The Cost of Hosting a Website

There are no affiliate links in this post and nobody paid me to write about this. Opinions expressed in this post are my own.

The Archive of our Own (AO3) is in the middle of its semi-annual donation drive again, and as is customary now, the antishippers are out in full force whining about a no-ads-ever, massive archive website like the AO3 needing money to stay online and how dare it asks money of people while hosting so much “problematic” content.

But this post isn’t about this.

This post is about a tangent I’ve seen to the above discourse, about how all free hosts are gone from the Web so the haters have no choice but be forced to post their fics on AO3 and suffer.

So this post is about the cost of hosting your own website to post your own content on the interwebs, whatever it may be.

“Free” Hosting

The notion that “free” (as in, no upfront cost, but ad-powered) hosting is gone from the Internet since Yahoo! (boo, hiss) closed Geocities in 2009 is simply not true. Sure, Angelfire and Tripod, the other of the other big 3 of free, ad-powered web hosting, has also stopped offering free hosting space (they also belong to the same company now, Lycos). But, following in the footsteps of the late Geocities, there’s Neocities. Heck, look up “free web hosting” in your search engine of choice and you’ll find plenty of companies vying for your attention by promising the best hosting a complete lack of money can… buy?

Now as to whether these hosts are worth the not-existent price tag… well, that’s a whole other question. Remember: if the price tag says “free”, the product the company is selling is you (and/or your data). And, just as importantly, the kind of content you produce may not be allowed on their servers…

The Cost of Web Hosting

If you, understandably, decide that you’d rather pay for hosting, for your own peace of mind and the ability to post whatever you want (as long as it’s legal and adheres to your host’s Terms of Service and/or Acceptable Use Policy), it doesn’t have to empty your wallet. Yes, it costs a pretty penny (latest budget) to host the AO3 and keep it running; however, the AO3 has over 7 million fanworks in over 40,000 fandoms and over 3 million registered users, with all the disk space, database sizes, database hits and concurrent user activities this implies. Your website will not reach these numbers.

But what does it cost?

I’ll take my own web space as an example because that’s the one set of data I reliably have access to, haha.


First of all, you need hosting, aka to pay a company to keep the files and databases (although databases are not always needed) on their server, which is simply a computer always connected to the internet and that will display your pages to anyone who requests them.

For various reasons, I am currently hosted on shared hosting provided by HawkHost. I’ve found them to be a helpful host with good customer service, their hosting is fast and reliable, and I like the modern tech their hosting provides me with, like free SSL and modern and up-to-date PHP versions. If that last part was alphabet soup, don’t worry about it, it’s not necessary to know what that means right now.

But anyway, my annual (I pay once a year) bill for hosting comes up to US$33.52/year, so roughly US$2.80 per month. That might be more or less expensive depending on where you live, I realize, and I’m sorry.


Once your files are hosted, you need a domain name, because to reach your website(s), people need to have something they can type into their web browser’s address bar. The price of domain names vary wildly, depending on the Top-Level Domain (TLD, aka the part after the dot, like .com, .net, or .org). Common TLDs like .com or .net are relatively cheap. Fancy ones like .pizza, .blog, .store or .wiki are much more expensive. .sucks is particularly expensive. Some domain names also come with restrictions: for example, to own a .ca name, you have to be a Canadian citizen, and, as PillowFort found out the hard way, you cannot use a .io domain name to host pornographic material.

My fancy domain name, a .zone, is roughly US$44.50/year. I also pay $12/year for privacy protection (basically if someone does a whois on my domain name it doesn’t display my actual real name and address). Privacy protection is included in the price of certain TLD, like for .ca domains. On the other hand, a .ca domain, like I used to use, is US$16.00/year. Going with the generic domain TLD (.com, .net, .org, .info) or a country TLD (.ca, .us) is much cheaper than anything else.

A company that allows you to buy a domain name is called a registrar. I personally use Rebel, although mostly because they bought the registrar I was dealing with before. Google also has a registrar servicefor now. I have heard good things about Namecheap and Gandi.

