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I strongly disagree. I used to work on a MUD, the monthly run costs for that MUD came to $60. The MUD was free for anyone to play on - it had a website and forums and a server application to connect to via telnet. The cost for this came out of the fact that someone, somewhere needed to keep some servers running, and we needed to keep DNS working, the name registered... all of these ended up requiring three dedicated boxes which we got at a long term discounted rate because we knew a guy in a server farm where we could park our boxes.

Once upon a time it was a similar question if you wanted to run a hobbyist website, you needed a dedicated box somewhere or maybe to fork out 15/mo for some space on a shared host.

Now-a-days that MUD could easily run on the smallest cloud instance you could find with one less server even for a total of 10/mo - if you want to run a blog and tell the world about your intense interest in widget manufacturing there are cheap ways to host it - if the content is standard enough you might even be able to cut down the price to 10-20/yr.

It used to be that if you were so passionate about a topic you thought there needed to be a website about it then... you'd start it and host it yourself, it'd be an incidental cost that you'd just eat - then the mentality shifted to the assumption that your hosting of this thing should be profitable to you - you should get paid for maintaining such a site!

That's the real problem, people expect other people to pay for shit that nobody would pay for - since no one steps up to the "so reasonable" 10/mo subscription then ads are injected to make up for the "loss". If your site isn't valuable enough to get subscribers that doesn't mean it shouldn't exist, it just means that you should put up a donation page and treat any money you get out as an unbelievably strong endorsement of your decision to fund the existence of your little corner of the internet.




The company I work for has operating costs of $25MM+, we're a news site and would love to not have ads, but that's where 99% of our revenue comes from.

We break stories on corruption, injustice, and all kinds of other content. I think that running ads allowing us to do that would constitute as a benefit.


Sure but what we need is you to be able to be competitive serving ads yourselves from your own domain. Ideally, showing the exact same ads to everyone, just like a newspaper should.

It's not a criticism of you if you can't do that. It's where we need to be. Nobody opted in for all this surveillance. And there does also seem to be a lot of fraud in online advertising. Get everyone's phones and home routers running something like pi-hole and the whole advertising lanscape would change for the better. Google would hate it, sure, but so what? You might find your ads are more valuable too because seeing an ad in a genuine news source as context has more influence on a potential purchaser than seeing the exact same ad on john-does-racist-blog. Even if they are the exact same 2 eyeballs seeing both copies of the same ad.

Ads, sure. We're all basically fine with ads per se. Just not the current advertising arrangements involving reaming us with surveillance and all the other nasties as well. Didn't agree to it, don't want it, will block it and will prosletyse ad blocking.


Every site owner is free to serve "virtual print ads" from their own domain out of the box and they will pass any ad-blocker there is. Ad-networks are free to provide server side SDKs to their customers.

It's high time to accept responsibility for content you're serving! (As it is, high profile sites often deny any liability for 99% of the traffic they are brokering. The ad-and-tracking inflation of recent years is just insane.)


> We're all basically fine with ads per se.

Speak for yourself. I'm pretty allergic to ads - stopped watching tv, reading newspapers etc. a decade ago. No way I accept ads on the web just because they are in more traditional formats.


You are fine with it by exercising your option to avoid them in the normal, rational and informed manner. Don't like watching tv ads, don't watch commerical tv. Done. Clear, obvious, simple, rational and all consent is informed.


Newspapers ads - on paper - are text and graphics. No video, no code, no tracking. I think people are happy with that.

But ads on webpages - they're resource sucking privacy invading unvetted proprietary software. If your business requires you run those then you're getting blocked on every device I come into contact with forever.


I don't agree that doing one right thing (reporting on corruption) somehow makes it okay to do a wrong thing (not taking responsibility for the trackers you're exposing your visitors to). The fact that it pays for 99% of your fixed costs just says you are unlikely to start taking that responsibility any time soon. EDIT: I did not actually check your site and cannot confirm you host malicious ads. I wanted to make the general point; not attacking your site or work in any way.


Running ads, or tracking and selling visitors political views while also showing ads? I pay for ars technica who promises to turn off tracking and ads if you pay to subscribe and I wish other companies would do the same


or they could turn off all tracking because they're not evil. Just a thought.

I promise to stop punching you in the face if you pay me is not something I think is all that great to be honest. And then I'd have to trust them. But yeah, Ars Technica is not what it used to be since being bought by Conde Nast, right?


The difference is that you don't have to go on Ars Technica. Whereas you rarely choose to be punched in the face.

If the entry to a club was "either be punched in the face, or pay", I bet the majority of patrons would simply pay or go elsewhere. But on the internet, 99% of people either get punched or refuse both options and enter anyway.


Punched in the face, later, at our option or through our incompetence and we kept that secret from you and never got informed consent.

The analogy breaks down.

You aren't given the option, you wrote the option that websites and their 3rd party providers have to punch you without your knowledge. Stop reading Ars. Does that help you now you wrote that option? Maybe it does.

Better is to exercise your option to disrupt evil with uMatrix, pi-hole etc. Prosletyse it. The less money there is in the evil, the less it happens. How we defeated popups, for example.


Hosting costs are a small part of operating costs, compared to paying a living wage for even a few writers.


The rundown on your costs assume that the site or service remains “unpopular” (as in not used by the majority of internet users). Costs scale pretty high if one finds themselves running a high-traffic site.


I am working under the (I think reasonable assumption) that if your thing actually manages to become popular then you can either share governance and costs with a committee of interested parties or actually justify a subscriber model - possibly semi-voluntary style like patreon.


Neither helps in the short-term (say in the case of getting popular from a viral post where not living up to the momentum can mean losing out on the users), and while shared governance can work in a case where all parties have the same goal and are deep-pocketed, it has many risks when it comes to creative control and the user privacy/monetization scale. (What if someone had privately offered one of the MUD staff $500,000 to collect 'anonymous' data from users?)


I couldn’t agree more! I have a website for my personal projects (that occasionally gets a lot of traffic if a project winds up on HN or something) - it costs me about $10/mo to host completely ad-free, and probably only because I haven’t shopped around in like 6 years.


It is even worse with video, at least there are still plenty of websites made for love.

How many people do videos for purposes other than monetization?

Years ago I am sure that some people just wanted to share stuff with the world and get some feedback from like minded individuals.




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