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March 5th, 2010


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09:48 pm - Thoughts on LJ and Moving Journals
I've noticed a (to me at least) truly shocking amount of upset at the latest lj issues. Here's info on the redirecting link problem, which to me looks like an attempt to institute something like tracking cookies done very badly.

I'm puzzled at the extremity of the reaction and both puzzled and saddened at the fact that some people are moving to Dreamwidth and other similar sites. Several years ago, I was seriously considering leaving lj because of the problems with censorship, but those problems were solved (largely by lj being sold to the Russian company that now owns it). The recent problem (now resolved) was to me a tiny and irrelevant blip compared to the issue of deleting journals due to supposed obscenity.

Also, I don't at all understand the desire to move. Yes, Dreamwidth and other journals like Insanejournal don't have ads and aren't owned by corporations, but from my PoV that's only because they are new and small, just like Livejournal was in the beginning. Over time, one of two things will happen to these small journal sites – they will either collapse and die (like Greatestjournal did), or it will grow and thrive, just like lj did, and in time will grow too large to remain the small projects run by dedicated people that they now are. Instead, like every other small internet project that is successful, they will almost certainly eventually need to raise revenue through ads. When that happens, they won't be much different from lj due to the issues that advertising revenue and suchlike brings.

If Dreamwidth and any similar sites are remotely successful, this will happen in no more than a couple of years. I've seen this happen with pretty much every successful internet social site, and it seems certain that if these sites grow, this will happen to them. At that point, I'd expect some people to get sick of those journal sites and to either start or move to another small labor-of-live journal site, which will either fade and die or grow to the point that it requires more people working on it and more servers, and thus becomes ad-supported to raise the money needed to do this.

I like LJ for the people on my f-list, and the fact that it's large enough that I'll encounter more interesting people & that I don't need to worry about it vanishing one day, like Greatestjournal did. So, in addition to the fact that the current kerfuffle looks to me like nothing more than a stupid mistake that wasn't a big deal (and was swiftly fixed), I hope people stick around on lj.

(25 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments:


[User Picture]
From:queerbychoice
Date:March 6th, 2010 06:29 am (UTC)
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Do you seriously not see a significant difference between tracking cookies, which do not directly bring in revenue, and rewriting the content of our own journals to add affiliate codes to our own hyperlinks and thereby bring LJ a ton of revenue that otherwise could have gone to the users or even to whatever charities some users might set up affiliate IDs for? And not even telling us they were rewriting our links this way? Content that appeared to be posted by us was rewritten as advertising that brought revenue to LiveJournal, without us even being informed of it, and you think that's comparable to a bad attempt at placig a tracking cookie on our computers?

And although it's certainly common for websites to go ad-based when they grow big, I don't believe it's inevitable. LiveJournal itself held out longer than most, and from everything I've heard, it seems to have been perfectly financially viable before it was sold to Six Apart. The issue wasn't that it couldn't support itself, but rather that Brad got tired of handling the "people" side of the site and fantasized that if he sold the site to Six Apart and became just an employee, he could get a nice wad of cash and also go back to being just a code geek who didn't have to deal with the users so much. This is a common decision that many owners of large websites make, but it is not a financially necessary one. If people just didn't get as greedy for the nice wad of cash and found better ways of avoiding the aspects of large website management that they don't enjoy, the sites could remain ad-free forever.
[User Picture]
From:heron61
Date:March 6th, 2010 07:00 am (UTC)
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I honestly don't care if I'm losing 15 cents a year or whatever similarly microscopic revenue that would have been. More importantly, it also looks fairly clear that that wasn't what they were trying to do (see the post I linked to). It looks to me like a (very) botched attempt at tracking.

And although it's certainly common for websites to go ad-based when they grow big, I don't believe it's inevitable.

Do you know of any examples where this hasn't happened?
[User Picture]
From:queerbychoice
Date:March 6th, 2010 08:04 am (UTC)
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To me it looks like a very botched attempt at gaining revenue. I don't think they intended to override users' affiliate codes when users had already put in affiliate codes, but I do think they intended to add affiliate codes where the users hadn't put any in. When the 15 cents a year (or whatever) is added among the entire LJ userbase, it represents a significant income for LiveJournal, and I believe they intended to go after it.

"Do you know of any examples where this hasn't happened?"

Wikipedia?

