Please, buy a paid account. Paid users aren't limited to modem speeds and have no artificial delay.
There are a number of costly things lately:
(1) We just had to buy a bunch of new disks because they're all approaching 80% usage.
(2) We need to hire a sysadmin. In the past, we've had sysadmins that did it for fun, and got paid nothing or very little. But a good sysadmin that works for so cheap is either hard to find or unreliable. We need a good sysadmin, and so we need money to hire one with. I could keep doing it, but that's a full time job in itself, and I have 3 other big areas I need to work on.
(3) Bandwidth usage is way up lately. As we make the site faster, it seems the existing addicts just use it more, rather than new users joining. Bandwidth costs quite a bit. $17,000 just last month, almost double what it was the previous month.
Remember how the free web & database servers used to suck? That was the main drive for people to upgrade to a paid account... to get onto the paid servers.
But once we re-did the architecture, all servers were fast, and paid users stopped renewing.
We experimented for awhile with ways to artificially slow the free service, but they always compromised the performance of other parts of the site somehow.
Anyway, we finally got it all working again last week or so, but forgot to announce it. Free servers now have a small amount of per-request latency, along with a bandwidth limit around what a modem is.
You might think this seems lame, but it's just going back to how things were before... paid users get a benefit. Free users get to use it, but not as comfortably. However, it's better than before... in the past, the slow servers were both unreliable and slow. Now they're just slow on purpose, but as reliable as the rest of the site.
Unfortunately, after a week of this running, it hasn't cut down on bandwidth usage any. And number of hits isn't down, either. So it seems people are using the site just as much, but they're just spending more time doing it, waiting for pages to download.
Let me preemptively answer a couple of questions:
Why don't you just add new fun features for paid users?
Because I have no time, since I have to do so much sysadmin stuff. (see (1) above).
What about username renaming for $10?
avva has been meaning to get the username rename stuff done, but hasn't gotten around to it. We're just kinda swamped right now.
But the service sucks sometimes still... why should I pay money for 98% uptime? I demand five nines for my $2/month!
Well, it'd be easier to have a reliable site if we had a sysadmin.
I want to be your sysadmin!
I've already been searching the Portland/Vancouver area for a good sysadmin I could work in person with occasionally, and if that search fails, I'll be posting to LiveJournal looking for a non-local employee. However, if you really want the job, send an email along with a resume to firstname.lastname@example.org and we can start talking.
Basically, this site is continuing to get so large that I find it increasingly difficult to run more than one aspect of it.
I enjoy programming and managing its direction, not doing sysadmin stuff, so that's why we need more money...
Once we have a sysadmin taking work off my hands, then I can get back to adding fun stuff to LiveJournal, and working on my new site. (which will be revealed in time, and will be heavily integrated with LiveJournal ...)