Hey there! THP’s birthday is in a couple of days and there's plenty of cause to celebrate it. It's a good excuse to look back some and an even better one to look ahead a bit. Forgive me for being a little circumspect but I hope you’ll take the time to read this post and properly give me feedback since it’s essential to the future of the site and worth being just a little
bit verbose about it.
First, with people joining and leaving our community all the time, I can’t assume that everyone is familiar with the administrative history of the site. I feel it’s worth going into a few details about how the site works and how we’ve gotten by this far. A few of the following paragraphs should help you understand the basics. That said, feel free to skip ahead to the red sentence in this post if you know all this already.
A little over nine years ago, the first real choose-your-own-adventure story featuring touhous suddenly appeared on 4chan. A few weeks later, for a variety of reasons, it found a new home on a little-used imageboard with the domain touhouproject.com. From there, others where inspired to create their own stories and soon every board on the site had at least one active story on it. This went on for some time until the person who ran the site could not be bothered to host it anymore. And the site died.
The THP community had grown quite a bit by then, and there was a lot of discussion as to what would happen next. It became clear that the only way that these stories would be able to continue was if someone else hosted the site elsewhere. This was because the owner of the old site was not interested in selling or giving away the touhouproject.com domain. As a result we had to settle for the touhou-project.com domain which, we reckoned, was close enough. In the meanwhile, quite some time passed with the original site looking completely dead despite having an active IRC community. All in all, it was a painful transition that saw the loss of many users but it was also one that for the first time allowed people from the touhou community to be in control of the site’s fate.
I was involved with the site’s revival from the very beginning. I took a look at the various imageboard software floating around at the time and even ran a few brief experiments to see how practical it was to set up and administer each one. When we had a more or less informed consensus among those most eager to revive the site, we moved on ahead with bringing it back to life. HY paid for the domain and server, Kapow helped salvage a lot of our old content without having database access and I deployed software on the server and generally administered the technical side of things. To this day, despite various levels of actual day-to-day involvement, all three of us have the honor of having the title of administrator.
A few months later, the site was still recovering from the sudden death it suffered. There were a few technical issues to sort out as well and we had a few resource problems that made the site unresponsive at times. These were taken care of bit by bit and, with HY taking on a less prominent role in the community, I eventually took on the responsibility of paying for THP’s hosting. This meant a move to another service and a new IP. Eventually, with time, I was also transferred the touhou-project.com domain and have been the owner ever since. It’s been seven years since I’ve been solely responsible for the upkeep of both server and domain.
In the time I have administered THP, quite a lot has happened. Not just with stories coming and going but with a whole host of things that demanded attention. I’ve had to deal with datacenter issues, making sure software was working alright and dealing with security. Occasionally, I delved into the site’s code and added or modified features as was needed. I wasn’t the only one who contributed in that sense but I was ultimately the guy you would have to yell at in order to find out why the site was down! All this in my free time, as a hobby, because I’ve always believed that the stories and the community here is worth the effort.
With the past summed up, it’s time to get to the reason why I’ve made this post in the first place!
All of this time and money I’ve poured in has been without any financial reward. As you may have noticed: THP has never had ads, and likely never will. I hate ‘em and I’m willing to bet that most users use some sort of adblocker anyhow. I haven’t minded paying for the site and, for the most part, it hasn’t really inconvenienced my wallet that much. However, a slew of developments in my personal life generally in the last few years, and last few months in particular, have made this unlimited and perpetual funding a more questionable prospect. I can’t outright say that I won’t be able to pay for the site by x or y month but if I didn’t have to worry about for budgeting the site and related expenses over the long term, it would be a noticeable relief.
This is why I’m thinking of instituting a way that users can send in donations. Achieving independence from any one person having to pay bills is probably a good thing for long-term sustainability, anyhow. The site isn’t very expensive to maintain if it’s crowdfunded. Taking into consideration server and registrar fees we would roughly need about $30 USD per month. This figure also factors in the cut taken by payment processors and middlemen to create a comfortable cushion for any excess fees that I might have to deal with.
I’ve done a bit of research into this and probably the thing that most people would be comfortable with is Patreon. It’s transparent with how much money is being raised and allows easily adjustable recurring donations. I also considered having a Paypal button on the site itself which might be a bit more direct and instant. I’d like to hear feedback on what the community would prefer. If there’s a realistic interest in donating by bitcoin, for example, it’s something I’m open to. Or any other service I may not have heard of, since there’s a lot of them and it’s hard to know which one is the best.
Exceeding fundraising targets monthly can also provide more flexibility to us as a community. It allows for a reserve that can be used for site-related things, too. Like if, for example, one month we’re short of the target or an unexpected expense comes along (like a fee for switching registrars or something). Beyond that, extra cash can be used to improve the site on a technical level and its web presence. Think hiring dedicated coders for an improvement or overhaul of site code. That’s stuff that is worth discussing somewhere down the line if this all pans out but I’m sharing because it influenced my decision to reach out to the community.
I originally wanted to get a few reforms out before bringing this whole topic up including finishing the mystery box
but lack of time and presence of mind has pushed a lot of my would-be code enhancements way down my list of priorities in life. So I hope you’ll forgive me for being so useless and give me your feedback regardless!
Knowing whether or not people would donate in the first place is important too! So let me know how you feel about this. If this doesn’t prove feasible, I’ll try to think up another strategy to keep things rolling. Please share any and all relevant ideas, comments, and suggestions. I figured that it’s best to be open about this and give it a few days of discussion instead of just unilaterally moving ahead.
PS. I specifically chose post this a few days before April 1st (the site’s birthday of sorts and unfortunate coincidence for sober messaging) so that you wouldn’t think this was any sort of joke. My bringing up the topic of donations has been a while coming and something I’ve kept putting off for various reasons.
PPS. Using both my trip and administrator’s capcode in order to ensure that there’s no ambiguity that I (Teruyo as a pen name aka Zer00 on IRC) actually own and administer the site.