Since starting Masto.host, I have installed over 2700 Mastodon instances. Some of those have migrated to self-hosting but a large number cancelled their service and currently I host over 800. Still, this is much more than I expected from a side project and it lead me to a place where I have to figure out the math of how much time is financially viable and responsible to invest in Masto.host. Doing some basic calculations, I come to the conclusion that I would need the return from the project to at least double to pay for the amount of time I spend on it and other expenses needed to improve the service.
The obvious way to achieve that is to grow the number of subscribers but that makes me uneasy as I don’t want to be in a position where I host a large percentage of the Mastodon network nor do I think I should focus on that.
Masto.host’s goal was always to help Mastodon grow and it was never intended as a profit-centered project. On Masto.host, it’s just me. There are no investors, shareholders, and other stakeholders to present financial reports to. I want that to continue and also want Masto.host to continue to be what, hopefully, is a positive force helping the community thrive.
I never invested any significant amount of money on Masto.host. But if I were to account for all the hours I have poured onto the project (help, migrations, support, set up, uninstall, upgrade, maintenance, development, etc.) this project would still be net negative. I really don’t mind that, in fact, many parts were due to my lack of knowledge in some areas where I had to learn and experiment but, it is time to cast a future outlook and turn this into a viable project for me to continue on.
Let’s assume the growth remains steady than Masto.host is still at least 2 years away from fully paying my time and the other required resources for the service as I envision. Some parts of this vision will only be possible if/when there is a larger income but I will be doing my best to speed up the implementation of some features, namely the web interface for subscriptions, installations, and cancellations, among others, and the backup access – already in a closed beta testing stage.
In order to keep myself focused on the greater good, I have decided to make a commitment that until the full Mastodon network is at 6000 instances, I will close new sign ups if/when I am hosting 1500 instances. If/when Mastodon reaches 6000 instances, I will close new sign ups if I ever reach 25% of the number of active instances.
If you have any thoughts or questions please let me know. Thank you.