Edited at 2010-03-06 08:05 am (UTC)
[User Picture]
From:queerbychoice
Date:March 6th, 2010 08:06 am (UTC)
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Also: Craigslist?
[User Picture]
From:alobar
Date:March 6th, 2010 06:42 am (UTC)
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I am sticking with LJ for the simple reason that moving ~15,000 posts along with changing all URLs referencing previous posts in many of my posts, along with all the gazillion or so comments is just a project far to vast for me to want to tackle.
[User Picture]
From:siderea
Date:March 6th, 2010 08:17 am (UTC)
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There are any a number of reasons one might not want to leave LJ, but FYI DW's LJ importer is reportedly very, very slick and pretty much effortless to use. Dunno about internal links being fixed, but yes it grabs the comments, too.
[User Picture]
From:heron61
Date:March 6th, 2010 08:54 am (UTC)
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During the censorship issues of several years ago, I tried the LJ importer & it failed repeatedly, until I finally gave up.
[User Picture]
From:alobar
Date:March 6th, 2010 09:01 am (UTC)
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Internal links are key.
[User Picture]
From:houseboatonstyx
Date:March 6th, 2010 06:47 am (UTC)
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I agree. I'm leery of going through growing pains on a new site, just to have it (probably) grow up to develop the same problems when it gets big enough.
[User Picture]
From:siderea
Date:March 6th, 2010 08:12 am (UTC)
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Are you unaware DW is a for-profit business? Incorporated and with a business-plan and employees and everything?

Also, why do you say the censorship issue is "resolved"? The resolution has been that that content (and many of those users) are on DW, which is now fighting the good fight for freedom of expression. My impression is LJ will still delete accounts for "porn".
[User Picture]
From:heron61
Date:March 6th, 2010 08:52 am (UTC)
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Are you unaware DW is a for-profit business? Incorporated and with a business-plan and employees and everything?

Yes, and I expect that as it grows it will need more servers, more employees, and if it doesn't die, it will have adds in less than 3 years.

My impression is LJ will still delete accounts for "porn".

Not that I know of. I'm fairly certain that all that stopped with the sale to the Russian company.
[User Picture]
From:siderea
Date:March 6th, 2010 07:35 pm (UTC)
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OK, just checking. Your post seemed to be more cynicism on principle than informed by the specifics of the case. *shrug* I have my own issues w/ DW and think your prediction looks a little silly and cranky in light of the other failure modes that look more probable to me from actually dealing w/ DW.
[User Picture]
From:heron61
Date:March 6th, 2010 08:50 pm (UTC)
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I only know a little about DW in particular, so my opnions are, as you said, formed though a mixture of cynicism and having seen what has happened to pretty much every other social site I've encountered. With very few exceptions they (least often) stay quite small, or more likely either die out or grow, get ads and become more corporate (often by being bought out). While DW might find another path, from my PoV, these three options are by far the most likely.

What do you think DW's likely failure mode will be?
[User Picture]
From:siderea
Date:March 6th, 2010 09:54 pm (UTC)
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I dunno which is most likely, but also on the table are:

1) Principles to the Death -- if we can't run it the way we said we would, we'll close it down. There's enough Kool-Aid over there that this looks reasonably likely.

1a) Executed by Court Order -- since they've decided to go to the mat over the issue of censorship, and, in particular, the not terribly sympathetic position of supporting people's right to make and disseminate "child porn", it's not impossible that somebody in charge will wind up making the evening news, etc., and the thing either dies of bankruptcy due to legal fees or other legal-system-caused calamity.

2) Own Boondoggles Kill It -- As I said, there's a lot of Kool-Aid over there, and some really strong echo effects. LJ has been for them a powerful negative example, showing a whole bunch of What Not To Do things. Unfortunately for them, Not Being Dumb The Way LJ Is is not sufficient to avoid all available sorts of Dumb. And I have faith -- based on a bunch of things I've observed -- that the cultishness they're breeding over there is going to eventually evolve their own strain of headdeskity.

2a) Fatal Security Flaw -- They're doing some things which ride the edge (or, depending on whom you ask, gallop right on over) of acceptable security practices. I've gently probed some issues, and the way security is being thought about over there (suffice it so say "inconsistently") has me thinking that I don't have a lot of confidence in how they're thinking. Add to that the fact that they're under siege by trolls who want to shut them down, and that doesn't look good.

3) Staleness/social attrition. They've raised the barrier to new friendings, so the whole thing could have cohort effects leading to it becoming passé.

That's off the top of my head.

All that said, I'm not betting that they are going to die, either. Way too much is in play.

As to your assessment that they will either stay small or grow and die: well, sure. That's an aphorism, not an observation. Their business model has them using a much more modest growth model than FB etc. You seem to think small is a problem, but I don't know why. You've invoked not meeting as many interesting people. Frankly that has less to do with quantity of users than quality. Their service is filtering hard for the sort of weirdo you seem to like, which suggests it would be better stalking grounds than LJ for you.
[User Picture]
From:roseembolism
Date:March 6th, 2010 08:48 am (UTC)
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I think a lot of it is "the straw that broke the camel's back", and we'll probably see the same thing every time LJ screws up from now on.

