The founder and developer explains the philosophy behind lichess
Many of you have been asking why lichess is free. "No such thing as a free lunch", right? There must be a trap.
Useful Internet services are rarely uninterested in money. More often than not, they are businesses whose first and foremost goal is to squeeze money out of us. Either by making us pay for features, or worse:
"When you're not buying or selling, you're the product being sold"
And indeed, many times it is true. Most free Internet services inflict advertisement upon us, and/or sell our private information to advertisement companies. It's shameful behaviour that lichess seeks to address.
I love the Internet. It's like a new continent we recently discovered, still virgin, magic, and full of possibilities. It will become what me make of it. What do we want the Internet to be?
My objective when building lichess is to demonstrate that the Internet can be free. No hidden costs, playing with words - free, through and through.
We will never charge a lichess user. There are no premium accounts. Everybody has unlimited access to all features without paying a cent.
Advertisements are the cancer of the Internet and an insult to our intelligence. They need us to be stupid and they make us stupid. Please, use an ad blocker, especially if you have kids using the Internet. Lichess never shows advertisements.
This is our vision. This is our promise. It has always been this way, and will always be, as stated by the "about" page.
So we want lichess to be free, and will tolerate no compromise! But of course, running a website has a cost. We all know sites run on web servers, and web servers must be rented from hosting companies.
Let's see how much it costs exactly to run a chess website that makes more than 15 million pageviews per month.
Lichess currently runs on five servers. Three of them are generously donated by lichess supporters (thank you!), and I (Thibault Duplessis) pay for the remaining two servers. It amounts to $170 per month. Great news: I have a job (at prismic.io) and I can completely afford that. Lichess is my hobby, and all hobbies cost a bit of money. I can tell you that the joy of building lichess is absolutely worth the price I pay for it!
So yeah, free!! You found it. The Internet service that doesn't see you as a source of revenue. Okay, it's not the only one (hopefuly!) but still worth mentioning, right?
If you think that's great, and want to help cover the servers' cost, now you can. I've just added a donation page.
Note that there are plenty other ways to help lichess be the awesomest place to play chess on the Internet.