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Author Topic: What does it really cost to keep a Forestry type Forum up????  (Read 63183 times)

Offline Buzz Sawyer

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What does it really cost to keep a Forestry type Forum up????
« on: February 15, 2008, 03:54:51 PM »
I have often wondered how expensive or inexpensive it really is  to run a forum like this.


What kinda expenses and labor are involved?....I have heard what surely must be ludicrous exaggerations of thousands a year..... and thousands of hours of hard labor.....with expenses galore....
Correct me if I'm wrong but isn't the software free and the server space cheap...with huge amounts of on line storage nearly free???

......and don't they back up their forums and all their content every single night for free as part of their inexpensive service....???

Or do you use a personal computer as a server to run the forum to save even the minimal server fee??

Meaning that the cost of an internet connection out of your home would be your only actuall cash expense  ???

....but wouldn't doing so mean that this forum could crash if your hard drive ever went out?

Am I way out of line on this thinking.....cause you hear some wild stories and scams out on the net..?

Offline Kirk Allen

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Re: What does it really cost to keep a Forestry type Forum up????
« Reply #1 on: February 15, 2008, 06:10:13 PM »
I was pretty surprised what the "truth" of this whole subject really was.  I too have been told some pretty amazing stories of expenses but in reality its not the case.

Our server costs are $5.00 a month.  That will cover us for some time until the users on-line number gets real high.  Bandwidth is the biggest determining factor to server cost and I have been told if we had 2000 members on-line at once, we would need to have a bigger package than what we have now but even that only runs between $40-$70 a month, depending on hard drive and memory options.  Sure we could get a package as high as $175 a month but even that is a far cry less than what some people are bing told it costs. 

The largest hardrive on the market is 500 MB and it would take a site with far more data than anything seen in this industry to fill it. But lets say it happens, adding another hardrive to the server is a matter of a few dollars a month depending on how much more space you want.  In a nut shell, its very inexpensive to operate a forum.  Facts don't lie!  When I get a little more organized we will post a running tally of our expenses to include copies of the bills. 

The software to run this site is free and the hosting server installed it as part of the server provided service.  We upgraded the gallery to the Pro version which was $50.00.

It took us less than 5 hours to get what you see now.  I am sure over time we will have more of our own time invested but its definitely not labor intensive.  For me it was just a matter of understanding the code used to make changes and create stuff.  No where near as hard as I had been lead to believe.  I guess it was just a matter of getting out of my comfort zone.  

One thing I do find interesting is how easy it was to virtually stop the spammers with a couple simple package modifications from the software developers. Since installation we have not had a single spammer registration so virtually no time has to be spent monitoring registrations.  I know some sites claim it takes half a dozen people several hours a day to monitor that kind of stuff.  Those types of situation then turn into a self praising party where they talk about how great a select few are for all there hard work when in reality, a simple mod fixes those challenges, thus no time spent on unproductive matters.

Backs ups are done by the server nightly, for free with an on-site copy available as well as once a week an off site copy is stored at another location.  That way if there was a fire or storm etc. that damaged the local server, a back up could be installed which was not at that location.  We also can back up ourselves, which I have done a couple times just to learn the process.  When I checked with dozens of servers I did not find a single one that didn't do regular back ups. 

I use my personal PC to read the forum or to upload changes to the server.  The server is what actually runs the forum.  Considering its only $5 a month I cant imagine why anyone would do it any other way.   I have heard of people running a "server" from their office or home but the connection requirements would be a cable connection at a minimum and then additional expense to be linked to the WWW. Again, makes no sense to do it that way with server costs so low.

Our server could crash but at worst we loose a weeks worth of data if it was a fire or storm that caused destruction of the site.  Best case, its backed up to the last midnights backup. 

I have seen several forums that post the PayPal link for donations to help support the forum.  In fact, the software we use has a package modification that with a couple clicks of a button the code is loaded and presto, you have a PayPal donation link on the site. 

A gaming forum comes to mind where the guy claims the site is costing several hundred dollars a month to operate.  With the size of the site and the low bandwidth being used its clearly a ploy to get folks to hit that fancy PayPal button and help him out.  Unless people are willing to ask the right questions they get hoodwinked into thinking they are helping support something when if fact its just another way for the owner to make money. 

