Antiwar.com Added to KIA List???

One of the most successful libertarian ventures of the last few decades is fixing to shut its doors unless you do something about it. Antiwar.com is shutting down unless they can raise $60,000 right now. From their front page:

Unless we get a flood of contributions in the next couple of days, Antiwar.com is closing its doors permanently: finis, good-bye, that’s all, folks.

We’ve been at this all week, trying to bring home the point that Antiwar.com is essential, that its demise is possible — and that failure to make our fundraising goal of $60,000 would be a disaster.

I’m popping them a few bucks right now, and requesting that the rest of you do the same.

Update: When you’ve completed your donation, make sure you hop over to [email protected] for a special treat.

48 Comments
  1. Huh? $60,000 to run a website? Do they have former government officials writing their budgets or what? I refuse to give them any money on the grounds that they are so irresponsible.

  2. Perhaps they have the likes of Badnarik’s campaign staff, who managed to blow $100k before the campaign has even begun, working for them… I have no sympathy.

  3. Mike,

    It costs a lot of money to run a successful website. No one is getting rich of it, and not money is being blown (that I know of).

    Take a look at the amount of traffic the generate and compute the bandwidth costs, for starters. Then add the cost of living in California.

    The only money they make is from fundraising. I think you are off base on this one.

  4. Mike,

    I discussed advertising with Eric Garris a couple of years or so ago. His position is that they would lose credibility if they had paid advertisers. I don’t neccessarily agree, but certainly understand and respect his argument. One can certainly see the point that one can’t suck up to advertisers in their writing if their ain’t no advertisers.

  5. I don’t like tactics like this. Maybe Antiwar really is on deaths door but I’ve seen enough of these campaigns to strongly suspect that if they only get $25,000, they’ll probably find a way to trudge on.

  6. I’m calling bullshit. I just did a quick scan of web-hosting prices for unlimited bandwidth and extensive disk space and virtually all are less than $100/month. What am I missing here?

  7. Mike, because they say unlimited does not mean they can handle the load. I’ve had such sites crash on me before when we had a lot of traffic.

    I’d guess their hosting costs around $600-700 without any inside information. I’m merely basing it on what I’ve had to pay before and the fact that I’ve never seem them crash or bog down when they had a really big story.

  8. Mike, you’re missing the requirements of a site which gets so many hits per day that it would overload a single server.

    As I manage the growth of my own site, which I’ve just moved from shared hosting to a virtual dedicated server, and will probably have to move to larger accommodations again within months at this rate of growth, the costs keep going up.

    Fortunately, the advertising more than covers the costs of the site itself — in fact, it is about half my total income! I’ve worked hard to make sure the advertising I do have is unobtrusive yet effective, and doesn’t compromise my principles. The last part was easy: I simply don’t exercise editorial control over Google ads. They’re selected by computer, and I have no control over that. So they can’t affect the integrity of my reporting.

  9. I am having a hard time finding more than one that even comes close to that price and this place appears to be a huge rip off.

  10. I’ll trust your knowledge on the matter. Even at $500-$600/month we are looking at $7,200/year. Let’s be conservative and give them $10k/year for the site. Now, if they are really running a business and want to make some money to pay salaries and the like, then they need to make a friggin sound business decision and do whatever it takes to bring in money which includes advertising. But to put up some bullshit notice about how they are going to close tomorrow unless they get $60,000 just turns we way the hell off. I will not send a single worthless Fed note to them for that reason alone.

  11. Antiwar.com is hosted on dedicated servers located at Rackspace, a company I’ve actually had filtered from my Google ads because of their involvement in the government taking Indymedia offline for a week. If I were them, I’d have the site moved to another company, but I’m not them…

    Anyway, they’re bloody expensive. The reason for that is they provide end-to-end management of the servers; if something breaks, they take care of it, and fast.

    Cheaper solutions could be found and cobbled together, but then they’d still have to pay someone to admin the boxes, both hardware and software, and you’re looking at probably more money anyway, especially if they have no one in house who can manage multiple servers and maintain an on-call presence to take care of anything that might pop up.

    Bottom line, running a server that gets as much traffic as they do takes money, and lots of it.

  12. They are running their website like the LP manages itself: Wait around with their heads in the sand until the shit hits the fan then cry wolf.

    Some organizations deserve their fate.

  13. In addition to Internet expenses, you simply don’t attract writers like Pat Buchanan, Paul Craig Roberts, Justin Raimondo without spending some money.

  14. I donated to Antiwar.com because it gets a lot of user traffic and is consistently anti-war from a libertarian perspective.

