[tor-relays] Tor Weather has been discontinued

Karsten Loesing karsten at torproject.org
Tue Apr 5 13:00:22 UTC 2016

Hash: SHA1

Hi Eran,

On 04/04/16 17:31, Eran Sandler wrote:
> So, I was also thinking about basing a new system off of onionoo.

Sounds great.  I'm happy to help with this effort by implementing any
missing Onionoo features that are needed to build a Weather-like service.

> It should be fairly easy to handle that.
> Basic flow would be the same:
> - Register with fingerprint + email + select notifications (down,
> low bandwidth etc). - Get confirmation email - Confirm
> We can discuss what notifications are needed (the same or others as
> before).

This is a fine question for people on this list who are likely your
main user base.  But to give you a rough idea how Tor Weather is
currently used, here are the subscription numbers by type:

 - 3808 node down subscriptions,
 - 3535 t-shirt subscriptions,
 - 3518 outdated version subscriptions, and
 - 2043 low bandwidth subscriptions.

> Regarding T-Shirts, I think automatically sending emails might be a
> bit too much. Perhaps it should collect that data and send an email
> to the people responsible sending out the t-shirts 1-2 a month.
> They can review some data (when the node first appeared, how stable
> it is, etc - or we can determine new parameters for getting a
> t-shirt) and authorize sending out an email.

I hope that Juris has feedback on this one.  I'm copying him on this

> I would be interested to know what other notifications are worth
> while.
> Regarding operational details, I have a few questions:
> - How are emails being sent today? - Is there a main torproject.org
> email server that was used? Obviously we would all rather have
> these emails reach their destination and not fall into SPAM
> folders.

So, the current Weather sends two kinds of emails: welcome messages to
operators whose relays have first become stable, and notifications
based on subscriptions as outlined above.  I think the rewrite should
leave out welcome messages entirely, because those can easily be
considered as spam.  It was very controversial years ago whether
Weather should be sending these welcome messages, and I'm not
convinced that we'd make the same decision again.  I'd say it's better
to advertise the existence of your service on this list and in
documentation for prospective relay operators, including the Tor
website.  Note that it doesn't have to run on a .torproject.org
subdomain for that.

As for notification messages, I don't expect there to be too many of
those over the day.  Given the subscription numbers above, I'd say
there are no more than a hundred notifications per day.  But that's
just a guess, I don't have exact numbers.

I'm aware that this doesn't fully answer your questions.  But maybe it
helps you make better plans for picking a mail server for this purpose.

> - How open are every one to run the new Weather system on a PaaS
> like Google AppEngine? We can probably get free credits to run it
> and it will save us a server to run. We can use AppEngine's cron
> feature to do the scheduling and check if things are up and
> running. That should be much more efficient as this system won't
> really be taking 100% CPU from a server (and its one less server to
> maintain).

That's also a question for others on this list, but I'm not worried.
Onionoo data is public anyway, so the only thing you're giving to
Google (or to whichever provider you choose) is the mapping between
subscriber email address and relay fingerprint they're interested in.

I would start with whatever hosting place is most convenient, and if
this turns out to be a problem later, move the service elsewhere.
Unless there are major concerns on this list, of course.  Good
thinking to ask in advance though.

All the best,
Comment: GPGTools - http://gpgtools.org


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