> I have a Web site. I don't attack people's privacy. And I don't have ads on the Web site.
That's cool. It's good that you have a small enough website that you have the ability to pay your costs out of pocket. It doesn't seem to be the site linked on your user account, though, since I see ads. :)
But imagine the site you run becomes even more popular than it is... you get incredible word-of-mouth reach from people who just love what you're providing, your database (assuming your site is more than a simple blog) starts cracking under the weight of all the connections and the queries that your users demand to run your site as expected. What do you do?
If you say "charge $1/month", I'll get to that in a sec. If you have another solution, I'm curious.
> Some collectors of paintings offer them for public viewing
That's a bit different than operating a service. You only have three things in play: The cost of the art to the collector, who wants to (and is free to) show them to visitors, in a specified venue (which may provide free 'hosting' (or they may not.. I don't know the art world), with a finite amount of 'bandwidth'). But hanging a picture on a wall in someone's museum is a helluva lot different than what's needed to adequately provide any more-than-trivial service.
> Demand subscription. If 100,000 fans are indeed in love with the Web site they will pay $1 per year to run a few servers at Amazon.
Firstly: No, they won't. In my personal example, when ad revenues started to fall, I held donation drives to try to cover the remainder, month-to-month. You will always have good-hearted people who have no trouble throwing a couple of bucks your way, but by and large it's not an option to many. There's a very similar parallel if you think about $1 music tracks (which is sort of a bad argument since the music industry is still making money hand over fist - but it's also a much larger/different userbase).
Secondly, not all services are in a position to demand subscription. In my particular case - and this is where we come off the pre-scripted path of the average discussion - my service was based on data from Xbox Live. Still a valid site, very heavily used even by Microsoft employee themselves, but I was bound by a user agreement that I could not paywall my services. Advertisements were fine, and there wasn't anything stopping me from exchanging cash for an ad-free experience, but bum deal or not - a direct "pay or no service" was not an option.
You may think this classifies my site as "not viable to exist", which of course it doesn't now, but it did for 6 years due to advertising revenue - and with 5 million total users, I was doing *something* right, even if I may have been doing other business-related things wrong. But as I said initially, I wasn't intending on being a "soulless corporation", I just wanted to maintain and grow a service to meet the (at-times) overwhelming demand.
My point with this story is simply to say that not every site is equal, and even in this response, you seem to be pigeon-holing what kind of websites use advertising.
> Rackspace has these prices...
AWS and Azure are probably somewhat competitive (enough for discussion, at least), and you know the biggest gotchas about these services? The details.
Sure, you've done all kinds of math for bandwidth in your example (which is grossly under-bid; just this isolated comment thread is 19k gzipped for the HTML alone. Chrome tells me the front page HTML is ~45k), but what about compute cycles to parse data and render the comment threads? What about the data passing to/from a separately-instanced database (some providers do count that as bandwidth)?
You're also only counting 100,000 registered users, yet there are UIDs way beyond that (tens of millions? billion by now? Dunno). Sure, a good portion of them probably don't visit daily (and there's probably a sizable chunk that haven't connected in years), but without hard numbers, I'd still venture that the majority of pageviews are by casual passersby without an account.
Regardless, I am unwaveringly confident that Slashdot gets more than a million page impressions per day.
> as long as they don't sell privacy of their visitors
Well hold on, what exactly are you outlining here in terms of 'privacy' and the sale of such? Perhaps I'm wrong, but while it's common knowledge that ad companies know you visited Site A, and Site B, I would imagine the vast majority of the major ad platforms have no way of identifying the true identify of 'tftp' - where you live (beyond IP geolocation), your name, identify of loved ones.
Please separate this from the popular social networks, who we all know sell whatever you type into their system. I want to keep this strictly a discussion on banner-type ads, because those are the ones people keep talking about blocking. This greatly differentiates the conversation from your bar, Stalker's Haven.