VirtualR – Now Accepting Donations

Starting today, VirtualR accepts donations to help covering the expanding costs of running this site. This was a very difficult decision for me as I was always proud to be able to refuse donations but the recent developments have given me no other choice.

As many of you will already have read in the Twitter posting below, the site will soon be moving to a more powerful server as it has outgrown the current platform again. Until March 2009, the site ran on a shared hosting account costing me less than 50€ a month. These days a long gone, the site now requires servers with multi-core CPUs and loads of RAM to stay up during load hours. As you can imagine, the monthly costs of operating this service have steeply inclined as well.

Adding to the problem is the used blogging platform. While WordPress is a very powerful and feature-rich system, it’s notoriously resource-hungry when it comes to high-load situations. That’s why my long-term goal is to move the site to a more professional blogging platform that is more suited to high-traffic sites such as this one, giving VirtualR a more solid foundation. Migrating to a whole new system goes way beyond my technical skills though, meaning I will have to get professional assistance to get this done.

Until now, my advertisers have been solely responsible for keeping this site alive, the advertising revenue is more and more unable to keep up with the rising costs though. The current number of banners on the site are pretty much the maximum I´m willing to do, I don’t want VirtualR to become one of those sites where you have to look hard to find the content between all the advertising.

There are no other sources of revenue as I refuse to accept payments from any company in exchange for positive endorsements as I strongly believe that VirtualR must stay completely neutral to be a valuable service to the community. I never want to get into a situation where I have to positively cover some arcade racer or anything else that I feel does not fit the community just because it pays well.I´m not on the payroll of any developer or companies with a business interest in this community, advertising is never hidden in content but strictly limited to the banner spots you can clearly identify as such on the site.

As all of this limits my choices to make the money that is required to keep the site alive, I have decided to accept donations as many of you have been asking about that in the past.

I`d like to point out one thing clearly: There will be no benefits for donors or any kind of limits for everyone else. Whether or not you donate, VirtualR will stay the same free place it used to be. I don’t want to pressure anyone to donate in any way, you´re free to enjoy the site without ever donating a dime. But if you feel that truly independent sim racing news are worth to be supported with a few bucks, I´ll humbly accept your donation below.

Thanks a lot for reading through all this, I felt the need to explain my decision in detail. I´m still somewhat uncomfortable with the whole situation so I would appreciate it if you could leave some of that brutally-honest feedback VirtualR readers are known for :grin:





GTOmegaRacing.com

  • Rhys

    felipe:
    man you are a worthless piece of you know what but not for your comment but for your double account and hiding behind it.

    Michael is not Darin. It may seem that way from the disrespectful nature of pretty much every post he makes, but I have encountered him on other sites. I can assure you, Michael is Michael, and no-one else.

  • http://www.virtualr.net Montoya

    FS: May I stupidly ask what important plugins there are? Can’t you just live without them?
    Or does this include videos and screenshot-popups (although again, one could live without the latter).

    Plug-Ins provide everything that is not basic functionality.

    For example: The avatars, comment quote, comment edit, the smilies, the contact form, the screenshots and much more..

  • Mr. A

    Pleeeaaaase don’t change too much of the design! I like that this site has a rather simplistic design. It’s easy to read and find what you want. :grin:

  • http://www.virtualr.net Montoya

    Mr. A: Pleeeaaaase don’t change too much of the design! I like that this site has a rather simplistic design. It’s easy to read and find what you want. :grin:

    Don’t worry, I´m not planning any major design changes anytime soon. I´m still pretty much satisfied with the design myself, so no reason to act :grin:

  • FS

    Montoya:
    Plug-Ins provide everything that is not basic functionality.
    For example: The avatars, comment quote, comment edit, the smilies, the contact form, the screenshots and much more..

    So basically everything except plain text? :tongue:
    Ok, in that case it’s hard to cut down on them significantly.

