Because the servers we buy and the bandwidth we obtain are very competitively priced, but they still do cost money, as do the people that run them.
We get this question from two different angles. First, there are always people who just want something for nothing. We don't have much to offer those people.
The second angle comes from people who would like to see us offer some sort of ad-sponsored free service. There are two primary reasons we have not pursued that:
- If it were possible for us to sell ad space on your site and make money from your hard work, wouldn't that be a little like ripping you off? You are welcome to sell ad space on your site, if you wish, and you are the only person who should profit from it. If you want to try this out, Google AdSense is a great, easy way to get started, and it works with our service.
- Accepting sponsorship for a site places additional constraints on the content of that site. If we did this on any kind of scale and were dependent on the profits, the sponsors would gain enough influence over us to potentially force us to censor our members. That's unacceptable.
Finally, we would encourage you to remember the time-tested truth about free services on the Internet: if you're not paying then you're not the customer, and if you're not the customer then you're the product. And if that doesn't put you in mind of the mental image of a herd of cows milling around outside a slaughterhouse, well, we admire your optimism.
Our customers are not advertisers, not venture capitalists, not the government, and not public opinion. Our only customers are our members.