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Author Topic: New hosting solution  (Read 12110 times)
Daniel Mietchen
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« on: November 05, 2010, 11:01:50 UTC »

On the basis of the current hosting fees and the balance of the bank account, Citizendium is on track to run out of money by the end of the year. While the Management Council is gathering the details, some of the information became inadvertently public due to a glitch with the configuration of the supposedly private forum board. You can read a snarky version of this story over at RationalWiki.

The bottom line for us is that we will have to find a suitable hosting solution soon, and I hereby invite suggestions in this regard.
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Johan Förberg
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« Reply #1 on: November 05, 2010, 11:48:51 UTC »

What is the cost of our current solution? Is there some publically available budget or otherwise where this can be found?
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Howard C. Berkowitz
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« Reply #2 on: November 05, 2010, 12:43:00 UTC »

What is the cost of our current solution? Is there some publically available budget or otherwise where this can be found?

The cost is less essential to knowing the requirements, such as:

* Processor type and CPU & RAM load
* Number and interconnection of physical servers
* Disk requirements
* Bandwidth to the servers
* System software support

There may not be time to look for alternatives, but I'd at least consider the country in which they would operate, and their privacy, intellectual property, and liability laws, as well as general litigiousness.
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Anthony Sebastian
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« Reply #3 on: November 05, 2010, 15:03:01 UTC »

 
Daniel:

A few suggestions: (1) try to find a hosting service that would donate to Citizendium, explaining our noble mission, and promise a prominent display of the name of our hosting service, bottom of every page - not an advert, just an acknowledgment; (2) same as (1) but establish partnership with Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, etc.; (3) ask for donations from the core group of Citizens, a monthly automatic payment, assuming amount modest; (4) apply for a foundation grant after investigating which foundations likely to support our mission.

With Microsoft, we could adopt BING as CZ's internal search engine, invite Microsoft employees to submit articles, including Signed Articles, etc.
 
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Peter Jackson
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« Reply #4 on: November 05, 2010, 17:02:48 UTC »

May I suggest a bit of publicity? How many people are going to think of looking in a boring place like technical issues for news that CZ is at risk of closure? How about mentioning it somewhere that people will actually notice it? I only came across it via RationalWiki.
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Tom Morris
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« Reply #5 on: November 05, 2010, 17:38:57 UTC »

The answer seems pretty simple:

Basically switch over to a VPS account. Linode, Slicehost etc. That'll make the hosting bill more reasonable. Ideally we shouldn't be paying more than $100 a month at the moment given the amount of use the wiki is getting.

A sensible amount of money for hosting each month is something we can deal with. If we have to raise money for it, knowing we need, say, $100 a month, we can deal with that.

Find someone trustworthy who can basically be trusted to hold the responsibility of the site in the meantime. Basically one of the tech staff.

Sever the relationship with the Tides Foundation if it isn't serving a useful purpose any more.

Once we reach a point where Citizendium is handling more than $3,000 a year - which, really, shouldn't be for some time given an ideal total operating cost of no more than $100 a month - register it formally as a non-profit. Contrary to Howard's worries, I think it makes no sense to worry about where this is done. Citizendium has been, thus far, based in the USA. Ideally, it would be possible to keep it based in the USA unless we find good reasons to move it elsewhere. When necessary, a 501(c)(3) could perhaps be setup.

It would be - err - highly desirable for the MC to sort this out as quickly as possible! Grin
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Tom Morris
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« Reply #6 on: November 05, 2010, 17:56:22 UTC »

Also, what about EC2? I haven't tried hosting MediaWiki on EC2, but it seems like a viable option. $100 gets you a $61.20 small on-demand instance and enough left over for data transfer. There's a popular MediaWiki AMI called 'Turnkey MediaWiki'. And when the hordes do eventually turn up and start writing all our non-existent articles, we just flip the instance into a large or extra large.

EC2 should be able to cope with more than enough until we need dedicated hardware.

The only downside is the transient storage thing: the Amazon solution to that is to basically dump off the data into Elastic Block Store and automatically reload it when the server comes back up.

Linode/Slicehost type VPS hosting is probably easier to setup.

