what's next

Discussion of items in the "What's New" log.

what's next

Postby josh » Sat Dec 01, 2018 11:40 pm

This is a difficult post.

Spamgourmet has been running for over 18 years now (that's a long time for an internet thing). We've maintained a non-commercial, privacy centered approach that was much more common on the internet in say, 1998, than it is in 2018. I will never give up on it. Not getting caught up with financial concerns and over-recording and misusing data from our users has kept operating costs low and management fairly trouble free. It has also made spamgourmet pretty unattractive as an acquisition target, which is definitely part of the plan.

This approach has worked very well. But I knew that if the time ever came where I needed to move away, there could be some challenge to be absolutely sure that things will continue as they have (or greatly improve - that's certainly possible :) ) after I walk away. Specifically, it's not the first transfer I'm worried about - I'm fairly certain I can find a trustworthy person or group -- rather it's the second transfer that troubles me.

That's because, by today's standards, the transfer is asking a lot: take over a system written by someone else which will make no money, and run it for a really long time before the challenging task of finding yet another trustworthy person to take it over. Of course, simply shutting down the system solves this problem, but would be pretty painful to a lot of people. Honestly, though, it would be preferable to blindly handing off control of the service to the wrong place.

About two months ago, after some surgery I was diagnosed with Glioblastoma Multiforme ("GBM"). This is a grade 4 brain cancer. It's considered terminal and incurable, and the average survival time is something like 18 months from diagnosis. I'm getting world-class medical care and I'm optimistic that I will be around longer than average - even much longer. I'm also very hopeful that medical advances will greatly improve the prognosis, and that I will stay alive long enough to benefit from them. However, given the nature of the disease, we have to consider that even if I'm alive, I could lose my ability to continue running spamgourmet effectively, and that this could happen pretty soon. So something has to be done.

So - I want to bring back up the discussion about things that could be done. I'll post more to this thread -- these days I'm trying to avoid words like 'brainstorm' (haha. ok, not funny), but that's what needs to happen.
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Re: what's next

Postby pbb » Thu Dec 06, 2018 8:31 pm

Hello Josh,

I am very sorry to hear your news and I do hope that your treatment is successful.

Regarding the stewardship of spamgourmet, is there not some way in which a 'board of trustees' can be created so that the best interests of the system can be administered on a legal, non-profit and on-going, basis?

Or, could the 'Organisation' become a not-for-profit co-operative, with a maximum number of (elected, non-executive) employees, but also a membership (the users) who have voting rights?

Clearly, the on-going users of Spamgourmet should be paying something easily affordable ($2 per month?) towards its maintenance and to recompense its Stewards.

You need to take legal advice, and perhaps contact some of the bodies who are championing internet causes, to determine what options are open to you.

Regards and best wishes

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Re: what's next

Postby GSX » Thu Dec 06, 2018 10:38 pm

I cannot say anything about the transfer, but I would like to tell you how I admire your handling of such a sensitive issue. Although we don't know each other personally, I feel with you. Stay strong, all the best.
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Re: what's next

Postby josh » Sun Dec 09, 2018 2:10 am

thanks for encouragement!

"contact some of the bodies who are championing internet causes" -- if anyone can list a few of these, that would be very helpful. I know someone listed one group in another thread, and I confess that I haven't contacted them.

I happen to be a lawyer myself :) in Texas, USA. But part of me wants to get the service outside of the USA (can't imagine why...). Sweden keeps coming to mind. Seems like a place with a strong user rights / user privacy culture.
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Re: what's next

Postby Zero » Sun Dec 09, 2018 2:17 pm

Never trust averages or statistics! That's what I heard an oncologist say. Be optimistic and you will be surprised how much better things will turn out to be after all.
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Re: what's next

Postby dmartin » Sat Dec 15, 2018 11:48 am

Hi Josh,

Hope your health holds!

