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Can the "login every 30 days" requirement be relaxed for a tiny, low bandwidth website that stores no data?


Condorcet
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I want to set up a little website on a reasonably reliable host -- that's free, due to my minimal income -- to implement a calculator that tallies voters' orders of preference using a state-of-the-art algorithm (much better than the Ranked Choice Voting algorithm).  The website won't store any data or transmit data to anyone (except it would of course send the results to the user who types or pastes in the votes).  The site would be just one file, a php5 script that's about 60 kBytes.  To use it, one member of the voting group pastes their orders of preference into the webpage's text field, and then clicks the "tally now" button... it would respond by tallying the results on the server side (using php code) and sending the results as a refreshed webpage.  The webpage is just text with some color-coding, so the bandwidth consumed would also be tiny.

I'm hoping the partners at Heliohost have the will and a way to spare me from the monthly logins... they seem unnecessary due to the negligible storage and bandwidth that my site would consume, and my free time is very limited.

This website would not be for my personal benefit or profit.  My goal is to teach the world about this voting system by letting people use it.  This kind of system would have many benefits if used by democracies: It would minimize spoiling (Ranked Choice Voting does NOT eliminate spoiling, contrary to what many of its proponents claim), eliminate the need for primary elections, create a much stronger incentive for politicians to adopt policies similar to the majority-preferred policies they believe the voters themselves would collectively choose (if voters were able to vote directly on issues), end political polarization, reliably defeat extremists, and stabilize policies.  In other words, the goal is to strengthen democracy and save the world.

The reason that primitive voting methods (including Ranked Choice Voting) cause so many problems is that they count at most one majority.  But the fact is, there's more than one majority when there are more than two candidates, and all of the head-to-head majorities of the complete round robin tournament can be counted given the voters' orders of preference. (The most widely used, most frequently used voting method -- the Robert's Rules procedure for voting on motions -- pays attention only to head-to-head majorities, which are based on relative preferences.  But it's only halfway toward state-of-the-art because it works like a single-elimination tournament, not a round robin tournament.  In other words, the Robert's Rules procedure counts only some of the head-to-head majorities: when there are N alternatives, it counts N-1 majorities to eliminate N-1 alternatives.)  After counting all of the head-to-head majorities of the complete round robin, the best way to construct the order of finish is to process the majorities one at a time, from largest majority to smallest majority, placing each majority's more-preferred alternative ahead of their less-preferred alternative in the order of finish.  The largest-to-smallest processing order is in accord with the heuristic that underpins majority rule: "The larger the number of people who think x is better than y, the more likely it is that x is better than y, all else being equal."  I've attached a screenshot of part of the webpage (before the voters' orders of preference are typed in).  The text in the screenshot provides some additional information about the voting method.

MAMcalc partial screenshot.png

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31 minutes ago, Condorcet said:

end political polarization

Man, that would be amazing.

32 minutes ago, Condorcet said:

the negligible storage and bandwidth that my site would consume

We actually have unlimited bandwidth, and storage isn't really a concern either. What does matter is the number of virtualhosts on each server. Each domain that we host increases the virtualhost count by 2 (one for http and one for https), and that's the main source of load for small sites like yours.

Each virtualhost increases the amount of memory that apache uses, and increases the downtime that we experience each time we restart apache. If we were to allow these virtualhosts to continue piling up from thousands and thousands of small, low traffic sites like yours it would eventually take several minutes of downtime to restart apache each time. A small downtime like 5-30 seconds is barely noticeable and most people just chalk it up to their internet being slow for a second, but if we have so many virtualhosts that each restart takes something ridiculous like 5 minutes people are definitely going to notice and complain.

Larger hosting companies get around the virtualhost issue by creating many smaller servers to distribute the virtualhosts over dozens or hundreds of apache installs. Since we use cpanel it is very expensive to set up each additional server because of licensing costs, but we can maximize the number of sites we host by cramming as many people as we can onto our existing 3 servers.

The monthly login requirement is in place, not to intentionally annoy people, but to keep our virtualhosts count as low as possible to keep our memory usage and restart time low.

Now, as far as keeping your account active, plenty of other people do it just fine for years. We have one lady that has maintained an active account using the same free HelioHost domain since 2007. She logs in once every month just like everyone else for 14 years and counting.

