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Thread: The entire story on our site's performence, where it's headed and everything else

  1. #1
    Administrator Boss-Hog's Avatar
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    The entire story on our site's performence, where it's headed and everything else

    Because of all the problems we've had for approximately the past year, we've been looking in to changing hosts for the past few weeks. I went to vBulletin's website and noticed that they had a separate forum set up for discussion of which hosts their clients use, reviews of the hosts, etc. After looking into the matter, I noticed that http://www.venturesonline.com had excellent reviews across the board and nearly everyone said they were as reliable as can be. With that in mind, I talked to GIK about it and we agreed to look into switching to them, if a plan could be found that accomodated our price range. I sent out an email to them that included our visitor statistics and the like and about an hour later, I got the following email back from one of their staff members:

    Thank you so much for all the information while writing to us... It made it so easy to look things up and gauge your usage history & server needs. Normally it’s a bit like pulling teeth, so this was just wonderful! Thanks!!!

    From what I have gathered, it looks like your current host is actually right on the money. I have to congratulate you on your popularity — you have a big, busy board! That’s just super. There are a lot of people on the internet who wish they had that kind of traffic.

    To begin, your site is definitely too big for the shared environment. You’re peaking out at 4.8 dynamic hits/month with about 50 users online at any given time. Our V500 is designed to take about 1/3 to 1/2 of that, at the very most. Users are usually upgraded to a VPS or Dedicated plan before they even reach those upper limits. A site the size of yours would be very hard on a shared server and would degrade server performance for everyone, because it simply needs a large chunk of CPU to run.

    You mentioned not being able to afford the VPS1500, but unfortunately your site would not even begin to run on a package that small. With 4.8 million hits/month, the minimum VPS that would have ample resources to run your forums would be the VPS8000. (See “Selecting a VPS for your Site” at http://www.venturesonline.com/hosting/vps-features.html)

    When we start talking that level of expense, my natural inclination is to get the client off a finite-resource server like the VPS plans (where you only get a slice of CPU and RAM) and put them on a dedicated server. A dedicated server will offer your site 100% of the CPU, 100% of the RAM, etc. etc. -- a dedicated server will do awesome things for you, and allow your site to grow without being hindered by shared overhead.

    Since you’re on a budget I would bypass the regular dedicated line and point you to the Dedicated Specials we have on tap at the moment. You can review them at http://www.venturesonline.com/hosting/specials.php

    I would recommend nothing less than 512 MB of RAM... This is something we can upgrade for you on any of the specials. An additional 256MB chip is $20 set-up and $35/month, and will really speed things up for you. If 512 isn’t enough, we can always put another 256 or 512 in there — the servers are quite configurable that way.

    I know you’d like to stay in the shared environment, since it’s very affordable, however the shared environment is designed for small sites that never see even a sliver of the traffic you have. Your popularity is wonderful, but it does bring a cost at some point... Unfortunately, you seem to have reached that point. I hope that we’ll be able to help you out as you consider your options.

    Please do let us know if you have any further questions.
    I was understandably discouraged after reading all this. Basically, this tells me that the host we have probably isn't the problem but the real problem is the sheer amount of traffic the site gets. Unfortunately, this is only going to get worse once the season starts. Now, as you can probably figure out, there's no way that we can viably afford to pay the $130 monthly fee (and that's before any memory upgrades) that VenturesOnline is suggesting...not at least without introducing a boatload of advertising and I'm not even sure that would cover the costs. When you start talking about expenses that high, I don't think donations are going to cover it. I greatly appreciate the money that everyone's given us to help us pay our expenses to this point but unfortunately this site has clearly outgrown where it used to be - in the $20/month price range. Our current host has told me before that our site actually costs them more to host than they actually make off of it and I can believe that. They have basically told me that we will need to switch to one of their private servers - while that's a bit more affordable than VenturesOnline, we're still talking $80 a month. Details of that plan can be found here.

    At this point, I'm not really sure what we're going to do, to be honest with you. I do know that we are going to need to switch to some plan that can accomodate the traffic the site gets or else we'll soon be forced to pay a lot of money for excessive bandwith. I don't want to have to set a limit to the amount of people who can view the site at one time. (as I currently have done, just to keep it running) Basically, the only real solution is to switch to a private or dedicated server and since GIK and I don't make any money off the site, there's no way that's a possibility, as is. If you have any suggestions about how we can raise the necessary money to cover costs and keep the site going, I'm all ears. Thanks.

    Boss

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  3. #2
    Member TeamCasey's Avatar
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    Wow. That is discouraging. I wish I had the expertise to help. It's sad to see this creation possibly die.
    "I've never understood the term "women and children" as if their lives are somewhat more important than men."

  4. #3
    Danny Graves is my Homey
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    Boss,

    I would begin to look into advertising. Banners and the like, wouldnt cover everything, but they certainly would help. Ask AceKing about the banners and the Dart system, i am too far removed from it to remember too much. I would see what you could get advertising wise, youd be surprised the offers you would get when you tell them the hits you get. Like i said, i wouldnt think it would cover the costs, but it would be a step in the right direction.


    Tom
    Bob MacKenzie: My brother and I used to say that drownin' in beer was like heaven, eh? Now he's not here, and I've got two soakers... this isn't heaven, this sucks!