Don't get me wrong on the money making thing.  I love free enterprise.  I just think its wrong for people to put up a smoke screen to get people to pay them when the truth is the monthly cost is less than I spend in two days at Starbucks, which by the way we now have one 12 miles from us ;D
« Last Edit: February 16, 2008, 11:36:19 PM by KEA »
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Offline Buzz Sawyer

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Re: What does it really cost to keep a Forestry type Forum up????
« Reply #2 on: February 15, 2008, 07:16:11 PM »
Several situations have surprised me and kept me from posting much the last several years.....

 One nasty situation on the net is forums using tracking software called spy ware to track its members
As hard as this is to believe some moderators use your internet address to either sell information or in the case of

Small timers....to satisfy some sick need to see where member’s serf.....I have come across this on sites where you wouldn’t expect it.....


Also private inter forum email being read out of some perverse need to seek voyeuristic pleasure...reading comments between members of a forum.

So question is ......do I have to worry about that here....what are your feelings on these nasty issues???
« Last Edit: February 15, 2008, 07:51:40 PM by Buzz Sawyer »

Offline Kirk Allen

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Re: What does it really cost to keep a Forestry type Forum up????
« Reply #3 on: February 15, 2008, 09:01:12 PM »
I can relate totally Buzz. 

I will do my best to address the things that you mention and probably add a few others for clarity.

As far as the spyware issue, please note in our registration agreement the following statement:
Also note that the software places a cookie, a text file containing bits of information (such as your username and password), in your browser's cache. This is ONLY used to keep you logged in/out. The software does not collect or send any other form of information to your computer nor will any Administrator ever install spyware of any kind that tracks your internet activity.   I give you my word this site will "never" stoop to monitoring others internet traffic with spyware.  I have had that done to me and I know others that have experienced it as well and its enough to cause a grown man to want to black a few eyes and bloody a nose.  >:( ;D ;D     

Another thing we will not do or tollerate, is our members "policing"  :police: and reporting where other people visit.  This is the USA.  Unlike some sites, I dont care where our members visit. I have said numerous times, the internet is a great source of information and I hope everyone can learn from what it has to offer and share that knowledge.   

I mention this because using spyware is only one form some sites use to control their kingdoms.  We have serveral routine visitors, which by the way are welcome, despite their gutless behavior, but their only purpose is to report back to another site on who is participating here.         

As far as the private inter forum emails, more commonly known as Private Messages, let me provide some information so that everyone can be aware of what the "truth" is on this matter. 

For starters, please check out this link and read the answer to the question about Private Messages. This comes from the software developers. 
http://docs.simplemachines.org/index.php?topic=451

Did you catch the second part of the response? :
This however does not mean it is impossible to do so, but SMF will not provide any kind of support for allowing the viewing of personal messages of others.

So its clear, contrary to what we have been told by other forum administrators/owners, its possible for those so called private messages to be read.  With that in mind, right now Jay and Frank, the other two admins don't have server access yet so that leaves me.  My self confidence is high enough that I don't have to worry about anything anyone is writing.  I am very secure with where I am in life and I neither have the need or desire to learn how to find the file on the server that stores the information.  I wont do it, even if I knew how.
Why?  For starters I am not stupid ;D  More importantly, its way to easy to set a trap in a private message and before you know its exposed that the messages are being read.  Been there and set that trap before and it works real well ;D

I have been told private message are encrypted and cant be read if they wanted to.  My response to that, hogwash! As the designers of this software pointed out, it is possible and I know it was done to me elseware!  Even more interesting is that anyone is stupid enough to even claim the messages cant be read when the very software designers point out that they can. 

On another note of concern is for anyone using a server to host your site and/or email accounts.  I had a so called friend host our site some time ago and provide a couple email accounts.  Never thought much about it until one morning around 2 am I tried to download my email and I kept getting an error message I cant access the account because I am already logged in on another system.  Interesting?  I wasn't logged in anywhere else then it hit me.  My password was provided by the server host.  The next morning I was able to log in and what I found was a lot of new emails but all of them had been read, which was reflective of the fact they were no longer in bold print.  The only person who had access to my emails was the server.  So, I set a trap!  You know, the kind of trap that when a person reads it they cant help but make some comment about it to someone or even you.  Presto, the hand was in the cookie jar!  Needless to say, I changed servers straight way. 