  15. It is not a matter of what it costs. It is a matter of how much you think you need to spend. As with any budget, if you don’t bring in an amount equal to or more than you spend = you go broke. This is very basic shit that the government obviously doesn’t understand and for some reason a Libertarian website doesn’t either.

  16. That’s just it: I’m not at all convinced they’re spending too much. In fact, if they’re really libertarians, they probably are getting a bargain on their hosting services. I know I am. I’m sure Stephen squared are as well.

  17. Michael – we just had to upgrade simply because of HoT traffic. I love Seth Cohn to death (and he gave us a good deal) but he can’t handle the traffic anymore. We will be moving hosts this weekend.

  18. I love the antiwar website– especially the writing of Justin Raimondo. I have already sent them $50 and am considering sending more. One things for sure, the “War Party”– and other nefarious entities bent on turning our nation into a new Soviet Union– have no problem raising way more cash than this. You believe in freedom? Put your money where your mouth is!

  19. Stephen, that’s part of the reason I moved from shared hosting to my own private server — I now have more disk space, more bandwidth allocation, and I’m only spending a couple bucks more a month. The downside is I agreed to admin the server myself, which means the last week’s been kind of touchy, with having to get MySQL tuned properly. Oh, and upgraded, too, thanks to bugs in the slightly older version shipped with CentOS.

    Er, nevermind, I’m just going to blog about it. :)

  20. I hate dealing with mySQL servers, which is why I’d rather pay for the service. I’ll read the blog entry so we can comisserate together.

  21. Well, once you have the thing configured okay, it runs like a dream. Basically you have to give it a configuration tuned to the constraints of its environment. And it comes with sample configuration files with the necessary stuff.

    I posted my blog entry; enjoy!

  22. Naturally, the bottom line is that you if you don’t want to contribute to AntiWar.Com, don’t. And, just to make things clear, I’ve never received, nor do I anticipate receiving, money from them (I did get a review copy of Raimondo’s last book — I write reviews, favorably reviewed his Rothbard biography after buying it at my own expense, and don’t think that I got the copy because I try to boost their fundraisers).

    AntiWar.Com is very up-front about their budget: $60,000 per quarter. What do they spend it on? The obvious (web hosting/bandwidth) the not-so-obvious (they belong to at least one wire service), and presumably at least something in salary to their principals.

    I contribute, and encourage others to contribute, because I think they do a hell of a job on a budget that just isn’t that big. Last time I noticed, Cato’s budget was something like $18 million per year. I like Cato, too, but I wouldn’t say their work is worth 72 times as much as AntiWar.Com’s.

    Regards,
    Tom Knapp

  23. Mike,

    OK, I’ll bite: How did Badnarik’s campaign staff manage to “blow $100k before the campaign has even begun?” I didn’t go to work for the campaign until (I think) late July or early August, and I came in after a bit of a shakeup, so I am not familiar with the period you’re talking about.

    Regards,
    Tom Knapp

  24. Nigel,

    Ah, that may be it. I’m not involved with the congressional campaign, and have no knowledge of how the money raised has been used (although I did, of course, hear about the amount raised).

    During the time I worked for the presidential campaign, I thought they made pretty wise spending decisions (including paying me the fairly small salary I demanded after negotiating it downward a bit). Especially given the standing start — broke at the nomination — I think Badnarik and his campaign did damn good. They raised a million bucks in five months (compared to the previous campaign’s $2.7 million over several years), and they ploughed a lot of it into real and innovative politics. The polling alone has lasting value in terms of being mineable for lessons on how to better next time, and the media strategy was as aggressively as the funding reasonably allowed.

    Regards,
    Tom Knapp

  25. I agree with Mike. Antiwar claims to need $60,000 PER QUARTER to run the site. They claim they are on a barebones budget, but don’t bother to give us some idea of how the numbers breakdown.

    Could it really cost $240,000 per year to run a website that essentially cobbles together news articles and opinion pieces?

    Perhaps it could, but I’m skeptical to say the least.

  26. I, too, was a bit surprised when I heard they needed this much money to operate their site. But, when you consider the quality of the writers and the amount of traffic they’re getting, it doesn’t seem terribly unreasonable.

    And I totally agree with Andy K. – Justin Raimondo is a great read, and AntiWar.com is providing a desperately needed service at this critical time.

  27. Mike,

    Interesting. Quick-and-dirty impression: Not so bad, but it does somewhat diminish the glamor of the amounts.

    From what I can tell, the campaign manager is taking an eminently reasonable salary if he’s doing a good job (the “management services” part of what he’s been paid norm to about $20,000 per year). Other line items for him are presumably expenses incurred, including reimbursement for work he’s sub-contracted.