You were asking above of groups that could potentially take over the SG service; nobody is going to be as good as you; but here are some ideas (I have no affiliation with any of them, but of a few I'm a customer or use their products & services).
The EFF (eff.org), the provide some tools like HTTPS evrywhere and Privacuy Badger.
The Open Rights Group (openrightsgroup.org).
The Internet Security Research Group (ISRG) that runs letsencrypt (letsencrypt.org).
Also how about the Linux foundation?
The apache foundation (apache.org).
How about the group that runs security oriented email ProtonMail (in Switzerland I believe).
The Free Software Foundation (fsf.org)
Also there are a few VPN services like privateinternetaccess.com and expressvpn.com and NordVPN.com and VyprVPN.

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Re: what's next

Postby davies » Sun Dec 16, 2018 10:26 pm

I was alerted to your problems only after the London Perl Workshop when someone who wanted to communicate with me decided SG was a great idea & told me about the downtime & your problems. Apart from the obvious many thanks & best wishes, have you considered part of the Perl community for the future? An organisation like the Perl foundation might have the interest and knowhow.

If you want to communicate with me privately, my SG address is the same as my userid here.

I hope it doesn't happen, but even if SG were closed down tomorrow, it has made the world a better place.


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Re: what's next

Postby scribbly » Mon Dec 17, 2018 9:57 am

I really appreciate all you've done with SG... saved me countless times (well, that's technically not true, because we get a count :wink: )

Now that I'm over the shock... Someone related to email makes sense, maybe because I use ProtonMail this stuck out:
dmartin wrote:How about the group that runs security oriented email ProtonMail (in Switzerland I believe).

It would be funky if functionality was included in an email product... Though, anyone in the security / privacy area would be a good fit.

All the best for the future: Peace.
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Re: what's next

Postby maelcum » Tue Dec 25, 2018 7:22 pm

This is a difficult thread to read. And an answer is not easy either. Since this is not my mother tongue, the following might not be perfectly phrased/worded; please just get the gist of it, if you may.

I am very sad to hear about your current health situation. Offering a service like you do, the type of service, as well as the fact that you offer it to us for free, but on your own expenses, has and still does, humble me. You are the type of person that - in my view of this world - deserves happiness in life. I can only hope you see your life has being happy and having been happy for the largest part. And yet... there is this lingering feeling of unfairness...

I am very grateful for your commitment to Spamgourmet and its community, even in this dire situation. The least I can do is accept the fact that there are more important things in your life. As davies says: 'even if SG were closed down tomorrow, it has made the world a better place.' He is right, you know?

[Here were some paragraphs about the pro and cons of pbb's suggestions, what I would do if it were my service and questions about what you would deem necessary on a time and material basis to keep the service running. Then I realized that this is not the place for this type of discussion and suggestions. Instead... ]

I will follow this thread closely to see what you decide upon.
If you are thinking of finding some individual(s) that have the same mindset, have the knowledge to do the same and have your trust, and then hand the operations of Spamgourmet over to him/her/them, then please let us know. I am certainly be willing to do my part in this, and be delighted if it were with others together.

If you find time I'd be happy to know what is required for spamgourmet and it's various subdomains to work. What requirements are there for hardware (cpu, ram, storage) or traffic (volume/bandwidth). Apart from the costs for the regular renewal of domains I assume that is the major cost block that needs to be covered by the indidual(s) taking over the service.
How much work have you been putting into this on a regular basis? Whats the most trouble from your point of view?

Thank you for everything. All the best to you.
Merry Christmas

PS: There is a provider in Sweden, that seems to be trying to do "the right thing" called "Bahnhof" (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bahnhof or do a search with 'provider bahnhof.se') that might be a good harbor.
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Re: what's next

Postby loki9797979797 » Wed Jan 02, 2019 8:28 am

hy josh,
sorry to hear the news, i wish you all the best!

Iredmail is a free bundle to install and maintain a linux mail server (postfix, dovecot etc).
Maybe Iredmail would be interested to integrate the spamgourmet system in their package? This way either anyone could be hosting their own spamgourmet-clone or one could decide to provide a publicly available service?
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Re: what's next

Postby vchris314 » Wed Jan 02, 2019 9:51 pm

I have prayed for your comfort, Josh.

