2022 Year-End Update

2022 is coming to an end, so let’s reflect on it from an SFBA perspective. Most of you probably don’t know that our sfba.social instance was created in December 2019. However, what we experienced in 2022 can only be described as “phenomenal”, “astounding”, “assuring”, “inspiring”, or simply “AWESOME”.

We grew from roughly 1500 friends at the beginning of 2022 to more than 36 THOUSAND friends of the San Francisco Bay Area.

At the beginning of the year, @seb was running the instance on his own and was soon joined by @cd24, who matured moderation, server rules, and Code of Conduct. During the high growth phase in October, @moritz joined the SFBA Team as our resident SRE (technical expert for scaling and availability). When the number of users really started growing in Nov/Dec, @ingurido and @jeffkibuule came on to help with moderation. All members of the team are volunteers and receive no monetary compensation.

Hosting the instance for many thousands of active users soon became expensive – @seb was paying for the hosting costs with his own money since its birth (at roughly $35/month), but now the hosting costs easily surpass the $1000/month mark. So we started taking donations to finance these expenses.

At first we used a service called Ko-Fi, which was still connected to @seb’s personal bank account. Not a good solution long-term and also not capable of accepting tax-deductable donations! So we applied and then joined the OpenCollective, which provides the benefits of a non-profit organization without the administrative overhead. It decouples the finances of the project from any one person of the team, which provides longevity to the project overall.

We have figured out how to run a Mastodon instance with a monthly cost per user of less than $0.04, which allows for financing through donations. We figured out how to scale the infrastructure to be able to withstand large influx of users due to turbulences on “social media” (we consider SFBA to be a social network but not a social media). And we learned that running a Mastodon instance as a team is a never-ending source of fun!

For 2023 we look forward to even more growth in terms of friends on the SFBA instance. We also see new exciting collaborations with other public service groups in the Bay Area. Most importantly though, we are looking forward to seeing more Mastodon instances being created and growing within the Bay Area and neighboring areas, like https://montereybay.social, and increased collaboration with worldwide regional instances.

We have learned soo much as a team and most importantly as a community. We figured out how to create a safe and welcoming town square online, without having to succumb to the pressures of the market.