Hi, folks!

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.

  • ndguardianA
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    77 months ago

    I think all of these are great requests and I’m glad to see you are speaking up. These are all key things that will need to happen to ensure the sustainability of the Lemmy instance. I’d hate to see the instance become too expensive to run or cause you to become burned out, so anything we can do as a community to help offset that will be immensely beneficial. I encourage anyone who can contribute, whether it be financially or helping with handling the load of reports or whatever to do so.

    I’ll admit, when it comes to mod actions…well, I’m not exactly a people person, though I do try to be friendly enough. So in that regard, I probably wouldn’t be great as an instance admin.

    I do come from a technical background, running enterprise infrastructure on AWS, predominantly Linux but also handling a bunch of other stuff too. Happy to help out in that regard should you have issues recruiting people into the role, or even just to help field technical questions on optimizing for cost or performance or whatever.

    Also, huge props for pushing for transparency in how the instance is run, funded and all that. I think that will be helpful for building a sense of trust and community on our instance.

  • @CoffeeDev
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    47 months ago

    I wonder if you should create a Matrix space for coordinating all of this stuff. If some people volunteer to administrate the instance it would probably be good to have a place where communication about that can happen, and it would also be good to have somewhere to communicate when the instance is down (the Mastodon account would maybe work for that, but I think it would work better for updates about server status than for discussion).

    Also, I would love to help as a sysadmin. I don’t have that much experience with server hosting (I have run a Minecraft server for some people before on a dedicated computer running Linux and hosted some things on Raspberry Pis, but that is it), and I don’t have too much time to do it (I can’t really have any responsibilities to manage something), but I could help some with troubleshooting difficult issues and stuff (I have quite a bit of experience with using Linux and troubleshooting weird problems with various software).

    • ndguardianA
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      37 months ago

      Regarding the matrix space - I was thinking of something like that. Being able to quickly delegate tasks regarding keeping the lights on, asking questions, etc could become pretty critical, so creating something like a matrix group or discord (even though that’s obviously not as fediverse friendly) could be beneficial there. Doesn’t necessarily need to be self-hosted as that would add cost, but having it available would help.

      • @CoffeeDev
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        17 months ago

        I don’t think we would need to host our own Matrix server (although I have already needed to switch Matrix servers once because one stopped working and my support E-mail was never answered, so it would be nice to have a Matrix server I can rely on to not shut down), although I would like to try to avoid Discord (I much prefer Matrix due to the different client options available, and it being open source is pretty nice as well).

  • @breaks
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    26 months ago

    Honestly I think requiring an email and application message should be enough to stop spam. Cloud flare shouldn’t be needed.

    • BetoOPMA
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      56 months ago

      For spam, yes. But if someone tries to DDOS us then we would need something like Cloudflare to prevent our VPS from going down.

      I signed up for NCO.org, they seem to be a grassroot CDN/WAF, and their price is great.