    The amounts for travel services to Susan Rarick presumably include actual travel expenses, not just her booking/scheduling services (there are some split-out payments, but not that many). I suspect that travel accounts for a LOT of Badnarik’s fundraising, i.e. he’s collecting donations from Libertarian audiences around the country. The payments to Complete Campaigns for fundraising are fairly small — probably processing fees for credit card donations and such.

    Travel’s a high-overhead way to raise funds versus, say, direct mail. (continued)

  28. (continued). You can lose money. You can spend $5K on travel and raise $6K with that travel. So at first blush, it looks like Badnarik probably isn’t running a bad ratio on “spending money to raise money.” I’d try to cut back on the Outback “meetings over dinner.” I didn’t add up how much Jon Airheart is making, but whatever it is, it isn’t enough — that guy WORKS.

    If I have any big criticisms of the campaign from the report, they come down to: A Libertarian candidate who has raised $100,000 for a Congressional race should be ALL OVER the local media, if for no other reason than THAT he has raised $100,000. That’s 1/6th of the GOP incumbent’s total. There are five Democrats declared, and none of them have filed FEC reports, which means they are either breaking the law or that Badnarik has raised at least four times as much as all of them combined. That’s news … but Google shows not one single story in the Texas media. Someone is asleep at this campaign’s media switch.

  29. Well, I must say, after reading about half of that entire article, I am compelled to change my mind and send them some bones. Thanks Paulie.

  30. Rubbish. You can attract a “writer” like Raimondo with 2 nickles and still over pay. $60,000 is nonsense. I spoke to another libertarian site with high volumes of traffic and they budget a few hundred a month for a dedicated server. This is to pay JR so he can invent conspiracy theories about Jews. Garris still lives rent free at Hunter’s estate.

  31. you can theorize over traffic, bandwidth, and servers forever. maybe that article had the answer:

    Blumert remembers writing Garris and Raimondo a check to help them start a magazine for [the Libertarian Republican Organizing Committee] and getting a phone call later that afternoon. Somebody walking down Mission Street had found the check on the sidewalk, where Garris or Raimondo had accidentally dropped it.

    “It was so typical of them,” says Blumert. “They were just not cut out for business.”

    antiwar.com is going out of business unless blah blah? g’bye! enjoy living in your mansion, boys. i stopped reading the site after noticing too much knee-jerk bandwagon inaccuracy like this.

  32. Maybe the market has just decided it’s time to die.

    I dont really have any sympathy for grown men who choose to be in their situation- even if it’s “sacrificing” for libertarian ideals. Maybe they should have followed the lead of their sugardaddy, and done something productive to support their pet projects.
    I wish I could blog all day( well I dont blog. I am basically online all day but I support myself doing it. they should monetize their traffic) and have someone support me. no actually I dont. I mean I felt sick when I lived with my mother for 6 months when I was 22. I couldn’t imagine doing that at 52. To me being Libertarian( or an anti-war, gay “conservative Republian”) should not be a career(just as being a politician shouldn’t). I think a lot of libertarians would normally look down their noses at panhandlers, disabled poor people,etc. Not too mention people that choose poverty. Should it matter if the panhandler has an Ayn Rand t-shirt.

  33. Granted, at least libertarian beggars only solicit consensual donations ( but so do panhandlers). That is GREAT. No state-enforced theft. Give if you want to. Don’t if you don’t. My thing is, I have limited resources as it is. My assumption is so does the “libertarian movement.” A major thing that turned me off about the LP was constant begging for donations, but little to show for it. If I am going to invest in your business, I should expect results. They have had years, hundreds of thousands in donations. Any site with that traffic should be able to find a way to support itself. I am not moved to donate so a Republican can have more money for cigarettes. If I am going to donate to a political cause, it will be something like Liberty Venture or some Libertarian group that wants to do soemthing real. I dont have that much to spread around to 800 different groups and causes, especially ones that show no return while the owners live it up while seemingly “impoverished.”

  34. Quoth Graham:

    “Maybe the market has just decided it’s time to die.”

    Maybe so, maybe not. I note with interest, however, your segue from market language to a false portrayal of AntiWar.Com as “panhandlers.”

    These guys provide a service, and ask those who desire them to continue providing it to pay for it. They face the same “free rider” problem that any “public good” producer does — the benefits of the project are diffuse, the group of individuals who notice the benefits and are willing to pay for them small.

    Funny how so many alleged market advocates sneer “panhandler” at people who actually put up a product and trust their customers to return value for value instead of trying to sell a pig in a poke.

    As for “anonymous” and his estimate of Raimondo’s writing talent, tastes vary. I’ve read two of Raimondo’s books, have regularly read his thrice-weekly column regularly for several years, and think he’s worth far more than the few nickels I’ve thrown at him.