By charging a small monthly amount, Cuttlefish can pay its costs and its development team a fair wage and distribute the rest back to its members.
Cuttlefish is in the early stages of formation. We have an idea of how we’d like it to operate, but are figuring out the details as we go. The answers below sketch our current thinking about the project and the direction we hope to go in the future.
Why shouldn’t I sign up for a free social network?
You can, and if you prefer you should. Cuttlefish is an alternative that attempts to answer the question of how a social network can be run without showing you ads or selling your information. Since Cuttlefish runs inside a larger OStatus network, members can interact with a larger community of users.
Mastodon was written by volunteers, and other instances are run by volunteers as well. Why not donate your time instead of asking for money?
The progress that the maintainers and contributors to Mastodon and OStatus is impressive, and their dedication to the stewardship of these projects is admirable. Our focus is on creating a sustainable instance, and we think that means having a dedicated staff working on the project. That gives us time to devote to moderation, maintenance, and contributing back to the open source projects that are being used to run Cuttlefish. We don’t think that this would be possible if running Cuttlefish was treated as a side project.
Why not just accept donations?
Accepting donations leads to some members having undue influence in the community, because their donations are required to cover operating costs. We ask each user to contribute equally to the cost of running the service, with the hope of returning membership fees to active members.
What do you mean by active members?
At this point, just members in active standing. In the future, this might also include looking at who is posting good stuff within their local network. We realize that add more terms to unpack, and raises more questions than it resolves. Our goal is to promote a healthy community, and we will be looking at how different means of profit-sharing might help that being achieved.
How are membership fees redistributed?
Our intention is to do this on a quarterly basis, and initially by equally dividing profit between members. During the initial quarter of a membership, the amount returned will be based on the percentage of the quarter for which the membership was active.
How are the operating costs determined?
Currently we are basing our operating costs on having one developer, one community moderator, and a part-time operations manager work on the project. There are also legal issues that require counsel that will need to be addressed in the initial months of operation. We estimate operating costs for the first month to be around twelve thousand US dollars. We will be publishing our actual operating costs quarterly, and revising that estimate to account changes in staffing.
Who is running this instance?
Cuttlefish is currently solely sponsored by the team at Standard Library, a small development firm that works inside of the cultural sector. We have a strong experience in building and maintaining Rails applications.