Whats my point with the email story?  I would encourage everyone to make sure your email is with a reputable large firm to prevent this type of thing.  It happens all to often and in most cases its because of ignorance to how the system works that we are taken advantage of. 

This site was established for us to share our life experiences, challenges, and dreams.  A community if you will of common interests, concerns, and maybe even values and done so with out financial gain being a factor.  Knowing the love of money is the root of all evil, you wont find money come into the equation with the owners and/or membership of this site, EVER.  Costs are minimal and when split with three people its a joke as to how cheap it is.  This factor alone I believe will drive the future of this site in a positive direction.  

You can rest assured, another thing that will not take place here is the orginazation of a private finanace committy in a private board room that organizes a financial fund drive then makes claim the owner or admins know nothing about it when in fact their direct input was provided. I will never understand how an owner of a site encourages people to post for the purpose of raising money for them, then watch those very people he talked to in the private room claim he has no input or knows nothing about it when in fact they have not only discussed it with him but recieved encouragment from him for the committy to do all the posting since it wouldnt work as well if he were to do the asking.  Gutless and decietful is the word that comes to mind.  ::)

I am glad and appreciative of your questions Buzz as I hope everyone has a better understanding of what the truth is about the questions you raised.   You can put your concerns on these matters at rest because it ain't gonna happen here ;D

Now, for my feelings on this issues.  Anyone got a barf bag?  I cant tell you how many times I was lied to about these issues and knowing otherwise I set the traps.  It never failed.  It took longer with some sites than others but each and every time they just couldn't keep their mouth shut about something I mentioned in a message or email.  I don't even know if a barf bag is big enough for how these issues make me feel.  I guess it comes down to Personal Integrity.  What is integrity?  Its doing the right thing when no one is watching!

I hope this address's anyones concerns on this matter and I welcome any further discussion on it as I think its a topic of value and importance.  Knowledge is power and Knowledge of the Truth is power to the 10 degree  ;D
« Last Edit: April 01, 2008, 08:16:53 AM by KEA »
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Offline Kirk Allen

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Re: What does it really cost to keep a Forestry type Forum up????
« Reply #4 on: February 18, 2008, 09:07:04 AM »
One other thing that comes to mind Buzz on the server costs.  This is the only site hosted on our server.  I suspect if we started hosting other peoples web sites our server needs would go up as would the cost but we have no plans on doing that. 

If we did, the costs would be covered by fees charged to the peoples web sites we hosted and the financial burden would never be on the forum.  Thats just simple wise business.  ;)
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Offline Buzz Sawyer

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Re: What does it really cost to keep a Forestry type Forum up????
« Reply #5 on: February 25, 2008, 06:18:59 PM »
So from what you are saying , if someone claims it cost many hundreds of dollars a month to run a Forestry Type Forum that would be out of line.....by a lot? ::) ::)

Offline Kirk Allen

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Re: What does it really cost to keep a Forestry type Forum up????
« Reply #6 on: February 25, 2008, 06:47:21 PM »
I guess if a person lacked business accumen they might pay hundreds of dollars as they will take as much as you want to give them.  :laugh:

Some people use their own home based PC as a server, commonly called Co-location hosting and I have seen servers who sell packages in the thousands of dollars a month but based on direct feedback from our host we could have 5000 active members, 400-500 online at a time, 500,000 posts and over 10,000 pictures and it would cost between $150 and $180 depending on all the options.

The way it stands right now, this site is costing $5 a month and should be fine until we have about a 1000 active members.  The key is bandwidth.  That is what your realy paying for as hardrive space is peanuts.  The more people online the more bandwidth.   

Many sites bost big numbers of members but the actual active membership is usually far less than the member total. 

Take contractortalk.com for an example.  They have over 22,000 members and between members and guests, there are as many as 1000 people online at one time.  That uses up bandwith but the cost is still less than the $600-$700 a month we hear about.   

Even the most popular Forestry Related site boasts less than 200 users online at one time so the actual bandwidth being used is small.