(I've got some contacts in UK university IT. When I next see them I'll ask whether or not we could snuggle under the wing of a university or under some kind of other academic body.)
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Russell D. Jones
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« Reply #7 on: November 05, 2010, 18:18:16 UTC »

It would be - err - highly desirable for the MC to sort this out as quickly as possible! Grin

Thanks, Tom.  Smiley
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Russell D. Jones
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Mary Ash
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« Reply #8 on: November 05, 2010, 19:38:50 UTC »

Tom,

If you can find an academic source to support Citizendium that would be fantastic! This would hopefully remove the financial issues for the moment.

I'm not in favor of CZ members donating money as this could lead to "I donated so my input has more value..." while the the person who did not donate should be ignored.

MA
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brucemtindall
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« Reply #9 on: November 05, 2010, 21:33:03 UTC »

The cost is less essential to knowing the requirements

Correct me if I'm wrong in reading "to" as "than".

Without disputing that, I think it would be useful to know a ballpark figure of what size of transfusion it would take to drag CZ back from the brink of its apparently imminent financial death. It the cost is eleventy-teen bazillion galactic quatloos per year, then, sigh. If it's USD 100 a month, then I would know that the small amount I could contribute each month could actually make a significant difference.

Mary makes a good warning, I think, about the danger of financial contributors' demanding additional privileges. If a means of anonymous contributions could be set up -- even if it's a low-tech solution involving nameless postal money orders ("giro"[?]) being physically mailed to a bank in a tawdry money-laundering center like the Cayman Islands or Manhattan Smiley -- I would be happy to contribute that way.

Not a long-term solution, obviously, but presumably preferable to "citizendium.org" becoming a redirect to "404".
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Aleta Curry
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« Reply #10 on: November 05, 2010, 21:39:43 UTC »

Howard, I'm quite sure you're right, but I think Johan's questions should be answered.  I think Bruce is supporting that and he makes a good point as well re people's feelings in this regard. (correct me if I'm wrong, Bruce).

I have no idea if Tom's right, but at least you've got your thinking cap on!  Wink
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Peter Schmitt
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« Reply #11 on: November 05, 2010, 21:45:29 UTC »

Some (inofficial) answers can be found at http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Talk:Citizendium
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Martin Baldwin-Edwards
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« Reply #12 on: November 05, 2010, 21:51:59 UTC »

Tom,

If you can find an academic source to support Citizendium that would be fantastic! This would hopefully remove the financial issues for the moment.

I'm not in favor of CZ members donating money as this could lead to "I donated so my input has more value..." while the the person who did not donate should be ignored.

MA

The UK universities are falling apart financially. I doubt that anything is possible.
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Tom Morris
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« Reply #13 on: November 05, 2010, 22:13:01 UTC »

Tom,

If you can find an academic source to support Citizendium that would be fantastic! This would hopefully remove the financial issues for the moment.

I'm not in favor of CZ members donating money as this could lead to "I donated so my input has more value..." while the the person who did not donate should be ignored.

MA

The UK universities are falling apart financially. I doubt that anything is possible.

I can't say much, but I know various people who can point me to funding that isn't dependent on a particular university.
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Howard C. Berkowitz
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« Reply #14 on: November 05, 2010, 22:20:35 UTC »

Tom,

If you can find an academic source to support Citizendium that would be fantastic! This would hopefully remove the financial issues for the moment.

I'm not in favor of CZ members donating money as this could lead to "I donated so my input has more value..." while the the person who did not donate should be ignored.

MA

The UK universities are falling apart financially. I doubt that anything is possible.

I can't say much, but I know various people who can point me to funding that isn't dependent on a particular university.

Tom, one never knows until one asks.

In parallel, we should all be working on the "elevator speech":  that which you would say to Bill Gates if you had his attention for 30 seconds in an elevator. What is Citizendium's unique appeal?
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Could you be writing an article rather than arguing here?
Mary Ash
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« Reply #15 on: November 05, 2010, 22:31:48 UTC »

Why is Citizendium unique?

All articles require an approval process before they are considered complete.

Editors aka experts review and bless said articles.

Hopefully, this means Citizendium presents accurate and unbiased material.

MA
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Howard C. Berkowitz
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« Reply #16 on: November 05, 2010, 22:33:57 UTC »

Why is Citizendium unique?

All articles require an approval process before they are considered complete.

Editors aka experts review and bless said articles.

Hopefully, this means Citizendium presents accurate and unbiased material.

