PLEA TO ALL  MEMBERS (You can access chat after this article)

Some of you may have been a bit confused by the Stream post I put up a day or two ago, so I thought I would reach out to everyone (guests and members) in more detail by writing a short blog, and explaining why I am feeling rather fed up with running this site.


I need to make it clear that I don't actually want to either close (or more likely, sell) the website. But, I (and of course Red!) do need some more moral support and understanding, especially from our regulars. 

In 2016, I decided to set up Chatterbox UK. It took loads of trial and error. I rented a server (just one initially) and literally stayed up all night trying to install and configure an IRC network. I then had to try and make a web-based chat interface work with the IRC server. It took weeks / months. I was tweaking / developing, and Red was testing for me. All hours of the night. 

Chatterbox UK was only ever meant to be a haven for 20 or so old users of UK Chatters. We never thought or planned for it to grow. I remember how overjoyed we were that we had 25, and then 50 sign-ups. We now have 15,983 members. There have been a total of 32,820 posts on the stream, and 260,138 photos. This September, we will have been going for seven years!

The site today is a huge success. In the last 24 hours, we have had a total of 4,230 unique visits to the website. In the last 30 days, we have had 56,480 unique indivuduals find us. We always rank in the "Top three" in Google - Interationally - for "UK Chat Rooms". In the last 28 days, we have had 29,612 clicks as a direct result of google searches. 

So, perhaps you can see why we are not worried about bitchy little cliques running off to create little discord groups (LOL). They'll never compete. And frankly, we'd rather they sod off anyway because we don't want such childfuckery taking place here.

We are of course, ecstatic by how sucesful the website is, and the numbers we achieve. 

But, with that, comes challenges and problems. We are, and have continually been, outgrowing the infrastructure behind the website. As the site grows, so does the amount of resources we need. In 2017, the site was ran on one virtual server, which cost £30 a month plus VAT (£360 a year). Add the web domain, and the annual subscription for our Social Media Software, and other software we need, the annual cost of running this site in 2017 was £600 per year / £50 a month.

I was more than happy to just pay this myself, for the sense of reward it gave me. We started using Cloudflare, a CDN, to manage and protect our network traffic, after either a competitor, or a sad individual continually tried to launch Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks at the site. Initially, we were able to use the "free" Cloudflare plan. 

Unfortunately, the free plan did not suit our needs for very long. Because of such persistent trolls, we needed to be able to implement different levels of controls (access) for guests, and members. This required different domains (which come at a cost), and more advanced features from Cloudflare, which, won't surprise you to hear, also comes at a considerable cost (via subscription). The small business subscription starts at 200 US Dollars per month, which unfortunately is required when more than three page rules are needed (as they are in our case).

We now also rent five servers (which we need) - one to run the chatter IRCD, one web server to host sharepoint, one for guest chat, one for member chat - and one for staff / volunteers to access securely using mIRC. so the initial £30 a month, is now £150 a month (plus VAT).

You'll see earlier I mentioned how many images have been posted. Because there are so many, we cannot host the media for this ourselves. We actually use Amazon AWS / S3 for our image hosting. You guessed it - this also comes at a cost.

Shortly after the website launched, the GDPR came into play. Because we are a "data controller"... we have to comply with this. We have many obligations when it comes to allowing users to control the storage of their data. We take this very seriously, and as such run modules that make sure we always comply with the law. Of course, these come at a cost.

Then of course, there is staff time. We are not "paid", but need electricity to run our devices 24/7. We devote hours and hours of our time here. Red is more visible than me, but I work more in the background than you'd ever imagine.

The running costs for this website are into the hundreds per month, because we run it in such a professional, legally compliant manner. After the taxman of course has his share, the revenue from the ads shown on this website, cover around half of the costs. So, I am still having to find in the region of £200 to £300 a month out of my own pocket, to keep it going in the way we would like. 

That's without any of the time invested. You'll be amazed to know that we get several predators, seeking kids, join the site EACH DAY and the effort in rooting them out is immense. I am liaising with law enforcement or child protection departments on a weekly basis and passing information / intelligence, because that's part of being a responsible site owner.

From you, the chatters, I ask two things. 

Firstly, and most importantly, PLEASE play your part in reducing drama. Please do not antagnoise trolls. Don't give them the time of day. Encourage your friends online to do the same thing. No insults, no antagonising. Please. It goes a LONG way and makes our lives / jobs SO much easier.

Secondly,  whilst this site will always be free, if you are a regular, and get a lot from this site - Please consider making a small monthly, or one off donation. This can be small, and is totally optional, but if even a handful of our key regulars did this, it would make things SO much more bearable towards keeping the site online. Remember, if you use the donate link, we don't see your personal or financial details.

Ultimately, this is your website more than it is ours, and it's up to you whether or not you fight for it.

Thanks for taking the time to read, with your help, chat can be a better place.

Kind regards,

Access chat: