Give us all your money or the forum gets it (2018 version)

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    Following is the latest breakdown of bottom-line running costs of this website (2018), information on why it costs a lot to run, and how you can help...


    Hosting: £648 p/a inc VAT

    Domains x 4: £50 p/a


    The newest forum software currently cost around £150 including VAT - there are still a few additions I'd like to add, but they will be dependent on how much money we raise. This was actually lower than the older software cost. We've had to pay for several upgrades over the years, some which cost us over £200.


    Miscellaneous paid for items are needed occasionally - in the past we have paid for chatroom software, blog software and more - these, and a newer bespoke mobile app, are largely on hold until the site becomes more self-sufficient.


    Why this cost?


    When this forum started we used a standard "shared" hosting package costing us around £50 a year - these are fine for unpopular, non-interactive sites and anything with low traffic. As the forum grew it started crashing, and so we looked into new options - we tried another shared host, but we had the same problems, and so we switched to a couple of Virtual Private Servers (vps) costing us around £30+ a month. Again, similar problems, although not as bad as before.


    Even during this quieter time we get up to 3 million hits per month; this forum is valued by members and a resource to non-members all around the world, and it would be a shame to lock that down. That's not including the bandwidth used by subscription emails or notifications etc.


    About four or so years ago we upgraded to a fast server with lots of processing power and RAM, costing us around £45 a month+VAT, with telephone support, regular backups and based in the UK for better response time - it rarely crashes and it's typically stable and the best it's ever been. The guys are know their shit and I trust them more than I've trusted any other hosting company.


    So while we occasionally hear people say "I can get you a better deal", or "that sounds expensive", jumping ship now we have a reliable company isn't going to happen any time soon - there's too much of a risk of going backwards.


    Since 2005 we have invested thousands of pounds into this site, largely paid for by donations (not including the original investment in setting the site up), but regardless of this the site still owes me (Paul) a couple of hundred quid. This is because, over the last ten years, when donations were low, I made up the difference out of my own pocket and never recuperated it.


    I'm back to investing my own cash again, and this needs to stop - I already put a shitload of effort into the software, which is one reason why I'm reluctant to let it die, but I seriously need this site to be self sufficient financially for the sake of my own bank balance.


    Donations pay for the site.


    Donations help - and in order to keep this site afloat we need a minimum of £60 a month.


    This covers the costs of the hosting and domain registration and the percentage Paypal takes for processing the funds, but no more. Anything above that will eventually clear the debts, but not if we have a bad month, then it's back to playing catch up again.


    The current minimum one-off donation is now £7, but you can set up a regular payment from £5 per month which can be cancelled at any time via your paypal account.


    Money that comes in is prioritised - rent on the server and domain names comes first, software updates third and feature upgrades last. It would be nice to raise more than is needed, but let's see.


    We have thousands of members on this site, and if everyone donated we would never need to ask for money again.


    In summary...


    • Making a donation does not exempt anyone from the rules of the site.
    • Making a donation helps a lot and stops worrying about ongoing costs.
    • Money goes to renewing domain names, upgrading software, hosting, adding features as they're needed, software licenses and anything else to do with the site running costs.
    • Hosting on a high speed server costs us over £640 per year and that's without software updates, domain registration etc.
    • Software upgrades and new features add more to this. For example, the gallery cost us £50 everytime we do an upgrade, if we ever want to bring back features (such as the chatroom) they too will cost us similar or higher prices - last time around, upgrading the software that runs the forum cost us in the region of £150. Previous upgrades have cost us more.
    • We have spent several thousand pounds since the site began in September 2005 and we still only just scrape through.
    • In the future, we may incur extra costs, like developing new mobile apps etc. For instance, apart from the dev costs, the fee would be $100usd a year just to run an app on the Apple app store and $25usd for Android
    • We do not profit from donations to this website, but unfortunately paypal does take a small percentage because we use a premium verified account - there's nothing we can do about this; all merchant banking systems take a percentage of the money transferred
    • Please consider that, if we were employing someone to run this site for 8 hours a day on minimum wage they would have earned over £140000 by now (Based on 2016 minimum wage rates).
    • When this website started (in the days before social media), we invested a lot of money believing the site would flourish. Because donations have been slow in forthcoming, this left us in arrears. Failure to hit the donation target increases these arrears
    • We struggle to hit our monthly running costs and we are always playing catch up.


    Affiliates


    Around this website you will see affiliate links to Ebay, and I may add others at some point - using these links will set a cookie on your computer and thus a small percentage of your purchases through these stores will be passed our way. This doesn't bring in a lot, but again it helps, so please use these links when you can.


