A year in LES - Reflections, Thoughts, My history and the future for LowEndSpirit.

AnthonySmithAnthonySmith AdministratorHosting Provider

Good Afternoon LowEndSpirit.

I have been threatening to write something up for a while but never quite found until now the time so here goes nothing.

Let me start by saying writing is certainly not my strong point and this entire post is directly from the hip so it may jump about a bit but obviously this is influenced by a ton of factors.

I am writing this paragraph after finishing writing this whole thing, I wanted to say that I never intended for it to get this long, it got so big I had to keep things fairly short and cut out detail sometimes believe it or not :) so this entire post is part conversation, part story part therapy take from it what you will or take nothing at all, I can't imagine most people will ever read the whole thing. I really did just write it from the hip, it was a direct brain to fingers to screen write up with no significant plan or edit, I am going to read through it once now to correct any obvious mistakes. Despite English being my first language grammar is a foreign language to me so please be kind in that regard.

The beginning/genesis,- the past events that happened that resulted ultimately in my writing this post today.

For those that do not know LowEndSpirit started off as a brand name for the 128MB NAT (shared IPv4) servers I started to offer via Inception Hosting, Having been active on LEB (not LET) since 2010 and running a registered business that actively promoted services on LEB since very early 2011 I have now for a decade been entrenched in the LE* world.

This at the time was quite a departure from where I came from doing project management for EDS Defence (letter purchased by HP) rolling out and managing entire data centre builds for the UK military with high multi-million £$€ budgets. Some of the EMC SANS alone were £1,000,000+, I went from one extreme to the other.

Before being a project manager I was more involved with the server management (windows based) and because of my utter boredom with my sysadmin day job I started experimenting with VMware probably as early as 2001, from that I then through online friend groups (irc/aim/msn etc) got to hear more about linux/bsd, my first experience in the *nix world was actually FreeBSD, I believe at the time it would have been FreeBSD 4.0.

I was amazed (after several failed attempts I should say) just how well it ran on an ancient Pentium II laptop I had with 96mb ram, it was one of those chunky IBM's you could bounce down the stairs without it missing a beat.

Following that I moved onto Gentoo because someone told me that would be much more userfriendly, keep in mind there was no package manager at that time so I was compiling everything from source on the laptop, after a week I felt like a victim of a sick joke and went back to FreeBSD :)

Fast Forward a few years my enthusiasm had grown and I had a couple of home servers I had liberated from the local college where I studied for my CCNA (passed) and CCNP (could not finish due to life commitments) qualifications.

I ended up with 3 old servers running in the house 24x7 making a horrible noise, probably impacting my sleep but in my 20's ... who cares about sleep :), the street I lived on got cable and for the first time ever I had GOOD quality upload speeds a whole 10mbit... amazing (for the UK) with around 50mbit down.

I started to do things like host email servers, host game servers for friends and colleagues and then even websites after a while although this was on my windows 2003 webserver running IIS :) (sorry). this was all done on old minimal hardware, the best I had was an old dual Pentium 2 450Mhz RM server the size of the medium shipping box, it was so big it had wheels, but it could take around 50 hard disks.

Not earning a huge amount back then I focused on 2nd hand stuff a lot and filled it with a pile of old IDE drives, ranging from 4.3GB to 20GB, this then got used by people I knew online and friends as a central repository for games, music movies etc.

Whenever I spoke to people about this it was a topic of fascination, people even came to visit my setup, they could not believe how minimal old hardware was able to do so much, I think they expected a mini DC in the house when really it was just corners of rooms and a mess of wires, it seemed people really just did not understand how much you could do with so little.

Thus my own personal lowendspirit was born, I was determined to find out how to commercially host websites and make some money from it, sadly my own what I would consider late start to the world of the internet generally did fail me at times, certainly more so back then than now.

I spoke to some of the people I talked to online about it and swapped ideas with them (Shout out to Lee Macdonald aka roto/roto-router) about getting something started, I by that time did have a bit more spare cash and was happy to bankroll the start up on a small scale but there was nowhere near the insane amount of options there are now, we found something and got to work. I think it was called cube panel.

Back then Jon Roberts who some of you might know was just starting his own company Racksrv, which is still active today, I had donated some stuff as prizes to Jon when he was a teen and doing some local LAN gaming events, so naturally, I rented a server from him, I think it was a dual-core with 8GB Ram and a 320GB Disk (may have been smaller), which to me at the time was a powerhouse.

Ultimately we simply did not know what we did not know at the time and it came to nothing, lmas-networks (Lee MacDonald + Anthony Smith) was a failure in a business sense as it never really got to launch but it was certainly a learning experience which taught me a lot so it was an important step towards getting to where I am today.

I believe, and I could be wrong as my memory is not the best this takes me up to around 2007 and I was 2 - 3 years into working Windows Desktop/server support at HP (Then EDS Defence). The next few years passed with me learning more and more, getting windows certifications and eventually ITIL project management qualifications and moving into the world of managing rollouts 2010 came along, I was burned out and bored and started conceiving Inception Hosting, the code name for while at the time was SmitHost... imagine that... lol.

With HP buying EDS defence and EDS as a whole, a lot of jobs became duplicated within the wider organisation so they started offering very generous voluntary redundancy packages which after careful consideration and financial planning and knowing I was starting my own plans anyway with SmitHost (lol) I took the voluntary redundancy.

Xen and the art of server maintenance!

Let me start this next section by saying it has been 2 days since I wrote the first section due to time so the flow of my thoughts is not on exactly the same track.

At this point circa December 2010/January 2011 I had written the project plan for Inception hosting and was actively working on it while essentially on garden leave (A terms for when you are officially employed but can't come to work, usually for security reasons, in my case I was registered on the official secret acts and was a defence vetted civilian working on a military contract) waiting for my employment to officially end and the redundancy to be paid.

I got a couple of cheapos (ish) servers with Hetzner this was just to thoroughly test the end to end solution, I also had some business customers I had known for many years chomping at the bit for me to start as they needed some managed offsite backup solutions, so everything went together quite well from that point and Inception hosting was in profit (by about €75 /month haha) on day 1.

I had enough redundancy money to live on for a good 18 months minimum even if I did not make a penny so that was the plan, build a stable base, build slowly and build sustainably. The option of halving the money and buying hardware and IP blocks outright was also an option but not having even close to the same finger on the pulse of the VPS market as I have now that seemed like the much higher risk strategy. in hindsight, if I were to do this again from scratch, I would have taken the second option but I went the way I went and I am not sure it made that much difference in the end as this was always a lifestyle choice, not a world domination plan.

