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gca server proposal 
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Post gca server proposal
there's been a few threads going on about a new server. the technical threads in the developer area started discussing financial issues and the financial threads in the senate area started discussing technical issues, so we thought we'd take stock and formally combine the discussion here in the senate area

what's the problem

gca is now getting quite large and outgrown the server which has been running at i!'s cost. gca therefore needs a new server.

what are the technical options

1. shared virtual host. the most frequently suggested option is a dreamhost/smartyhost sharted virtual host for $50/month, $50/year or whatever. thanks, but these are underpowered for gca, which is database and computationally intensive.

2. large dedicated host. a dedicated host large enough to run the site would cost about $4,000 per annum. note that this would only get gca to the current performance level as the current host is roughly this size.

3. medium dedicated host. a small host could run apache (the webserver) and php (the scripting language) and connect to the existing i! server which would still run postgres (the database) this would cost about $2,500-$3,000 per annum. it would get gca to a higher performance level (ie faster). the machine would be managed by i!. developers would get shell access to the new server. unfortunately developers would not get root access to the new server because it would be accessing i!'s server for database and hence open up security risks for the i! server should the gca server be compromised.

https://www.theplanet.com/servers/sm/default.aspx indicates a 2.1GHz quad core processor, 250GB drive and 4 GB RAM (note they have a special on to double RAM at the moment http://www.theplanet.com/dedicated-serv ... -specials/)
just found http://forums.theplanet.com/index.php?s ... ntry597633 which has a 2.8GHz machine for only $125/month. it only has 2GB RAM but maybe that can be upgraded for $50/month

4. mrtrax contacted his ISP and got an offer to locate a machine in an ISP for $100-$150/month = $1,800 per annum. to use this, we'd need to get an actual server. c@w, craigrat and i! have sourced old servers but we are worried about (a) whether they are powerful enough and (b) what happens if they break (there is a reason that old servers get replaced...) we could get a managed server which we haven't priced but would cost. let's assume it's another $150/month, so that's a total of $3,600 per annum.


what are the financial options

1. ads. are unlikely to generate the thousands of dollars per annum that is required. (think about it: somewhere a company would have to want to pay $3,000 per annum to show ads on gca. so assuming that the company would spend 3% of revenue on advertising, that means that members would be _incrementally_ spending over $90,000 as a result of the ads. that doesn't seem to add up to us.

2. donations. the funding poll at http://forum.geocaching.com.au/viewtopi ... 826#105865 got pledges of $2,130 pa. let's assume shrinkage to $1,000 pa. that's not enough to support any of the technical options above.

3. donations + sales. it's possible that gca could get another say $1,000 pa from sales of t-shirts or whatever. there's a start with bumper stickers

4. donations + sales + key donors. i! is keen enough to get our server resources back to offer a key donation of say $1,000 to start things up. maybe there are a few other people who can donate $500 or so to get it over the line.


i!'s proposal

1. let's just do _something_. (we've been discussing this for years)
2. technically we prefer the medium dedicated host option. it gives gca 1.5 servers for the cost of 1.
3. let's start collecting some money - it's going to be spent on some new hosting arrangement so we might as well start collecting now. does the tassie treasurer's kind offer of being treasurer still stand?
4. once the funds raised gets to, say, $1,000, i! would order the server and configure it. i! would be taking the financial risk if the remainder of the pledges don't come through. if they didn't come through after a year, i! would need to wind back its support
5. all money would be traceable/auditable by a third party: tassie geocaching treasurer. all new server usage would be traceable/auditable by gca developers using ps, htop, looking at logs, etc

this is just our proposal, we welcome all others!


26 August 08 11:06 am
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As much as we would want to keep GCA as open as possible, surely to ensure long term financial viability, some sort of annual membership option must be considered.

Financial members will receive access to whatever the developers believe appropriate. Unfinancial members will receive basic access - whatever the developers believe this would be.

Those of us that pay Premium membership of GC.com which we contrinute US$30pa, would I believe contribute an annual amount for GCA membership.

As there are 6,000 registered on GCA and lets assume only 10% are reaonably active, the developers would have more of an idea as to the exact number. So if only half became members, 300 at say $10 would provide $3,000pa. So with some philanthropic donations and memberships, a reaonable annual amount could be collected to maintain the website.