  5. #4
    breath westofyou's Avatar
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    What would it cost to have someone host the box at their home off a DSL or T1 line?

    Or is that just out of the question?

  6. #5
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    Well, one thought is this. I don't know what the usage patterns are but I would guess the normal times that we hit major traffic is when a trade or some other big news happens. So, in cases where there is a big trade, why not direct everyone to chat for a couple of hours or so to talk about the deal. Then, after the fervor dies down, the board opens back up.

    Is our problem the spikes or are we constantly too big all the time?

  7. #6
    Member 15fan's Avatar
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    Boss -

    Here's my suggestion:

    At the top of the page, put how much money Redszone.com has.

    Next, put the amount of money that Redszone.com will spend on bills for the current month.

    Third, put a link to an address where individuals can send money to cover said expenses.

    Update as necessary throughout the year.

    IMO, I say we try and go with a dedicated server. If, after a month or two, you & GIK find that financially we can't support it, we can always scale things back to fit on a shared server budget.

    Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

    What's that princeton line?

    Dare to be great.

    And I'll put my money where my mouth is: gimme an address and I'll kick in $50 for the cause.

  8. #7
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    How about making it a partial Pay site

    We have 1172 members of those, looks like about 200 or so have posted more than 200 messages. What if it was free to browse and read the board, but you had to pay to post.

    Looks like the hosting will be about $2000 for the year. If 200 people were expected to register to post, you could charge $10 for a year's membership and that should cover the cost.

  9. #8
    Administrator GIK's Avatar
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    Originally posted by westofyou
    What would it cost to have someone host the box at their home off a DSL or T1 line?

    Or is that just out of the question?
    I've thought of this woy and mentioned it to Boss, but we both agree neither of us have the experience to handle it. I have cable and was thinking about it earlier, but I'm not sure the hardware could even handle such a load.

    We really need some ideas, everyone. $80+/mo is a drastic jump (400%).

  10. #9
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    I like 15fan's idea. This board has risen to the occasion before and I'm sure it can again. With so many more members, that should only enhance the donations. I know I haven't been able to donate before, but I'm out of school now and could contribute $$$.

  11. #10
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    Ok, this might sound really dumb, but have you thought about maybe going and seeing if the Reds might be willing to sponsor the site? I mean, they are what the site is all about and $80/month would be nothing to them. Also have you checked out the cusa-talk website? Maybe you could talk to the people that run that site and see what they do. They have over 1400 members. Just a suggestion.

  12. #11
    CELEBRATION TIME RBA's Avatar
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    As far as the Reds sponsoring the site, that's probably not going to happen since MLB wants all the clubs using MLB.com for all their clubs forums.

    But maybe you are on the right track. Nothing wrong with WLW sponsoring it or maybe FoxSportsCN/Ohio.


    The other suggestion to make first time members pay to post, I don't like that idea. When I go to other fan sites like that, I just avoid it. I wouldn't like to chase people away.

    When all else fails, ask Junior. He can afford it.

  13. #12
    Tyler11
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    If anyone HAD to pay for "membership"...i'd say it should be those like myself who constantly read the board but seldomly contribute anything of value. Forcing those who actually make this site worth visiting everyday to be the ones to pay would be unjust. The people with all the posts are the reason the rest of us are here. We should be paying to read. This site is hundreds of times more informative/entertaining/valuable than even the best newspaper/website/magazine. Worth every penny of a $50 a year membership fee (good luck convincing my wife though) if any such fee were to be necessary. Just my opinion.

  14. #13
    Member CougarQuest's Avatar
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    Lordy Tyler, you should post more. Well thought out analysis.

    I wonder what the splits are in here, people who just read versus those who usually posts.

    I think it is time to search for sponsors. Perhaps with the new Florence professional team, they would be interested in throwing in a few bucks. What about the new high A Reds minor league affiliate? How about all the minor league teams? I bet we get more hits than their sites, and perhaps this can attract more people to their sites.

    I'm not ready to let all this hard work and fun die.
    Artificial intelligence is no match for natural stupidity.

  15. #14
    Member Spring~Fields's Avatar
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    Have you considered something along the lines of a gift shop that pays Redzone 20% of the gross retail sales that are generated from Redzone members? A site where GIK and Boss could verify sales through a simple administrative log-in.

    Instead of donations the members would receive a product of their choice and Redzone would receive 20% of that sale. A site that doesn’t call for a lot of banners or advertising on Redzone, just enough to inform its members. The gift shop in turning over the 20% to Redzone could call it advertising fees to reduce its tax burden naturally. www.applications-gifts-around-the-clock.com for example.

  16. #15
    Maple SERP savafan's Avatar
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    2 thoughts...

    One, what about having a charity auction to raise funds? I'm sure among everyone here that we could scrape some things together that could be auctioned off.

    Two, there is a huge following for the Dayton Dragons. However, there isn't a Dayton Dragons Baseball Forum anywhere on the net (not counting the difficult to figure out forums on activedayton.com). Perhaps if we added a special forum here specifically for the Dragons, they would be willing to sponsor the site and put a link here on their webpage.

    The other minor league teams may be willing to do that also.
    My dad got to enjoy 3 Reds World Championships by the time he was my age. So far, I've only gotten to enjoy one. Step it up Redlegs!


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