Before KVM, it was really only OpenVZ 5 or Xen 3, KVM was only a thought in someone's mind back then, Xen (PV) was as close to KVM as you could get, performance-wise (HVM sucked back then) while still running your own kernel and OpenVZ 5 had a reputation for being massively oversold (and it was), not understanding LE*Economics as well back then and not feeling comfortable overselling at all, I went for Xen.

I rode the Xen bandwagon hard, even when KVM launched I still pushed Xen as the superior product, sadly it did not take long for KVM to outperform it in every single way apart from stability although I would still argue to this day in terms of stability alone KVM is not as good as Xen. It is certainly production ready enough if you stay off the bleeding edge features, using SolusVM, obviously that was not a problem :)

Anyway moving back a step, my new Xen method was battle-tested and ready to be made public instead of just the B2B managed work I was doing and I was ready to take over the world, I went in search a host to back the public offers on, after testing a few over a fairly short period I landed on SnelServer (Shout out to Wouter) in the Netherlands.

They had some great features at the time which were simply not available anywhere else, the control panel was amazing, you could pretty much drag and drop chunks of bandwidth from 1 server to the other, IPMI was built right into the control panel (rare back then), rDNS was automated and they (Wouter) even wrote me a plugin to pass the rDNS requests from SolusVM directly to their own control panel, the price was right, the hardware was right, the location was right the control panel made it super simple to completely manage everything you needed and then Wouter made it a no brainer with his willingness to make things work as I needed them to work.

Sadly years later when Wouter left SnelServer the whole company dropped through the floor in terms of quality, they started taking 6 weeks to replace dead drives, I was catching them in lies constantly, the guy running the company refused to be accountable for anything but was terrified of speaking to customers himself which made the entire platform untenable and amateur at best which is why I ultimately moved to i3d back then, this is a tangent for another day though (if ever).

Moving on... The stage was set I initially started putting offers out on WHT and testing the market with various plans and packages and one of them was picked up by 'LEA' who was the original creator of LowEndBox:

Here is that offer:

Following this as it generated a huge amount more sales than I was used too I decided to start putting my own offers into LowEndBox on a semi-regular basis, the feedback was generally positive and any issues found I tried to deal with as soon as possible. I was still new to this specific industry segment and new to running a business generally 9shout out to @Asim for calling me out on not keeping my company registration up to date
I still feel bad to this day I took your public call-out on this personal back then) so I certainly had a lot to learn as you can see from some of the comments and my responses on my ancient lowEndBox offer posts :)

interestingly the first comment on the first offer I sent in is by someone who is still to this day an Inception Hosting customer, the oldest customer Inception Hosting actually has.

A link to a very early review of Inception Hosting: http://www.96mb.com/96mb-low-end-vps-review-part-viii-inception-hosting/ (Shout out to 96MB)

So from that point on the formula was pretty obvious, get server pricing, get the average plan distribution over the nodes, attribute a proportional price per IP, license etc, add profit margin, sell the plan, underpants, profit! and that was how Inception Hosting was built, using a stable base and a sustainable margin. It became very obvious that you could grow significantly faster by using OpenVZ and selling plans and specs at an 8:1 ratio compared to Xen but it was also obvious that the hosts doing that we're the ones getting publicly slammed for poor quality, poor performance stability problems etc.

2 paragraph tangent warning

I have had the odd few chats with @Francisco over the years and we both seem to be able to pick/call host that are going to deadpool with a high degree of accuracy, usually 6 months before they do, it is a 6th sense you get, not just because you know what things cost, there is something in the language and general behaviour that makes them stand out.

Almost all of the plan inflating OpenVZ only hosts from back then do not exist today or at least not in the same form due to rescue buyouts etc. I do like to sleep at night so I felt my approach although is slowed initial growth was a plan for the long run and here I am 10 years on.

Fast forward a few years and a few dramas later, the hostile take over of LowEndBox/Talk by coloncrossing happened and also what became apparent was that the market as a whole in the LE* world was limited, there are only so many people looking to buy in the LE* world and the price is king above all else, Xen simply was not cutting it any more, KVM was king so it was time to adapt, I probably fought the Xen battle harder than most but in the end, I had to acknowledge KVM was simply the future and I also started Offering an OpenVZ service as a super budget option and adopting KVM for mainstream higher quality services.

By this point, I was certainly better off than I was working in my old 9-5 (more like 6am - 9pm) job however I did not have any plans on global domination, this had become more of a lifestyle choice, it allowed certain freedoms that I hold more dear than money but frankly the cookie-cutter approach was boring, having to deal with the same issues day in and day out was wearing on me so I needed a side project, something of interest.

The Birth of lowEndSpirit (not this one, that NAT one)

I started messing around with NAT IPv4 containers, it was obvious that the IPv4 shortage people were talking about was going to hurt the industry and knowing price was king I wondered just how ridiculous I could be in terms of resources. Having already offered OpenVZ for a while the primary uses for it was obvious to me, the odd website, scrapers, proxies and VPN's that had to account for 80% of all use.

Always being fascinated by doing more with less I got to work seeing how low I could go and started offering Ultra Budget containers for just €3 per year with 128MB RAM and NAT ipv4 access, with a set 20 TCP+UDP ports forwarded + 1 SSH port and I called it LowEndSpirit

This generated a LOT more buzz than I thought it ever would, I sold around 400 containers in the first month and had to start restricting sales, suddenly I got a glimpse of what BuyVM may have felt like with their $15 128mb plans back in the day.

At this stage, LowEndSpirit was simply a brand name for a product to help keep it somewhat separate from Inception Hosting, although Inception Hosting was footing the bill for it, it had its own website and forum which was purely for separation and support, at the time the goal really was just to cover the costs and promote knowledge, the knowledge that you don't need a 2GB RAM VPS with bleeding-edge CPU's to run a proxy/VPN or heck, even a forum, the whole LowEndSpirit support forum ran on a 64mb VPS on FluxBB and it was FAST

It got to the point whereby it covered costs and then some, so I put that money into a new location, that kept happening until I had 5 locations and it was running at a small but manageable loss just on the borderline of breaking even, I put the prices up by €0.50 per year to stop the loss and declared it a stable project.

The containers for those that are interested back then ran at ridiculous contention they were all 128MB Ram, and the formula was that I could run 250 containers per 4GB of physical server ram which is close to 800% over allocation just they ran and ran reasonably well, but that was the Joy of OpenVZ 6+simfs, the density was incredible (at least double what VZ7+ploop filesystem can manage) but ultimately that is what allowed the LES NAT service to exist.

