Re: Gotta be honest here...
Way back in the day I used to run hubs to provide access to the Direct Connect p2p file sharing network (think IRC with a semi-central, searchable file network).
Yeah, yeah I know I'm evil, 'exploiting' copyrighted content. Yawn. That's not the point here.
Point is I was paying hundreds for hosting with large b/w, out of my own pocket. Providing that hub as a service to strangers for no payment.
It had 6 or 7 mods vetting users content 24/7 to ensure there was no sick stuff etc, who provided their services for free. The main chat window was constantly busy, I ran a 24/7 radio that users could also listen to whilst chatting, which for most of the day was actual live DJ shows- just from the people that had chosen to be part of our community, also for no payment.
It was the first independent hub to break 20k users, first hub to break a PB content.
People came for the file sharing, but stayed for the community and the extra services.
I'd cover the costs as long as possible (I was on the dole at the time) but after a few months I'd put a request out for a few pence from any users who could afford to chip-in and didn't want to see the hub vanish (just to cover server costs, not for payment).
Even though those users could have used any of 100s of other hubs out there to access the DC network for free, I made the monthly server costs within a couple of hours of the request going out each month.
Guess I'm trying to say, if you want to provide a site, either do it out of love and cover the costs yourself, or make it good enough so that users have no problems paying a tiny fee to keep it alive.