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The Greed Factor - LiveJournal

I started talking a little bit about greed in my Writer's Block about Fairytale Endings designed by oxinterruptedxo. I firmly believe that greed destroys everything. And since everything is involved, I figure I might as well do a series of essays on how that's progressing. And I might as well start right here.

I mean, just look at LiveJournal! Humble beginnings... where Brad Fitzpatrick simply wanted to stay in touch with friends from College. But then that expanded into this communication platform. It changed and grew as people invited others to join. It became a phenomenon as the user count grew into the millions, and then Brad saw a huge payday from selling the site to SixApart. So, he did. And since that moment, LJ has spiraled down to a point where only the hardiest of users still remain.

Of course, 6A intended to use LJ as a profit making operation, plastering ads everywhere and actually trying to force the users to swap over to VOX (remember that?). That was THEIR blog platform with the ads already built in... so there were no issues about Brad's "no ads" comment from before all of that. Looking back, it all seems so obvious.

VOX has long since been deleted from the blogosphere and SixApart had long since sold LJ again. But that step definitely helped to put this site where it is now.

And now, there are new people doing new things to attract more people back to LJ; this though the changes being suggested are not to the liking of the people already here.

Here's a link to an article about it all, if you haven't heard:

http://www.fastcompany.com/1809674/the-return-of-livejournal

And here's the listing of the LiveJournal changes planned:

http://news.livejournal.com/140969.html

So, where are we now? LiveJournal is attempting to lure more users back here, so they can get more sponsors to purchase ads, which will make them money. That money will not be shared with the people who are helping to create the content, which is always the question about such a setup.

Now, I know and understand that a website does cost money to operate. There is the matter of servers and bandwidth and load time all of the elements that most of us take for granted when we go online. But this is the quandary we end up with when we start examining a situation like this one.

If there were no LiveJournal users, the site would not exist, and there would be no way of using it to generate revenue for the LiveJournal owners. So, clearly there is some power in what we, as users, can say about this, especially those that have purchased accounts here.

Now, looking back on the SixApart situation, it's pretty easy to see how they tried to manipulate LJ users. First, they introduced backgrounds that looked like the VOX backgrounds for people to decorate their LJs. This was to make the transition to VOX more subtle, more inviting. Then they tried to coerce LJ users into getting a VOX account "too." So a lot of us (me included) got one. But it was just a method of drawing people away from this place to a site where they had TOTAL control.

This really hurt LJ in a lot of ways, but not the least of which was the population was being sliced up. Now, some people were on VOX, even though most remained on LJ. But to 6A, the bottom line was the buck. They were trying to establish their own blog site and wanted to leech the LJers to come there so they could put into action their plan of big money ads and use the users to cash in with it.

SixApart started doing a lot of ridiculous stuff to make the LJ userbase angry (not coincidentally, the moves made were supposed to make the site "family friendly" which really meant "advertiser friendly"), and, I presume they hoped that people would start using VOX more as well. If they could drive more people to VOX, all the better.

Of course none of that worked, as people started to pack up their accounts and move to places like blogspot, blogger and WordPress, or just quit blogging altogether. Everybody knew that VOX was the 6A baby and nobody wanted to adopt. So, all SixApart accomplished was angering the users by trying to work their will BEFORE opening a dialog about what LiveJournal is and what the users wanted.

Then two things happened offsite to kinda destroy LJ's population: twitter hit, the celebrity angle happened with that and the rest is history. Everyone is on twitter. and Facebook went from a "college only" platform to open user platform, and everyone went there as well.

Though the LiveJournal administrators would love for people to start using LJ like they do in Russia and Singapore back here in the West, the "changes" they are planning really seem more designed for sponsors, and every LJ user is savvy enough to know, that is destined to be more suck.

Comments

( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
maidenmorticia
Jan. 23rd, 2012 09:39 pm (UTC)
Thanks for this. As you can imagine from whatever you've recently read on my LJ about me... I'm not paying much attention these days to anything but myself. meh. I am tempted to ask, indeed, why LJ can't just leave well enough alone so I can be all emo in my time of need in my own little anon space online? Seriously.

meh.
penpusher
Jan. 23rd, 2012 10:26 pm (UTC)
It's pretty obvious that LiveJournal, if they intend to have the sort of cachet that Google has, wants to bring in more revenue. A LOT more. And when you are dealing with a population, many of which have permanent accounts, you aren't going to get any more money out of those people.

I suspect they will never offer permanent accounts ever again, or if they do, it'll be something like 300 US Dollars to buy one, during a single week sale, because there's more money in getting people to buy paid accounts and have them renew over time. After all, MY LiveJournal is free now.

But the fact is that they want more money and that can only come from two sources: the users or getting sponsors. So, step one is getting more people here so they can get those advertisers to see that the ads they place on LJ will be seen by more people.

Of course, they have no idea about what users actually want from the LJ service and are just approximating what that is based on what they hope will bring more users and money. I think we'll remain okay for the present, but no telling where we're headed.

At least, I hope you're doing okay!
serendipity
Jan. 23rd, 2012 10:24 pm (UTC)
Well, yeah, there have been many changes at LJ fostered by greed, 'tis true. However, a few of us who like to keep it simple really haven't been terribly damaged by the changes. I continue to use and benefit from LJ much the same as i did way back in 2000 (you were right here with me!). Maybe i'm old school and boring, but it still works for me. Plus i'm decidedly not "Everyone" as i've never been on twitter and use Facebook only as a lurker (even though that's becoming increasingly challenging to do). I may not be keeping up with modern social web technology, but i'm still getting what i want/need from LJ. I do want to thank you for your recent posts that make me *think* - what a concept!
penpusher
Jan. 23rd, 2012 10:38 pm (UTC)
This is the issue with greed. A lot of the time, the issues are so subtle or so indirect, you don't notice them or you feel they aren't affecting you. But, in fact, those issues are having an impact in some way, not the least of which is the people running things are feeling more empowered to do more of what they're doing!

Really, greed is something that can be managed a lot better BEFORE people get a real taste of what it is, because that is the slipperiest slope ever created. And that's why I'm able to do an essay about greed all over the place; so many people are now involved, it truly affects every aspect of everything.

Of course, Seren, you are the exception that proves the rule! Hopefully, LJ will continue to work for all of us.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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