1. Dear Drugs-Forum readers: We are a small non-profit that runs one of the most read drug information & addiction help websites in the world. We serve over 4 million readers per month, and have costs like all popular websites: servers, hosting, licenses and software. To protect our independence we do not run ads. We take no government funds. We run on donations which average $25. If everyone reading this would donate $5 then this fund raiser would be done in an hour. If Drugs-Forum is useful to you, take one minute to keep it online another year by donating whatever you can today. Donations are currently not sufficient to pay our bills and keep the site up. Your help is most welcome. Thank you.
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€1500 per month needed to save DF from final crash.

Discussion in 'Announcements' started by Alfa, Jan 26, 2013.

  1. Alfa

    Alfa Productive Insomniac Staff Member

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    As many of you have found out last night; the server went down due because drugs-forum its popularity is maxing out our current server resources.
    Around 2.6 million readers per month are consulting drugs-forum. This number is rising steady. We have trouble on the horizon and will see more problems unless we add a new server.

    We are in fact back to the title of this thread.

    Meanwhile monthly donations fall short €1500 per month. And I still need to find a solution for the €15.000 Euro hosting bill:

    We are in need of benefactors who are willing to contribute towards a substantial amount of our monthly costs.
     
  2. SpatialReason

    SpatialReason Palladium Member

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    It is mind blowing! It is both scary and with pride that this number has changed since the last thread. If anyone notices, 180e is now 1500e. That is... rather astonishing... and rather gives credence to the amount of users running through this place.

    I will keep giving when I can. Right now, I am stuck having to save cash. I will promise at least 200/year on my end in subscriptions/donations; that will not cease as far as I can help it. I would love to push that higher, but as many know, I am in the process of buying my first home. Money will be tight until I have that squared away. After that, I can help out on perhaps site sponsor level. It is the least I can do.

    If I could be a Patron+, I would... perhaps in the future... as being able to support anything on that level means I have achieved my dreams. :)

    I will be stopping my drug use and trying to see the future as an opportunity to seize. If this place helped me go from being knee deep in depression and muddled in drug abuse to having some decent success in life, I will owe it some fraction of that success. Perhaps others might have the same feeling in this. I feel that it has helped me, and anything that provides selfless help gets my reciprocated support.

    I try to push that notion, sometimes a bit too hard, in that regard on others, but we can't deny the truth that it does serve to help people when they need it:

    If this site helped you, please help it. Consider it your own tip for what services it has provided. These folks work hard to supply this information; there has to be a place to put it, which is why this is a necessary thing. We can only imagine just how many people found some decent words of wisdom to help get their life on track or other who have saved themselves from being harmed just by a quick jump into this place. Even if that has intangible value, it can still have some value when you see it this way.

    That is my take as a DF user and a simple testimonial. I hope that opinion and view upon this serves as some inspiration to anyone wondering if they could/should donate.
     
  3. ImALumberjackAndImOK

    ImALumberjackAndImOK Titanium Member

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    Yay! I finally made a donation. It was long overdue, and I would encourage others to do the same so that their karma is well-balanced...
     
  4. Alfa

    Alfa Productive Insomniac Staff Member

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    I am going to start experimenting with ads for guests. Its not optimal, but obviously we cant keep on going like this.
    The only alternative is to close the site for guests. We have tried that for a large part of the year 2010 and that option is very damaging to the site.
     
  5. Shanthi

    Shanthi Titanium Member

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    I just once made a small donation and I am guilty of not doing it again. Its just that my money doesnt hold any value at all compared to the euro and so Ive really gotta save to be able to make a decent donation. But now that Ive written about it and made a committment, I will do whatever little I can.
     
  6. hotdogfrenchfries

    hotdogfrenchfries Silver Member

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    I will donate right away. I would find it very convenient if you accepted donations in BitCoin.

