Written August 21, 2017
Two years ago, I decided to start taking privacy more seriously. At the time, as most people do, I had been using a host of software and subscribing to services that are privacy-unfriendly. Many of these companies also showed signs of being evil and were increasingly apathetic when called on it.
At this time, I started out on a pilgrimage of sorts, wherein I began researching better, more privacy friendly alternatives – and I was lucky to find groups of passionate people where it came to the topic of privacy (such as the wonderful /r/privacy, privacytools.io and prism-break.org). These resources provided me with a shortlist of software and services to try, and from which, to help narrow down to the tools I’ve chosen for day-to-day use. At the time, I had a checklist that I went through. One day, I would research OS’s, then the next I would look at Email Services. At one point in the process, weeks into this project, and several items down the list, I hit a wall – VPNs.
Every attempt I made to find out which VPN was “the best” for my use case, was met with disaster. Commercial VPN Services are a tricky tool to narrow down a selection from. To make it worse, heavy marketing and intentional misinformation campaigns littered the web. It seemed like there was no real source of unbiased info to reference. It was extremely frustrating, especially because I didn’t yet understand how affiliate programs played into this scheme.
I was determined to compare the features of the services I was aware of, and made a 50-something record spreadsheet comparing these VPNs. Proud of this undertaking, I showed my work to a colleague, who insisted that I should put it online for others to use as well. With his encouragement, I did this, and in no time, it started getting big. Tech blogs wrote articles, Reddit posts blew up with praise and encouragement. In time, I decided that I wanted to expand and improve on the research, and perhaps, share more of what I learned with other “pilgrims”
This of course resulted in the creation of the site you’re reading now. As news outlets picked up That One Privacy Site, and its comparison charts, many people suggested that I monetize the site – but it never felt right. I had noted on many occassions that advertising creates a conflict of interest, especially if you’re advertising something that you talk about on the site and review. Therefore, it never felt right to take that kind of approach. If I ever earned money from my research, I vowed to only ever get it by providing what people hopefully thought was a solid bit of research and writing – in other words, that my interests were aligned with theirs.
In time, I added a Paypal link and a handful of cryptocurrency donation options, and went on my way. And for the last year and a half or so, thanks to the generosity of all of you, my readers, it’s been a good way to keep the site running. In the last year, many other sites and groups have picked up on my research and content, and thankfully I’ve expanded my reach. In a one month period earlier this year, I had to upgrade my webserver 3 times, once to more resources on a virtual hosting tier, another to a VPS, and finally to a dedicated server. The cost to keep the server up and running quadrupled! Due to the cryptocurrency market expanding, I was able to ensure I had enough for several months worth of hosting.
As time has gone by, I’ve kept an eye on the resources I have from donations “to keep the lights on” so to speak. However, I’d love to take things a step further to comfortably operate the site and also provide more research and content for you to enjoy. Many of you will be familiar with Patreon, a site that helps creators make money to run their creative projects and foster engagement with fans.
Although I had some reservations, I have decided to launch a Patreon campaign so that I might help ensure this project’s survival and growth for the future. For those who wish to contribute via other avenues (for privacy or other reasons), the existing options are of course still available and I will be happy to put any such donations towards the same rewards and goals as those contributing via Patreon (upon request). I have put up what I think are some fun rewards and goals, which mostly involve a renewed push for generating content, but I will let you read more about it on the official Patreon page – which can be found here.
I love this project, and I love that you all love it as well. Thanks so much to everyone who has donated, I know how hard you all work and it’s so humbling to me that you’re willing to sacrifice to help!