2020 Fund drive

2020 brings some ambitious new plans for tech-artists.org.

  • We’re aiming to get IRS recognition as a tax-exempt organization, which will help us get access to special non-profit discounts on things like web hosting and software
  • We’re looking into the possibility of self-hosting our chat service so all of our messages don’t vanish into the ether after a couple of weeks

And, of course, there’s our traditional strengths – hosting this site, managing our slack channel amd hosting our swanky GDC party.

All of this, alas, takes more than just mad MaxScript skillz – it also involves real money. So, please consider dropping some money into the Tech Art Tipjar. All proceeds go towards helping support the community.

Thanks for you support, and have a great 2020!

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What on earth do you need IRS recognition for? Or even a dedicated company? :open_mouth:

I’ve been hosting a Discourse forum (the same software as this) for years at 5$/month, which is far less than what you presumably spend on even establishing and running a company, not to mention the time spent even considering taxes, non-profit status and other nonsense.

That hosting includes a complete machine, with the forum running in one of many Docker containers that could easily run additional software like chat and what not at no added cost.

Rather than donating money, I would be happy to donate knowledge on how to run this entire thing for next to no money at all, no company or legal entity required.

Don’t mean to sound harsh, but if you want my money you’ll also need a good reason, and outline where your current cashflow is at, where it is going, to whom and for what.

Let me know if I can help, welcome to continue chatting here or in private.

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We did the incorporation – which costs considerably more than $5 a month-- because that’s the only sensible way to ensure this outlives any individual contributor. The company owns the domains, the bank accounts that pay for hosting, etc. Tying it to any individual’s personal fortunes means it only takes a bit of bad luck for the whole thing to disappear. Making it a legal entity ensures that it doesn’t disappear if some individual drops out, and that the rules for how it survives over time are clear.

Moreover the GDPR makes website hosts potentially liable for multi-million-euro fines regardless of whether they are hosted in Europe or not, and incorporation provides legal protection for community volunteers who otherwise would be personally liable if something goes wrong. Yes – its very unlikely that we’d run into trouble but it’s definitely not a zero-percent chance, and therefore it’s foolhardy to continue to operate on an adhoc basis.

When our community work involves dealing with company sponsors – for example, the annual GDC party – legal incorporation is usually an upfront requirement. Microsoft or Epic won’t just write a check to some guy who says he’ll be doing something useful with it. In most cases they aren’t legally allowed to even if you can make the pitch.

We didn’t do 501c3 last year it cost more money than we had on hand. However having 501c3 status makes us eligible for more sponsorship and membership in groups that offer discounted or free services to nonprofits. We probably still cant’ afford a paid Slack (it’s per-user-per-month) but 501c3’s get an 85% discount on paid Slack accounts . Services like https://www.techsoup.org/ provide things like free software and reduced-cost services to registered nonprofits – but you have to provide the legal documentation, you can’t just show up and ask.

As for our hosting we run a $20/mo vm on a cloud service; we could probably take it down to a $15/mo but we need a fairly sizable instance to host our archives… We’re currently running an experimental zulip server on a separate instance – if that becomes a thing its probably going to need a $10/mo instance of its own; again its not CPU bound but the whole point of self-hosting chat, if we end up doing it , is to hang on to the archives.; our free slack has already generated 6 gb of data in about 3 years and that doesn’t account for the fact that we wrote a bot to clear out old file references.

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Done as usual. Thanks for the hard work all of you put into TAO. It’s very appreciated!

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So what’s that?

  1. $240/year for forum
  2. $120/year for chat
  3. “Considerably more”, $1000+/year? for a non-profit
  4. Another undisclosed amount for IRS recognition
  5. For discounts?

For people wanting this site to stay up, you are making is quite expensive for us to do so.

How about just letting us chip in for the most cost-effective alternative? I’m offering to help combine (1) and (2) and alleviate the need for (3) and (4) into a total of $60/year, and I could help you setup automated backups into a public space, such that people can donate their disk space (e.g. I’ve got half a terabyte of space on my Dropbox). And heck, when you do need a legal entity, setting one up here in the UK takes about 20 minutes at a one-off £15, followed by paperwork.

In return for having enjoyed TA throughout the years, I’d be happy for this to be my gift to you.

  • The legal incorporation expense run around $200/year – there’s really no alternative to that because every state in the US requires something similar to maintain you corporate status – and we can’t just run this on somebody’s personal account and credit cards for many reasons. It’s in the US right now because the site started here and all of the people who volunteered to work on the project when it started up are here; our bank account and all of our other info are already here. We did some state-shopping to see if there were cheaper states – there are – but the cost difference disappears once you add in the out-of-state registered agent fees so it works out as a wash.

  • The most we could realistically save on hosting is $120 a year by dropping from our current size / cpu to one about half as good. However we cant’ drop too far (we’re already using the recommended minspec for a discourse install (2 gigs of ram) with a shared CPU – the next level down that satisfies the minspec would lose us 10 gigs of storage (that size virtual machine only showed up in DigitalOcean this year, I think, at the time this was set up the lowest machines were all below the recommended discourse minspec)

  • Self-hosted chat’s an experiment, a lot of people have asked for it because the Slack channel generates so much more traffic than the website but that information is not stored in any way. The goal of the experiment is to determine if the costs and benefits balance out.

  • 501c3 is a one-time operation for roughly $1000 in fees. However if we don’t do it within 36 months of incorporation it’s vastly more expensive. Doing it makes us eligible for a variety of things – for example,I’ve been approached about partnering with an outfit that does education for at-risk kids who want to learn game skills. Generally the kind of people who fund things like that can only deal with tax-exempt entities. It’s not at all required for doing the website (and it does not really make a difference to members, who contribute a few dollars a year. But it does open up a much wider range of possible partnerships – if we wanted to get corporate sponsorships for regional meetups for example. The GDC party works under our current structure because most companies who help with the costs treat that as a marketing expense – but that only works for that venue (and maybe for SIGGRAPH or Eurographics, which would both be good next steps). There’s a chance I’ll be able to talk some lawyer into getting us to squeak in on a cheaper form filing – but to be safe we’d have to raise about $800 once.

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