4 Years flew by in the blink of an eye, I had some great plans for LowEndSpirit, actually written plans which I might release at some point to turn the service into an HA hosting service with replication and anycast for the price of a coke and chips at the cinema. Due to the lack of buy-in and my own inability to sell the idea well to those that could make it happen this sadly never happened although technically sound its hard to sell an idea to developers when it is only breaking even in its current form even if that is by design.

I had at least managed to convince some of the control panel developers to implement haproxy into their panels directly and working with them to get that done was fun and it certainly expanded the options and worked better than my god awful (but effective) scripts to get haproxy working.

By this time this sort of service was no longer unique to Inception Hosting, I actively encouraged and helped or at least inspired some other hosts set up similar services a few don't exist now but those that do really took the idea and ran with it, giving it far more time than I was ever able too and apparently made it profitable as they are still here to this day, shout out to @mikho (MrVM) and @cam (Gullo), @oliau (RansomIT), @gestiondbi (Sorry I forget the old company name from the NAT era).

A less known fact about LES (The NAT one) that I never made very public is that I applied to a funder who had advertised for people and organisations to come forward with ideas on charitable businesses that could have a global reach and improve lives worldwide.

I put forward my plans on being able to develop relationships with hosting providers to donate resources in return for the promotion and tax breaks to the project to make it truly global, fully HA and the 3-year plan was to reach 100 pops, have paid 'champions' in every region and develop the platform further, the idea behind it was to team up with the likes of udemy and other online teaching resources to provide complete platforms for people from poor and disenfranchised backgrounds for free, a complete learning package that they could keep for life to learn and develop on, if they had access to the internet in some form they could make use of it at free or incredibly low cost, it would also be available to the more developed parts of the world at a low but sustainable cost which would help in keeping it going beyond the funding.

It took many months of work, I got the idea through to the final stages, the funding was essentially a competition but it was rejected ultimately in favour of more direct humanitarian work, which I understand but never the less was proud to have been in consideration in the final tranch of applications for the grant, it would have been around $320,000 worth of funding to fully launch the project and it got to the top 10 from 1000's of bids.

I was not at all upset about this, it simply was not meant to be, fast forward another random 'life speeds up as you get older' amount of time and it was clear that others had more time and drive to push the NAT idea forward and they had transformed it and made it something unique of their own, some even offering it for free, shout out to @Neoon and thanks for your continued frustrations with me not implementing certain features, hopefully, this explains a little bit more as to why I never did.

By this point, the lowendspirit support forum was largely idle, a few posts a day at most as with putting the prices up slightly I started allowing direct support tickets, it just worked out easier that way, I was already looking for a new use for the domain and certainly wanted to switch the forum software, that is something I procrastinated on like a pro for at least 12 months because I just had no time.

By now I was actually providing backend support for around 4 different hosts, completely managing their back end infrastructure and acting as a support escalation point, I don't do any of that sort of work now as it is simply too demanding on my time outside of normal working hours despite the hours you set there is always that 'urgent' thing that needs to be dealt with every other day haha and no one wants to really pay for it.

The idiots have taken over the asylum - LE'What? - Darker Days

@jarland has left the building, I am not 100% sure what it was that made him step down as the LET admin
but I do know it was by choice and I do not 100% remember if I asked or he offered to put me forward as the new admin at lowendtalk but some events happened and I took over at lowendtalk as a volunteer admin, the site at that point still being owned by coloncrossing.

The fact that the place was owned by coloncrossing and the puppet masters were known to be slippery at best was concerning to me but I was already in the mix, I had been here for the better part of a decade, I was there before those guys as far as I knew so I thought, perhaps I can affect some change because, at that point, the forum was a bit of a shit show compared to days gone by.

Being that bit older by then perhaps I just noticed it more but it felt like the place was being effectively trashed by rage kids that spoke in memes, bad ones :) every single post was being derailed, some people were just looking for a fight with anyone for any reason, no offer was safe, instead of not buying people felt that their opinion needed to be not just heard but forced down everyone's neck aggressively, I reached out to some level heads in the LE* world and it became very apparent that what I was observing was also being felt by others so I decided to give it a go (the admin role) knowing full well that decisions I was going to have to make would not be popular with the incredibly loud minority of people.

I did my best over a fairly short period of time to try and drain the swamp a bit, some constant rule skirting hosts were struck off, toxic behaviours were nulled as much as possible, rules were updated to strategically get the place back on the rails. While I took some serious abuse that continued pretty strongly outside what was seen publicly (people be crazy) for the most part things were getting back on track, as back on track as possible anyway knowing that the days gone by had, gone!.

A few of the hosts that had been removed for abuse of the rules or being past the known pump and dump scam artists i.e. a danger to the integrity of the community and to peoples personal finances got miraculously unbanned and given provider tags. It turned out that if you had services with coloncrossing you were immune from punishment and you were not held to the same standard as anyone else.

After some digging, it turned out that these were decisions made by Chris Fabozzi who at this stage was working for coloncrossing directly as opposed to pretending CVPS was not owned by colocncrossing and Chris was acting on orders from Jon Biloh to do this.

I protested this undermining of decisions made strongly and was assured that this was a one-off event and was business-critical, this did not sit well with me but I was assured that should any of them slip up again I was free to immediately ban them. I begrudgingly accepted this, in hindsight I should have quit there and then but as we all know perfect hindsight is the ultimate super power.

Fast forward literally a few weeks, one of the same slippery hosts messed up yet again, and they were banned yet again, within 3 days Jon had unbanned them again because they were coloncrossing customers. I spoke to some of the fellow moderation team about this and a day before I made any decisions about my future as a volunteer admin there I did a deep dive, I found that coloncrossing under the leadership of Jon had been dishing out old abandoned accounts with post history with updated usernames and email addresses to hosts that had servers with coloncrossing to make them look more legitimate to potential buyers.

That was the final straw in terms of the admin role for me, they were deliberately and systematically defrauding the entire community so I stepped down with immediate effect. I continued to be a host and communicate with the wider community just as a regular user, I did not make a big deal out of stepping down I just did it. I have to admit I did worry to some degree that leaving LET all together would impact sales adversely which I would be lying if I said impacted my decision to not just leave immediately.

As it has turned out leaving LET has been great for sales, I sell more plans at full price than ever before and I get a LOT less hassle/abuse orders generally.

I honestly don't remember how much time passed from then and to the point I decided to call it quits at LET all together, it may have been 3 months it may have been 12 months or anything in between would come as a surprise. At this stage, LEB was effectively dead to anyone but coloncrossing hosts, after I stepped down things went from bad to worse in terms of behaviour from the top, all previously banned coloncrossing hosts were not only unbanned but were being heavily promoted on LEB and continued to get away with breaking the rules.

