Pretty straight question.

I see Lemm.ee is now the second most populated instance based on https://lemmy.fediverse.observer/list, with 3634 monthly active users.

I also know that Lemmy devs said that

lemmy.ml is bigger than beehaw, and only costs 80 euros per month for a dedicated server.

https://lemmy.ml/comment/2372503

As lemmy.ml has 3561 monthly active users, should we consider that around 3,5k-4k users is the sweet spot for an instance population, and stop recommending the ones that reached that threshold?

  • @o_oli@lemmy.world
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    3010 months ago

    Imo admins have a responsibility to disable signups to their server if they feel they are unable to fund/crowdsource or lack the ability to expand capacity (lack of time or know-how).

    As long as server admins stick to the above it doesn’t matter if it costs €10 or €100000 a month really.

    Its impossible to say at which point is the burden too much, because every person has their own threshold and every server can have multiple admins responsible for it, or might have business backing it or whatever really.

  • @14th_cylon@lemm.ee
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    2010 months ago

    lemm.ee admin did setup crowdfunding option and the needed amount was filled quite fast, so i guess it is more about whether or not the admin of the instance have technical ability and will to upscale the solution with rising number of users.

    it might get different story once the normal users start surpassing the early adopters in numbers (the penetration of people willing to contribute might get gradually lower).

  • @hoodlem@hoodlem.me
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    1610 months ago

    This is a fantastic point. The more the financial burden falls on one person, the more likely it is that at some point the expense will become too great for that individual admin to carry.

    So from a financial perspective it makes a lot of sense to have many small/medium sized instances rather than a few large ones.

    You suggest when an instance reaches a given size, stop recommending it. Totally agree. Based on known expenses for instances, it might not be a bad idea to have a recommended threshold (number of users) at which to stop or slow signups as well.

    There are several places that would need to be updated when it comes to recommending instances. One that comes to my mind right away is apps. Several apps only list the top 4-5 instances when signing up. And default to Lemmy.world. It’s not a great situation to be in, but I think we can make a change if this info gets circulated more broadly.

    • @WhipTheLlama@lemmy.world
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      710 months ago

      Besides user count, the number of federated instances, posts, and comments will also increase server costs. Its possible that federating from many instances has a larger performance penalty than having a high user count.

      • @Blaze@sopuli.xyzOP
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        110 months ago

        That’s another point. I guess over time some instances would aggregate in clusters. There is probably low interest for a niche software development English speaking instance to federate with a local Japan speaking city instance

    • @Taako_Tuesday@lemmy.ca
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      10 months ago

      I wouldn’t be surprised if we start to see instances that are dedicated to individual subs/niche topics as things become more spread out. As the user base grows, it’s just not realistic for a handful of instances to host virtually every popular sub across all of lemmy (or all of the fediverse that’s visible from lemmy).

      • @pkulak@beehaw.org
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        310 months ago

        That’s what Mastadon does. I’m on a very specific server, and I mostly follow folks on that server. But I can still follow anyone, of course.

      • @rglullisA
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        10 months ago

        I’ve created selfhosted.forum some days before the reddit blackout, and I wanted to give it to the mods of /r/selfhosted. They still went on to use the /c/ from LW.

        A community of people focused on self-hosting was not interested in running their own instance. The irony was too much.

    • Sean
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      110 months ago

      @hoodlem @Blaze I started out on Masthead dot social as my Mastodoninstance & then it imploded without an explanation, now I’m on a really small instance administered by someone I followed when on Masthead. There should be someway to migrate your account even without your original instance being involved, like a PGP public-private key implementation, getting users to normalize floating from instance to instance without a hiccup would alleviate concerns about the glut of users on 4-5 instances

  • poVoq
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    10 months ago

    That seems to be rather too large already.

    There are probably not many admins willing to pay 80 euro a month out of their own pocket for a hobby and donations are better considered to be “nice to have” and should preferrably not be essential to keep the server alive.

    • @14th_cylon@lemm.ee
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      510 months ago

      donations should absolutely be considered essential.

      it is relying on the admin paying out of their own pocket that is guaranteed way to hell ;)

      • poVoq
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        10 months ago

        This is a very short-sighted view. Once you set up things to depend on a regular project related income (donations or otherwise), the entire project lives or dies with it.

        Even if donations right now are sufficient, sooner or later they will fall short and then the people running the service have no choice but to either close it down or try to find another source of income, such as advertisement or selling out to a company interested in the user data. The latter has already happened with such large Mastodon servers.

        If you want to ensure that the Fediverse stays a healthy, non-corporate and humans-first environment, then being able to run (small) servers out of the admin’s pocket is the only working solution. Of course it makes sense to try and find more than one admin and have all of them able and willing to cover expenses, but donations should always be just a “nice to have” on top of that.

        • @14th_cylon@lemm.ee
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          310 months ago

          is the only working solution

          that is total nonsense. these smaller instances do cost money as well. so either million people needs to collectively shell out money to run one big instance, or they have to collectively shell out money running million small instances. the latter will cost more money when you sum that up.

          so, if you want the fediverse to stay healthy, people have to pay for it, one way or the other. your economic perpetum mobile does not really work how you think it does.

          • poVoq
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            10 months ago

            Yes, both costs money, but only one has a clear pathway for sustainability and one admin paying out of their pocket for a small instance of less than 1000 or so members is easily possible.