MA

Good start!
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John Stephenson
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« Reply #17 on: November 06, 2010, 02:56:10 UTC »

May I suggest a bit of publicity? How many people are going to think of looking in a boring place like technical issues for news that CZ is at risk of closure? How about mentioning it somewhere that people will actually notice it? I only came across it via RationalWiki.

Larry did say publicly around the time of his departure that the funds were running low, but members of the project have indeed found out the details and just how serious the situation is via RationalWiki. CZ still has some communication problems, it appears, and this is not the first time members have heard important news from an external site. Let's not make a habit of this.
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Mary Ash
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« Reply #18 on: November 06, 2010, 04:28:40 UTC »

May I suggest a bit of publicity? How many people are going to think of looking in a boring place like technical issues for news that CZ is at risk of closure? How about mentioning it somewhere that people will actually notice it? I only came across it via RationalWiki.

Larry did say publicly around the time of his departure that the funds were running low, but members of the project have indeed found out the details and just how serious the situation is via RationalWiki. CZ still has some communication problems, it appears, and this is not the first time members have heard important news from an external site. Let's not make a habit of this.

What is the financial status? I could not find out the details.

Thanks!
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Thomas H. Larsen
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« Reply #19 on: November 06, 2010, 10:14:08 UTC »

I think many citizens who would have contributed monetarily to ensure the Citizendium's financial security will no longer do so after this stunning lack of transparency. We find out from RationalWiki, of all places, that the Citizendium's funds are running low?

I'll be honest and say that I think the project is doomed now (although I might be wrong). Unless some folks feel like chipping out $10 a month, or the Citizendium finds support from some academic organisation within the next few months, it will probably die a natural death. (I doubt any academic organisation will be willing to support the Citizendium---to put it bluntly, it hasn't really done much in four years.)

All the best,
Tom.
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Peter Schmitt
Citizendium Council
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Posts: 2271


« Reply #20 on: November 06, 2010, 10:26:15 UTC »

The current government (MC and ME) cannot be blamed for the present situation.
They are not responsible for the lack of transparency, either, because they have been active for only a week now, and had to learn the facts first.

I think that it is not unjust to say that Larry must not have waited until the Charter has been ratified.
He had to act earlier.
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Peter Schmitt
Citizendium Council
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« Reply #21 on: November 06, 2010, 10:30:17 UTC »

Unfortunately I have no suggestion where to go for continued support.

However, in order to at least save the current database at a secure place, the Internet Archive www.archive.org may be able to help.
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Thomas H. Larsen
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« Reply #22 on: November 06, 2010, 10:36:13 UTC »

The current government (MC and ME) cannot be blamed for the present situation.

I agree; obviously, the MC and ME couldn't have known about the situation until at least after the recent elections. But most potential sponsors won't see it that way. It looks pretty pretentious when the Citizendium claims to be an on-line republic with a charter and representatives, yet risks being nothing more than a 404 error in a few months' time. The Citizendium desperately needs to abandon all bureaucracy at this point and focus on building a community that can actually support the site.

With anything less than 100 contributors or so, I don't see why the Citizendium needs anything more than real names and concise neutrality and behavioural policies.

Tom.
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Peter Jackson
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« Reply #23 on: November 06, 2010, 10:59:34 UTC »

It needs a dispute resolution procedure. I came here from Wikipedia because they haven't got one that actually works regularly. I moved on to Wikinfo after 2 months on discovering the same problem here. I hope the EC will deal with that, though it looks like taking some time. (Correct me if I'm wrong, but as far as I can tell, they've so far managed just 3 decisions: Ro is secretary; they want their own wiki; they've adjourned till it's ready.)

Is the MC to blame for lak of transparency? Well, one might think so: wasn't the leak to RationalWiki from something MC were trying to keep confidential? Maybe that's misreading the situation; I haven't looked at the details.
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Martin Baldwin-Edwards
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« Reply #24 on: November 06, 2010, 11:14:36 UTC »

Yes, the EC has made no more decisions than those. We are waiting for the wiki to be set up.

Also, the EC members learned of the financial situation from Rationalwiki (lol). A closed MC Board had a technical fault and some lucky people were able to read the financial discussions...

It is not exactly the fault of the MC, because there has been no handover of accounts and formal contact persons to the new regime by Larry. The MC is trying to resolve these problems (but they should be more open with Citizens, in my view).
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