The rate at which the coloncrossing boys were simply just taking the piss at all our expenses was increasing day by day and they were not even being particularly careful about hiding it as they once were. At this stage, you were genuinely more likely to get ripped off on LET/B than you were at hackforums (is that still a thing?) reputations of hosts were being trashed in other places simply for being active on LET.

It might be surprising but I really don't remember what the final straw was, it probably was not 1 specific thing, more the accumulation of a series of things that finally just got to heavy for me to continue being part of the community there, so I wrote my farewell with no intention to fork the community at that stage. I wrote a big and frankly angry account of my reasons for stepping down as an admin, making sure people were aware of the incredibly shitty nature of the puppet masters behind LET/B and all their past misgivings which included but are certainly not limited to over 50 sponsored pump and dump hosts that took the communities money and ran, identity theft (look up the UGVPS drama if they have not removed it to see evidence of Chris and Jon literally blackmailing someone into allowing them to pose as someones girlfriend using her ID's without her knowledge to set up a pump and dump company and run away without paying the bills) and the constant flexible rules for coloncrossing hosts and undermining of the voluntary staff they use as a free human shield while profiting big from LET/B.

Not too long after that another 20 hosts deadpooled after taking money for totally unsustainable 3-year deals black Friday, every single one of them was tied back directly to Jon Biloh/coloncrossing, the ZDnet article: https://www.zdnet.com/article/20-vps-providers-to-shut-down-on-monday-giving-customers-two-days-to-save-their-data/ (Shout out to @teamacc )

Now Jon finally admits that he personally owns LEB/T, many of us know beyond any reasonable doubt that he has owned it for a long time before this admission and only made that admission because we found out, possibly as long as 3 years, he now has a known child sexual abuse sympathiser cheerleading for him and is continuing to employ all the same tactics as he has been getting away with for years just now he pretends it is a fresh start (it's not) and putting on the uncle Jon act.

It always surprises me how many people are unaware of just how bad things have been in the background there over the years as a result of his influence but it usually turns out that those that are unaware are reasonably new to the community.

All of this ultimately confirms to me that I made the right decision in getting out of that place, I do regret the way I did it though, I should have just quietly walked away, I just felt that after spending so long being a part of a community that Jon made rot from the core I had to say my piece. Sadly the net effect was it caused massive division and turned people on both sides of the moral fence against each other and arguments broke out right left and centre, that was not what I wanted, I wanted to build awareness and justify my actions, really I should have done neither but what is done is done and I lost some great contacts/friends whom I used to communicate with through that platform only. I don't go back unless I absolutely have to, a few miss clicks on links occur that's about it.

What my outburst/stamping of my feet/swan song post on LET (Link to OGF) https://www.lowendtalk.com/discussion/161258/why-are-the-leb-feed-offers-posted-in-offers-allowed-to-break-the-rules (I still to this day have not read beyond the first handful of pages in that post) did do though was make it very apparent a large portion of the community felt similar. I did read a comment by someone on that final rant post of mine that lead to me finally walking away from LET which said something along the lines of "You know, the reason we don't have a separate community is not due to a technical limitation" that hit me like a ton of bricks, they were absolutely right! ... queue the game of thrones intro music.



Teach a man to code and he will eat for a day, give him $7 and he can idle a VPS for a lifetime

I decided to give it a shot, to make my best efforts at making a safer space for the part of the community that gave a shit to reside, I had witnessed many ex-LET admins do the same thing over the years in 1 form or another. Perhaps it is a natural knee jerk reaction because to my knowledge except for the original owner of LEB/T no one had left on the happiest of terms even if that was how it was portrayed on the surface.

We had a major community fork about 6 or 7? ish years ago with vpsboard however that started as a big reaction to finding out Jon/coloncrossing had been in secret control of LET/B for over a year without telling anyone. The result of which was a huge bile spitting pool of negativity and tin foil hats & pitchforks. sadly because its entire momentum was built off the back of that, when people calmed down and accepted what had happened had happened and that no amount of evidence or smoking guns was going to make the LET/B puppet masters care and the momentum slowly dwindled to near nothing and the new forum became a graveyard for a long time. I have not checked on it for a while it may have some life back in it now.

Mandude (The persona that started VPSBoard) was always a nice guy, probably in a similar headspace to that of mine last year when I exited LET. however, the forum was using that old style we know from the 90's and 00's made most popular by forum standards like phpBB and SMF, in the age of social media they don't have a great flow to them to keep conversations going no matter how powerful the backend is.

@jarland who we all know and love started hostballs now hostedtalk soon after his exit from LET as admin, again this is just my perception, I may be wrong, but he wanted that to be a generally more positive and calmer place and was not prepared to allow any of the drama for the sake of drama creep in there.

That seemed like a great thing to do, a calmer place for those of us that we're sick of the noise and constant bad feeling at LET, it was however made pretty clear from the get-go that the commercial element of hostballs was far from a priority and in fact when asked it was actively discouraged by the mods/admins there.

The software behind hostballs (discourse I think) is nice, it is a modern re-imagining of vanilla in its layout however at the same time it did feel different to LET with a different flow to it with a fair bit of focus on gameification https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gamification.

Learning from past observations and other forks what I felt I knew was needed in order for the community to feel comfortable, it had to feel familiar, subtle differences were fine but the overall flow and function needed to be the same, that meant 1 thing... Vanilla.

Now for all the moans and groans about vanilla which are likely justified the fact remains or at least in my head, it is a strong opinion that Vanilla does a fantastic job of keeping a conversation going and engaging people, it is a good middle ground between a forum and social media.

I always had an issue at LET in that any random volunteer admin who's real name was not even known by the forum operator had access to everyone's email addresses, IP addresses and even PM's at the click of a button, that never did sit right with me, despite the years of protest by Jon claiming that access to PM's was not something they had, bam, right in your face at the click of a button.

That is something that does not exist in LES, while I could, in theory, read your PM's as I have database access at the end of the day it is not trivial (for me anyway).

One of the main reasons I don't have other admins/mods here is because I don't believe in simply handing access to peoples data to others without any pre-qualification or built-in accountability for the person with the access. I know this again may sound like a triviality to some but one thing I know is that there are enough people in the LE* community that really do care about this that it should be important to me as well.

The other reason is that I think the idea of having free/unpaid community managers is a bad model is that you can't complain if they are not doing a great job, you can't really demand anything of them and as we have seen time and time again the person or persons in that role become targets, having been on the receiving end, I won't put anyone in that position that is not being compensated appropriately. LET/B used to pay the admins around $1000 /month for managing the T+B sites, that stopped a few years ago around the same time as the numbers started to really drop off, how motivated can you really be for free while taking daily abuse after all.

