Hi everyone, I have some good news. The team that develops and hosts the software we use for this forum—Discourse—is rolling out a new feature that will allow communities to chip in toward the cost of hosting their forums, and they have offered to set up Infinite Conversations with this feature so that we’re able to use it right away. They’re just asking feedback on how it’s working for us, while they keep working on improving it.
While Discourse is open-source software and can be self-hosted by anybody with some technical knowledge and a modern server, I have always wanted to support the team that makes the software and keeps it running smoothly. Over the years, I have mostly paid for this out of pocket just because I wanted this place—Infinite Conversations—to exist! I always preferred to focus on our creative collaborations rather than on raising money. But I have also always intended for the Cosmos community to ultimately take up responsibility for the site, so it really does become collectively owned and we all share in the (very reasonable, IMO, for all we get) expense.
The expense—which is currently $100/month—is partially supported by donations received on Open Collective, where we have a crowdfunding page that admittedly has not gotten much attention. I have always thought that it was partly a matter of visibility—out of sight, out of mind. But the new feature will be added directly to this site, and it will focus exclusively on funding the cost of hosting.
Once the $100/month goal is reached, the feature will self-deactivate. This would only change if usage and traffic to the site grows so much that we need to bump up to a higher level hosting plan, or if we would like to begin using some of the additional features on those higher plans. To me, this arrangement offers peace of mind because it would be more resilient. For example, if I ever really, really couldn’t afford the monthly hosting expense, I would rest easier knowing that the community could pick up the slack.
So, if you value this haven on the Web for cultural discourse and can afford to chip in to keep it running, please do! We are scheduled to turn on the feature on October 4th. The Discourse team is going to give us six months to try the new feature. Please give it a whirl and provide feedback if you feel so moved. Infinite Conversations has been running for over 5 years now and I hope to keep it going for many more!