Nothing’s ever quite free in the world – let’s take a short moment to talk about the finances of chaos.social.
In our first year (April 2017 – March 2018) we didn’t really think or care that much about money. rixx bought the domain in the very beginning, and Leah provided some space for our server in her setup. Together we set up the instance, and took care of the day-to-day administration and moderation, initiated some meetups, and printed some pretty stickers.
Starting in April 2018, we set up a liberapay account. We told our members about it, with the goal of covering or domain and server costs, especially seeing that the server was continuously growing and required more and more resources. From April 2018 until July 2018, when liberapay’s payment provider threw them out, we received a steady stream of donations from our members, which we divided so that most of it went to Leah. During that time, rixx received 60.38 € and Leah 345.45 €. This does already include the pre-payments we received towards the end, when liberapay announced that it wouldn’t be usable for some time, and people dropped off money for weeks and months in advance. We also received private donations of 20.00 € (rixx, for the stickers) and 15.00 € (Leah).
In this time, we spent regular time on server maintenance (both of us), Mastodon upgrades (mostly Leah), server system upgrades (also Leah), and adjustments to Mastodon itself (both of us). We also put in regular hours in reviewing reports and deciding on actions to take, and reading through local activities to proactively spot problematic behaviours.
Since we had a rather large influx of new users – we grew from 3k to 4k members within slightly over 24 hours – all of these tasks have started to take up way more time. Especially the social tasks have become more time consuming and more stressful, as we try to find ways to integrate our new members into the existing community. (They’re all lovely people, but if you grow a community as sudden as this, you’ll run into friction.) At the same time, there is still no way to receive donations for teams via liberapay. We published Leah’s PayPal address as a stopgap measure, since our new members started asking where to put donations – this way we received 281.00€ over the last couple of days.
We’re very thankful to both the new members who insisted on donating right away and our old and faithful repeat donators – thank you for proving that this federated model can work.
We still see liberapay as our favoured donation platform. It provides an open source based tool that allows us to split our income transparently, so that our supporters can always see who took how much in which week. It’s also focussed on Euro payments, which means no money is lost in currency conversion where there is no need for it.
While we wait for liberapay to work again, we’d like to ask those of you who can and want to donate, to use Leah’s PayPal account or ask her privately for her IBAN. We’ll use the money to pay for the server even when resource requirements grow, pay for the domain, and probably for another round of stickers. The remaining money will be held by us for times where we have less income but continuing server costs. We’ll also talk about our finances periodically, to give you an idea of what our situation is.