    Do you need sysadmin help? I had a 50,000 unique visitors/day website that I ran on my own until 2009. I set up mysql replication, various caching/precompiling tricks and I tweaked it to run in a dual ngnix/apache httpd environment to reduce load (after trying litespeed)

    hotdogfrenchfries added 8 Minutes and 28 Seconds later...

    When the website grew overnight I first maxed out the server specs and spread out database, web requests using round robin etc. - but the monthly hosting cost rose to close to $1000/mo - and still things were not very smooth, and the server would choke from the usage logs alone.

    Once I was done re-writing the PHP scripts that took the longest, optimizing the DB structure, etc. etc. the entire thing ran on 2 servers - a $170/mo dedicated server and a $30/mo cloud VPS for replication and some cron jobs that generated statistics, graphs, etc. as content for the site.

    I was also involved with running ecommerce sites that required offshore hosting, so I'm not a stranger to having to make do with odd solutions in order to maintain anonymity and protect customer information from being seized.

    Anyway, I wouldn't mind helping out.
     
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2013
  7. Alfa

    Alfa Productive Insomniac Staff Member

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    Yes, programming and sysadmin skills can surely help to reduce costs and increase income:

    1. Reduce costs by creating software that decreases server strain. For example creating compatibility with sphinx search, php 5.5, latest javascript version, etc. An alternative to fixing the issues of our outdated platform is migrating our functionality to a faster, scalable and modern platform that already supports the latest web standards.
    2. Increase income by adding a new payment gateway with 100+ payment methods. There is a large demand for online banking, mobile payments, offline vouchers, popular e-wallets.
    3. Increase income by adding functionality that we know people will pay for.
    4. Reduce general coding costs.
    I have invited you to the programmers groups.
     
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2013
  8. Adam Cecils

    Adam Cecils Silver Member

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    I'm new here but I'd like to contribute a couple of suggestions that may help reduce load, obviously as I'm new there may be a reason why they haven't been done/are out of the question:

    * Turn your icons into sprites so people who don't have the images cached aren't making a HTTP request for each icon
    * Change your image upload policy to allow hotlinking form other servers rather than having to attach/upload an image to you your server -- this would obviously cut bandwidth and also improve UIX. If you're worried about people hotlinking to an image then changing it to some titties or something you could only allow image links from approved hosts that dynamically assign permanent URLs, e.g. imgur, flickr, imageshack

    Adam Cecils added 35 Minutes and 40 Seconds later...

    Just to follow up on that, as you're using the VB4 default theme and someone at vbulletin org has already made an add-on that will update the templates and images for you. A small change that could make a big difference, feel free to PM me or add me to that aforementioned forum if you want more info.
     
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2013
  9. xinny

    xinny Silver Member

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    I think it would help to lower the donation minimum or make it easier to donate custom amounts. A lot more people would donate with a donation policy more friendly to the broke (haha...)

    Currently the minimum donation to become a Donating Member is 50 euros/yr, ~$70, which can be a lot for students or people just entering the workforce.
    Even the custom donation minimum is 10 euros, ~$13. That's still like, a shirt. Or a good meal. If it were simpler to donate small amounts, <$10, maybe around 5 euros, I think we would see a lot more donations coming in.

    It's much easier to get a crowd of people to part with small sums of money than to persuade a few people to part with large sums. With so many readers a month and a steady growth rate, $5 or even $1 from each new reader would help. They don't need 'Donating Member' privileges for sending such small sums of money; the point here is just to get every little bit possible to boost monthly donations. I know that Paypal and other virtual payment services charge a small fee, but getting even 95% of someone's donation should be worth it, shouldn't it?

    Examples: American Red Cross, Feed the Children, and Doctors Without Borders all have a minimum of $10. The Breast Cancer Awareness Foundation and Make a Wish Foundation have none.

    Also, I need to ask this just to make sure I'm not talking out of my ass here: Can an admin explain why the donation policy is structured as it is?
     