One factor that can raise the server fee is hosting lots of web sites but then the server costs are not just for the forum, but for hosting as well.  In order to know what the forum hosting realy is all the web hostig needs to be seperated from it. 

A google search on server hosting will tell you a lot.  The tough part for us was figuring out who to trust and who not to.  There are lots of "kids" buying server space and reselling it at a premium to those who know little about the computer/internet system. 

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Offline Mark

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Re: What does it really cost to keep a Forestry type Forum up????
« Reply #7 on: March 13, 2008, 12:43:31 PM »
Just to throw my $.02 worth in ::).........my time is worth $$$.When I was a younger apprentice I woulda argued this point for eternity because I got paid such crap for dough, but now I'm abit 'ehem"...older and experienced I truly believe my time is of value.That said,I believe whether a mod,owner,admin or whatever you want to call yourself.If you invest the time behind the scenes researching,looking for more and better servers with the gigabandwidth necessary to keep the forum alive and active then that expense should be inclusive.Kirk, I know of you and I know your experience is well worth the time I spend here.I can't wait to really see this place come alive for the wealth of knowledge that'll plaster the pages of Saw & Timber.Without "that" person behind the scenes keeping an eye on the growing bandwidth column,and persuading the topics to remain of the "free speech" content stated in the rules of conduct I truly believe a forum will collapse in on itself in a number of ways.The cost will always be more than what the paper it's printed on suggest's.In hindsite,and I did not miss your point at all,(without sounding TOO patronizing)"I" really appreciate your forthright honesty as far as the expenses go but don't sell yourself short.You may have had help throwing this together to.Whether it was by volunteer or by petty cash if it has not become an expense yet it will sooner or later.The adverts see a forum that drives business there way they'll throw $$$ hand over fist.I don't mean to put this out there so nonchalantly like I've done this before.I have NOT.But forums don't succeed without the content savvy adverts.We love to shop close to home and when we do it helps the income of the site.I know I coulda just opened a can of worms and put my nose where it does not belong but my main point was.....I didn't here you mention "YOUR TIME" and I expect any man to get paid for his hard work and contributions.    Mark
« Last Edit: March 13, 2008, 01:02:42 PM by Mark »

Offline Kirk Allen

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Re: What does it really cost to keep a Forestry type Forum up????
« Reply #8 on: March 13, 2008, 01:59:36 PM »
Mark I appreciate your comments but rest assured, this is not just my efforts.  Without the help and support from Jay, Frank and Buzz we wouldn't be here.

The time I spend on here is what I would refer to as a labor of love and the fact is, we have taken measures through the registration process that saves us loads of time, unlike other sites who constantly are dealing with spammers.  The mod offered by the SMF designers prevents that so the only real time now is monitoring it which is done while we are on line enjoying our trade. 

With the help of the other admins this site was up and running for very little outlay and as it grows we will continue to support it if need be. 

The key to a forums succcess is to first and formost realize that the forum is the people, not the owners of the domain name.   ;)
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Offline joasis

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Re: What does it really cost to keep a Forestry type Forum up????
« Reply #9 on: March 13, 2008, 09:01:25 PM »
I think what we are doing as a community is worth it....if the forum generates more income then the cost to keep it up, we may get the services of a tech guy to take care of the details, but profit isn't a motive. Allowing members to place their links, and post links is a service, and a valuable one. On another forum a member asked about where to get a specific tire for an antique tractor, if I remember correctly. I posted the link to the tire company, and it was immediately removed, since the forum couldn't stand for any enterprise they could not take a cut from to be placed on their pages. Me, I was simply helping a fellow member find something.

I have said it before, and I will say it again, this will always be free, and for our members, a community. I hope we grow to a nice sized group, but if not, we will keep plugging along...especially since the ride is free for us now.
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Offline Frank Pender - AKA "Tail Gunner"

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Re: What does it really cost to keep a Forestry type Forum up????
« Reply #10 on: March 13, 2008, 11:45:53 PM »
And this guy here has so little knowledge of puters, it is more than laughable.  I am just here because of Kirk and Jay, initially.  There was some discussion of setting this site up and I kind of helped invite myself in to help in the support and direction we wanted to go.  If not for Jay and Kirk, I would venture to say that we would not have gotten anywhere near this far into such a site.  I barely know how to turn the darn puter on, let alone other things; like posting pictures.  I will learn some day, if it kills me to be edacated by my wife.  You know, teachers are always the worst students. ;D

