Extreme tl;dr the free tier of forum hosting has been cancelled, in order to keep the forums up I need to raise $80 a month. Patreon pledges at https://patreon.com/cataclysmdda are currently more than sufficient to cover hosting. I’ll also be looking into forum-based ads to spread out hosting funding more evenly.
Adsense (Google ads) is a wash, after configuring it to scan the forums, it said, “site violates content policies” with no note of which policies or which part of the site are the problem. I’ll take a few pokes at it, but it’s likely that we’re running afoul of things like “no promotion of firearm sales” or “no instructions for construction of explosives” (even though we don’t actually do either), and it would be basically impossible to talk about dda design without violating their rules.
I’ll see if I can find a less squeamish ad provider.
Original message follows:
So, it happened. We’ve actually been running outside the bounds of the Discourse open source free plan for months now, and they finally got around to notifying me that they’re going to pull the plug in February.
They offer a discount for open source projects, but with their pricing, it’s still well outside my budget (tl;dr it’s $180/month).
There are other hosting options though:
NodeChef has a nice flexible pricing model, which is a concern because one of the other major hosting providers:
DiscourseHosting.com has a very sharp breakpoint at a traffic level just above our current traffic level (about 450K pageviews a month).
From what I can tell those are both ok options, there’s a third option I’m not really a fan of, which is self-hosting with AWS or DigitalOcean or Linode (the list goes on, but the results are the same). This would cut the cost significantly, but require me (or maybe someone else coud step up) to maintain the actual application instance, which is a huge drain on my project time (basically do you want me actually making dda better or messing with the forum? I lean toward the former).
AFAICT the migration wouldn’t be a big deal, it would mostly be transparent since we’d just stand up a new instance, back this instance up, restore it there, and cut over DNS. It’s really just the hosting that’s an issue.
This is where everyone else comes in, I’m going to be setting up a Patreon specifically for forum hosting costs, and I’m going to look into enabling ads on the forums. If it looks like Patreon is up to funding the site, the ads won’t get turned on, if the ads get turned on and don’t generate enough money to run the site… well we’ll have to figure out a new plan.
We have until mid-Febuary to do the migration, so this isn’t an immediate emergency, but I’ll be working on it over the holidays and keep you posted.