Note that it is recommended to NOT buying your domain name and your hosting from the same company. The TL;DR version of the explanation is that in case you’re unsatisfied with the company’s services and want to move your website elsewhere, if your host doesn’t have control of your domain, they cannot hold it hostage.

So, How Much Is It?

Given the above costs I’ve mentioned, I believe you can have a web space to call your own for about US$50.00/year, all told, including hosting space, a domain name with a generic TLD, and free privacy protection (Namecheap and Gandi offer free privacy protection with each domain you register with them). I know it seems relatively cheap and reasonable to me, a legal adult able enough to hold a job in a developed country, and that not everyone can afford the cost of hosting a website, for all sorts of reasons. I also didn’t mean to imply that keeping the lights on at the AO3 should be cheap and easy, because it isn’t. But what I mostly wanted to demonstrate in this here post is that you don’t need to be a millionaire to have a little corner of the web that you can call your own.

Provided, of course, that you follow the law and your host’s Terms of Service and Applicable Use Policy, as the vast majority of paid hosting, even if you’re the one paying, cannot be used as a platform to threaten, harass, hack, doxx, spam, or DDoS others.

Trip Down Memory Lane

Beam Me Up, Grandma

I am not old enough to have seen the era of fandom through zines and mailing lists, but reading this has made me nostalgic for the days of small and terrible fansites on Geocities, the era where I first got my taste of fandom and then never ever looked back. Not to say there weren’t weird crazy people back then, but they were easier to avoid. I can say without a doubt that if I had not found fandom I would not be here today, and I will always be grateful to have discovered that hey, online there are people who write made-up stories, just like me!

Fandoms, Characters, Languages, and Literacy part 2

First of all: a definition of literacy.

Literacy as I use it in my head, and will use it here, is not just the ability to read, write, and count: it is the ability to use what one has read and counted to act on the received information.

There are 5 levels of literacy.

Level 1 is the lowest. One knows how to read, write, and count, but not even enough to take action on things that have been read. For example, they can read a medication’s label, but be unable to use the information gathered from their reading to decide the appropriate dosage for a child. Wiki in Simple English is too complex for them.

Level 2 literacy is who Wiki in Simple English is aimed at. People with level 2 literacy can understand very simple text with clear presentation on simple subjects (e.g. simple wiki, kids book). People at this level often don’t acknowledge their own difficulties. They will often not understand how to fill out job application forms, or government forms.

Level 3 is considered the minimum literacy level needed to function in a complex, connected society like the USA, Canada, Europe, or Japan. At this level, people can read texts and make simple deductions based on them. This is the literacy level that a high school diploma acknowledges.

Level 4 and level 5 are even more advanced literacy levels. People at these levels can understand complex texts, cross-reference information across multiple texts, and do complex calculations.

A 2012 study by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) reveals that only 55% of the population of Canada have a literacy level of 3 or above. The proportion falls to only 45% in the USA. Perhaps surprisingly for anyone who’s ever tried to learn Japanese as a second or third language, 78% of Japan’s population has a literacy level of 3 or higher.

And now, onto the actual meat of the meta!

I think literacy is a thing that tends to be taken for granted in fandom, not just at the fans’ level, which I am not nearly enough versed in sociology to look at, but also at the characters’ and canons’ levels. It’s one of those Fridge Logic things that most people overlook, but nerds pick up on, like watching mainstream historical or war movie as a History nerd and being annoyed by everything wrong. And yes, when I create an avatar or start thinking about canon to RP or write fic from, literacy is a thing I think about a lot, because I think far too pragmatically for a porn writer.

For example, in medieval fantasy-based fandoms with feudal societies (hi, Fire Emblem), very few people should be able to read/write/count at all. And the divide is very strongly traced along social hierarchy/wealth. But who should be able to read in Fire Emblem (Awakening and Fates)?

The mages, for one, as the magic seems heavily tome-based, which imply they can at least read spells. Mages probably either went to school, like Henry, or had apprenticeships that included learning to read/write/count. Monks and cleric might not be wealthy, but they have time and the desire to spread (religious) knowledge on their side. (Lucius and Libra can totally read and I bet they has lovely handwriting).