  10. hotdogfrenchfries

    hotdogfrenchfries Silver Member

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    Actually you can donate EUR3.50 and that's the default amount.... cheaper than coffee at the coffee shop. And certainly cheaper than one dose of many drugs so many of us are addicted to.

    And that's the root of the issue. Most of us are drug addicts. Drug addicts have a habit to support, and, well, we're more selfish than the general population.

    It is hard enough to get people at AA meetings to put a single dollar in the bucket. I can't imagine that getting addicts/alcoholics to voluntarily donate while we are also supporting a habit, is a very easy task.
     
  11. Alfa

    Alfa Productive Insomniac Staff Member

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    Yes, the minimum donation is €3.50 See here.

    I would love to have a sprites function. We are not using vb4, so the addon you mention unfortunately is not suitable for us. We would need it to be converted to our platform.

    The problem with hotlinking is that 90% of the images go dead in time, leaving many threads in ruins. It also causes pages to load slow. Bandwidth costs have been slashed. Thats not a pain point anymore. If needed a cheap CDN can be used, but that also greatly reduces site speed.
     
  12. Routemaster Flash

    Routemaster Flash Palladium Member

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    Hold the front page - I've FINALLY made a donation, after all these years! A huge thanks to Alfa and all the mods and regulars who help make this such a great forum.

    - RF.
     
  13. hotdogfrenchfries

    hotdogfrenchfries Silver Member

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    What about a cron that downloads the hotlinked images, puts them on a CDN, and updates the forum links?
    Using a CDN for images and non-text content would not reduce site speed much, because from what I'm seeing, your server is limiting the # of simultaneous connections from each client anyway, so if images, etc. are being loaded off a CDN simultaneously by the client, loading the page can only take the same amount of time or less.
    The page would become legible for the user faster anyway.

    I bet search and search engine bots are part of the slowdown. Perhaps the search function should be tied to a replicated instance of the DB hosted somewhere else. I've had websites this large and access-logs were a major resource hog as well, and eventually I just started outputting them to another server where they could be processed.

    EDIT: I see bandwidth costs have been slashed. Cool. I see you guys are also using gzip encoding, this was a long time ago, but I remembered the HTML was transmitted non-compressed at one point.
    A cron job that downloads hot-linked images can also create thumbnails so threads with pictures can look nice and display faster.
     
  14. xinny

    xinny Silver Member

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    My bad; for some reason I thought the 3.50 euros was a weekly recurring donation >.<; (Didn't realize there was a 'No' dropdown option for recurring)

    And you are quite right, that it's hard to get people to donate when they'd prefer to spend on supporting their habit... Not all of us are addicts though! I think there are also people who aren't addicts who come to this site for information; some may just be doing some prep work prior to using recreational drugs. (responsible drug use, whoo)

    But back to the topic - have you tried using a notice in the header for this website? Wikipedia had one for awhile and I think they eventually took it down cause they did get a lot of money from it...

    [​IMG]

    It was pretty annoying but very blatantly in your face (blocked part of the content until you closed it) and made you feel guilty for freeloading off of Wikipedia's services haha. Maybe have a notice like that for newbies/guests? Or for active members who haven't made donations yet?
     
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2013
  15. hotdogfrenchfries

    hotdogfrenchfries Silver Member

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    If people start feeling guilty for freeloading, they will go to one of the other drug forums... at the very least reader loyalty may go down overall and they may end up on forums where the advice they will receive could cause things to go sideways for them.

    There is no wikipedia alternative, so they can get away with it.

    A standard paypal "Donate" button in the top banner, or in the footer, or in the chat bar (for those with chat) might work?
     
  16. TheBigBadWolf

    TheBigBadWolf Cold Member

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    On the danger of repeating myself:

    A long time ago I read the idea to donate the amount of money used for one dose of the DrugOfChoice per month.
    This is not asked too much for students or even workless.
    Hell, that's about one hit less per day....

    When I calculate the costs for my monthly comsumption of my DOC ( cannabis these days, for my methadone is paid by insurance) I come to an amount of the thirtyfold of what I donated in average last year.
    I'm a fucking scrooge, aren't I?