With some help from @Solaire and @Phill in the early stages of launching this forum and the huge amount of feedback from the community, it got into a familiar state pretty quickly, I was only willing to take the help in the first instance to get things running and despite my best efforts, neither of them would take any money for the work they were doing on the backend meaning that I ultimately had to stop accepting that help.

LES up to around a few months ago was costing somewhere in the region of $70 /month to exist when adding up the cloudflare, mandrillapp, runcloud pro, staging servers and live servers, the position was getting difficult as there were things that needed to be done, I either lacked the skills or the time to do them myself to at least break it even by getting the advertising system in place, I had been paying a developer in the past to get some of the grav (main LES blog platform) core modifications made I needed and I knew his rates so he was an obvious choice to go forward with.

My preference would have been someone from the community directly however I did put out a few calls for paid help and either people wanted lawyer money for coding work or they could do some but not all, that was the driving factor behind having to get external but known paid help in, so I once again put my hands in my own pockets to pay for the time needed to get the advert system completed.

But I hate adverts, they offend my eyes and kill fairies with every blink!

Well, I hear you, the truth is though that the forum needs a revenue stream of its own to continue to exist, I considered going down the Patreon route but something did not feel right about that, I believe that as much as the commercial element of the forum (the hosts) needs the community, the wider community also needs the commercial element in order to exist, it is a symbiotic relationship.

I think the right place to generate revenue from is the companies that stand to gain from the community, I say that as a host, a community member and the forum owner, 3 separate hats that can be hard to wear at the same time. The best way to do that is banner adverts, at least that is my thinking and no one has come up with a viable alternative with wider buy-in yet.

So I am afraid for now at least, the adverts are here to stay, I understand if you feel you want to manually block them I really do but I wanted to let people know why they are here at least so they can make an informed decision rather than just ranting that an advert moved. I knew from day 1 this was going to be a situation whereby there is not a single standard or solution that would keep everyone happy so I have just accepted some people will be unhappy and have moved on from that.

Currently, the situation is that the revenue generated from the adverts is less than £200 /month, people may think this goes in my pocket, that is not the case, it will all be spent on the forum in one way or another, getting this money in itself costs me money as I am forced to declare it as additional personal income (it does not go through Inception Hosting) and have an accountant do a return on it so about 20% of it is nuked immediately.

I made a post in the provider's section (only seen by hosts) a while ago when announcing to the providers that the adverts were available to buy now (up to this point all the adverts you saw were free), I think rather than retype everything it would be best for me to simply quote some snippets from that post bringing them into the wider public view:

16th November;

Hi Folks,

I get poked a lot about the adverts on here, I do appreciate the enthusiasm and you guys wanting to throw some money into the pot!

I have started them off super cheap because this is a budget market segment forum after all.


@AnthonySmith said: I think it is important to say what your money is being spent on because after all I already have an income and I genuinely never set this place up for profit. so here is my brain being spilt onto this post and I very much welcome any feedback no matter how small.

It will be considered income in the eyes of the taxman, so I will kiss goodbye to around 20% immediately as I already far exceed any personal income tax breaks as a limited company director.
This forum all-in costs me personally around $70 / month just to run when you take into account the licenses, the services and the paid Cloudflare elements, it would be nice to recoup some of that.
I don't want to encourage or invite too much free help, I have had a fair amount in the first few months, I had > to knock that on the head though as people literally would not let me pay them for work they were doing, I am aware there are a number of things that can be done to make this community work better but they require > some coding work to be done, I have identified the members that can do the work I just need a separate pot > to pay them with, I have prioritised people from low socioeconomic backgrounds when possible so the relatively small amount of money 100's not 1000's actually makes a difference to their life as that is important > to me.
External promotion of the forum and someone to manage the social media elements.
Whatever may be left after the above I want to give back to you and the community by way of doing advance > paid offers, REAL LES exclusives, I have already had this conversation with a few people but essentially what I > want to do is guarantee you a minimum order volume by pre-paying it, that might be a product you want to > showcase, I purchase 50 units in advance and pay the first months bill, you then simply charge a nominal $0.50c for the account validation on sign up. advertisers will always be the priority market group for this.
If possible I would like to pay a nominal amount to a moderator, one on a different time zone to me, it is quiet in terms of abuse but it is getting gradually worse in terms of volume as growth occurs so I would like to > have someone in place to keep things in check before they ever get out of hand.
I have also spoken with some dedicated server providers and discussed the idea of paying the setup fee's in > advance or paying for an upgrade outright so the LES customer base gets the best possible deals.

I hope that makes my thinking and ethics behind this clear, the better and busier we can make this forum, the better it is for all of us in the long run so don't think of it as just paying me, think of it as an investment in yourself with a nice advert to go with it

Prices will increase over time as the numbers justify it but they will never just increase out of greed, I am not a financially motivated person but I do understand money is required to make other things happen.

If this is a complete failure and no one buys then, which is entirely possible I don't expect everyone to subscribe to my way of thinking I will just strip out the adverts altogether and offer top bar banners on a case by case basis only.


25th November:

@AnthonySmith said: A little update on this, I have now hired a freelance dev, he has already started work and his priority is fixing my shitting advert rotation script and better integrating it into the backend for me.

Next, he will be working on the resizing of the adverts on LES and the rotation of ads on LES.

The first priority was fixing the ad system that you guys are paying for essentially.

Next he will work on fixing some theme issues and fixing some formatting and removing some built-in junk, then the forum fixes from the issues list will be fixed.

I cant remember if I ever shared the other host-specific projects publicly but a much better ad/offer system is in the works that will really work for you guys much better, some examples are:

being able to select "Must reply to view offer" when making an offer post.
being able to have pre-formatted offers auto post on a schedule (for those that like to set and forget al la WHT)
being able to auto-select a close date.
a reviews system which will proudly display your rating
a much better profile system for hosts, so your profile is almost like a micro site.
Thats the main things, that is where in part your advertising money is going.

Cheers.

Ant.


The adverts, for the most part, were taken up pretty quickly, many hosts asking if they could pay multiple years in advance so the advertisers you see are genuinely supporting making the platform this community runs on top of a better place and I hope that influences your thinking about any of them in a positive way.

I should also say I am wide open to other suggestions on improving the platform.

With that mammoth account of the last 10 years bringing us right up to date on things, the only thing left to talk about is the future.

