The High Cost Of Hosting LISNews

Today was the last day I had to get LISNews moved over to the new server, and though today isn't over, the fat lady has sung for the month of May. This puts me in a bad spot, financially. Here's the long version of this story…

LISNews was on a big shared (Sun OS) server at Pegasus Web Hosting for a few years, until December of 2002, when I finally felt confident enough in my Linux skills that I'd be able to maintain my own server. The idea was I'd move LISNews to a dedicated server, and sell space to a few other folks to cover as much of the $180 a month as I could. That idea did actually work, the server pays for itself (I'm not counting the time I put in). 2 months ago I bought a new server (Red Hate Enterprise) because the operating system on the old server (Red Hat 7.3) had reached the end of life from Red Hat, which means no more official Red Hat updates. The new server should have updates for a few years to come, so I shouldn't need to make any more moves for quite awhile, which is great, because the move was a royal pain, and took way too long to finish. So, I moved everyone from the old server, to the new, except me, LISNews is still running on the old server. It turns out Slashcode does not play nice with Apache2, and RHEL, which means even if I can figure out how to get Slashcode to run on the new server (which I am very unsure of at this point), I'd still be paying for 2 servers ($360/month) for at least another month, which really puts me in the hole. I love LISNews, but I need to draw the line now, and start begging for money, or I'm going to need to sell a kidney to pay for this soon.

What I'm currently thinking is see if I can raise enough money (by just asking for donations from the LISNews readership) to pay for the second server for the remainder of this year (9 months counting April @$180 a month) and just leave LISNews sit on it's own server, which is where Slashcode really likes to be anyways (does not play well with others). Maybe by the end of the year there'll be some updates to Slashcode and I can easily move it over to LISHost, or maybe I can just leave it be, and try to raise enough money to again pay for the server next year.

So, here's my question... can I possibly raise $1620.00? Would you kick in a buck or two? That seems like a heck of alotta money to ask for, but I think I've reached the point where I can no longer afford to pay for this all on my own. So, anyone think there's enough good will amongst the LISNewsterz to get the server paid for through the rest of the year? At this point it's only an idea, but one I think I am going to go with. Even if I can raise part of that, it'll buy me more time to get things moved to the new server.

(footnote: The googleads will help defray that cost a little bit, but click through rates are almost 0, so it's not something I can count on. I often think I should just take them off the site, but I suppose even $20 a month is something)


Blake, I would be happy to contribute. Probably something in Tangognat's range of 25 bucks.

I also like Walt's suggestion of making this a story. It certainly deserves the attention of all those who follow this board.

You're one of those gracious conservatives... ;)

I REALLY appreciate your tone and humility and the wisdom of your words. Thanks. I want to extend the olive branch in return.

The main reason I don't do commenting on blogs is that it all seems pretty hopeless for the most part...people seldom budge/change. This exchange and others here may make me think differently!

BTW, I hate code red :)

Like my other esteemed LISnewserz, I'm willing to chuck my cash money at keeping this immensely entertaining and informative community going. Just let me know where to send it and it'll be on it's way.

I know a few lurkers who I can hit up for cash too. I can threaten 'em with my ruler... or better yet, I'll withhold reference materials until they cough up some dough. ;-)

I've been wrestling with CPAN and more perl modules than I can possibly remember for the past 2 months over this. It's just over my head at this point, I bet someone who was really good with PERL & modules, and mod_perl/apache could do it, but that just isn't me at this point.

Somebody should mod the top most parent up, that is an excellent idea.

I've never used slashcode, but have fought with request tracker (which uses a tonne of different perl modules). Request tracker did have a "check readiness utility" (or the like there of). check the readmes to see if you can find one. Then, for the distro of RedHat there, find and download any and all pre-compiled perl modules listed as a requirement for slashcode. If any are missing, CPAN will have to fill in.

>>A glowing dollar sign that would serve as coveted lisnews bling bling?

Heh, I like that idea. Trouble is slashcode is still hard for me to hack. I'll get the hang of it one of these days.

Well the text ads, if it is possible to implement them might give you another source of monthly income in addition to the google ads.

A free e-mail address wouldn't do much for me, as I already have far too many e-mail accounts. I think a simple donation page listing the people who donated and linking to their websites (if they have one) would be plenty thanks.

It looks like you might already have pledges for $150-200 after posting this in your journal. If you were to work out the logistics involved in sending you money, post it as a story, and get some of the "A-list" library bloggers to spread the word (librarystuff already has a "give blake $" post) I'd guess you have a good chance of raising the cash you need.

