[tor-project] Plan to shut down Tor Weather

Karsten Loesing karsten at torproject.org
Wed Mar 16 17:51:10 UTC 2016

Hash: SHA1

Hi everyone,

I'm planning to shut down Tor Weather.

For those of you who have not used Tor Weather in the past, here's
what it does: Tor Weather is an email notification service that lets
users subscribe for notifications related to one or more relays.
These notifications can be configured to be sent out when the relay
unexpectedly goes down or when it pushes enough traffic to earn its
operator a Tor t-shirt.

Unfortunately, Tor Weather is broken:

 - It is not actively maintained, nor is there an active operator
running the main instance on weather.torproject.org.  If it breaks, we
don't have a good plan for fixing it.  But since it's not broken yet,
nobody is actively working on developing a better Weather.

 - The t-shirt notifications are misleading.  Weather is promising
t-shirts for relays that have not been around long enough or that
provide too little bandwidth to be useful to the network, and it's
almost impossible to deny a t-shirt after Weather has promised it.
Also, Weather is likely not offering t-shirts to people who have long
earned it, thereby confusing them.

 - An unreliable notification system is worse than not having a system
at all.  Relay operators shouldn't rely on Weather to notify them when
their relay fails.  They should rather set up their own system instead.

There are a few possible alternatives to Weather:

 - We started rewriting Weather using Onionoo as data back-end in 2014
[0].  That project didn't produce working code, but somebody could
pick up these efforts and finish the rewrite.

 - The Roster developers said that they're planning to include an
email notification function in Roster [1].

 - We developed a simple Python script that provides information about
a relay operator's eligibility for acquiring a t-shirt [2].

None of these alternatives is a full replacement of Weather, and I
don't think that we should work towards deploying an alternative
anytime soon.  The best scenario that I can imagine here is that, once
Weather is shut down and people realize they really want to have
something like it back, the relay operator community gets together and
develops a thing or two.  Those alternatives wouldn't run on
torproject.org, but that seems secondary.

I'm thinking about the following timing for shutting down Weather:

 - By end of month, March 31, we disable Weather's email notification
functionality and place a big warning on the homepage that it will be
shut down 2 months later.  We also blog about this like we did when we
shut down Tor Cloud [3].

 - By June 30, we take the Weather host offline.

Please respond to this list by March 23, which is in 1 week from now,
if you strongly object to this plan.

All the best,

[0] https://trac.torproject.org/projects/tor/wiki/doc/weather-in-2014

[1] http://www.tor-roster.org/


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