive.  We know you aren't doing this to turn a profit, but shouldn't have to put $500 in either, PLUS the work, to keep the site up. 

Perhaps if enough of us "pledge"...  If 50 @ $8 would solve it, so would 20 of us at $20...  $20 is what, a week of Starbucks lattes? a nice dinner out? a movie w/ popcorn & soda? a bottle of wine?  I say give the membership a chance to support before adding ads and cutting content (but weeding out inactive members seems like a good move too).

Should you contribute something? Are you one of the 30 members with over 200 posts; or one of the 26 with less than 199 but more than 100 posts...?  Go to your profile...  click on "show stats"...  How much time have you spent on SMNetwork? 

I'm willing to contribute...

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loebtmc

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Re: Too big for our breeches: Server update and poll
« Reply #8 on: Mar 16, 2011, 02:43 am »
picked top three based on the numbers of students and small or community theater folks who populate the site, but this has become a vital resource for so many, an NPR/PBS style fundraiser isn't such a bad idea!

and - thank you for sharing your talents all this time!

RuthNY

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Re: Too big for our breeches: Server update and poll
« Reply #9 on: Mar 16, 2011, 07:58 am »
Kay, what happened to the "Donate" button? If we could see it and use it, you might simply have to mention it a couple of times a year, to get some cash flowing in!!
"Be fair with others, but then keep after them until they're fair with you."
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ChaCha

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Re: Too big for our breeches: Server update and poll
« Reply #10 on: Mar 16, 2011, 11:15 am »
Kay, what happened to the "Donate" button? If we could see it and use it, you might simply have to mention it a couple of times a year, to get some cash flowing in!!

RuthNY and others with a paycheck,
Click on the word ABOUT in the top right corner of your screen
A drop down list will appear
Select DONATIONS
And donate to the running costs of the site via credit card or paypal.

I agree with those below who point out that not many donations are required. Why not do that first and see if generates enough income. If it works then;
The second year, no one who donated in the first year is eligible to donate at donation drive time
If not enough cash is received you go the google text option etc.

Come on members, donate a few dollars today and save Kay the bother of all this polling and researching. I am sure she has better things to do with her time.

Cheers
ChaCha
ChaCha

BayAreaSM

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Re: Too big for our breeches: Server update and poll
« Reply #11 on: Mar 16, 2011, 11:19 am »
Kay - I don't know how complicated this is, but could you do 2 things? Make the site have the google banner ad for those who don't pay to use the site, and for those that do, we would be ad free? I don't know if that's possible, but it's just an idea. I don't want to see users on the site go down, as Matthew & kmc307 make a good points.

hbelden

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Re: Too big for our breeches: Server update and poll
« Reply #12 on: Mar 16, 2011, 11:29 am »
Jumping off of nmno's suggestion, I think you could easily whip up a decent amount of cash from a "Producer's Ring" of people, particularly those of us with consistent jobs.  I, for instance, would happily donate $100 every year to keep this site up and running (as soon as my paychecks start coming in from my current job).

My favorite podcast, Citzen Radio (www.wearecitizenradio.com, does all of its programming for free and has over 400 subscribers that keep the thing afloat.  They have a tiered subscription model so that people who can only afford $10 a month can still feel like they're contributing, all the way up to $50 a month for those who really support the show - and the premium members get thanked by name every show.  Maybe a moderator can whip up a Caf Press t-shirt or coffee mug, and members can get some swag for subscribing? 

Since you're not looking to make a living off of smnetwork, Kay, I bet you would be surprised how much fundraising you could do, just off of us long-timers.  In fact, I was hoping to wait until next month for my own financial reasons, but if you tell us that you need cash right now to alleviate the server problem, I'll do my part with the Donate button (thanks ChaCha!).  I bet others would also.
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ChaCha

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Re: Too big for our breeches: Server update and poll
« Reply #13 on: Mar 16, 2011, 11:39 am »
PS.
I have recently been working on philanthropic campaigns for two independent theatre makers I work with. I knew nothing about this kind of fundraising before and sat down with an expert. After a long and reasonable informative session he made the one remark that has totally stuck with me since; "Just remember that (with philanthropy) where most not for profit organisations and individual artists fail is that they never actually ask the question. They never quite bring themselves to say 'please support me by giving money' "

PPS. I just had another idea. How about crowdfunding?  It started in the USA didn't it? As far as I can tell people who have nothing to do with a project and who don't even live in the same hemisphere might well donate! My communications manager raised money toward publishing a book through crowdfunding on a US site, and she lives in West Australia.
ChaCha

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Re: Too big for our breeches: Server update and poll
« Reply #14 on: Mar 16, 2011, 12:37 pm »
I get my (teensy) paycheck tomorrow, but will dedicate part of it willingly. This site is well worth the new professional friendships, national contacts, great ideas, assistance with odd shows and just general goodwill knowing there are other SMs out there with similar challenges and alternative solutions.

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