SFF Net Shutdown

The big news for me this past week is that I had to move my website. This turned into quite an intensive project because I’d neglected it for a while. Huge thanks go out to Michael W. Lucas for all his assistance with web hosting and server details.

The forced move was a good kick in the pants to get me to upgrade and redo my site, which I should have done years back but hadn’t found the time. So for the past seven days I’ve spent a lot of time swearing at WordPress and fiddling with settings and hacking around in my ancient copy of Photoshop. Like you do. I’m glad I had the time, although now I’m behind on a couple of freelance projects.

You may be asking, why was this a forced move?

My previous web host was SFF Net, which I joined back in the late 90s because all the cool science fiction and fantasy authors were there. It’s a nice place run by nice people.

But on January 18th, one of their primary admins Jeffry Dwight posted this message:

Dear SFF Netters,

We are sad to announce that, after 20 years, SFF Net is going offline. Although the reasons are prosaic (increasing costs, diminishing revenue), our deep regret is that we will be unable to continue serving our loyal friends. SFF Net has, at the core, been about online friendships, shared interests, and shared lives.

We deeply appreciate each of you who’ve joined us (and stuck with us) over the

We will be taking services offline on March 31, 2017.

This was, of course, a surprise. Many SFF Net users reacted with shock and concern, and Jeffry Dwight followed up a few days later to explain the reasons behind the shutdown:

Yes, this is partly related to my health (specifically the loss of half my eyesight in 2014), which has shifted more of the SFF Net support to Steve. The problem this causes is that I really need him to be working on Greyware stuff full-time. If you recall, Greyware has been paying much of SFF Net’s expenses over the years, and Steve and I have just done SFF Net without pay.

Greyware is moving from my server room to the cloud soon. Right now, SFF Net occupies 95% of Greyware’s storage, and over 75% of its bandwidth. Greyware can’t continue to give that away when it moves offsite: It’s not only infeasible, but the accountant says it’s not allowed. Apparently it’s one thing to mooch off intangibles, but not off things that have direct costs. The server room itself will eventually disappear.

In case I wasn’t clear above, we’re okay. Don’t worry about us.

Yes, this is emotional for me. I’ve put this day off as long as possible. I have loved knowing all of you for all these years.

I figured I’d take the radical tactic of not waiting until the last minute to get moved. Success! The shutdown of SFF Net is familiar to many of us who work with small presses: any company that’s dependent on one or two key staff members with no replacement plan in place is vulnerable to sudden shutdowns. I knew SFF Net was not a large company, but I didn’t fully realize it was just Steve and Jeffry pretty much all the way down the line. They were always highly responsive to technical concerns and so the company seemed bigger than it was.

As much as this was a great opportunity for me to finally fix my web presence, I will really miss SFF Net and all the people there.

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