The Snow In The Summer or So-So

The Snow In The Summer or So-So

Sun 28 May 2006

One against Six - a recap

A definite hello to everyone visiting from exposing lj abuse. Here's a brief catch-up of my position regarding Livejournal.

Just under a year ago, I proposed five tests for Livejournal to retain my custom.
1. Splitting the "Friends" concept into "I wish to read" and "I trust".
2. Providing official documentation so that someone who knows CSS well can adapt (or create) an S2 style for themself.
3. Splitting the Livejournal.com servers over more than one geographic site.
4. Support for pinging aggregators other than weblogs.com.
5. An acknowledgement from the owners that their users are not all living in the united states, and that some of their customers do not welcome the legal creep.

Needless to say, no progress had been made on any of these fronts by the time I reviewed the situation in December. At this time, I found that Livejournal was failing to meet reasonable standards of privacy and availability, and its culture had become "for the greater good of the bottom line", a culture of self-promotion over all other objectives.

In March, I had a run-in with their oh-so-competent support staff. In spite of my explicit request to the contrary, they persisted in closing an old feed of this site, and substituting a new one. (Shameless plug: readers may wish to add tsitsoss_rss to their reading list. It works when it works. Don't come crying if it doesn't.)

Last month, I hit the final straw, when Livejournal introduced advertisements and told us what software we could run on our own machines. This arrogance violated the letter and spirit of the social contract between myself and Livejournal. That was the community I joined in 2003, those were the written community rules, ones that could only be changed with the majority consent of the community. But we forgot that corporateamerica knows no honour, only profit. Six Apart is a profit-seeking company, not a benevolent dictatorship. By acting in this dishonourable way, Six Apart kills its own society, kills its own source of riches, kills its own future.

Immediately that adverts were introduced, I asked this question of Livejournal, via the published privacy@ address:

I am concerned that the combination of sex, age, location, interests, and other information may be sufficient to allow individuals or very small groups to be identified. Could you please give details of the checks you have in place to ensure that this does not and cannot happen.

That was over a month ago. I am yet to receive an acknowledgement, never mind a substantive response. Work from a learned friend has established that individuals are identifiable from location, age, and interest.

It's in this atmosphere - Six Apart has sold out the community so that it might curry favour with potential advertisers - that the current breast-feeding brew-ha-ha arises. Six Apart's objective for Livejournal is to get adverts in front of eyeballs. That's all. Anything else - any sense of community, any donations from satisfied users, is a bonus. The objective here is not to drive away active users, for there are not enough active and annoyed users to alter data storage or data transfer costs.

No, the aim is to sell more commercials to those sheep who will happily graze on whatever commercial crap is put in front of them, and making the site's public face like a nursery helps to reassure advertisers. This is, of course, a very Web 1.0 way of doing things, but then Six Apart burns through speculative capital like a dotcom bubble firm. Plus ça change.

If you're still using Livejournal for anything important, it's probably best to back up a copy of your journal now. (I have an offline copy of the linked post, in case Six Apart removes the journal. I will not hesitate to post it prominently.)

Ultimately, the problems I have with Six Apart will not be resolved by a professional abuse team, whether professional in status or in action. My problem is with the company's culture, or more precisely the way it wishes to impose its culture onto mine. I cannot honestly say that I will resume posting there if there's a grown-up abuse team. I can say that I will not post there if the abuse teams remains, in all senses of the word, amateur.

One bit of digging on the stats page produced the following lines, which I reprint without comment.

usertrans_upgrades_to_plus	2006-04-13	6
usertrans_upgrades_to_plus	2006-04-16	1
usertrans_upgrades_to_plus	2006-04-17	4657
usertrans_upgrades_to_plus	2006-04-18	11139
usertrans_upgrades_to_plus	2006-04-19	5016
usertrans_upgrades_to_plus	2006-04-20	3339
usertrans_upgrades_to_plus	2006-04-21	2530
usertrans_upgrades_to_plus	2006-04-22	2624
usertrans_upgrades_to_plus	2006-04-23	2462
usertrans_upgrades_to_plus	2006-04-24	2001
usertrans_upgrades_to_plus	2006-04-25	1346
usertrans_upgrades_to_plus	2006-04-26	1221
usertrans_upgrades_to_plus	2006-04-27	1088
usertrans_upgrades_to_plus	2006-04-28	951
usertrans_upgrades_to_plus	2006-04-29	1026
usertrans_upgrades_to_plus	2006-04-30	1029
usertrans_upgrades_to_plus	2006-05-01	1013
usertrans_upgrades_to_plus	2006-05-02	919
usertrans_upgrades_to_plus	2006-05-03	2100
usertrans_upgrades_to_plus	2006-05-04	2075
usertrans_upgrades_to_plus	2006-05-05	1445
usertrans_upgrades_to_plus	2006-05-06	1335
usertrans_upgrades_to_plus	2006-05-07	1350
usertrans_upgrades_to_plus	2006-05-08	1487

The numbers in the final column sum to 52,160. The sum of numbers labelled newbyday for the same period is 153,690.

And finally, an occasionally answered question: where did the name "The Snow in the Summer or So-So" come from? Latvia's debut Eurovision entry, performed by top band Brainstorm. Though quite why they played their UK dates opposite this year's Eurovision is going to remain a mystery forever...

posted 28 May 2006, 16.51 +0100

AnnoyedSix Apart Is Useless

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