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Re: Time Warner bad / VPS recommendations

On Fri, 2009-02-06 at 00:29 +0100, Mitar wrote:
> Hi!
> On Thu, Feb 5, 2009 at 11:19 PM, Ted Smith <teddks@xxxxxxxxx> wrote:
> > TorProject has a paypal donations account that people (like those people
> > who cannot run a node, but wish to contribute) can send donations to.
> > Those donations, in turn, are requested by node operators who run
> > high-bandwidth, permissive-exit-policy (I'd think no more restrictive
> > than the default) nodes at cost to themselves. Additionally, TorProject
> > could host a list of node operators that either don't qualify for the
> > above request process or need more than it can offer to allow users to
> > donate directly to node operators.
> I do not see a reason why we would introduce middle-men. This could
> also have a potential of changing a focus from building an open and
> free network not operated by any entity to a focus on collecting
> donations. Donations should just be a mean not a goal and adding an
> organizational/administrative burden tends to induct the later.
I never said anything about middle-man nodes, and I don't think a "Want
to help Tor, but don't have a spare box/bandwidth? Donate!" changes the
focus of the network. It's a button and MAYBE a page, not the end of the

> > Another possibility (albeit much more extreme) is to allow a "donation
> > link" metadata item for Tor nodes. This removes any dependency on the
> > Tor Project handling funds.
> This could be a good idea. Adding a possibility of putting a
> "donation" buttons on a main Tor project page so that visitors could
> decide to which node they would like to donate (and to scatter those
> donations between nodes). (Maybe add some statistics and such.)
That is what I was talking about above. What I was talking about here
was a "Donations" field in the metadata, much like we have operator's
email addresses (at their option). This would let people see which nodes
they're hitting up in Vidalia and send them some tokens of appreciation.

> But I would like to see those donations only like some kind of an
> award/bonus for running a node. I do not really see it as a reason for
> running a node. Nor that they would suffice for covering the costs.
> Nodes should not be dependent on donations.
Why not? Certainly not all nodes will be dependent on donations, because
the current infrastructure has nothing supporting them. If a new system
introduces new nodes that are dependent on user support, that still
equates to new nodes.

> > Even if the funds are somewhat diminutive, I think this would provide a
> > bit of incentive to start running a node and to keep running a node in
> > the face of censorship.
> I doubt so. I do not see how this would influence your ISP which are
> the most often the reason why people (have to) shut them down. And
> also in most cases running a Tor node does not increase bandwidth
> expenses as people are running them on their "free" (unused)
> bandwidth.
Yes, people have free bandwidth which they can run Tor on. However, they
then have to deal with the _possibility_ of ISP/university/mom
complaints, and that acts as a deterrent. If a student was able to make
any money from free bandwidth, that would be a good incentive to start a
Tor node. If a website oper was able to make some money from free
bandwidth, that would be a good incentive to run a Tor node. If the
operator of the node gets lazy/compromised, the donations stop coming

Nobody would be able to buy off an ISP, but the issue typically isn't
that. It's that people aren't willing to even risk getting into the
water to start with. 

> I was not so much thinking about donations from "random" people. Those
> are/would be nice. But I see there a possibility of people which would
> like to run a node to get together and cooperate. So those people
> directly, without middle-men, without dependency on "random"
> donations. Like: I can donate 5 EUR/month for a Tor node. But this is
> not enough. So who else would like to join? And if there would be 20
> people who would agree on such commitment then we/they would be able
> to rise a node together. But they would work together directly and
> they would be those who would donate.
That creates a middle-man, and also creates a centralized weak point in
the donations system. That scenario could certainly come into play (a
lot of people donate to a certain node because that's the one with
advertising, and that node stays up via donations), but a more
decentralized system allows anyone in any country running a Tor node to
receive some support for it.
> So maybe we could make a wiki page or something where people would
> ensign for such a cooperation. And when there would be enough people
> they could work out the details (where, which ISP, which hardware...)
> and put a new node online.
Why put one node online when you could put hundreds online, by creating
enough incentive to balance the potential risk of ISP complaints?

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