    Paid membership ideas


    This is an egalitarian website, and as such so we don't wish to restrict people because of a low income. Again, we may have to go down this route at some point, but it's against our wider principles to do so.


    Advertising


    I have resisted independent advertising because it's a pain in the arse to manage and would take the website out of the hobbyist domain and into the business domain - it's not completely dismissed it, in fact it's becoming more likely, but I'm holding off for as long as I can. There is some affiliate linking as this is easy to manage, but it isn't exactly a money spinner.


    Alternatives to Paypal?


    No; it's too much hassle trying to run merchant accounts and set up payment processors - this website is run as a hobby and as such we keep it simple as possible. Implementing any other system would be too time/effort consuming at present and cause us problems with processing fees, tax etc.


    You do not need a Paypal account to use paypal for donations.



    Donation and Newcomer bonuses


    If you are a newbie seeing this post, a donation to the running costs of this site will give you access to all the forums that are currently restricted by post count. Click here for more information.


    Regular members who donate will get a feature upgrade including a larger inbox, the ability to change your username, more photo storage and more.


    Thank you :)


    Any questions or ideas, please discuss below - no negativity please.


    Addendum: By restricting the thread content to members only, I have reduced the traffic and running costs of this website by a tenner a month - the current bottom line costs are around £50 and not £60 as previously stated.

  • thanks for the update Paul, your hard work is appreciated.

    I noticed the Amazon ad has gone. Personally I was slightly surprised about this choice of advertiser, given their working conditions record. Still, needs must.

    Will the Amazon ad be back?

  • I noticed the Amazon ad has gone. Personally I was slightly surprised about this choice of advertiser, given their working conditions record. Still, needs must.

    Will the Amazon ad be back?

    It's still there, but it's changed into a search box and may be filtered out on some browsers.

    Ebay, Google, Amazon, Paypal - none of them are ethical, but I'm not sure if any large company is, and it's difficult to find viable alternatives with systems that work. I remember some time ago I contacted "ethical wares" to ask if they wanted to advertise on here, and they criticised me for using Ebay affiliation -- but when I checked their website they accepted payments from Paypal. Go figure.


    As the saying goes, there's no ethical consumption under capitalism.


    I'd rather rely on donations, but I'm sick of living by the seat of my pants every month. :/

  • Thorough explanation,Just one question, apart from advertising from the usual suspects can you not allow individuals on here to advertise their own wee business operations ie their own banner ads on their signature area? for which they can pay for the privilege.

  • I have donated once before and am considering doing so again but I'd much rather pay for an advert, as I do have a business that I could advertise here.


    I bet lots of members have businesses and would be willing to consider advertising, you might just scrape enough to cover the costs and the good thing is the adverts are far more likely to suit the membership.

  • Thank you for that very clear and concise update paul , I often tend to lose interest in long winded posts,even when they are of importance,however this I followed with ease.


    Also Thank you for all your time and effort that you put into keeping this site up and running. Not only are you keeping a lot of members and newbies happy , but are helping get good information out into a world that needs as much help as we can create. Well done you :thumbup:


    I shall certainly keep taking little steps when I can to help out.


    Thanks again.


    you are a star. xx


  • How about some kind of donation meter on the home page or latest posts page that updates through the month and resets each month? I think this would act as a good reminder and promp us to donate. Otherwise it’s easy to get forgotten about. This seems to work on another forum I visit. Thanks if all your effort on the site ✌️

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  • 3 million hits per month - That is enough to earn $3000 on adsense. That is if by hits you mean page views. If you means hits that includes image loads it is a meaningless figure. Ebay earns almost nothing and Amazon earns almost nothing. The other thing you could do is get a sponsor who sells something to hippies. Maybe a bong manufacturer.

    Although it is fairly crap you could try cj.com It would probably earn more than ebay. The trouble is most hippies have no money. Ditch UK hippy and set up UK yuppie.

  • If you means hits that includes image loads it is a meaningless figure.

    Page hits; and the very best we got from adsense was £60 in one good year - we kept getting kicked off for breaking their content guidelines which meant being very careful where anything got placed; as a result, this month has earned 73p and as such I'm getting rid. :/

    Meanwhile I have slightly cut the running costs by closing down transient traffic, and I have reduced the minimum donation with all the same benefits as before (like changing your username etc.)

  • Agree with Paul, Google have got so tetchy with Adsense that you have to do a lot of self censoring to be compliant.


    Out of interest Paul, what sort of rig is UKHippy running on now? Is it a dedicated server, a virtualised/containerised system or a cloud instance? Just being nosey :)

  • Out of interest Paul, what sort of rig is UKHippy running on now? Is it a dedicated server, a virtualised/containerised system or a cloud instance? Just being nosey

    We're on a quad core cloud running Centos - I've lowered our package level recently to save money (hence shutting down public access), but it's the longest we've ever stayed with the same server and not had any problems.



