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Re: Tor Exit Node hosting: torservers.net

Thus spake Moritz Bartl (tor@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx):

> I set up a preliminary homepage at http://www.torservers.net/
> For the original discussion ("Tor Exit Node Sponsorship, looking for 
> partners") see http://archives.seul.org/or/talk/May-2010/msg00058.html
> Basically it comes down to: I want to run another high bandwidth Tor 
> exit and I am looking for individuals or companies to help sponsor it.
> To keep the noise down on OR-Talk/Tor-Relays, I have also created a 
> mailing list for "hosted tor exit" discussion. If you want to stay 
> informed, feel free to subscribe at http://www.freelists.org/list/torservers
> I am grateful for help, suggestions and other comments.

Hi Moritz,

I for one thing this is a great idea. I also welcome and encourage
others to step up and try to start similar projects, once we have a
good pattern down for a model that seems to work.

However, a common problem with donation-run projects like this (and
non-profits in general) is that everyone expects that the project will
succeed because someone else will jump in before them and fund it/save
it. Economists often call this the free-rider problem, but I think it
is more closely related to "Diffusion of Responsibility":

Because of these fundamental aspects of human nature, I think it is
very important to set goals such as: "We will not start or maintain
this project at the target level until/unless we have X months of
future funding", where X is around 3 months initially, and ideally
6-12 months or more long term. 

I think its also very important for people to see what their level of
dollar contribution gets them in terms of a percentage slice of exit
bandwidth for the Tor network. At the volumes you will likely be
purchasing bandwidth at, this is likely to be a very very compelling

This financial data should be very public on your website. If the
account balance ever drops below the level that can support roughly
this many months of service, you should renegotiate your contract with
your ISP to a level of service that you can support, and begin
clamoring for more funding.

Without this level of public accounting and public announcement of
financial requirements, I imagine most people are just going to look
at your site and assume "Well, that's nice. Best of luck, hope it works
out for you!" and move on. I know, because that thought has been in
the back of my mind (although I already spend quite a bit of my
paycheck to support Tor-related infrastructure, so perhaps I
am justified :).

If instead it's clear to people that if they just donate that $10,
$50, or $200, that it will make a significant impact to your service
staying online for X amount of time with Y amount of additional
capacity, they are way more likely to step forward.

For what it's worth, the optimal one-time donation amount to
request for addons.mozilla.org addons has been statistically
determined to be $10. I'm not sure if the same
psychological/political/financial dynamics will apply here, though.
Your optimal requested donation amount may be higher or lower,
depending upon the impact people believe they will have with that
money, and any additional economies of scale you can present to them
for donating more/reaching a higher level of total funding.

Mike Perry
Mad Computer Scientist
fscked.org evil labs

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