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«13

Comments

  • AnthonySmithAnthonySmith AdministratorHosting Provider

    So what now? are you leaving again? what is happening to LES?

    From this point on this is probably going to read more like a bunch of predictions and a wish list all rolled into one but hopefully, I can get some of my intent over in the next wall of text.

    let's get straight into the 'leaving' part so this does not look like click/title bait. This came up over the BF/CM weekend, I do intend to "Get out of my own way" here, I always did that was always the plan, making this a community-owned and managed asset in some way would be the ideal scenario.

    I am however not blind to human nature, this could be an utter disaster, look what happened at LEB/T when the honourable LEA (original LET/B owner) looked for a spiritual successor, he found someone to take things forward who turned out to only be a good guy on the surface and sold the community out to coloncrossing almost immediately. So I need to do this incrementally while building in a reset switch should the excrement hit the fan.

    My hope is that I am no longer the admin here at some point in 2021, I simply don't think I am the right person for the job long term, perhaps no one should be the admin long term, I am kept pretty busy most days and it needs someone that has a bit more time and fresher ideas but before that happens I plan to finish working with the developer to get things put in place, that obviously has a financial limiter on it but I believe I can get this done at a pace to achieve that time scale.

    I intend to personally pick a few potential candidates for admin and also allow the community to pick a few candidates, perhaps we will agree on who that might be anyway, I will check that those candidates would be happy to take the role understanding what that requires and an open vote will happen.

    Once the new admin is in place, they will be given a set rate and a budget to work with, I will manage the financial side of things and liabilities, I will also manage the server but the admin will have complete access to the vanilla backend via the UI and complete root access to the staging server and they will continue the relationship with the developer (or appoint their own) for any changes that they might want to make.

    Essentially at this stage, I will have hands-off oversight and retain access to the server, I will perhaps have a founder title that gives me no extra rights but identifies me only.

    I think the forum needs to at least get to this stage before the next steps become clear in terms of how to hand it over safely to the community, I don't know of any current methods to completely decentralise it, but that is something that can be discussed at length with a community focus group in 2021/2. That is how I plan to start removing myself and avoiding this place becoming another LET. I also plan to put oversight on myself with quarterly reviews and some sort of community nominated comity to scrutinise any actions, in time I will also share just enough information with each of those people that should they decide it is necessary they can remove me completely if I put eyeliner on and become evil.

    This place is way too green! I believe this place looks and feels the way it had to look and feel so that people did not feel like they were wearing someone else's shoes when they got here, there was never a doubt that the bulk of the community was going to be made up of LET community members in the first instance but those that were going to come over probably already have by now.

    I appreciate all the signature links people put in place on LET to signpost people here, LET used to be the single biggest referrer of visitors here, I am happy to say that it is no longer in the top spot and new names are starting to crop up that found this place because of its own content and the number of unique visitors (according to google) is rising steadily week by week, so It may be time to drop the green, I am considering fixing up some of the elements of the dark theme that are broken and making that the default. I do also want a few options in terms of look and layout and I want them to be selectable right here rather than having to go into your profile to pick themes.

    The community is growing, I don't know if I ever expect it to outdo LET in terms of raw numbers but then again I have never trusted the raw numbers at LET to begin with for a start every view was counted 3 times when they had the 'cluster' in place which was described as a "convenient bug" and when the cluster was dropped the advertising numbers on BSA also tanked through the floor, BSA at one point claiming just around 30k views on the above the fold adverts, obviously giving way to adblockers but still, 6 - 7 years ago when I was paying for advert space there it was more like 250,000 views and it had a higher rotation back then too.

    All I have left in me to do/type now as this has been the product of many attempts to finish over many days in between doing many things is to probably just list some of the things I would like to see happen/do here over 2021.

    In no particular order or structure and by no means complete:

    1. Get rid of Google Analytics and replace with whatever the hell piwik is called now.
    2. Get rid of the .talk subdomain and move the forum to lowendspirit.com and put the blog on /blog (or something).
    3. Start a free basic set of services for community members, not a post to keep but just a threshold that automatically qualifies you the sort of services I am thinking of are shared hosting, VPN, some backup space etc possibly some NAT containers. I picked WHMCS in the end for the advert billing system so as I can use it for provisioning of free services as well.
    4. Get some more advanced plugins created that cater to the community better e.g.
    • Host reviews plugin
    • Allow guest posts on the blog (currently only registered forum accounts can comment)
    • Anti-Thanks (community self-moderation plugin)
    • Highlighted post plugin (allows mods/admins to make a post stand out without being an announcement)
    • Disable the user profile 'wall' (spam haven).
    • Add some subtle social media sharing options for posts.
    • Allow users to mute threads so they no longer see them or get updates even if they themselves created the original post.
    • Community generated groups - allow community members to form invite-only groups within the forum i.e. dedicated categories.
    1. Get the monthly average views to around 500,000 (currently a little over 300,000)
    2. Start advertising the community on relevant/niche podcasts/youtube channels.
    3. Put someone in charge of the discord server - it makes me feel old and I have no idea what I am doing!

    That is it, I think that is the end of this ridiculous post, all I have left to say is thanks, there are a lot of different and often conflicting personalities here yet somehow, for the most part, everyone keeps their cool, there is maybe 1 or 2 flagged posts per month to deal with which I attribute to the general attitude of the community, perhaps I imagine it but there seems to be an undercurrent of at least trying to be a bit more civil with each other.

    In my head, this post was going to be a fairly detailed but significantly shorter post I hope for those that took the time out to read it that it gives you a bit more insight into the forum, who I am, why I do what I do and what I/you can look forward too here.

    I appreciate everyone here being part of the community, thank you!

    Happy to answer as many questions or comments as I can, you can AMA if there is anything left to ask :)

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  • AnthonySmithAnthonySmith AdministratorHosting Provider

    Split over 2 posts because apparently vanilla has a 50,000 character limit :D

    Merry Christmas everyone.

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  • seriesnseriesn Hosting ProviderOG

    @AnthonySmith said:
    Split over 2 posts because apparently vanilla has a 50,000 character limit :D

    Merry Christmas everyone.

    Commenting so I have something to get back to and read the saga.

    Tldr; don’t make the mistake LEA made.