Or, maybe the people with lisnews accounts could get a different smiley appear by their name than the default one? A smiley with a halo and wings? A glowing dollar sign that would serve as coveted lisnews bling bling?

Share the _new_ server, not the old one that won't play with others.

Just tell me what to write and where to publicize it, mon capitan (well, I mean aside from a check). Maybe we could get some high profile folks to give testimonials about the value of LISNews, and add in some pictures of children and puppies and empty libraries. LISNews: for the Children.

And you never did follow up on my merchandising suggestions. Other places sell cutie-pie t-shirts, thongs and such, but LISNews could sell branded granny undies and tighty whities. Maybe some sports bras. Hell, why not corsets? I'll be your Marketing Director. We can rule the library blog world, I tell you.

hmmm... maybe? Someone must've figured this one out, I'll need to do some searching. You may be right, this isn't income like LISHost, so maybe it can be claimed differently, or not claimed.


Yeah, this is a new can of worms for my taxes, I'm not really sure how it'll go in, but I guess it'll be just like the LISHost money, "Schedule C" was it? It was just "extra income" or something like that.

Madcow - I bet there are more things we AGREE on then disagree. (I love Code Red Mountain Dew for example).

Anyway, I'm sure we'll bump heads down the LISNews road but please don't take anything I may comment to so seriously as to make feel you uncomfortable. It's simply not worth it. I'm just a regular guy doing the library thing like the rest of us here. No more, no less.

Apologies for any perceived ill will with past comments.

I'm no tax attorney, but if we are giving Blake the money out of the kindness of our hearts, I don't think it would become taxable for Blake, unless we gave him more than $10,000?

If we send you a check (or paypal), that makes it income for Blake, which probably bumps you into the upper quintile where you'll be hated by the liberals. ; )

Seriously, the paper work for your taxes might make you wish there were a better way. I'll keep clicking on those ads but am willing to pay something to keep you going--after you find out the tax implications for your household.

It would be by check, or by PayPal, if you're set up to take it. If by check, let us know the mailing address.

It would cost you more money, but if it seems like enough of us would send you checks, it might be worthwhile to set up a PO Box, so no undesireable mail finds you at home.

Depending on how many ACTIVE users you have, a nominal account fee of $5/year would go a long way. You could raise the $2160/yr to fund LISNews if just 432 people were willing to chip in $5.

I myself would easily be willing to $10/yr and maybe more for this resource. You can journal other places, you can discuss (or have flame wars) other places, but you can't find the uniquely eclectic groups of people anywhere else.

You don't need the money all at once, do you? If so you're in trouble. If not, it would be nice for you to do the United Way thing and give a graphical representation of the money needed and money raised, marked in 180 dollar increments, of course.

You're right that 20/month isn't something to reject. Keep the ads on. I click them periodically to see what Google thinks is relevant to the page.

Have you considered sharing your new server with someone else to defray the cost?

You're really too kind, as an author you've already paid more than your fair share, that's really payment enough.

Seriously, you've been kind enough to let me author, so what can I do? I can't give much, but I can probably give more than the many unemployed library-types out there, so...I believe that a few bucks here and there from a reasonable number of us could be garnered. I can give up my lattes next week to help you out. Where do I send the check?

I've also posted your plight on my blog, fwiw.

Blake, we can't lose you or LISNews! It's too valuable a resource.

Just a slap up a Paypal link and see what you get for starters. I'm in for $10 for May. You know us RC aren't inhuman.

Well, Blake hasn't given us the answer yet.

As to C&I, the essay will offer up three possibilities, not mutually exclusive, and ask for opinions and other ideas:

1. A PayPal link (which can't be on the Boisestate site, I don't think, but could be on my personal site and linked to from...). Unless it's changed, the Amazon tip jar is so top-heavy on Amazon's slice that I don't want to deal with it.

2. Underwriting for HTML copies of articles, for those who believe individual articles deserve broader readership. This one's unlikely to work out, just as sponsorship for the whole zine (e.g., by some publisher that wants to reuse the good stuff) hasn't worked out.

3. PoD books consisting of material from C&I (and, maybe, elsewhere, such as columns) with introductions and followups, typically thematic; done on a pure "publish on demand" basis (by someone like Cafe Press), as a value-added service. Of course, there are all those other Cafe Press tchotchkes, but I don't foresee a bunch of people wearing C&I t-shirts.

But maybe that's an idea, Blake: I COULD see people wearing LISNews t-shirts or buying LISNews coffeemugs... You could always do a reality check with Jessamyn or Rory (or Unshelved, an exception) to see how their custom stuff has sold. (Yes, I have both Unshelved books.)