The guy that runs this independent monitoring site http://heliohost.grd.net.pl/monitor/ isn't a HelioHost admin, and isn't affiliated with us at all. His accounts that he uses to monitor our servers are identical to everyone else's and he has to log in every month to not just one, but three different accounts to keep them active. He's been running that server monitor since 2010. The only thing special about him is we have granted him permission to have more than one account at a time. There's dozens of other people who maintain active accounts for years on end too. Those are just two extreme examples.

56 minutes ago, Condorcet said:

my free time is very limited

When you don't log in for 28 days you will receive an email reminder to login to prevent your account from going inactive, and you have 2 days to check your email and login. If you save your password in your browser you can simply click the link in the email, which brings you to the login page, and then click submit on your saved username and password on the website. How long does it take to click twice? 5 seconds? That's all it takes to keep an account active.

Anyways, we get this request to not have to log in to cpanel all the time, and you seem like a person that would value equality. Maybe you think you're more important than everyone else, but based on your post it makes me think that equality is important to you. It wouldn't really be fair to everyone else to treat some people differently from everyone else. There's also the issue of if we make an exception for one person we'll probably have hundreds of other people come out of the woodwork asking for the same thing.

So, since we get this request all the time we have come up with two solutions:

  1. You can donate instead of logging in. Each $5 you donate gets you +1000 MB storage up to a maximum of 5000 MB plus 1 month of inactivity immunity.
  2. The new server that we're going to set up hopefully in a few months will allow you to never have to log in to cpanel as long as your $1 subscription remains active.

So option #1 probably doesn't appeal to you because you obviously don't need the storage space increase, and option #2 isn't available yet, but it might not appeal to you anyways since you want free. Anyways, I'm willing to give you a special option #3 that we haven't offered to anyone else yet. You can basically get the deal in option #2 early on Tommy instead of the new server. I don't want to do this for a lot of people because it would get confusing to keep track of everyone, but if you want to donate $1 for each month of inactivity immunity I'll grant it. So if you want to not have to login for the next year you can donate $12, etc. Eventually this deal will be offered to everyone on the new server so everyone is still being treated equally; you're just getting the deal earlier.

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4 hours ago, Krydos said:

We actually have unlimited bandwidth, and storage isn't really a concern either. What does matter is the number of virtualhosts on each server. Each domain that we host increases the virtualhost count by 2 (one for http and one for https), and that's the main source of load for small sites like yours.

Thanks for the quick and in-depth reply.  However, your explanation of the purpose of the inactivity suspension policy doesn't match the explanation at the HelioNet wiki ( https://wiki.helionet.org/accounts/suspension-policy ).  The wiki appears to say that data storage is the concern.  It says, "To ensure that old, unused HelioHost accounts are not filling up our server with useless data, we have an inactivity policy in place which will suspend you if you do not login to cPanel at least once every 30 days." 

Based on the wiki, and since my website won't store any data that could "fill up the server," it seemed very reasonable to question whether the suspension policy is appropriate for my account.  I hope you'll see that I wasn't asking for unequal treatment.  I was asking that the suspension policy be reevaluated and amended so it will distinguish between accounts that "fill the server with (useless) data" and accounts that store no data.

There are many ways to relax the 30 days requirement.  Logging in wouldn't need to be completely eliminated.  For example, logging in once every 6 months (for accounts that store no data) could be a reasonable compromise.

I guess I'll ask again in a couple of months if it turns out that the cpanel login procedure (plus reading & deleting your reminder email) cost much more than the 5 seconds per month that you estimate. (I predict it will cost about 2 minutes.  And it's not just the time... using my computer is painful due to chronic lower back pain... you don't want to know how my back is feeling right now!  Back pain is what makes productive time such a scarce resource for me.)  Thanks for considering it.

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Wiki is outdated (it often is...). Back in the day we used to delete inactive accounts for space reasons, which is what that references, but we eventually just bought a storage appliance and started archiving them instead. We no longer delete accounts for space reasons due to inactivity.

For what it's worth, if anybody would know the exact reason, it's Krydos...he is the de facto source of information on these sorts of things...he runs all the servers (except Lily).

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Well, virtualhosts are data, and I would consider the statement "filling up our server with useless data" would apply to virtualhosts as well as the files in your home directory. At one point we were so low on storage space that we were deleting accounts that had been inactive for only a couple weeks. We barely had enough space for the active accounts, but that was a few years ago.  