    Thanked by (2)lentro Not_Oles
  • To be honest i am on vodka shots right now but what i have seen it is the history and that you are looking foe a sucessor . hopefully our comunitity would be in good hands . may ve i am wrong but i do not have the capacity to read it . merry xmas ant and yoingesters donot drink

    Dentistry is my passion

  • AnthonySmithAnthonySmith AdministratorHosting Provider

    @Chievo said:
    To be honest i am on vodka shots right now but what i have seen it is the history and that you are looking foe a sucessor . hopefully our comunitity would be in good hands . may ve i am wrong but i do not have the capacity to read it . merry xmas ant and yoingesters donot drink

    It's not really 'about' that, it is about the last 10 years in this community and the last 20 years of my life in relation to it. :)

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  • @AnthonySmith said:

    @Chievo said:
    To be honest i am on vodka shots right now but what i have seen it is the history and that you are looking foe a sucessor . hopefully our comunitity would be in good hands . may ve i am wrong but i do not have the capacity to read it . merry xmas ant and yoingesters donot drink

    It's not really 'about' that, it is about the last 10 years in this community and the last 20 years of my life in relation to it. :)

    In that case i am completely drunk my fault sorry mr Ant

    Dentistry is my passion

  • I have achieved a sum up of the whole story from a not drunk people. Thanks for the great work Ant it seems pretty interesting. Les is a great group of persons. To be honest i am trying to achieve somethkng similar to les but dental focused. But we are more egoists than you people so it is pretty difficicult. We are not used to help each other or help and improve like what is happening in LES. It is a great story thanks for sharing it with us. Happy xmas Ant and les people . Have fun

    Dentistry is my passion

  • I’m waiting for a (now very late) Xmas eve Chinese takeaway, so thanks for sharing and giving me something to read!

    Thanked by (1)AnthonySmith
  • lentrolentro Hosting Provider

    @Chievo you do look quite drunk, haha :lol:

    Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays @AnthonySmith . Haven't read it yet (bit too long for right now), but thanks for all the insightful writing I'll read!

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  • A shameless plug for a different model.

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  • Interesting read and interesting plans for the future.

    I really appreciate your efforts towards making this place even better. But I wouldn't support your point, which states that you need to "retire" your position as administrator, to avoid this place to develop to a new LET - however I'm open for new things.

    Also, I really appreciate your insight in some history, which I maybe have missed out - even though I'm already lurking on LET since 2015, and being registered since 2017. Great stuff.
    Further some history insights or insights into hosting stuff in general, which someone maybe doesn't get to know every day would be quite interesting.

  • So an awesome story <3

  • Nice read. I finished reading before Christmas :)
    All the best and merry Christmas!

    Thanked by (1)AnthonySmith
  • sorry, TLDR. Hope this place sticks around. happy holidays

    Thanked by (1)AnthonySmith
  • edited December 2020

    I read the whole story carefully.
    I think this story can become a How I Built This podcast, a show about innovators, entrepreneurs and idealists—and the movements they built. Maybe @AnthonySmith can do that interview one year after he steps down as administrator.


    As for the new administrator, I nominate @Not_Oles.

    Have you asked your provider to do push-ups yet? Ask at the next downtime.

  • Feck, I read it all to the bottom!
    Merry Christmas too, everyone.

    Thanked by (1)AnthonySmith

    lowendinfo.com is expired.

  • Being relatively new to the community, this post has revealed many things that are unknown to me.

    https://www.zdnet.com/article/20-vps-providers-to-shut-down-on-monday-giving-customers-two-days-to-save-their-data/
    Not even 1 host I have heard of :o

    Kudos to @AnthonySmith and every trustworthy provider here for building a better world.

  • cybertechcybertech OGBenchmark King
    edited December 2020

    someone help me out here with a TLDR? I'm dyslexic at times in the day

    still as a "young" hobbyist it's really cool to know what kind of history/experience makes such successful business.

    Mostly lurking for now.

  • May I suggest incorporating LES into a non-profit organization (the UK equivalent of the US 501(c)3) so that taxes are not deducted for the operation of the forum?

    Thanked by (2)yoursunny AnthonySmith

    The all seeing eye sees everything...

  • Enjoyed the read.
    I joined both the forums in 2019 Nov. However, LES feels more homely and nice. Thanks for making it so. And I hope you will stay as an administrator for the long run, and add some more good people.
    Like yoursunny suggested, I would love to see @Not_Oles as a moderator or a bigger role.

    Thanked by (2)Not_Oles Decicus
  • Great writeup! Thanks for your service to the community @AnthonySmith , the future certainly looks exciting. Merry Christmas!

    PS: I would also support @Not_Oles as admin :)

    Thanked by (1)Not_Oles
  • I didn't realize I had read so much

    great experience

  • Thanks for sharing your story, @AnthonySmith! I do have one concern, though:

    for the price of a coke and chips at the cinema.

    Would $600 qualify as LE*?

    Thanked by (1)AnthonySmith
  • Wow ! Amazing. Long read but completely worth it. Thank you for sharing your story with this community @AnthonySmith :) Merry Christmas 🎄⛄

  • MasonMason OGContent Writer
    edited December 2020

    @cybertech said:
    someone help me out here with a TLDR? I'm dyslexic at times in the day

    still as a "young" hobbyist it's really cool to know what kind of history/experience makes such successful business.

    Lots of info/story/background, so here's the best that I can do.

    Tl;dr

    Pt 1 Humble Beginnings - Ant, who is working for a big UK defense company and finds himself managing multi-million $ IT projects, is bored and wants to try something new. His interest in VMs began when experimenting with VMWare and loving how much could be done on relatively low-spec machines. Couple home servers later and plans for Inception started to materialize. Left his job when convenient to start down this path.

    Pt 2 The Inception of Inception Hosting - Ant is a man with a plan. Inception Hosting is the name and Xen is his game. Starts renting servers and putting out offers. Offer on WHT is picked up by LE(B/T) founder and shared on LEB generating quite a number of sales and interest. Joins the LE* community and becomes an active member. Fran and Ant become the Oracles of Adeadpool. Ant, a Xen xealot, concedes KVM is king and adjusts accordingly. Coloncleansing grabs LE(B/T) by the taint at this time.

    Pt 3 Ant Dabbles in NAT Containers - Ant sets up LowEndSpirit and becomes (one of?) the first mainstream NAT VM hosts at a price of just a coffee per year. The project takes off with minimal to no profit. Other hosts take inspiration and either join the LES project (MrVM, DeepNetSolns) or start their own thing (Gullo, etc.).

    Pt 4 Coloncleansing Flushes LET - Ant has a vested interest in saving LET from itself. Is picked as admin by Jar on his exit. Implements some new rules to bring back some civility and get rid of blatant scam hosts. Ant bans some scam hosts and Krystal Frank Chris Fabozzi and daddy Biloh (coloncleaning puppet masters) unban them with the reasoning that they rent coloncleansing servers and are therefore above the rules. The power couple do some other shady shit. LEB is a literal cesspool of CC-backed hosts by now. Ant steps down and not-so-quietly leaves the community that he's called home for 10ish years.