            And since most admins will rent a VPS in one of the larger cloud services like Hetzner, the economies of scale are the same or better than having a large instance needing dedicated hardware somewhere.

            Edit: and no. depending on a cloud host is not the same as directly running the instances by a corporation. Those cloud hosts are more like your ISP, i.e. infrastructure providers.

            Edit2: Also… one huge factor is labour costs of the admin. A small instance can be a hobby side project that only needs a few hours per month. A large instance is not and people will seriously start questioning why they are not being paid a proper salary for running a large instance sooner or later.

            • @14th_cylon@lemm.ee
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              10 months ago

              yeah, no.

              again, your “lot of small instances” scenario is more expensive than few big ones, because there is a lot of unneccesary overhead.

              that is not to say that there should be only big instances, but you really seem to think you have invented some perpetuum mobile, and let me assure you - you did not.

              if you have enough admins willing to run small instances and finance them out of their own pockets, these same people can just contribute money to some bigger instance instead.

              and vice versa - if you’d end up in scenario where you don’t have enough people to finance the big instance, why do you think these same people would be suddenly willing to finance the small ones AND add some admin work on top of the money? (which they may be lacking both time and skill to do)

              also this is totally academic discussion, you are just drafting catastrophic scenario for which you have no basis in reality. just look at the wiki and you will see that people will pay for thing they consider useful.

              • poVoq
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                210 months ago

                You are the one that is far removed from reality and just talks as if this was some theoretical economic discussion with “rational actors optimizing for surplus value” 😅

                I am an instance admin of one of the oldest Lemmy instances and have been doing stuff like this for nearly 20 years now. I am not talking theoretically, but based on real examples that I have seen personally happening.

                • @14th_cylon@lemm.ee
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                  110 months ago

                  I am an instance admin of one of the oldest Lemmy instances and have been doing stuff like this for nearly 20 years now. I am not talking theoretically, but based on real examples that I have seen personally happening.

                  cool. and how many people who weren’t willing to contribute few bucks, but were willing and able to start and maintain their own instance, have you seen? 🤣

          • @hoodlem@hoodlem.me
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            010 months ago

            that is total nonsense

            While reading this thread, your comments stood out to me as seeming inflammatory. Instead of making a statement like that, maybe make a good counter argument?

        • @hoodlem@hoodlem.me
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          210 months ago

          Yep, I agree. Consider the scenario of, for a number of months, donations don’t reach that 80 euro number. If the admin simply doesn’t have that 80 euros, they have much more motivation to terminate the instance immediately.

          I don’t think 80 euros per month is an unreasonable “last resort” for an admin to be able to float for at least a few months if absolutely necessary to give users a heads up the instance will be shutting down.

          I don’t think 80 euros per month is an unreasonable hosting bill, either. However, compare that number with the number Beehaw lists on their financials for August: https://beehaw.org/post/6921483. $523.79. (That’s a total cost number, not just hosting)

          With all this said, I do absolutely think sites should ideally run purely from donations. However, I don’t think a prospective admin should jump in and create an instance unless they are aware of the potential costs that may fall on them, and be able to handle those costs independently for 2-3 months to give users a chance to migrate.

          • poVoq
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            510 months ago

            Indeed, if donations do cover the costs that is great and I agree that 80€ is still reasonable to cover for a few months to give people time to migrate, but that isn’t exactly sustainable over say running a community website for 10 years or more, which should be IMHO the goal.

    • @Blaze@sopuli.xyzOP
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      310 months ago

      Definitely agree, and that’s why I think we can try to prevent that trend by recommending smaller instances to users looking to migrate

      • @14th_cylon@lemm.ee
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        -310 months ago

        how about you leave that to people running the instances? i am sure they can make inform decisions without your advice ;)

        • @Blaze@sopuli.xyzOP
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          110 months ago

          Well, people ask openly other people when gu instance to move to due to LW instability, if there’s a better scenario than another, we can discuss it together

  • @willya@lemmyf.uk
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    1410 months ago

    From what I’ve seen on these larger instances, they’re taking in a lot of $$$ in donations.

  • @wiki_me@lemmy.ml
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    10 months ago

    You might get the same problem that exist in FOSS people won’t get paid and quality will decline (like heartbleed etc), Also you want to allow big communities without splitting them which is bad UX.

    You are basically asking people to work for free for you (no point in sugar coating it), and honestly if people want to volunteer there are more important goals , we should have full time people working on managing instance IMO .

    • @Blaze@sopuli.xyzOP
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      210 months ago

      You are basically asking people to work for free for you

      No, the point I’m making is that it’s easier to have a 3k instance requiring 80€ donations from its member, who would feel closer to the rest of the members and their administration team, than a 21k instance requiring 560€ per month.

      To be honest, I also think that we should move away from the donations model to an open subscription model. 80€ per month for 3k users is 0,32€ per user, you can implement a system where users pay 0,5€ for their cost, and can even pay more and offer to cover the subscriptions costs for other users. That way you give a real sense of community among members, and allow the instance admins to have more financial stability.

  • @rglullisA
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    210 months ago

    It is not just the number of users, but also the number of communities and subscribers.

    I believe that an instance can reach 10k users and have a couple hundred communities without too many issues, i.e, you could run things on one well-tuned database, perhaps add master-slave replication and scale your webservers horizontally.

    I do have in my mind that if my instance ever gets to this size (fingers crossed), I will close registrations and only open again to replace churned customers.