I have a number of questions about the Skynet model - my goals in asking these questions are:
- To be able to update SiaSetup.info with more detailed information on Skynet;
- To understand what I would be getting into as a developer if I decided to build a significant project on Skynet;
- To help other developers do the same through numbers 1 and 2.
I realize that some of these questions may be somewhat sensitive, but I believe they need to be addressed in order for a serious developer to consider building on Skynet, or for users in general to understand Skynet and make a decision to use it (or subscribe to it) as it matures.
That being said, here are my questions:
Public Skynet portals currently allow content to be uploaded for free. This seems to be the case subject to the utilization of Sia and Skynet being relatively low, as well as Sia storage costs (at least until the last few months). With that in mind:
1a. Will public portals always allow content to be uploaded for free?
1b. How long do public portals pin free content for by default today?
1c. If public portals currently pin free content indefinitely, will this ever change? For example, if storage prices increase above a certain level, if the operation costs of a portal become too expensive, if portals accumulate so many files that a new portal needs to be launched, or some other condition?
1d. If public portals currently pin free content indefinitely, but this changes in the future, will previously pinned content be pruned? What will determine what is removed if so? How will content owners be notified?
1e. If public portals don’t currently pin free content indefinitely, do you plan to make it more clear to users that this is the case?
1f. With the Foundation, there’s a proposal to subsidize all public Skynet portals with Foundation funds to cover portal operation costs. What will be the specific criteria for a portal operator to receive a subsidy? Will they need to run the latest, official portal image or can they customize their own portal? Do you expect that other portals will really be significantly used (outside of those like SkyPortal where the operator does a lot of his own skapp development and other work, and utilizes his own portal accordingly)?
When paid accounts or subscriptions are rolled out for portals, what are the details on how this will work?
2a. Will users be able to sign up through any portal?
2b. Will payments be made in fiat, or SC? If fiat, who’s responsible for the payment gateway - Skynet Labs or each portal?
2c. Will paid accounts be valid only per-portal, or for all of Skynet through any portal?
2d. How exactly will these accounts be handled? SkyID is being built but is a third-party skapp, and it seems counterintuitive that Skynet billing would be tied to a third-party auth service if Skynet Labs wants to ensure control over the process.
2e. If there’s a payment split for monthly subscriptions, what portion goes to a portal vs Skynet Labs if someone uses a portal other than SiaSky.net?
2f. Subscriptions have been mentioned as starting at $5/month - how much content will this get each user in terms of upload, download, and storage?
2g. How will higher subscription tiers be priced? Will it be a similar flat monthly fee after a certain threshold of bandwidth/storage usage, or will additional use be charged by the *byte?
2h. How do skapp developers and content creators get paid for their work? Does the $5/month or similar tiers cover these payments, or are payments to creators additional to the monthly subscription? If additional, would these be implemented in microtransactions from an account balance or some other method?
2i. Considering that a large chunk of a Skynet subscription will go to the above costs to pay hosts and portals, how much does Skynet Labs expect to receive out of the $5/month or other tiers?
2j. If free uploads and usage are still allowed once paid accounts roll out, will users need an account to use Skynet for free? What will be the free usage limitations? Whether or not accounts are required, how will you keep track of users and prevent them from employing tricks like multiple accounts or use of a VPN to skirt the limits?
2k. How many subscriptions, or what volume of SC payments at 30%, will Skynet Labs need to see in order to become profitable? What’s the plan to get to that number, and when is it expected?
Developers looking into Skynet are currently being told that the benefits to building on Skynet are that skapps are easy to build and deploy, and that they don’t have to worry about the underlying infrastructure. Some of the above questions pertain to this topic, but in regards to skapps and developers specifically:
3a. Will developers building skapps on Skynet also be expected to sign up for accounts and pay for the storage and bandwidth their skapp uses? I realize that users using a skapp may end up responsible for some of these costs, like costs for what they upload or download or store through the skapp, but skapp developers may also have large costs - i.e. uploading a complete Wikipedia backup to Skynet.
3b. If a particular skapp is causing such a load on portals that monthly subscriptions aren’t covering the costs, what will be the course of action in regards to those skapps? Will additional portals be spun up at a loss or through a Foundation subsidy, or will the developer be told they need to cover their own portal costs at that point?
3c. Skynet development seems to be very by-the-seat-of-the-pants, and SiaSky.net functionality is often modified or broken because changes are pushed to the production server from master before a release. Is this going to continue to be the case? It seems that SiaSky.net should be kept on a stable release so as to not frustrate developers and require them to constantly adapt to unannounced or poorly announced changes.
Regarding the Sia network - relevant to Skynet because Skynet is of course built on Sia:
4a. Host prices have been increasing because Skynet portals need storage and they pay for it fairly indiscriminately, so hosts can charge more. Are there any plans to attempt to control storage costs for portals, or are those being written off as not a big deal under portal subsidies in the future? If storage costs aren’t a concern for portals, is there a concern about storage costs for normal Sia renters being increased due to Skynet?
4b. There are a small number of hosts (I believe under 20) which have updated to the latest version and enabled the registry for SkyDB, and only a few hundred hosts and 2 PB of storage on the Sia network in general. What are the plans to recruit additional hosts, and to keep them up to date on the latest releases so that they offer the latest features for Skynet?
4c. Host improvements were promised after Skynet was launched, but next we saw SkyDB on short notice, and host improvements seem to be on the back burner again. Hosting is technical, unfriendly, and full of issues for many who host, and many of those issues have persisted for years. When can host improvements realistically be expected when there’s so much focus on Skynet lately? I believe that new hosts are unlikely to be onboarded without hosting improvement.
4d. Is the goal of Sia in terms of hosts still to onboard datacenters with spare storage capacity? If so, when do we expect that this will happen? If not, considering the Sia model of hosts needing to be online 24/7, how many high-quality home hosts do you realistically expect to attract which will fit this criteria and also want to deal in Siacoins and the technicality of being a host? Will this be a sustainable model to build a new Internet?
I realize that this is a lot to cover at once, but if I can understand and answer the above I can better articulate to others why they should build on Sia and Skynet. Thanks for taking the time to answer these questions, and I may have more questions depending on the answers.