Prince Leo of Nohr might be such a prodigy at magic because he learned to read and read well very young. I’m talking “able to read at 3 years of age” kind of prodigy, with perhaps the age adjusted depending on when King Garon got him tutors, but Leo in-game is most likely at a literacy level of 5.

Nyx in Fates is probably also a “I learned to read really young and I am super good at it” child, even before being gifted in curses and hexes.

We know from canon that Xander has the best handwriting as well. Honestly, I believe all the Nohrian and Hoshidan royals can read. Same for the Exalt’s family in Awakening. So yes, Owain/Odin, definitely literate.

Robin in Awakening can read damn well, and that’s probably why they can become a tactician on such short notice. I played a female Robin, and IIRC, in her support with Chrom she is often found reading books.

Miriel is definitely literacy level 5. Her mother being a scholar is a huge factor in this. In complete opposition, Vaike can’t read shit to save his life. Hell, if Vaike didn’t know how to read I wouldn’t even be surprised. I do not mean this as an insult. I’m saying that the idea that everyone needs to learn to read, write, and count to function in society is a recent one, and one that doesn’t apply to people who did not have the money and time to invest into learning a superfluous skill.

In the same line of thought, saying that Niles can’t read at all is not meant to be an insult, but reflects his reality, both as a poor, abandoned child raised by thugs and thieves, and as retainer to Prince Leo, because I think Leo would make a poor teacher for Niles with regards to reading/writing/counting.

Why? Precisely because Leo is a prodigy.

Reading, writing and counting comes naturally to Leo, hence why he’s learned to read so young and his literacy level is so high. He could intellectually grasp that Niles is not as fast to learn to read as he was, but it would frustrate Leo immensely because his method of explaining things in itself might require implicit knowledge that Leo would assume Niles has, but that Niles actually would know nothing about, leaving Niles confused and frustrated. It can be quite difficult to grasp for gifted children that some people learn really really slowly, through no fault of their own.

As my friend Ally mentioned in the original discussion that led to this post, the support scenes between Miriel and Vaike illustrate this exact situation: Miriel, gifted child, tries explaining things to Vaike, and Vaike can’t understand because Miriel can’t lower her explanations to Vaike’s level so that they make sense to him. It’s not (entirely) that Vaike is stupid, it’s because Miriel takes for granted implicit knowledge that Vaike doesn’t have.

Another sign in favour of Niles’ intelligence, and that’s a very interesting point, is that Leo often has no idea what Odin Dark’s trying to say with his grandiose way of speaking, and Niles is the one translating Odin-speak to normal Nohrian.

Moving away from faux-medieval fandoms to a more modern one, this is also why I think Ryuji’s literacy level ain’t that high. It’s not a matter of stupidity, though the modern public school system is quick to condemn it as such, it’s that he doesn’t fully understand what he’s reading in a way that allows him to use the information. From there, he has no interest in school, or studying, or reading anything but easy literature like mangas (which contain furigana that explicitly tell you how to read kanjis), but Japanese high schools are not exactly the most supportive of places for children and teens lagging behind the rigid curriculum or that may be afflicted with a learning disorder such as dyslexia. ETA: It’s been established as canon by the second DVD that Ryuji cannot read certain kanjis; he asks Yusuke how to read some of the kanji in his script.

The one member of the Phantom Thieves with the highest literacy level? Futaba Sakura. Sorry, everyone else.

In a not-so different fandom, but a completely different series, I firmly believe that, while original Dante and Vergil are very close in literacy levels, despite Dante playing dumb a lot, nuDante? Level 2 literacy max. nuVergil reads a lot better than him, even if he is terminally stupid otherwise.

Original Dante can count like a motherfucker and you cannot convince me otherwise. Balancing rent, food and weapon maintenance while being essentially self-employed on a sporadic schedule and travelling for work? Mad (ac)counting skills, given he hasn’t been evicted or died of hunger yet. There’s a reason Dante lives in a 2 story building downtown and nuDante lives in a filthy trailer illegally parked on the pier.

