"The SDMB is run at a loss"

In this thread the point is raised that the mods are, shall we say, “cautious” about the content that’s posted here because “The SDMB is run by the Chicago Reader at a loss, and they simply cannot afford to get involved in any lawsuits.” So how much does it actually cost the Reader to operate this site?

Note I am not looking to start a fight about SDMB policies or plumb the depths of the question as to whether the above truism is the actual motivating factor behind any moderator decision. Nor will I address the appallingly dipshit statement “Rules are rules are rules. If you don’t agree with them, move on.” I’m interested only in dollars and cents here. I posted this in the Pit only because the finances struck me as being “discussion of SDMB administration.”

Given the hosting requirements of a site with a membership and usage as large as the SDMB has, including storage, bandwidth, maintenance by the programmers the costs could easily run into the thousands of dollars per year. They don’t have to run this message board, but they do so as a coutesy to us, the Teeming Millions[sup[TM[/sub]. They have rules, and if members start flouting them and give the mods grief for every decision they make regarding those rules, the Reader could very easily pull this site. I’m certain a copyright lawsuit would force them to do just that. I don’t want that, do you?


Just ask yourself the following two questions:

  1. Does the equipment that the site runs on come for free? The maintence on that equipment? Does Jerry (the tech guy) work for free? Does the bandwidth that the site runs on come for free?

  2. Do you, or anyone else here pay to post? Do you see any advertisements? Are there any other sources of income for these forums?

Zev Steinhardt

Did you guys read the OP? He’s just asking what the dollar amount is.

Messageboards are expensive to run. Mine’s nowhere near the caliber of the SDMB, and it costs about $1200 per year.

For comparison’s sake: My site usually has between 20-40 people browsing around, and between 1500-2000 posts per day. The SDMB probably does 10 times the business (just a guess though).

I did mention a cost guesstimate. I just threw in some additional info at no cost.

Any time I’m in America I’m going to buy a copy of Chicago Reader, just on principle and as a thank you.

Hell, I may even buy two.

Yeah, info the OP specifically requested people not go into.

Otto, I’d ask this in ATMB.

I’m struck by the irony of your username with respect to that post.


Hey Revtim, you got that in quick! I was referring to Futile Gesture, of course.

Good luck. The Reader is a free newspaper. :slight_smile:

As for the dollar estimate, I honestly don’t know precisely. But given the (correct) factors zev mentions, I’d say $10,000 a year is being conservative.

Maybe he’ll get 3 then! :stuck_out_tongue:

You can, however, get a subscription for the UK, if you want to see Unca Cece in his native paper. :slight_smile:

The board also serves as advertising for the Chicago Reader, I suppose. I have no idea if the cost is worth the ad benefit, though.

I had no idea the Chicago Reader had anything to do with this board until I read this thread. I figured it was run with proceeds from book sales and other items from ‘the Straight Dope Store’ So it doesn’t seem to be too effective on the advertising front.

As far as corporate accounting goes, the cost of this board is much higher than you would think.

I maintain a corporate intranet as one of my duties. So I’m somewhat familiar with the cost accounting behind something like this. Most hobbyists severely underestimate how much it costs, because they donate so much of the infrastructure, and/or use low-cost alternatives.

Now, I don’t really know how much bandwidth this place requires, or what kind of hardware it requires. And, I don’t know if it’s privately hosted, or hosted with an ISP. Let me make a guesstimate, though:

Internet connection - $5,000 per year.
Server class computer - $5,000 per year (depreciated on 3-yr schedule).
Backup hardware/tapes: $1000/yr
Labor (assuming an employee spends maybe 1/4 of his/her time on the board): $10,000/yr.
Software purchase/upgrades: $500/yr.
Administration overhead: $1000/yr (accounting, payroll for employee, paying bills to ISP, etc)

Total: $22,500/yr

Now, that number could be off by a huge amount, depending on a number of factors. The board could be hosted in-house using spare capacity on a current server. The bandwidth could be part of an under-utilized T1 line. The employee might donate time after hours. On the other hand, maybe a board this size requires a dedicated T1, two or three servers, and a half-time employee to maintain it.

On the other hand, if you were to cost out the time spent by the volunteers in keeping the place running smoothly, the cost would skyrocket. From the standpoint of the users who want to bitch about the board, all that volunteer time should be considered as a cost.

How do we make money? VOLUME!

Guys, you’re forgetting the main expense of running this board – hamster chow.

It is kinda like the Chicago Reader execs are like the Underpant Gnomes from South Park.

  1. Steal underpants (or set up SDMB)
  2. ?
  3. Profit!

Hey, they made like $12 when i bought my shirt, so they only lost $22.488 this year…