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Erowid Announcement #19
January 4, 2001
Hey Everyone,

Happy New Year everyone. The format for this announcement is a bit different than usual as it's Erowid's year end report for 2000. We just wanted to let you all know where we're at and how it's been going. There's very little information about current projects in this letter, but rather a summary of some of the internal issues involved in running Erowid. We're hoping to send out a regular announcement in the next week talking about what's been added in the last two months.

We welcome submissions, suggestions, criticisms, or corrections at submissions@erowid.org.

peace,
fire & earth


INDEX

  • Donations & Funding
    2001 represented our first year of actually trying to run Erowid full-time, supported fully through donations and memberships. We started taking credit card donations in mid March through BigStep.com and the donations have increased in bumps and bursts ever since. We raised $5,000 in the first half of 2000 and $15,000 in the second half. In addition we received a grant for $18,000 and a small amount through referral programs with Amazon.com and other similar vendors.

    In total, we took in about $31,000 after out of pocket expenses. While this isn't enough to support two people living near San Francisco, our personal credit cards came to the rescue and we were able to make it through the end of the year. We're hoping that in the coming year we can increase the number of recurring monthly donations we receive in order to reduce our financial worries on a month-to-month basis. We continue to need everyone's support as we enter 2001.
    [Erowid.org/donations/donations.shtml]


  • Traffic & Visitors
    Erowid nearly doubled in size over the past year. We began Jan, 2000 with about 4,700 total pages and have ended with over 8,800 and we now have over 6,700 people on this announcement list.

    We started this year receiving about 95,000 page views per day and ended at about 160,000 per day. And for those web geeks out there, we do 350-600,000 file hits a day with 3.5-6 gig of daily data transfer. The total number of unique visitors per day now averages 14,000, each visiting around 13 pages. From what we understand 13 pages apiece is a very high average for any website and we're glad people are finding the site useful and interesting enough to stick around and read. We have calculated that Erowid saw over 2 million individual visitors in the year 2000.
    [Erowid.org/general/stats/stats.shtml]


  • Volunteers
    In 2000 we also were very happy to add some new volunteers to the Erowid crew. CB became the new director of the Erowid Art Vaults which has begun to take shape. We will be announcing the opening of the new Art Vaults sometime in the next couple months. Many thanks to Flotsam, Erica, Slee and others for working with us to help bring down the piles of submitted Experience reports, and to Psilo for helping answer Ask Erowid questions. The new front page of the site was designed by Paul who leaped out of the woodwork and asked if we'd like it done. It looks great and took very little work on my part, which is a great combination. Thanks to Murple for his great work on the 2C-T-7 and 2C-T-2 surveys and his proofreading of everything we do. :)

    Lastly, thanks to everyone who submitted experiences, photos, or corrections, filled out surveys, or just sent us messages letting us know what they think. It all helps.


  • Staff
    One of the challenges we face as Erowid grows is that the level of questions, comments, correction, submissions, copyright requests, site maintanence, and general support has moved beyond what the two of us can keep up with, even if we spend all our time just working on those and not developing new resources, publishing new material, and sleeping. We finally reached the point this year where we've had to give in and admit to ourselves that it's no longer possible to reply to every email that we get. This new year will bring automated responses to many types of contacts. We know this isn't ideal but recently a majority of emails have been getting no response at all...which is even worse.

    For those who don't know, Erowid is currently run by 2 full-time staff (Fire & Earth) sitting at a desk in their livingroom 80 hours a week. We continue to really enjoy working on this project and are cetainly at a place with it that we never predicted when we started 5 years ago. But I think we came to realize this year that Erowid is an incredibly large project and that we need to scale up a bit in order to handle it appropriately. We're hoping that it somehow becomes possible within 2001 to fund a small office, another employee (at least 1/2 time), and a more robust development system. We'll see what the new year brings.


  • Servers & Hardware
    Erowid moved onto new server hardware this year to try to keep up with the increase in traffic and the increase in server load due to more dynamic pages. We had a handful of hardware failures both on the Erowid server and on our development machines which cost us several weeks of work to resolve. Please, everyone, remember to backup your data more often than you do! :)

    This year (2001) we're going to need to move to a more robust system with a development server and a versioning system (like CVS) in order to try to increase our flexibility and stability and decrease down-time of the site. Despite moving more toward database driven and cgi displayed pages, Erowid has a remarkable record of reliability with only a single major outage at the end of August (while we were out of town at burningman), and a couple of other minor outages throughout the year.


Thanks everyone.
Fire & Earth


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