With Tassie geocaching acting as the condiute, whatever way we go, some funds will possibly get lost to GST, but it should provide a reaonable long term base to continue to maintain the website.

All well and good to get the seeding funds, but the process needs to be self sustaining. For most of us $10pa for GCA is well worth the contribution for what we get from the website.

Regards

Jardry


26 August 08 4:31 pm
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I agree with Jardry.

An annual membership fee of $10 or $20 is a pittance compared to what we spend actually caching.
Selling merchandise I think will result in an initial rush followed by rapidly declining sales. The lack of shops selling geocaching goods would indicate that demand is currently being met. I'm not suggesting not selling merchandise, but rather, not relying upon it for income.
An annual fee should generate enough funds to do the server properly and ensure it is maintained and upgraded as required without any 1 member having to shoulder the possibility of large costs.



Kev


26 August 08 7:09 pm
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I to would also be willing to pay a small membership fee. While I grab Cache details from GC I spend a considerable time in GCA forums. In reality it's not a lot to ask the more active cachers are likely to spend more on trinkets, caches, fuel, food etc etc. I would hate to see the site go down the gurgler because of the desire not to add a membership fee.


26 August 08 7:49 pm
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Membership fee or Donation, I agree with i!, we need to get moving. Set up a paypal link and start the donations ASAP, the longer we talk about it...well you know.


26 August 08 7:59 pm
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big_matt wrote:
Membership fee or Donation, I agree with i!, we need to get moving. Set up a paypal link and start the donations ASAP, the longer we talk about it...well you know.


Problem with a paypal link is that paypal get a commission on payments made. Similarly, if the paypal link is an individual's, where is the accountability. Likewise, without a legal entity to operate under, you can't establish a bank account to operate as a group, which means any paypal account will be an individual's account. There is still also the GST aspect to consider and if an individual's account was used, possible PAYG tax implications.

It would be much better to get whatever is done setup properly and correctly, rather than act in haste.

Tassie geocaching can advise the developers what costs would be associated with using their bank account.

An informed decision can then be made as to how memberships and donations will be solicited and how that information can be recorded.

Wikipedia seem to do well when they call for donations, but obviously they have a much greater user base to garner support from.

Jardry


26 August 08 8:09 pm
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Tas Geocaching Inc. have a bank acct.

We will be re-discussing arrangments with them shortly once we figure out what we are going to do.

It'll probably be direct xfer/money order type affair unless someone has a bettererer idea.


26 August 08 8:25 pm
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CraigRat wrote:
Tas Geocaching Inc. have a bank acct.

We will be re-discussing arrangments with them shortly once we figure out what we are going to do.

It'll probably be direct xfer/money order type affair unless someone has a bettererer idea.


This should alleviate most issues and provided that Tas geocaching Inc. aren't slugged heavily for the number of direct deposits into their account, it should be a goer.

With direct transfers, when depositing, we can use our GCA name and I would imagine the developers should be able to parse the transaction file and update who has donated or become a member.

Jardry


26 August 08 8:30 pm
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KevL wrote:
I agree with Jardry.

An annual membership fee of $10 or $20 is a pittance compared to what we spend actually caching.
Selling merchandise I think will result in an initial rush followed by rapidly declining sales. The lack of shops selling geocaching goods would indicate that demand is currently being met. I'm not suggesting not selling merchandise, but rather, not relying upon it for income.
An annual fee should generate enough funds to do the server properly and ensure it is maintained and upgraded as required without any 1 member having to shoulder the possibility of large costs.



Kev


Could a family membership be considered with the primary parent with the full membership and the offspring with a middle ground membership as I have 3 children 2 of whom have accounts of whom I would be willing to contribute for but not at the full price (if the $20.00 per annum fee is settled on)


26 August 08 10:01 pm
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Postman Pat wrote:

Could a family membership be considered with the primary parent with the full membership and the offspring with a middle ground membership as I have 3 children 2 of whom have accounts of whom I would be willing to contribute for but not at the full price (if the $20.00 per annum fee is settled on)


While nothing has been decided yet as to what donating members will receive, there are no plans to stop access to those who don't wish to donate.

There may be some wizz bangery that will be released to donaters first or something, but I would imagine a majority of the stuff that is available now will still be there for all.

That said, nothing has been decided, it is still in a state of flux, so don't hold me to this :lol:


26 August 08 10:13 pm
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Is it going to be called "an annual membership fee"
or will cachers be designated "a financial supporter"?

Personally I want to know how much it will cost me to get a gold blowfly!

The point being that there may be
some who pay nothing
some who pay the set minimum fee
some who want to contribute more (anonymously or not)


26 August 08 10:33 pm
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what ever solution we take, we have to be sure its sustainable performance and cost wise.
if we set up an new server we would expect it to last around 3-4 years assuming growth, then we should get more income proportionally to membership and usage.
The two tiered solution would be my proffer option, because that also gives you some level of redundancy and the expense of simplicity, this also allows a scalable system too.
all the cpu crunching stuff is done on DB server right?

So it seems we need to raise a startup fees for the at least the first 12 months of operation , also this would give us some indication on real support.

ie around $2,000 BEFORE we can begin for any of the solutions.

So I vote we concentrate on the donations system ASAP,
perhaps a month update published on homepage would be good :D

Also if this doesn't pan out or goes pear shapped we can use money for a "MEGA event" wooot.


27 August 08 9:23 am
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Hi,
I like the membership idea...

Also, how about gettting involved in sales of trackable items, Im just starting out in GeoCaching and its almost impossible to find GeoCoins and TBs for sale in Oz. only one supplier with limited choice...

GCA could head down the similar path as GC.com and make a bit of coin?


27 August 08 11:14 am
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Post Re: gca server proposal
ideology wrote:
i!'s proposal

1. let's just do _something_. (we've been discussing this for years)
2. technically we prefer the medium dedicated host option. it gives gca 1.5 servers for the cost of 1.
3. let's start collecting some money - it's going to be spent on some new hosting arrangement so we might as well start collecting now. does the tassie treasurer's kind offer of being treasurer still stand?
4. once the funds raised gets to, say, $1,000, i! would order the server and configure it. i! would be taking the financial risk if the remainder of the pledges don't come through. if they didn't come through after a year, i! would need to wind back its support
5. all money would be traceable/auditable by a third party: tassie geocaching treasurer. all new server usage would be traceable/auditable by gca developers using ps, htop, looking at logs, etc

this is just our proposal, we welcome all others!

<P>I have to agree that's it time to stop talking about it and start getting the money together before its too late.</P>
<P>I pay US$30 to G.C for membership and I don't mind, its a pittance compared to what you can pay for some other sports. I don't do gca caches but I do use the forums daily where as with gc its the other way around. I don't see that anyone would be disadvantaged same with gc you pay for what you get. If you choose not to pay you get the basic service and if you do pay you get more. What more would be should be up to the developers to give some suggestions as they know what can be done easily</P>
<P> The idea of selling merchandise is good but I do agree that there will be a rush and then thing would even out over time.</P> phat said
Quote:
Also, how about gettting involved in sales of trackable items, Im just starting out in GeoCaching and its almost impossible to find GeoCoins and TBs for sale in Oz.

In NZ they have travel slugs and the UK have Bulldogs both are trackable the same way as TB's. This could be an idea but its coming up with the $$ to get started and who would sell them? But I do like the idea!
Yes Geocaching Tasmania Incorporated do have a bank acc and all donations could be tracked and easily reported on.</P>
<P>Peter</P>[/quote]


27 August 08 12:13 pm
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How do we choose which option.. a vote or based on the budget according to donations.
Perhaps anyone who has donated gets access to this members only page which they can vote on financial decisions like this.

As far as method of donations, direct deposit should be an option , but I see now harm in Paypal even thought we loose some % to them.
eg
Direct deposit = $10
Paypal = $12

ie if we have those two options it makes easier all round.
Note the problem with Direct deposit is the trying to track the donations to cacher names, ie if you don't get some "tag" or identifer on deposit its more work for people to track down.
So my suggestion is built a donate now button which automatically tracks the donation. less work all round.


27 August 08 12:29 pm
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