  • DONATION DONE !!!!:thumbup::love:^^

  • If everyone pitched in £1, that would keep this site bouncing along, and then some. It would reduce Paul's stress and enable him to perhaps expand the site and offer some great extra features. The running costs are so cheap. I mean, £50-£60 per month? I do website develpment, and I can tell you, that's almost nothing. Yet there aren't even enough donations to cover that??? This site seems to be in serious crisis mode. I'm baffled. Come on, people, if you value this site and want it to continue, then dig in your pockets and pitch in one lousy pound to make that happen. That's way less than a cup of coffee, a pint of beer, or a cream tea. I know I'm not around here much, but I don't want to see this site go under, so I've made a donation, and I'd like to encourage everyone else to do the same. Paul is trying very hard to not rely on evil corporations to get funding, but if no one here cares enough to dig in their pockets for some change and pitch in, what else is he supposed to do? So let's help Paul out, and turn this into a thriving, happy site!

  • If everyone pitched in £1, that would keep this site bouncing along, and then some. It would reduce Paul's stress and enable him to perhaps expand the site and offer some great extra features. The running costs are so cheap. I mean, £50-£60 per month? I do website develpment, and I can tell you, that's almost nothing. Yet there aren't even enough donations to cover that??? This site seems to be in serious crisis mode. I'm baffled. Come on, people, if you value this site and want it to continue, then dig in your pockets and pitch in one lousy pound to make that happen. That's way less than a cup of coffee, a pint of beer, or a cream tea. I know I'm not around here much,

    Your right no one would miss a quid. The minimum donation though is 6 quid and if your living on a shoe string. You know that next fiver is spoken for before it even gets in our pockets. Everyone is aware of the state of finances. It’s not like Paul hasn’t promoted the site to it’s members. We have lost a large number of our daily posters to a similar site. A site which was a potential substitute should UKH go under. Speaking as Member who has been a regular poster on here for over ten years. I can’t just jump ship. Loyalty or complacency, call it what you will. We get so many new members that come here, shout the odds on how cheap it is and disappear. Those that stick around are the backbone of the site. But if it’s had it’s day, then there’s no point flogging a dead horse. We are all truly greatful to Paul and all the mods who have contributed time and money to make this site happen.

  • If everyone pitched in £1, that would keep this site bouncing along, and then some. It would reduce Paul's stress and enable him to perhaps expand the site and offer some great extra features.

    As AW says above, it is set to a minimum, and I have adjusted that up and down over the years - if I made the minimum a quid, then I pretty much guarantee I'd get the same amount of donations, but end up with less than twenty quid at the end of the month.

    However, some people with limited means may only donate once a year, which is all they can afford and I'm good with that -- we need money, but I have no intention of ever excluding anyone because of their means.

    This site seems to be in serious crisis mode. I'm baffled. Come on, people, if you value this site and want it to continue, then dig in your pockets and pitch in one lousy pound to make that happen.

    As above, it's not just about money, although it does need money - it's also about activity and encouraging people to actually take advantage of this platform. More people using the site regularly = more donations, but the demographic evolves and as such the member base shifts around.

    It's interesting that, while people express genuine concerns about privacy, corporations, data etc. they have also moved to social media in their droves and independent forums have suffered as a result.

    So let's help Paul out, and turn this into a thriving, happy site!

    I'm good with this, and (while I'm clearly not perfect) I'm doing my best to stay positively focused and making it about people first, money second while staying aware that both are necessary.

  • Agree with Paul, Google have got so tetchy with Adsense that you have to do a lot of self censoring to be compliant.

    There are a couple of adsense blocks on here that I'll be removing shortly - because complying with Google's rules isn't worth 73p a month. Generally speaking, affiliate marketing hasn't served us well and so I need to rethink this.

    This site seems to be in serious crisis mode. I'm baffled.

    I keep it going because I believe it offers a useful service; there are some good people in here and it's rewarding to see the connections people make -- also I enjoy tinkering with the tech that runs it. Admittedly there's a belligerent part of me that refuses to give up, determined to beat Facebook and keep this site going in spite of the onslaught of social media etc.


    The site lives in crisis mode - it has done for a while, but I've kinda gotten used to it and just allow the Universe to keep it alive. If I didn't I'd be continually stressing out, rather than just occasionally stressing out :D


    I do think hippy types have a bad relationship with money however, which is probably a whole discussion in itself, and one I might start.

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  • I appreciate the effort that goes into the "back office" for something like this place, so I'll add my thanks for Paul's efforts.

