Discourse Forum maintenance costs

The real dilemma here is that just keeping this forum running costs >40$ per month

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I wonder if it would be possible (albeit in much less user friendly and on much less customizable way ) to provide the same info for free by using Facebook for conversations and Github for storing bins?

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What advantage would Facebook have over the Discord server that’s already being used? Discord seems to be the current primary method of communication for Pokitto. This Discourse forum seems mainly used only for occasional posting of high scores and game development journals, and even then only by the hard core Pokitto enthusiasts that frequent the Discord server.

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These are some very important points. Forums I’m general these days tend to be for more “documentation” type async discussions. Which is great and I find myself more drawn to due to my decrease in time to sit in live chats all day :sweat_smile:. And I just recently regained access to the discord general chat through matrix bridge. But I still struggle to jump in all the time. But I’m glad it is still so active!

The trouble definitely seems to be the introduction of new members and having them stick around :thinking: on both the forum as well as discord/matrix

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I find information searching being much harder in Discord as there are no discussion threads like in Discourse and Facebook, even if the latter is far from being a decent forum replacement.

The point is that over 40 e per month is not a small amount of money for a hobby project for a single person/family, unless Pokittos are selling like hot cakes :wink: It is anyway good to think about free alternatives beforehand. Thought Facebook is really not free as you pay by giving your data to FB and having ads. Still it is used by many people to discuss about hobby projects. Are there better discussion or forum platforms without monthly server fees?


Oof, you’d lose me right there :smiley: Same with Discord.

Seriously thoguh, $40/month is a lot. I never paid for a VPS but everyone told me they were kind of cheap these days. @jonne this is the cheapest one you could find?

EDIT: Checking out some VPS services. I have no idea what kind of traffic this server is getting, but for half the current price you get something like 4 core CPU, 8GB RAM and 100GB SSD, 1 Gbps (for $10 divide these numbers by 2). Wouldn’t that be enough for a web server? Have you done any testing?


I run a tier 2 Digital Ocean droplet, 80GB SSD. The reason why I need a bit bigger droplet is bc the forum is already past 40GB and was getring sluggish / non-reponsive.

Where did you find that deal @drummyfish ?

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Correct @Hanski

The point I am trying to make is that people who take a simplistic money = bad world view are usually either ignorant / ignore willfully that someone is paying the bill in the end.

All ecosystems that have no transfer of energy are unsustainable. In the world of any kind of service, money is the energy that spins the wheels.

I am just a little bit tired of the simplistic misapprehension that even free open source services run for free. They don’t. There is always someone footing the bill.


First thing that pop up on Google like this and this.

You mean you’re running out of storage space? The deals I’ve found offer more storage, plus you could maybe config the server to not store so much stuff – e.g. I noticed this forums downloads and mirrors every images someone links to? You could turn that off. You could even move static stuff like images and files on the main website to free hostings like GH.

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And I know this is not the original topic.

But what I do not get is categorical aversion to paying for hobby projects. If you pay, you are helping to create that project. I do not understand the stigma of money in that context


I agree – you’ve probably noticed by now I’m a commie who thinks money are the biggest evil in the world, however even I am not opposed to the idea of voluntary donations, I myself accept donations, selling software or using it in a commercial way isn’t unethical in itself, even Richard Stallman will tell you that. Giving money is simply how you share food with others in this world at this point in time. It just mustn’t be that the money become the goal, a center point, a tool of discrimination or an obstacle to freedom. If this is not the case, all is fine.


You exactly described what I was trying to say.

@drummyfish I remember now where the cost comes from: we have a pretty frequent & therefore expensive automatic backup add-on service (each backup is over 40GB)

That is close to half of the bill


Me as well.

If Pokitto had started out on Facebook I wouldn’t have touched it with a barge pole. Data farming is heinous enough, but requiring people to use their real names just isn’t in the spirit of the internet. :P

As for Discord, I agree with @Hanski about those kinds of chat-oriented arrangements making information hard to find. Forums are vastly superior for categorised, well-documented discussions. Being able to point someone to an old thread that has the information they seek is invaluable.

Personally speaking, even if there weren’t the issues of accounts and data gathering I probably still wouldn’t use Discord simply because live chat doesn’t fit well with how I communicate - I need time to consider my responses.

One other mostly ‘mainstream’ option, if the forum really were untenable, is Reddit. It’s not quite forum-like, and it has its own flaws, but it’s closer to a forum than most other offerings.