    In a time where you can get every info you want for free I see how people think that they generally be served anthing without any costs. This Forum, aside to the real costs that are mentioned by Alfa, uses up an unestimable amount of Manpower that is all done for no pay and out of delberate envolvement, which is done by the Admin and the moderators.
    Not talking about the productive members who put a good part of their heart and time into this project.

    Do you talk about something like this:
    [​IMG]
    Its on every page of the forum.
    Tho I think it might need an optical refreshment..

    BBW
     

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  17. hotdogfrenchfries

    hotdogfrenchfries Silver Member

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    I'm sure the donation statistics will follow the Pareto principle (80% of results come from 20% of the causes.) There isn't much you can do to change that, and I think there may be other areas where resources should be allocated, e.g. different income streams. Some minor improvements could be done to fine-tune things in terms of donations, but that income stream cannot be made to grow enough to allow DF to reverse the current financial trend and keep it that way for good by optimizing, tweaking the process of receiving, and asking for more donations. (apart from an increase of new visitors of course)

    Adding BitCoin, and various other methods of receiving funds is nice, but it will not increase revenue significantly enough.

    Extra revenue streams need to be implemented. One obvious one is the sale of test kits (substance ID and urine tests) but there are many others that would actually reinforce the idea of harm reduction, yet provide enough to eliminate the need for donations (though I'm sure removing donations would have bad side effects for this site so it should probably stay)

    I have access to order fulfillment, drop-shipping, and real live customer service for #1, so it would take nothing to start and it would generate income right away.

    I can think of several things that can be implemented about as easily, would create more revenue, and help more people. And I'm not talking about turning it into an lhg-type site either.

    I think this place will be fine. I like it. Bluelight is too much drama, and the other forums I've seen that deal with drugs are dangerous IMO. DF is a good middle ground.

    Adding some spark to the donate box/button can't hurt.... paypal's donate button is pretty much the standard and everyone has been conditioned to it.
     
  18. westie420uk

    westie420uk Silver Member

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    Man, this news totally sucks! My PayPal account is out of action, but i will make sure i sort something out at the end of the month & make a donation. I know i have threatened to donate before, but i have just been too lazy to get somebody to create a paypal account or make a payment on my behalf. & plus i wanted to ask if i made a payment via a friend would i still get 'DONATING MEMBER' on my profile (like it really matters).
    Drugs-forum has a special place in my heart. Not only have i learnt so much from this site about drugs, from my DOC - cannabis, my formerDOC - heroin & drugs i have never even heard of! I thought i was pretty well educated as far as drugs & their effects etc, but i can't believe how much i didn't know! If only i had found the forum at the height of my heroin addiction i might have got clean a whole lot quicker!
    & some of these RC's sound more addictive than heroin, weaker/stronger/better/worse/cheaper/expensive than cannabis/cocaine/MDMA/speed/LSD.
    The reason i have a soft spot for DF is because i found a girl & fell in love with a girl i met on the forum!
    She is totally amazingI would mention her name but She doesn't post much (8 posts since 2010, & 7 were in the same thread! ) so its even more crazy that we found each other. I know a few couples found each other on DF, but can any claim to live closer than 3.9 miles from each other? I think its rather funny that we still use DM's to talk to each other rather than send emails. So i will when i get my next pay check, it's the least i can do!be sorting our a donation
     
  19. Adam Cecils

    Adam Cecils Silver Member

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    My bad, I own a vB3.8 forum done and themes for it but I've kinda neglected it for two years and forgot the version numbers -.- I've coded 1 mod on vbulletin org too but that was about 4 years ago. If we're running the same version of vB when I have more free time (April) I can look at doing a sprite mod if it's not too late!

    Ah I see, fair play.
     
  20. Alfa

    Alfa Productive Insomniac Staff Member

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    a vb3 sprites mod would be helpful, would reduce bandwidth costs and site speed.