How about a board of directors? Perhaps nine members?

The board could then be responsible for the maintenance of the service indefinitely. It would be up to the board to make sure that there was always nine members - members of the board could recommend and nominate new members as needed. Perhaps this board could be modeled after the FreeBSD board of directors.
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Re: what's next

Postby Clewby » Wed Jan 09, 2019 9:42 pm

Hello Josh

It's irritating when life throws us curve balls, and I am sure dealing with GBM is something you could have done without. I'll give you the same advice I have given to others. Feel free to ignore it - after all, it is worth the paper it is printed on...

1) Listen to your doctors. Get second opinions if you think you are getting the run-around, or being 'milked' for their enrichment. A reliable no-nonsense doctor is well worth listening to.
2) Ignore charlatans and woo-merchants who offer unevidenced 'treatments' that can be expensive and promise the world. There are a lot of people who prey on people in your position. Be prepared to use your critical-thinking skills. A lot.
3) On the other hand, don't be afraid ask for help from people you trust. Even for what seems like day-to-day trivia. When you are dealing with 'stuff' don't be afraid to ask a friend to come a cook a meal for you, clean the house, or make meals for the freezer for later. Most people want to be helpful, and asking them to do solid, practical things that take some of the day-to-day strain off you and your family and/or companions is a way of enabling them to be helpful, and far better than having a houseful of flowers that need watering and rot after a week or so. This gets more relevant as time progresses.
4) Don't forget to have 'time-outs' to enjoy yourself.

I hope you survive several standard deviations beyond the mean. Good luck.

As for SG, there are a few organizations other people have not mentioned that might be worth contacting:

a) Tutanota - Germany
b) XS4ALL - Netherlands
c) Runbox - Norway

If I think of others, I will post more suggestions.

Best regards, and thank you for the Spamgourmet service.

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Re: what's next

Postby josh » Tue Jan 29, 2019 12:35 am

Thanks again everyone!

My current preferred plan is to trick my adult children into taking over - they're much younger than I am and cancer-free, so that would buy us a lot of time. This also allows the service to stay where it is and avoid a disruptive move.

They actually did take over when I was in surgery and recovery from it last October. The support requests (through emails - not here) were too much for them because they weren't extremely familiar with the service and had to do a fair amount of work/inquiry to answer each request.

I fixed that problem by removing the support/contact field on the main site :) - and we're still refusing new users.

Hopefully my kids can benefit from that lowered service level and over time get up to speed to the point they start accepting new users and direct support requests again. But the main thing is that they can keep the place running.
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Re: what's next

Postby logan6072 » Thu Jan 31, 2019 4:40 am


My heart sank when I read this. My wife passed away from GBM last year. She was only 35 and had just given birth to our first child, after years of trying.

Here's the beginning of our end:
http://loganlo.com/2015/12/the-sun-alwa ... on-tv.html

And the end itself:

My father passed away three months later:

I tell you this because when I say that I understand what you and your family are going through, I really do. On a much more positive note, Alison was supposed to only live 3 months. She survived 18 with the worst of the worst of the worst - she not only had a GBM, but it was a butterfly GBM and she was paralyzed on her left side.

Like you, I was a lawyer so I threw myself into research and I read every single page of this website:

No quackery, just science based help with citations to the National Cancer Board. I could let you know what we did that "worked" and what was a waste of time, if you'd like.

Or, you could rest. It's a bear to fight and, many nights, I wonder if I should have just let her enjoy her life.

Write me if you'd like or not. Just know that I'm rooting for you. Thanks for everything you've done. The world needs guys like you so I hope you stick around for a while.

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Re: what's next

Postby pbb » Sun Feb 03, 2019 3:31 pm

Hi Josh,

I just wanted to say that if your family can take over the control of the site, I would be happy to be a candidate to help with the running of SG in some way.

Needless to say, you know how to contact me.

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