Perspective

  By Shamus   Dec 19, 2006   22 comments

In June 2006 this site burned through 2.4GB of bandwidth.

On Friday, December 8, this site burned through 4.6GB. I’m pretty much doing in a day what I used to do in a month, bandwidth-wise. This is still peanuts compared to a lot of big sites, but this is way more traffic than I planned on using for my little hobby site.

Now I see why people sell coffee mugs and t-shirts and whatnot when their site starts doing well. You need to do that to pay the bills. I’m still not at all interested in asking for money. I don’t want to start running a store. I refuse to accept donations. I refuse to cover this site in ads. I also don’t want to stop making the comic just yet. Can’t bandwidth just be… I don’t know… free or something?

I entertained the idea of putting the strips on Flickr and letting THEM figure out how to pay for all that bandwidth, but I’ll bet my ripped images – while still legal fair use – probably violate the Flicker TOS.

I’m still working on this. All I want to do is make something funny and give it away for free. It annoys me that cold, hard reality keeps intruding on this idea and ruining my fun with boring details like paying for things.

20222 comments. Hurry up and add yours before it becomes passé.


  1. Spider says:

    It seems to me there are plenty of people who probably have an interest in keeping this site up. Some of them would part with a few dollars to make that happen. I realize you don’t want to accept donations, and I respect that, but I do think you’ve got an opportunity to merchendize (the site, not DMotR) and you might want to consider taking it. It’s a lot better then wondering if you’ll be able to afford the bandwidth.

    Secondly, you might was to consider value of the audience you’ve created. No so big in the movie world, but pretty huge in the role-playing world. There may be an opportunity for select partnership to help you fund the additional bandwidth. I bet any company that stepped up and said, we want to keep this going, would get more than passing notice from your fans.

    I don’t know whether you would ever consider starting a thread to brainstorm about funding. You seem above that. Reality, though, has a way creeping into such noble intentions. I bet the answer is right here, it just hasn’t presented itself yet.

    I appologize for my rambling, but I want this site (even beyond DMotR) to survive. More importantly, I don’t want it to become a burden for you, because that can kill it almost as fast as lack of funding. I’m not alone.

  2. smilydeth says:

    Find a local gaming store… get them to sponsor you… it works.

  3. Nick says:

    For some quick breathing room, you can always send the images through a caching system like The Coral Content Distribution Network. It’s as simple as adding “.nyud.net:8080″ to the end of the domain on each image.

    I do have some issues with the response time of the cache system, but it’s a better alternative than if the server goes down due to the bandwidth load!

    Still, you actually have some hard numbers. It’ll be interesting to see how much this could help.

  4. Miroz says:

    Hey, you give feeling of guilt because i regularly coming to your site :)

    I really don’t know where is your problem about hosting. This days I’m considering about having my site hosted without adds and it will cost me 10$/month for 20GB/month with domain reservation included. And there are many cheaper hosting providers I’ve found on Google.
    I hope you’ll find one.

  5. Jack says:

    I’d been using an older provider since like 1998, and I’ve just switched.

    I don’t want to shill for the new guys, but I’m now getting 1,500 GB/month data transfers for $6.45 USD/month.

    Maybe you should just go with one of the bigger providers, if that’s the issue?

  6. If the primary bandwidth cost is the images, you might be able to find a dirt-cheap hosting service that basically offers nothing but bandwidth (no dynamic stuff), and move the images there, while retaining the dynamic features of the main web site.

    What server you are using is obscured, but you may be able to activate “gzip” encoding of your web pages. If you’re on Apache 1, the application (wordpress) itself needs to support it. If you’re on Apache 2, the webserver can support it. More info can be googled (or you can email me directly if you like).

    In my opinion, most RSS generation routines are **way** too optimistic; you don’t need to dump out stories from five days ago when people are hitting the file every hour. Since RSS is often the number one page hit, even though it is well-cached, see if you can turn down the number of articles it contains; for you’d I’d think 2 is enough. (I think the default settings are designed for people who post a lot of “My cat meowed; isn’t that cute?” stories throughout the day. People who post longer things get screwed.)

    You can also, if you get desperate, turn down the number of articles on the front page, but what you have now isn’t that bad (34KB of text, hard to get below that without a complete redesign).

    After that, what to do depends too much on your setup for me to guess what is required. But generally speaking if you’ve never really optimized for bandwidth before, there’s usually some low-hanging fruit that can be plucked for basically no cost. You may have a slightly unusual profile because of the cartoons, though.

  7. David Bishop says:

    Or, you could use a free webcomic hosting service. Checkout http://www.webcomicsnation.com. It’s basically what you were asking for: free bandwidth, with a bonus of having an in-place archiving system. I’m sure there are other sites out there that do the same thing, I just can’t think of any off the top of my head.

  8. kat says:

    FWIW, I know loads of people who would love to buy a Twenty Sided coffee mug (for example) … indeed, I am one of them.

  9. bkw says:

    Agree with the coffee mug or t-shirt or other d20 merch. You’ve got a lot of neat graphics on the site that I think would work quite niftily on a t-shirt.