Offline joasis

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Re: What does it really cost to keep a Forestry type Forum up????
« Reply #11 on: April 08, 2008, 01:14:59 PM »
We have reached $55 in revenue, which will maintain the forum for 9+ months....at this level, gallery upgrades and other features will be covered only by the Adds, and nothing out of pocket. Free adds for members, free links, and never a charge or solicitation for a donation.
« Last Edit: February 09, 2009, 08:18:16 AM by Kirk Allen »
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Offline Kirk Allen

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Re: What does it really cost to keep a Forestry type Forum up????
« Reply #12 on: April 08, 2008, 03:08:25 PM »
At $5 a month that covers us for 11 months!  What is so unique with this is that the larger it gets the more revenue will come in ensuring a foundation based on financialy sound prinicipals!
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Offline Buzz Sawyer

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Re: What does it really cost to keep a Forestry type Forum up????
« Reply #13 on: April 22, 2008, 07:27:16 PM »
We have reached $55 in revenue, which will maintain the forum for 9+ months....at this level, gallery upgrades and other features will be covered only by the Adds, and nothing out of pocket. Free adds for members, free links, and never a charge or solicitation for a donation.
WOW with what I have been told in the past by OTHER forum types.....they are always strapped for cash just to kkep the doors open....kinda lookin for a hand out like hobo joe or something......this sheds some light on that ::) ::) ::) :'( :'( ;)
« Last Edit: February 09, 2009, 08:19:17 AM by Kirk Allen »

Offline Kirk Allen

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Re: What does it really cost to keep a Forestry type Forum up????
« Reply #14 on: April 22, 2008, 07:37:10 PM »
We are at the $80 mark today and it will only get larger as the site grows.  The developers of the software that runs the forum offer it for free and it kind of follows are thinking on how things should be.

Give away freely for the benefit of others!  We are not even close to our bandwidth limit and even if we were we could step up to the next server level and still have all the expenses covered! 
« Last Edit: April 25, 2008, 05:00:53 PM by KEA »
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Offline Buzz Sawyer

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Re: What does it really cost to keep a Forestry type Forum up????
« Reply #15 on: April 25, 2008, 04:59:30 PM »
Im glad that this site is not so much about donations, charity auctions and so on.....and more about having fun  with sawmilling and the outdooors.
After learning about what it really costs to get a site up in a proffessional manner($5 a month!) , and the limited amount of man power it takes to maintain it(a couple of hours here and there)  the way some sites beg for help and money sure leaves me scratching my head   especially sites that charge good companies to put banner adds up ....I would think that would produce many hundreds if not thousands of dollars.... ??? ??? ???

Offline mike p

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Re: What does it really cost to keep a Forestry type Forum up????
« Reply #16 on: April 25, 2008, 07:54:56 PM »
i think its greed that requires the constant auctions
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Offline Kirk Allen

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Re: What does it really cost to keep a Forestry type Forum up????
« Reply #17 on: April 25, 2008, 10:42:18 PM »
I dont know what the real reason behind such poor mouthing is but in some cases its clear manipulation for the gain of the might dollar.  Some call it Free Enterprise, others, myself included call it what it is, manipulation. 

This site is costing a whopping $5.00 a month and could grow 100 times and still not cost anymore.  With add revenue coming in we suspect the initial financial outlay will be recovered this month. (we payed a year in advance, purchased the Gallery upgrade and domains)

I know people that creat sites with one purpose, which is to increase the traffic to a point they can either charge for advertisement or generate revenue from adds. 

I have no problem with either aspect of business.  I just cant stand it when people are manipulated into supporting a cause when only half truths are shared about what is being supported.  Thus the term, Manipulation. 

« Last Edit: February 09, 2009, 08:21:05 AM by Kirk Allen »
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Offline Frank Pender - AKA "Tail Gunner"

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Re: What does it really cost to keep a Forestry type Forum up????
« Reply #18 on: April 26, 2008, 02:26:14 AM »
Being physically lazy and not telling the whole of a truth, what a way to have to try and go to sleep at night.