  • http://arseforums.com/phpBB/ r8response

    Montoya:
    Don’t worry, I´m not planning any major design changes anytime soon. I´m still pretty much satisfied with the design myself, so no reason to act

    Could make the layout to suit widescreen monitors though :cool:

  • Ghoults

    I think you at virtualr could encourage us users to add virtualr to our adblock whitelists (or in opera, take content filtering off for this site) which allows ads to load for this site. Since you are keeping the ads sensible (no half screen ads or anything too flashy) there’s no reason why not do this.

    Maybe a small addition to the ads income :)

  • BNR32

    Stop posting about arcage rubbish like NFS Shift, F1 2010, TDU etc. and your site would have less traffic when the casual gamers wouldn’t be loading up the screenshots and posting comments like “AWSUMMM IMMA BUY DIS GAME LOOKS SIK”.

  • Zenitchik

    @ Michael are you impersonating Daring Gangi? (he will not be happy about that, it is about time that we forget what happed there!)

    Sorry, but you barely speak English and are a million miles away from being a competent journalist in any other respect

    after reading the statement above, I get this impression of you:
    http://lineout.thestranger.com/files/2007/11/crybaby.jpg

    @ Montoya

    I’d love to help out with some coding, I Cannot believe that 30.000 hits a day can be that heavy on the server :weird:

    Anyways here are some easy things you could tinker with, that might improve performance in the short run

    If you are not already using tools like firebug and yslow, you defiantly should try them out. they are extensions for firefox that measure performance of your site and help figuring out the errors.
    https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/1843 Firebug
    https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/5369 Yslow

    Google chrome also just got a similar tool
    http://code.google.com/webtoolkit/speedtracer/

    Without looking at what is going on the server, I can see that one of the issues might be the enormous amount of server calls that get generated each time I refresh the page.

    When I hit the main page the first time (nothing in the browser cache) i get 140 calls to the server, reducing this will give more breathing room to the server and save some bandwidth :)
    http://img14.imageshack.us/img14/3175/aboutblankj.jpg

    Javascript
    This page has 17 external Javascript scripts. Try combining them into one. Try combining them into one.
    I do not know how these are structured in wordpress, But this is a major hit on the loading time, the script tag blocks the execution of the page, so you would like to have very few requests for js files and place the scripts at the bottom of the html. PHP Speedy seems to solve that problem, take a look here
    http://www.prelovac.com/vladimir/optimize-wordpress-page-loading-time-with-php-speedy-and-wp-super-cache

    Another big hit on your server is obviously images.
    Putting fewer images on the front page and showing the rest them on the actual post might save you some bandwidth, and increase the responsiveness of the main page :)
    You could also compress some of the images, I do not know if it can be automated with wp.
    http://img19.imageshack.us/img19/2393/wwwsmushitcomysmushit.jpg

    WordPress plugins and MySQL obviously are not made for each other :D
    I dunno how far you have gone optimizing DB performance, but there are some things that can be done to squeeze a bit more out of the standard install of php and mysql:
    http://elliottback.com/wp/why-my-wordpress-site-is-so-much-faster-than-yours/
    http://yoast.com/wordpress/optimize-db/

    I hope that virtualr will survive! :tongue:

  • hoboracer

    BNR32: Stop posting about arcage rubbish like NFS Shift, F1 2010, TDU etc. and your site would have less traffic when the casual gamers wouldn’t be loading up the screenshots and posting comments like “AWSUMMM IMMA BUY DIS GAME LOOKS SIK”.

    So you hate all arcade racers, we get you man. But whats the chance a few of these arcade guys come here to get news and get turned on to something more serious like iRacing. Fishing in the arcade pond is a great way to find serious drivers. And with the rating system that iRacing has, it can keep the wreckers at helm while the truly skilled can advance and enjoy the clean competition.

  • http://www.virtualr.net Montoya

    Zenitchik, thanks for all the links!

    I digg through that in the coming days, looks really helpful!

  • http://www.blogtechnical.com Brad

    Im surprised you paid 50 euro for shared hosting. :shock: Those guys were blindly ripping you off, unless you’re talking about VPS/Cloud hosting.

    Also… W3 Total Cache… rather than Super Cache…to help further reduce the strain on the static page calls.

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