Another “literacy is a privilege and not a right” fandom? Netflix’s Castlevania.

Trevor Belmont can read, since he read the family’s books. Alucard is the son of the two highest literate mofos in Wallachia, he probably reads even better than Trevor. Sypha, however, was born and raised in a culture than values oral tradition above all else. Heck, a Belmont got in a fistfight with a Speaker because the Belmont wanted to write down what the Speaker was telling him. This is how against writing they are. I don’t cast even the slightest shadow of a doubt over Sypha’s magic gifts, or her intelligence, or her being a scholar. I’m just saying she most likely doesn’t even know her alphabet. Especially with the Church controlling knowledge like Scrooge his money.

Given how most Megaten protags and characters are teenagers going to school (some less than others, hi Raidou [Raidou can probably read oldass forgotten kanjis, however]), I don’t have a lot to say here. Even the DDS crew can most likely all read.

Alpeh, however, is much more difficult to figure out from my limited knowledge. He was homegrown by the Church to be Jesus 2.0, but obviously at some point they dropped the ball baby because he’s a gladiator 2.0 when the game opens. I think it would depend on how the arm terminal works? Because while of course the entire country of Japan didn’t forget to read in the span of a century or so, an ignorant, illiterate people is so much easier to control even if your Church is not a corrupted, sinful mess? Even if the arm terminal displays writing, it could also have text-to-speech and voice recognition.

I’d need to play through SMT2 to figure this out. Or maybe a reader would like to enlighten me on that.

Fandoms, Characters, Languages, and Literacy part 1

I understand that everyone speaks the same language in video games for obvious gameplay reasons but for some games it makes zero sense. Looking at you, Fire Emblem! There is no fucking way that kingdoms historically at war with each other spoke the same language. Look at European history!

Like I said I know that for gameplay/accessibility reasons everyone speaks the same language, but you will never convince me that Hoshidans and Nohrians don’t speak very different languages. Same for Ylisse and Plegia. And while it would make great political intrigues shit, it is not the aim of the games but as a language nerd and trained translator it frustrates me a lot.

inb4 “Nyx get a job”

It frustrates me precisely because a different language is not just different words for things! A different language is a different way to perceive and understand the world! There is history and culture in language! Words don’t exist in a vacuum!

This is also why my Shura is a polyglot since the magatama demonification. There are demons from all over in Nocturne! Don’t try to tell me they all speak Standard Tokyo Japanese! Nocturne also has an often forgotten, seldom-used skill called “Jive Talk” (yes I know) that allows you to speak to demons that the Demi-Fiend normally cannot communicate with because he doesn’t understand what they’re saying and they don’t understand what the Demi-Fiend is saying. It’s mostly for demons that speak more “primitively”, but even there, just by its presence, it implies that not all demons speak the same language, and it makes the language nerd in me very happy that it is acknowledged by a skill in the Demi-Fiend’s pool

I am also pretty sure that it’s mentioned in-game that the 3DS consoles in DeSu and the arm terminals or gauntlets in the mainline translate demon speak for humans.

My friend Ally pointed out that FE could be using magic to allow different kingdoms to understand each other, but I think it wouldn’t work, because 1. not everyone in FE is magically gifted and 2. would that be a continental spell? Who would cast and maintain it?

Also Archduke Izana of Izumo totally speaks both Nohrian and Hoshidan and you cannot convince me otherwise because Izumo is the Canada of Fates.

Going back to Nocturne again, Hikawa is probably also pretty gifted language-wise: he’s a high-ranking Gaean, he reads and understands the scripture of Miroku, but most importantly, he hooks up an Amala Drum/Terminal to a computer system that deciphers and activates it, which is most likely a program of his own creation (he’s Chief Technical Director of Cybers for a reason), and that is what allows him to even begin plotting the rebirth of the world as a Shijima world.

So yeah. I love me multilingual characters, and I wish they would show more into games, and not just as Fridge Logic Multilingual.