    Pt 5 A New Hope - Ant decides to rebrand LES as a place with the same initial goals of LET (do more with less), but in this case after chemotherapy has removed all the built-up cancerous tumors and toxicity. Decides Vanilla forum software is the right fit. Ant wants to instill his personal values of trust and privacy with the new community.

    Pt 6 Adverts Are A Necessary Evil - Finds that in order to sustain the website/community long-term, advertisements are necessary. Working to overhaul the advert system. Banner ads are just the start. Other changes in the works to make the place more sustainable, but still community-focused.

    Pt 7 (Non-)Greener Pastures & Passing The Torch - Green is sooo last year. Hoping to turn over the community to a respected member of the community that won't turn it into a steaming pile like LET nor sell it to some fuckboy. LES is picking up momentum, growing, and starting to generate lots of organic traffic. Some upgrades will be implemented to revamp the site, such as advanced community features (upvote/downvote, host reviews, host pages, etc.), removed subdomain (bye-bye "talk."), advertising campaigns, etc. Ant drops mic to a thunderous applause.

    Covers the highlights, but certainly not all of it.


    Anthony, I really appreciate you putting your heart and soul into this place. I enjoy the time that I spend here and am happy that I have no need to wade through the treacherous OGF waters any longer. We appreciate you.

    I'd ask you to reconsider the possibility of bringing on some volunteer mods. Low end world is purely a hobby to a lot of us (myself included) and many people would be stoked to aide the community in whatever capacity their time/expertise/sanity allows. Just look at FAT32 -- dude has a heart of gold and is literally the only thing keeping LET from collapsing in on itself because he enjoys doing it. This might just be my own outlook on this, but if I'm being paid to moderate/keep the lawn trimmed, then that would take the fun out of it for me. I wouldn't like the obligation a paid-role would bring for something that I consider my hobby. Just my own personal thoughts, though. I'm sure there's other opinions that would argue the complete opposite.

    Anyways, merry Xmas everybody and happy new year!

    What in tarnation? A little yabs'll do ya!

  • i'm so sorry, i can not read long english. google translate is overload.

    oribinal user from +62

  • seriesnseriesn Hosting ProviderOG

    @AnthonySmith said: (by about €75 /month haha) on day 1.

    Still more profitable than many sir! Kudos for having a proper plan!

    @AnthonySmith said: I probably fought the Xen battle harder than most but in the end, I had to acknowledge KVM was simply the future and I also started Offering an OpenVZ service as a super budget option and adopting KVM for mainstream higher quality services.

    XEN is the only thing I never played around with. KVM started picking up around the same time, when OVZ started to get bad rep, thus completely ended up skipping the XEN era on my end.

    About that LEB post, man, when LEA or even Joel ran LEB, the traffic you would get by getting featured was unbelievable. Not to mention, getting DDOS every time someone used to get posted on LEB. Getting featured was LEB as a host meant, you are on your way to become "someone". Gone are the days.

    @AnthonySmith said: All of this ultimately confirms to me that I made the right decision in getting out of that place, I do regret the way I did it though, I should have just quietly walked away, I just felt that after spending so long being a part of a community that Jon made rot from the core I had to say my piece. Sadly the net effect was it caused massive division and turned people on both sides of the moral fence against each other and arguments broke out right left and centre, that was not what I wanted, I wanted to build awareness and justify my actions, really I should have done neither but what is done is done and I lost some great contacts/friends whom I used to communicate with through that platform only. I don't go back unless I absolutely have to, a few miss clicks on links occur that's about it.

    Thank you for creating a safer but similar space good sir.

    @AnthonySmith said: Mandude (The persona that started VPSBoard) was always a nice guy, probably in a similar headspace to that of mine last year when I exited LET. however, the forum was using that old style we know from the 90's and 00's made most popular by forum standards like phpBB and SMF, in the age of social media they don't have a great flow to them to keep conversations going no matter how powerful the backend is.

    Curtis was and still cool af. He always reminded me of shaggy. I believe he is living the nature life now. VPSboard actually died after Knownhost took over. Kinda died away. A community, doesn't feel like a community, once it becomes for profit.

    @AnthonySmith said: @jarland who we all know and love started hostballs now hostedtalk soon after his exit from LET as admin, again this is just my perception, I may be wrong, but he wanted that to be a generally more positive and calmer place and was not prepared to allow any of the drama for the sake of drama creep in there.

    What Jar did was unique. He never wanted to have parallel universe or become the next "WHT/LET". No. He created a hangout spot for hosts. A forum that is not toxic. Decently busy community that becomes the perfect hangout spot, kinda like the old town bars.

    What LES did was created a community, where it is still not filled with "toxicity", probably because either, most people that joined here are OG LET folks or this forum is not popular yet, amongst certain communities. Plus you do have the reputation of being "Racist" :tongue:

    @AnthonySmith said: I intend to personally pick a few potential candidates for admin and also allow the community to pick a few candidates, perhaps we will agree on who that might be anyway, I will check that those candidates would be happy to take the role understanding what that requires and an open vote will happen.

    Here's my 2 cents old friend, have a balanced Moderator team, who have decent BS detector consisting hosts (such as great @Francisco) and community members, who contributes heavily to this community (such as vyas, mason). This would give a healthy balance of people, who can sniff bs from the backend and also understands community sentiment. Paid for or volunteering, that as your call sir. But if it is done by volunteer, it may also mean that, they wouldn't be afraid of speaking the truth. I mean, you don't want anyones judgement to be impacted by the $$. Catch22 I guess, since time = money?

    Having a group of mods with extra power, from different timezone means, no one needs to spend extra hours in keeping the forum going, but it can be done, while making their regular visits. Granted, some people are more passionate about the community then the rest and might hop anytime there's a notification, but that's upto the individuals.

    Tldr; Decentralize the power.

    Last but not the least, I should actually upload the graphics. Renewal invoice just came in :tongue:

  • cybertechcybertech OGBenchmark King

    thanks @Mason for the summary, provides good insight into some history.

    TLDR - 2020 it's nice to see what (characters) money can't buy

    Thanked by (1)Mason

    Mostly lurking for now.

  • FAT32FAT32 OG
    edited December 2020

    I could possibly help if needed to organise some community events during occasion. For me I am quite fast at removing spam (because I browse LE* often), but not so good at handling with sh*t especially those dramas over the year on OGF.

    But I am also kinda tired with some of the shit, I might possibly quit the hosting community in general but haven't decided yet.

    "Humanity is f*cked up" - Jay

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