On 1/13/2018 at 2:37 PM, HelioHost said:

we will be gaining 8 TB of storage that we can use to increase storage space on our existing accounts. Available harddrive space is really low right now, and as a result we've had to discontinue free account creations on our flagship server, Tommy. If you're interested in getting a Tommy account, or if you want more storage space on your existing Johnny, Ricky, or Tommy account please donate today.

 

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  • 2 months later...
On 7/11/2021 at 1:54 AM, Krydos said:

Man, that would be amazing.

We actually have unlimited bandwidth, and storage isn't really a concern either. What does matter is the number of virtualhosts on each server. Each domain that we host increases the virtualhost count by 2 (one for http and one for https), and that's the main source of load for small sites like yours.

Each virtualhost increases the amount of memory that apache uses, and increases the downtime that we experience each time we restart apache. If we were to allow these virtualhosts to continue piling up from thousands and thousands of small, low traffic sites like yours it would eventually take several minutes of downtime to restart apache each time. A small downtime like 5-30 seconds is barely noticeable and most people just chalk it up to their internet being slow for a second, but if we have so many virtualhosts that each restart takes something ridiculous like 5 minutes people are definitely going to notice and complain.

Larger hosting companies get around the virtualhost issue by creating many smaller servers to distribute the virtualhosts over dozens or hundreds of apache installs. Since we use cpanel it is very expensive to set up each additional server because of licensing costs, but we can maximize the number of sites we host by cramming as many people as we can onto our existing 3 servers.

The monthly login requirement is in place, not to intentionally annoy people, but to keep our virtualhosts count as low as possible to keep our memory usage and restart time low.

Now, as far as keeping your account active, plenty of other people do it just fine for years. We have one lady that has maintained an active account using the same free HelioHost domain since 2007. She logs in once every month just like everyone else for 14 years and counting.

The guy that runs this independent monitoring site http://heliohost.grd.net.pl/monitor/ isn't a HelioHost admin, and isn't affiliated with us at all. His accounts that he uses to monitor our servers are identical to everyone else's and he has to log in every month to not just one, but three different accounts to keep them active. He's been running that server monitor since 2010. The only thing special about him is we have granted him permission to have more than one account at a time. There's dozens of other people who maintain active accounts for years on end too. Those are just two extreme examples.

When you don't log in for 28 days you will receive an email reminder to login to prevent your account from going inactive, and you have 2 days to check your email and login. If you save your password in your browser you can simply click the link in the email, which brings you to the login page, and then click submit on your saved username and password on the website. How long does it take to click twice? 5 seconds? That's all it takes to keep an account active.

Anyways, we get this request to not have to log in to cpanel all the time, and you seem like a person that would value equality. Maybe you think you're more important than everyone else, but based on your post it makes me think that equality is important to you. It wouldn't really be fair to everyone else to treat some people differently from everyone else. There's also the issue of if we make an exception for one person we'll probably have hundreds of other people come out of the woodwork asking for the same thing.

So, since we get this request all the time we have come up with two solutions:

  1. You can donate instead of logging in. Each $5 you donate gets you +1000 MB storage up to a maximum of 5000 MB plus 1 month of inactivity immunity.
  2. The new server that we're going to set up hopefully in a few months will allow you to never have to log in to cpanel as long as your $1 subscription remains active.

So option #1 probably doesn't appeal to you because you obviously don't need the storage space increase, and option #2 isn't available yet, but it might not appeal to you anyways since you want free. Anyways, I'm willing to give you a special option #3 that we haven't offered to anyone else yet. You can basically get the deal in option #2 early on Tommy instead of the new server. I don't want to do this for a lot of people because it would get confusing to keep track of everyone, but if you want to donate $1 for each month of inactivity immunity I'll grant it. So if you want to not have to login for the next year you can donate $12, etc. Eventually this deal will be offered to everyone on the new server so everyone is still being treated equally; you're just getting the deal earlier.

I have come across responses good, bad and worst from people across all levels, but the response given above is way above all of them.

Such courteous and refined response from an admin is exemplary for all of us and also the length and detail reflect his dedication and commitment to user satisfaction. Kudos to Krydos san.

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