I think they both should have a donate link! I'm tired of reading for free!! ;)

To add to Walt's comments, the rightward lean is a bit distressing, even when it goes civily as a recent exchange between me and someone else did (Might have been tomeboy, can't recall). I still had the stomach knots. But that says a lot about ME I guess.

Anyway, I'm down for $10 Blake. I'll go back upthread and see the answer to how to give it.

1. Yeah, I thought about it, but I figured that only dies hard LISNewsterz would read it here, and that's really the brain I'm looking to pick at this part.

2. "...the RC group never actually listen to any other viewpoints except to find things to react to" I think thats one of the big requirements to enter the coven, and you're not the only one to tell me mention that.

3. Cites &> should really have a tip jar, or a donate link, or something like that.

Actually, good idea, and one that in theory should work, part of the trouble is with mod_perl, all the slash perl modules (Bundle::Slash), and the general wackiness of the slashcode. I can't even get the right perl modules installed.
Very good idea though, and one that I think will work should I ever get that far.

A couple comments...

1. I think this deserves a story, making it a whole lot more widely read. After all, the health of LISNews is surely relevant to Library & Information Science news, particularly given LISNews positioning in the market.

2. We do need to know where to send the big bucks (or the small bucks:I might be good for $25). If I was reluctant at all, it would be because the Rightwing Coven has become so dominant in comments that I'm finding LISNews less interesting than before. (There's a rant here, one that I'll avoid offering for now... and yes, I do distinguish between "people considerably to my right" and the Rightwing Coven. Tomeboy and mdoneil, for example, fall in the former category. One distinguishing feature: the RC group never actually listen to any other viewpoints except to find things to react to.)

3. You're not the only one. While I'm not in financial difficulty because of Cites & Insights, there are other difficulties (and the near-term cessation of one paid gig doesn't help the bottom line). The next C&I will raise the issue and suggest a range of possible solutions. You have more readers, to be sure...but there's one commonality: In the long run, very little is absolutely free.

Hi Blake. Sorry to hear about SlashCode & Apache 2 not getting along. I'd like to toss out one idea for running LISNews on the new server.

  1. Run Apache 2 as main HTTP server on new host, as you are now;
  2. Run the most recent Apache 1.3 on new host, but listening on a non-standard port (e.g. 8000);
  3. Create a virtual host in the Apache 2 server;
  4. Within the virtual host container for LISNews, place a mod_rewrite rule that rewrites all requests for e.g. foo in this virtual host to requests for http://localhost:8000/foo ; if you use the [P] flag with the rewrite rule, the requests will be passively proxied unbeknownst to the user; responses will appear to come from the Apache 2 for that virtual host.

Does this make sense? I've done things like this before. With mod_rewrite and passive proxying, there should be no reason not to be able to have LISNews on the new host as well. I'll be happy to discuss further by email. I might even be able to set it up for you (not SlashCode, which I've never worked with, but the 2nd Apache with rewrite & proxy).

hmm, interesting idea with the text ads. I wonder how hard that would be to roll into the slashcode, I'll have to read up on that.

Since there is no "real" LISNews, that is, I've not incorporated LISNews, it would be going to me.

One thing I've also thought of is a free email address to all those who kick in a few bucks, I'd like to be able to give something to those who help out.

I hadn't thought of looking for a place to find a free host deal for LISNews, interesting idea.

Feel free to click on those googlads, that won't cost a thing!

As for debian, I'm just used to Red Hat, plus, all that EV1 has to offer is RH, so I'm kinda stuck with it.

Well, the trouble with slashcode is it just doesn't play well with others, so sharing this server would be trouble, plus, that's already what I was doing with the other server, so it would just add too much other work for me, so the idea is, if I keep LISNews where it is, then it neds to be alone. And no, I don't need it all at once, just as long as I can cover it month to month I suppose.

Would you want a check made out to you, or LISnews as an organization? Maybe we could buy metafilter style text ads that would link out to our blogs or random web sites of our choice? I'd be happy to pitch in, but it would probably be in the range of $25.00

I have to meet the needs of my growing family on a single income before I can look at helping support others.

In terms of next server OS choice I would have said to give> a try in place of Redhat enterprise, but that is just me. ;)

Although I could perhaps help by offering up an idea (beit, perhaps, a little far fetched): Would there be any Library will offer up thier bandwidth and/or PC resources to support LISNews? The yes or no answer is likely largly dependant on current bandwitdth per month usage. However, I do figure it would be worth giving it a shot.

Just my 2cents. As always, best of luck.