I do wonder if “diaspora*” would be a good fit, but I don’t know much about it.

This thought also crossed my mind. Sometimes images on Reddit are actually hosted on Imgur and linked into the page.

I also wonder how much space could be saved just by running pngcrush over all the PNG files, or attempting to downscale images above a certain size, or purging images that are uploaded but not actually used anywhere (I’d hope the server did this anyway, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it didn’t).

People aren’t ignorant, they know running the forum costs money.

Until ~15 hours ago this thread wasn’t about financing the forum, it just about paying for a Pokitto game, with the implication that the money would be going to the people creating games, not to the costs of running the forum.

I can’t speak for others, but as far as I’m concerned, the issue of financing the forum is a separate one to the issue of paying for games, and as such would deserve separate consideration.

I don’t think it’s fair to assume that people being apprehensive about paying for games and accepting money for games means that people would not being willing to pay money to keep the forum running.


I acknowledge that I went off topic. You were however comparing earlier paying money for games on commercial sites vs. pitching in on hobby games. I wanted to point out that there are other ways of looking at money. Drummyfish explained it best.

And yes, I cut corners in my comparison (paying money for games vs. voluntarily supporting other projects). My bad.

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Not wanting to continue off-topicking, but I feel this is something worth of discussion. @jonne do you really need this expensive backup service? I imagine you’re just backing up the whole disk and you end up with 40 GB snapshots, but do you really need this? With a little bit of scripting you might just back up the forum database, the order database etc., which should be a pretty small thing that you could even store on a local disk, and you might not even need any additional service for that, you’d just run a script. Sure, you need to consider how difficult if would be to restore the thing from such backup, it might take a day… also not sure how real the danger of “losing everything” really is. I just feel like saving the cost you’re talking about is worth giving this some deeper thought, the money could perhaps be invested better. Maybe sysadmins here have some advice?

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I understand, but this forum is one of the most valuable assets of Pokitto community (all the examples, game dev logs etc)

I am not willing to take any chances of losing / corrupting the forum, therefore I keep 3-4 rolling backups of the entire vps


I was, and I stand by that comparison. If you’re going to put games behind a paywall then you’re implicitly competing with other game selling services like Steam or GoG by adopting the same model.

Note that my comparison was (and still is) for putting games behind a paywall. ‘Pay what you want’ and ‘donation’ models are different; different payment models have different implications.

I have nothing against ‘pay what you want’, since it’s almost the same thing as donating, with the sole difference that the donation is tied to a particular product. I.e. it can be thought of (and even implemented) as displaying a donation button prior to downloading said game.

In addition, as I said before, I prefer dontations because I prefer being able to just donate to the person without it being tied to any product/service in particular and because that extends to things other than games, like libraries and documentation, or even just being helpful or supportive. People, not products, not services.

It should be noted that ‘donations’ and ‘pay what you want’ aren’t mutually exclusive either.

However, as I said in my more recent comment, paying for games, regardless of how it’s done, is a different matter to paying to keep the forum running.

It’s a different product/service, and the money is going towards something else, so points made about one can’t necessarily be generalised to the other.

If you were going to sell games and take a cut of them to keep the forum running then yes, you’d effectively be acting like Steam or GoG so the comparison would still be valid, but if you kept the forum running with a periodic donation drive (like Wikipedia does, and some chan boards), that would be a very different model with different implications.

(Note: I am giving these models as examples, I am not necessarily endorsing them at the moment.)

Consequently, if we’re going to start discussing ways to finance the forum, I think it would make more sense to create a separate thread.


100% in agreement

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I would hate for this site to move to FB or another platform. I like the content to be thread based and have previously commented on the amount of conversation that happens on Discord (and therefore hard to search and find old content) which should be happening here to assist newbies.

I wonder how regulars would feel about this idea: we take it in turns to ‘sponsor’ the site for a month. For a measly $40, you would have the adoration of your peers and that warm fuzzy feeling that you are giving rather than taking from the site. (Stop! I know lots of you give your time and knowledge to the Pokitto project but it costs money to run the site itself).

I for one are happy to sponsor a month - I will even do the first month if a few people volunteer for subsequent months. Don’t be fooled thinking that I am some rich fool throwing my money around. I understand what it costs in time, energy and missed family-life to run a small business like this and are happy to contribute.