I frankly think I'm in the same situation that a lot of other LJ users are in, suspicious of where LJ is going to go, but reluctant to lose the friends and communities that I've garnered over the years, and thinking that it may be years, if ever before DW or other blogging sites can match the feeling of LJ.

Of course I've been there before; I used to be a member of alt.games.whitewolf, rec.arts.sf, and a couple other usenet groups, and I watched them decline to shadows of their former selves. I lost some good internet friends in the transition to the world wide web, and so I think it's understandable to be a bit nervous at the possibility of a community going under.
[User Picture]
From:xtricks
Date:March 6th, 2010 10:36 am (UTC)
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Just a note. Insanejournal isn't particularly young (thought it's younger than LJ, of course) and it already has adds. However, the owner has never participated in the sort of content control LJ has been making itself annoying for.

Also, Dreamwidth has already shown that it is quite willing to hold to it's stated guidelines and precepts as seen by the fact that it's been pressured by some fundie group to delete all 'adult content' via pressure from Paypal (first) and Google (second). In both cases, they refsued the demands and lost the relationship with the business partners. Since I suspect (but have no proof) that the group harassing Dreamwidth is the same one that triggered LJ strikethrough here -- I think we have our answer as to how the different companies will handle the issues I, at least, care about.
[User Picture]
From:heron61
Date:March 6th, 2010 10:45 am (UTC)
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I think we have our answer as to how the different companies will handle the issues I, at least, care about.

We used to - strikethrough and suchlike all happened before the last sale of lj. The current owners don't seem to care about any of this and are far more noted for ham-handed attempts to make more money than any sort of censorship. As for Dreamwidth, I'm sure it's wonderful now. However, in a couple of years when it has 50 x as many people as now, I strongly suspect it will drastically change, or it will dry up and blow away like Greatest Journal. I'd be very surprised indeed if one of these options don't happen to it. It may continue much like it is, but for that to happen, it will pretty much have to not get much more popular, which means that the chances of encountering a large community of nifty people is too low. All three options means I don't see the attraction.
[User Picture]
From:edwarddain
Date:March 6th, 2010 02:39 pm (UTC)
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Agreed on all points.
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From:kitten_goddess
Date:March 6th, 2010 03:45 pm (UTC)
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I'm sticking with LJ. I don't like moving my entire journal every year or every other year. It's too much of a hassle, and I like the people here. I also don't spend enough time online to justify having an LJ account, a Facebook account, a MySpace account, etc. ad nauseum.
[User Picture]
From:eyebeams
Date:March 6th, 2010 05:13 pm (UTC)
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It's because LJ pretty much stole from its users. Diverting affiliate links is a spam and phishing level offense, and not just a blunder trying to keep the site afloat.
[User Picture]
From:heron61
Date:March 6th, 2010 06:52 pm (UTC)
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Perhaps, but why should I care if lj steals some fraction of a cent from me, especially since they stopped doing so? It's worth noting that I don't consider taking money whose amount is sufficiently small that the individual (or corporation) literally won't notice its loss to be a crime. I don't believe that me or someone else managing to acquire a few hundred extra dollars from a large corporation to be wrong, and I similarly don't see someone stealing fractional cents that I've never even noticed to be wrong.

Edited at 2010-03-06 07:08 pm (UTC)
[User Picture]
From:aekiy
Date:March 6th, 2010 08:35 pm (UTC)
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I agree. I hadn't even noticed this bit until you and someone else on my friends list mentioned a "kerfuffle" (same word, both of you) which I hadn't noticed. So it was some botched code to show that a URL was followed from LJ, just like almost every other large site on the Web? Just like Google does with your Reader feeds and the like? OK, they messed it up, and as a result they scrapped it. No big deal at all.

Personally, I've been on LiveJournal for nearly a decade and have a permanent account. I'm not going anywhere.
[User Picture]
From:moominmuppet
Date:March 6th, 2010 09:42 pm (UTC)
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Yup. Not going anywhere, and basically for the same reasons.
[User Picture]
From:rjgrady
Date:March 13th, 2010 09:23 pm (UTC)
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Some people are content to go where the new thing is, with the people who go with it. I personally like to build castles, and I change things of comfort with great reluctance.
[User Picture]
From:heronheart
Date:April 8th, 2010 03:50 am (UTC)
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One other reason people change services is because they are overloaded with "friends" and it's easier to go to a new service than it is to go through the social unease of unfriending people. For myself, I have gotten more active on Facebook because their Iphone app is much better and the bands that I like to follow are more likely to have Facebook pages than LJ pages.

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