Ramping up the Co-op in Hippie Hosting Co-op

The Hippie Hosting Co-op was started by the idea of friends and colleagues pitching in to share resources to run a server together. It kind of took off from there. In the months since the launch, it’s grown to over 80 members1, most of whom were attracted by the idea2. And it’s continued to grow.

But, we’re reaching a point where we need to make some decisions as a co-op. For this to work, it has to be more than just a discount web hosting provider3. We need to be in this together. For the server to handle the number of users it has now, the costs to the co-op are $186/month45 . We’ve been lucky enough to have a bucket of cash to kick things off, but we’re going to burn through what’s left of that in a couple of months.

The system administration and design work has all been done by the awesome Tim Owens. I’ve tried to pitch in where I can, but it’s easily been 99% Tim (including the actual setup, management of the Plesk interface, and configuration of the server itself). That’s not going to be sustainable. Tim has a job, a life, etc… and tweaking the co-op server is placing a growing demand on him.

We just had a kind of major server outage, caused by some server upgrades that went kerblooey. Luckily, Tim was able to fit some debugging and recovery into his day job, but he also volunteered many hours, working into the wee hours of the night to get the co-op back online. We need more people who can help shoulder the load. I’m just a google jockey, so wasn’t much use in this case.

So, what can we do as members of the HHC? Well, I’m glad you asked. There’s 2 main ways:

  1. Fat stacks of Benjamins, yo. The co-op needs cash to stay afloat. The $1/month plans are great, but we need to figure out a more sustainable financial model. What should that be? I don’t know. Annual telethons? Kickstarter campaigns? Bake sales? Higher membership fees? Something else? Some combination of models? Not all members use the same level of resources – there are a few (myself included) who use significantly more resources (bandwidth and disk space) than the typical “let’s set up a new site to see what this is about” type of member.

  2. Hippies pitching in. Barns need raising. Hamsters need feeding. There’s stuff that needs to get done if the co-op is going to stay on the air. You have some skills. We need them. Not sure what skills, or how they’re needed yet, but we’ll all need to pitch in. Maybe you can write documentation. Maybe you can mess around with MySQL and server packages. Maybe you have some other awesomeness. Cool. Roll up your sleeves and dig in.

The goal of the HHC is to provide a place for people to come together to work on stuff – to build their online spaces in a community. We can’t just be a discount webserver provider – there’s more to the co-op idea than just a server. It’s about the members, working together.

Have an idea for how to make the co-op more sustainable? Let the hippies know.



p style=”text-align: center;”>everybody on the bus!

  1. that’s a pretty big co-op! []
  2. and, really, we’ve never heard of many of the members, so the co-op feel needs some cultivation []
  3. there are lots of those around, although our insanely cheap minimum membership fees make the HHC pretty attractive []
  4. that gets us a MediaTemple dv virtual server, with 2GB of RAM, 100GB of disk space, and 2TB of bandwidth per month. we’re not hitting the limits on those, but need to have room to grow as the hippies start using their websites more []
  5. we started with a much cheaper dv server option, but that was quickly outgrown by the number of members that joined so quickly at the beginning []