February 5, 2023: Twitter API Fees and Moa Party Shutdown

As many of you who have been following the situation know, Twitter announced that free access to the API woud be ending as of February 9th.

⚠️⚠️⚠️ In all likelihood, we will shutdown the main instance on February 9th, when free API access to Twitter ends. ⚠️⚠️⚠️

We ran some numbers on the main instance at moa.party:

We’ve already seen delays in getting crossposts happening, as we’re API rate limited under the current free plan.

No one knows what the actual Twitter API pricing is going to be. Some rumoured prices that have been floating around show that we would likely be in at least $100s per month, if not higher1.

Not Shutting Down

What could make us not shutdown? Well, there may be a reasonable tier of API pricing that means we can afford to continue operating.

What can we afford? Well, Moa has an Open Collective with about $1500CAD2 in the balance. If we could process all of the current traffic for ~6000 users for $100USD / month, that’s about 10 months of usage, and we could run a campaign to encourage people to donate.

Any higher than that, and it’s an immediate shutdown, unless people signed up to fund it ahead of time. Let’s do a thought experiment on that:

(switching to USD as that is the currency Twitter charges in)

Let’s assume bmann and flancian continue to volunteer for no charge of their time. If the new Twitter API cost is $200/month, that would mean 40 people paying at $5/month.

But if we’re now actively providing a service that we have to pay for data, and have an expectation of service to those people paying, we really need to run at better than best effort.

So we’d want something like $500/month part time honorarium for a sysadmin / code maintenance role to back up flancian (especially since we have users around the globe in many timezones).

And – volunteer tech support? Maybe a small honorarium for helping out with the issue queue, social channels, FAQ maintenance, better docs, and so on to back up bmann.

So let’s say $1000/month total for Twitter API charges, server, and people time.

For that, we’d need at least 200 people subscribed at $5/month.

Which, if you look back up at the server numbers, only 3.3% of the current 6K+ currently active users.

So it’s certainly possible.

(Nevermind the dilemma of how we feel about paying for the Twitter API…)

Run your own Moa

Aside from the main instance, Moa is open source software written in Python. Anyone can host their own instance, and pay for their own Twitter API key.

There is some activity in the GitLab repo around Dockerizing the current code, to make it simpler for people to run themselves.

As we’ve said before in various call outs, if you’re a Python dev familiar with Docker that can test out some of the PRs, help improve documentation, and various other code modernization, please do get involved.

Supporting the Service

Thank you to all of you have contributed to date on the Open Collective:

The service is run on a volunteer basis by the Maintainers, and we haven’t even charged back the domain name or server hosting costs to the current collective balance.

We don’t want people donating more at this time, while we don’t know the situation. We will use the funds to eg. pay honorariums to Python devs who help improve the codebase.

The best support you can give right now is to help get the word out, contribute to the codebase, trying out the code yourself, and writing documentation for the code. And in general, anyone that has the time and interest to actively join the project and help run it as a one of the Maintainers would be welcome.

Next Steps

We have all of our communication channels listed on the Contact page, including an email address if you want to connect privately. The Matrix chat or @-mentioning @moaparty@fosstodon.org are two quick methods.

  1. With almost 400K tweets per month, we may be in the highest tier, at $2500USD/month as one rumour suggested. 

  2. CAD = Canadian Dollars