The Challenges of Self-Hosting Adoption

As I’ve been responding to various discussions in this forum, I’ve been pondering the challenges associated with promoting self-hosted services. I thought it might be insightful to share experiences and hear about others’ struggles and successes in the realm of self-hosting.

I’ve been an advocate for self-hosting for quite some time, exploring various FOSS technologies. My journey has included everything from establishing shared storage spaces for collaboration among freedom-minded individuals, to implementing services like XMPP, Matrix Synapse, Jitsi, Retroshare, and deploying various tools on my VPS and FreedomBox. These technologies offer incredible potential for free and collaborative human interaction. Yet, the challenge I consistently face is mainstream user adoption. Despite my enthusiast group’s best efforts, the solutions we have set up often remain underutilized and eventually fall into disuse.

The resistance typically comes in forms like “It’s too complicated,” “I don’t like the interface,” or “I’m already settled with [a popular cloud service or messaging app].” While these may be valid concerns from an end-user perspective, I believe these technologies address many user needs. However, our initiatives to encourage adoption haven’t been as successful as hoped. Perhaps this is a marketing issue on my part. I even tried organizing weekly presentations to explain the benefits and usage of FOSS technologies, but interest waned quickly. It is clear not everyone shares an enthusiasm for computing, preferring the path of least resistance.

I personally view this as a missed opportunity. In an age where computers are an integral part of daily life, a basic understanding seems essential. But that’s a topic for another discussion.

I’m curious about your experiences and approaches. Have you found success in encouraging the adoption of self-hosted services? What strategies have worked for you?

I want to make an important distinction here: the act of self-hosting is not for everyone, and that’s perfectly okay. My focus in this discussion is not on encouraging everyone to become a self-hosting enthusiast or expert. Rather, I’m addressing the challenge of mainstream users adopting services that are self-hosted by others. It’s about bridging the gap between the technical world of self-hosting and the everyday user who may benefit from these services without needing to delve into the complexities of hosting them.