StP has always been completely ad-free; and as long as I still have a say in it, it's always going to remain that way. Ads are annoying as fuck, and I don't ever want to see them here. So, I have happily paid the costs of running StP out of my own pocket for most of it's existence. I have no regrets about that whatsoever. The community around StP has paid me back tenfold in the friends I've made, the experiences I've had because of it, and the opportunities it's opened to me.
The base operating costs of StP are somewhere around $50/mo. It's hard to quote exact costs without spending several hours going through bank statements over the past year, and that's just not my idea of fun. So let's just say that I know for sure the cost to run our web server is about $25/mo, and the other $25 I usually put towards paying for additional 'addons' (smaller pieces of software that add extra functionality, like the gallery, atlas, library, etc). StP is currently using 63 addons, some of which are free, but many of which are paid for. Short version is that the website would be a much more boring place without these addons that provide these extra features.
Many of these addons need to have their 'licenses' renewed every year if we want to keep getting updates and support. These updates are pretty crucial to making sure everything continues working correctly and making sure the website doesn't get hacked or something equally terrible. I couldn't tell you exactly how much these licenses are currently costing me, as they're spread out all over the year (i.e. they don't all renew at the same time each year). I would put the ballpark cost at around $500 a year.
So, taking server costs at $25/mo x 12 = $300 + software fees at $500, that totals about $800/year. Give or take.
So there's a little bit that comes out of my own pocket, and that's fine. I have no problem doing that. But... actually running StP is a part time job (20+ hours a week) at a minimum, so everything doesn't go down the shitter and this place ends up looking like 4chan. I am extremely grateful to the @Staff that volunteers their time to help in that task, without them I would probably be a fucking vegetable in a psych ward somewhere after collapsing under the work load.
Anyways, I'm also getting old. This year I'll be turning the big 40, and after doing StP for nigh on two decades, I'm not longer afraid to admit, I'm a little tired. Tired of putting together everything from server level nginx configs to amazon AWS email forwarding to tweaking CSS so images appear properly... etc etc. There's just so much going on behind the scenes here that it makes it very, very difficult for one person to accomplish and stay on top of.
Combine that with the fact that I (occasionally) need to hold a job and pay bills, feed myself, etc... and that my gainful employment is usually computer related, that equals a LOT of time in front of the computer that I would frankly rather be traveling or hanging out with my friends, or just doing something that isn't staring at a screen. I mean, really, we're talking about 60-70 hours a week when you combine the 'job' of running StP with having a 'real' job that keeps me fed.
So, that's where you and your donations come in. Helping me cover the bills to run StP is a wonderful start, and I am extremely grateful for the support! The first $50 goes towards paying those bills. Everything after that goes towards helping me spend that much less time working for someone else and instead spending that time working on StP to make it bigger and better for anyone using it. More money for the burrito fund means less time working for the man!
I don't have a credit card and/or a PayPal account!
I know, I know, there's not much point in having those if you're living under a bridge (or similar financial situation). Please take care of yourself and make sure you're in a good place then consider helping us out!
For those of you still interested in supporting StP, but without conventional means of payment, I'm completely open to barter, mailed physical cash, you buying a prepaid card and sending me the number, etc... I'll work with you.
Even if you don't have shit and just need an account upgrade for some reason, send me an email explaining why you need it, and you never know... you might be surprised what happens.