  10. Mrs T says:

    How about at the start of each month, put up a post saying how much your bandwidth was the previous month? Those of us who would be willing to pay for it can chip in via paypal, and when you reach that amount, you lop it off there and donate any excess to charity. Would that solve the bandwidth issue while appeasing your scruples?

    OTOH, a t-shirt that said ‘Decomposing of my own free will’ would so rock.

  11. gwen says:

    A couple of thoughts here:

    1) Flickr’s TOS for linking out pictures is that you need to linkback the pictures to their main site so that people know where the pictures are coming from. OTOH, I don’t know what their limitations for bandwidth usage is.

    2) You could find readers willing to help mirror the images. Some people have machines lurking on free bandwidth somewhere, and those are the sorts who’d be reading your site. I used to have one such machine, actually, and would have happily helped mirror the images… except that my colocation provider is dying next month (probably for the same reason I had free bandwidth, doh!)

    3) As someone mentioned, you could find cheap hosting and mirror the images there too.

    I’d probably do some combination of the three options using load balancing to try to keep my costs down.

  12. Telas says:

    Or a shirt that simply says, “Me and my -5 hit points are going to take a little nap”…

  13. Telas says:

    On another front (i.e. the topic at hand)…

    Why not take donations? I have a list of sites that get an annual Paypal, from $5-20, and I actually enjoy sending them. I feel these sites are providing me and others with entertainment (information, etc), and I should pay for it.

    But then again, I’m a closet objectivist… free stuff makes me feel guilty. :P

  14. Justin says:

    But then again, I’m a closet objectivist…

    Not anymore. =)

  15. Tirgaya says:

    I hate to pimp some company, especially one I have never used, but…

    http://www.dreamhost.com/hosting.html

    2TB of bandwidth per month on their $7.95 plan isn’t bad at all. You could serve ~70GB a day.

    What kills me though is that they claim to increase both your storage and your bandwidth the longer you are with them. If that’s true, and I have no reason to believe it isn’t, then that rocks.

    Here is their netcraft site report:
    http://toolbar.netcraft.com/site_report?url=http://www.dreamhost.com

    That is as much as I’ve checked them out though… so do your own due diligence.

    I’ve been shopping and this seems like a great deal for this (shamusyoung,com) site.

    Lastly, I’d like to throw my hat in the ring for the twenty sided merchandise. You are coming up with some great original stuff, and quite frankly you should be paid.

  16. Will says:

    Actually… a real 20-sided coffee mug would be kinda cool. Scale up a 20-sider, knock a hole in the dreaded 1-side, hollow it out, add a handle, and you have a (marginally stable) coffee mug.

    I have to assume something like this already exists…right?

  17. Pete Zaitcev says:

    Dreamhost is controversial. One hand, Hop Step Jump escaped them:
    http://anime.jefflawson.net/2006/10/06/autumn-nap/
    BasuGasuHatsu left too, went to MediaTemple, although I gather the main
    issue was the slashdotting protection which MediaTemple offered.
    Finally, Dreamhost managed to get F rating from local BBB.
    On the other hand, a bunch of people are happy with them. My understanding
    is, it’s very very cheap unless you run into some problems, which happens
    at random. And it or when you do, you’re screwed, because there’s basically
    no support.

    Hosting Matters seems like an overkill. They host Instapundit, for instance.

  18. Pixy Misa says:

    There’s a lot of people who have had issues with Dreamhost. Apparently they particularly don’t like busy database-driven sites, like, oh, WordPress blogs, and from what I’ve heard you could get shut down with little warning.

    And no-one can afford to actually give you 2TB a month for $7 – they’re overselling by about 1000-to-1. In their favour, they admit this up front. They might have an unsustainable business model, but they’re honest about it. ;)

    One other option you could consider is talking to a friend who happens to have three web servers and over 3TB of unused bandwidth… :)

  19. what a world says:

    Here’s another vote for a PayPal Donate button. Not a lot of hassle for you; PayPal gives you the graphic and HTML, and it just goes into your PayPal balance. I’d be happy to click it and donate a few bucks.

    Of course, if you can get one of the high-bandwidth, low-cost deals people have mentioned, that’s cool too. Whatever works for you; just keep DMotR coming!

  20. Marmot says:

    I just wanted to say that at first I got attracted to the DM of the Rings which one friend pointed me too, but over time, I’ve started brownsing through the rest of the website. Rants, Projects, Random Thoughts, etc… and honestly, I liked it very much. With this explained, I freely and in only good will tell you, PayPal button isn’t a bad thing. And Mrs T’s suggestion sounds awesome. (look above several posts). Overall, yes, do not hesitate if help is needed anytime; I am certain that many of us will be happy to contribute to fight the thing that you mentioned:

    “All I want to do is make something funny and give it away for free. It annoys me that cold, hard reality keeps intruding on this idea and ruining my fun with boring details like paying for things.”

    May the Force be with you!

  21. Marmot says:

    After a quick check, PayPal doesn’t support payments from my country (inluding a lot of others)(Croatia). Crap. But all that I’ve said above still stands.

  22. Myxx says:

    If you do the t-shirt thing, make one that says ‘re-roll for intelligence’. That’s one I always throw out to my guys when they do something especially stupid.

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