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If you use Livejournal, you should really know better than this.

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Mar. 20th, 2008 | 06:11 pm
mood: hungryMy dinner's a-getting cold
music: Deerhoof "My Diamond Star Car"

Or, why the LJ "content strike" totally misses the mark and will fail.

I have a feeling that I'm going to take some heat for this entry, but I feel strongly about it and want to lay out my opinions for anyone who cares to read. The proposed Livejournal content strike, which will begin in just a couple of hours, has really riled me up since I first heard about it a few days ago. If you're not famiiar, this is a protest against SUP, the new owners of LJ, for removing the basic account option so that a user who wishes to use LJ without paying must opt for a blog with banner ads. Unlike almost all of my posts, this is directed at a specific group, and that is the "protesters," some of whom are badly misinformed:

First, ad revenue is a make-or-break for internet companies; I'm surprised actually that Livejournal was able to live as long as it did without advertisements; paid accounts and buying Frank the Goat T-shirts and extra icons won't keep something as big as LJ afloat. The people that work there gotta get paid, and competition for programmers is such that companies must pay comparatively well in order to keep them. I know you know this.

Second, I strongly suspect that most of you protesters have never read the LJ Terms of Service. But whether you read them or just blindly clicked "Accept" when you signed up, they still apply to you. They lay out clearly what will be done with your information and, more importantly, state that LJ's owners may change them at any time. This is really SOP on internet sites; if you're ignorant of the world of cookies and targeted advertising, you are seriously naive. But I think you do know all of this and are just pretending that LJ exists only for your enjoyment and costs nothing to run.

Third, if you're so concerned about banners being strewn all over the place, download an ad-blocker. They are free. There are dozens of them in existence. Again, if you've been using the internet for more than six weeks, I know you know this. Or you could pay for an account; Livejournal accounts are so, so cheap.

How do those of you supporting the strike use the internet without knowing (or admitting to yourself) these things?

I know that SUP's attempt to make this change without notice was shady. No, that wasn't a good move, as danah boyd pointed out (she is on their advisory board, and didn't even know beforehand). However, who can complain about a company trying to make money?

I could go on for hours, but it wouldn't do much good, so I'll close with this point. Many folks have mentioned they will leave LJ if the ad decision isn't reversed, and that's just fine; that's what consumers do if they're unhappy with a product. But a 24-hour boycott is all that most people are planning on, and that is going to do nothing. You were on here today, you will be on here Saturday, your LJ use will barely be reduced by this pathetic protest. And that is because Livejournal is very good at what it does; it's not only a robust blogging tool that has integrated photos and mobile posting and metadata better than any other site I can think of, but LJ is able to form online communities so easily and so well. You may not have thought of it, but the reason that so many of you are going to InsaneJournal and GreatestJournal and Deadjournal (and I could go on ... ) is because those sites are built to be almost exactly like Livejournal. I don't know if it still is, but the source code for LJ used to be freely available, and I know that people who took their blogging elsewhere over some tiff with LJ also took that to build those sites.

So if you are considering leaving Livejournal, know this: you're leaving behind a site that is very very good and that will be able to get even better if it can actually pay its own bills. Either grow up and actually vote with your feet by leaving or just deal with it.

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Comments {2}

mark

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from: kishenehn
date: Mar. 20th, 2008 10:59 pm (UTC)
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Well done. Your essay almost exactly mirrors how I feel about all this nonsense.

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jonathan

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from: silverthief2
date: Mar. 21st, 2008 04:38 pm (UTC)
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Thanks. I was stewing about this for no reason, and writing the entry allowed me to just let go and realize how petty it is.

Here's to content!

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