Offline Kirk Allen

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Re: What does it really cost to keep a Forestry type Forum up????
« Reply #19 on: April 26, 2008, 08:08:48 AM »
What does a "MAN" do when times are tough?

I worked the breakfast crew at McDonalds for over a year to support my family and newborn child.  I have worked part time jobs regulary over the years and when my wife thought it best for her to go back to work, I worked harder so she would not have to. 

Real men in my opinion do not let there wife carry the burdan.  Woman need the financial security that we are suppose to offer!
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Offline joasis

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Re: What does it really cost to keep a Forestry type Forum up????
« Reply #20 on: April 29, 2008, 09:35:33 PM »
I will say this again, it is great to have a simple small forum that isn't about egos and fund raising....just building a resource of information and ideas. While our registration process might be perceived as difficult for some, it keeps maintenance at a minimum,,,at least I don't have to do anything..... :laugh:

As most of you know, I moderate 3 other forums which are hug compared to this little corner of the internet....Contractor Talk has 25,000 members registered and over 6 thousand active alone....the spam attacks we have are occasional, but don't happen here.
« Last Edit: February 09, 2009, 08:22:17 AM by Kirk Allen »
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Offline Frank Pender - AKA "Tail Gunner"

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Re: What does it really cost to keep a Forestry type Forum up????
« Reply #21 on: May 03, 2008, 08:07:33 PM »
When I began teaching, I was taking in $4,200 for only nine months and no other income on a steady basis.  That is when I began working as garbage route for a friend and his parents as the owners.  I also spent many a weekend and after church sawing firewood and delivering. 


Even now, I have to work extra on top of retirement and social security coming in. the only work the wife does is my book work and feeding her miniture horse and donkey, along with a blind horse and a 200 pound St. Bernard.  Well, perhaps me, from time to time. 

The second paragraph is why I have to work so much extra, to feed all them critters.

Offline Kirk Allen

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Re: What does it really cost to keep a Forestry type Forum up????
« Reply #22 on: May 03, 2008, 09:47:19 PM »
The key is your not afraid to get off our keyster and support you family!  My hats off to you for that! 
Integrity is doing the right thing when no one is watching!

Offline joasis

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Re: What does it really cost to keep a Forestry type Forum up????
« Reply #23 on: May 20, 2008, 12:35:54 PM »
Our little community forum is now in a position to say we have 2 years of operating money taken care of.....

So the tally is as follows:

Domain names and expenses, some cost due to not knowing what we were doing...about $70

Expenses for the server, paid by the year, plus technical stuff Kirk takes care of, and the gallery, about $150 $109.00 if my numbers are right.

Income from soliciting sponsors to run adds....zero, yes $0

Free adds for related companies, no cost, or free...however you want to say it. 

Sharing information on what we love to do with timber, sawmills, and related subjects....plus, proving it can be done with honesty and integrity, PRICELESS!

To those of you, and there may be only a few, that do not know...this is a joint venture of Kirk, Frank, and myself, plus Buzz.....and I guess we could say we own it....but how could you "own" a community? To all of our members, we each share in this venture, so in a way, we all own the outcome of how successful  this forum continues to be.

We may never grow like the mega forums I moderate...we may stay small...who knows, but you can rest assured that the integrity behind this forum, and the promise of never a donation will stand. I like to think all of our members consider this the finest feature we offer. Thanks everyone. Jay
« Last Edit: February 09, 2009, 08:23:53 AM by Kirk Allen »
Ladwig Construction
Hennessey, Oklahoma
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If anyone has any issues, I can be reached at the number above, anytime.

Offline Kirk Allen

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Re: What does it really cost to keep a Forestry type Forum up????
« Reply #24 on: May 21, 2008, 09:33:08 AM »
Not only is there two years of server costs covered but we still have 8 months or so on our current contract. 

As far as donations go, I am not against them provided they are applied specificaly to something for the forum such as server costs, web page upgrades etc.  NEVER will a penny of any donated funds EVER go into our pockets! 

How do you know?  Simple!  If a person wanted to donate we would have them make the payment out to the purpose it was intended. For example, if they want to cover a server expense ($5 a month) they would make the payment out to the server company and mail it directly to them, not us. 

Integrity is doing the right thing when no one is watching!