Since I started lemmy.studio a lot of people have reached out offering help and financial support for our instance. While right now the hosting costs and administration efforts are mostly negligible, I want to make sure the instance can grown in a sustainable way, and I have some ideas on how to do that.
For financial support, I created a Ko-fi page. If you’re not familiar with Ko-fi, they’re very similar to Patreon, but the fees are optional and they pay creators immediately (not monthly). They also support one-off donations, which is nice. Right now there’s a single monthly tier of $1 (though of course people can pay more, if they want).
The current monthly costs for the server, domain, and backups are around $25/month (edit: $45), and we have almost 200 users, so I’m hoping it will be relatively easier to get the costs covered. Any excess income would go towards a reserve to ensure we have a good runway and funds for upgrading the server as we grow. I’m going to create a spreadsheet and share with everyone donating, to keep this transparent.
Second, so far I’ve been the only administrator in our instance. The volume of reports is still small, usually a handful of spam posts per week, but as we grow we’re going to need more people removing spam, banning bad actors, and ensuring we’re building a supportive and encouraging culture across our communities. I’m planning to reach out to some “long-term” users that have offered help, but feel free to DM me if you want to help.
(An intermission about culture. This is a music-focused instance, and we’re here to share the music we love and the music we make, and also help each other by sharing our process and tools. We’re all united by the belief that music makes the world better. So let’s put our differences asides, focus on what we have in common, and try to always be kind and supportive!)
Third, I’ve been also the only sys admin of the instance, responsible for backups and upgrades. Right now the instance is running on a personal team on Digital Ocean, together with other personal projects. My plan is to move the instance VPS to a separate team, so I can invite 1-2 people to share those responsibilities with me. Initially these would have to be voluntary, but I’m hoping that if we get enough support through Ko-fi we can compensate people doing this work.
Finally, for the long run I’d also love to set up a governance model. I’m not sure how this would work, but I’d rather have something where we can make decisions collectively.
Let me know your thoughts!
Edit: I just got my first AWS bill after switching the instance storage to S3, and while it’s not bank breaking it caught me by surprise. My monthly bill is around $3-5, last month it was $28.64.
Edit 2: people are migrating to our instance from waveform.social because of malicious activity (DDOS and spurious file uploads), so if you can support the instance please do. I’m planning to move the database to a separate VPS, and maybe look into using CloudFlare to prevent us from being affected, and that will cost more money.