    As a relatively noobie here, but one without much spare cash, I'll have to see if I can scape up enough for a donation, but it will probably be in the next month or three.

  • Sorry, saying "scrape" was just me thinking about budgeting my spare cash. I do have some, just I want to make fair use of it. I have a couple of "holiday/business" trips planned and they'll need a bit of extra spending money, so planning the spare cash share out is something I need to do.

  • Please do not "scrape" if you struggle.


    As much as I make a noise, I don't want anyone without the means to feel obliged to give anything. Money's important, and if you do have the means that's different, but ultimately you're more important than your money.

    You have a lovely, interesting site, and there's no harm in asking.

    Imagine how bland and boring it would be without all the colour? Wait, i don't have to imagine, i've seen it! Truly horrifying and sad it is!

  • I joined this sIte at the start of 2012, previously to that I had been lurking for a fair while. It's was under threat of being closed then, that's why I never joined and lurked for so long. I only ended up joining to comment on something that had annoyed me. After I had been here a while and got speaking to folk I asked about the site closing and got "don't worry about it, he has been saying that for years" some of the newer members have asked me about the site closing and that's been my reply.

    Over the years I've spoke to many ppl online and in person and when ever I mention this site they seem amazed tHat it's still going. A lot have had a look, seen its going to be closing down and never came back.

    Moral of the story, for every person that donates there's probably 2 or 3 that don't see the point in contributing to a site that's away to close.


    Why join the sinking ship

  • I joined this sIte at the start of 2012, previously to that I had been lurking for a fair while. It's was under threat of being closed then

    Interestingly it seems to go in cycles - it's like I need to apply pressure, then I can relax for a while, and then I need to apply it again -- the last big push was in 2015, it was steady for a while, but at the end of 2017 things started to falter again, hence me investing in new software in order to inject new life.


    The nature of this beast is that, if bills don't get paid then I have to pay them out of my own pocket - and when that happens I get resentful as I'm trying to do a good thing. (some may disagree).


    Unfortunately a lot of people on here struggle, which is why this site is never going to be a huge money spinner.


    Of course I don't want this site to close, but I swore some time back that I was done with using my own money - especially considering the amount of hours I'd put into this (I have gone back on this promise of not using my own cash a couple of times, but ho hum).


    So, without giving up the database to be raped by a third party like Pro Boards, or investing heavily into corporate advertising, the least stressful option is to carry on applying some pressure.


    However, you have a point, and I will consider your words -- but this ship will not sink because a few people elsewhere are trying to dig holes in it ;)

  • I remember a time when Tribal was said to be closing down. At first it looked unlikely, there was some “good” energy and determined admin staff onboard. However it eventually closed. Many of those members were also members here too. I was.

    I just find it too difficult, too demanding to participate in the two hippy forums and UKH always had the greatest attraction for me personally. Had I been banned (for what ever or any reason) from either site. It would have been plain sailing in my alternative choice. I’m surprised I have never received a ban from a online group before (probably come close a time or two) and there has been times when I simply felt like walking away.


    In the late 1990’s I started up a annual free festival and with the help from many volunteers it grew in size, duration and locations. At the beginning I wanted to hit back at the system with it’s many rules, redtape and controls. I Infiltrated their system and fought from within. Even using their money to fund these “free festivals”. With increasing financial cost to run organised, legal festivals, It eventually morphed into a commercial enterprise and no longer a free to enter festival, something I had never intended it to be, but I always envisaged handing over the reins to those more dedicated than me.

    After ten years I had given enough of myself, my time, equipment and some of my own money, I had had enough of the apathy, abuse, hard work and frustration. Keeping, steering volunteers year in year out was like herding cats. Many volunteers were still willing and supportive, although I burnt out. Those many hippies and travellers who inspired me to give it my all, eventually wore me down, becaming part of the problem instead of a solution. We all have plenty of energy and plenty of things to do with our time.


    The possibility of a site/forum like this one winding down, closing is real. If Paul was to disappear, fall ill, get a controlling, demanding wife. Someone else will no doubt try to take it on and fill the shoes, mgt style and system may change. (I can’t see another manager paying up for any monthly shortfall)


    On the other hand, this place continues to be open door policy to stranded minds and those yet to find safe passage. We are generally a welcoming lot and like to keep our members happy and interacting. The future of this site is a rainbow of possibilities. The more we look up, the more colourful it can become. More organised gatherings, discounted campsites, skills sharing and UK hippy bay, tat auction. (without the extortionate charges) just a listing fee.

  • I will help and donate when i can, I have spent many years in dire straights, as some of you will know, life was on the up, until i got made redundant. I wasnt too worried as something tells me better things are around the corner, a blimmin big corner, but a corner nontheless... patiently waiting... :)