The Snow In The Summer or So-So

Six Apart Is Useless

Sat 30 Sep 2006

Returning to Six Apart's approach to business

A regular reader has pointed out the official Six Apart line on its privacy policy.

The privacy policy is considered stable.

This is depressing. The current privacy policy is clearly less binding on Livejournal than the 2004 version, a topic I shall return to later.

In particular, the privacy policy states that Livejournal is prepared to provide sex, age, location and interests to advertisers. I believe that this could be sufficient information to identify an individual member. What am I missing here? How does Livejournal ensure that information insufficient to identify an individual is disclosed? Livejournal and Six Apart have not responded to four emails or four posts. I know for a fact that staff members have read the question, yet they have not responded.

As for international users, section VII in the Terms of Service does note that users are required to abide by the laws of the local jurisdiction they are in. LiveJournal itself falls under the law of the United States, specifically in the state of California. We don't enforce rules set outside of the U.S. since they don't apply to LiveJournal itself; it's the user's responsibility to comply with the laws of the country they are in.

To préçis: Livejournal will not enforce the laws of a foreign country, but will enforce the laws in California. This strikes me as the height of arrogance, for two reasons.

Livejournal's suggestion that it is immune from laws that do not apply to California may contradict decisions in a case involving Yahoo France and nazi memorabilia. In a nutshell, the French courts ruled in 2000 that Yahoo was criminally liable for allowing nazi stuff to be sold on its site. Yahoo declined to appeal in France; in January 2006, an appeals court (and subsequently the U.S. supreme court) declined to take a position on whether French judgements could be enforced in the U.S.

The practical upshot of all this is that it may be dangerous for Livejournal to continue ignoring other laws. It is not entirely clear that foreign laws do not apply to U.S. companies, so it would be imprudent to assume they do not. According to Six Apart employee Denise Paolucci, Six Apart has taken advice, and is not worried about this matter. That is their decision.

Where this behaviour descends into arrogance is in the way Livejournal will uphold the legal and moral code applicable in California. The definition of "children" used is culturally-specific to Livejournal's country of origin. The approach to potential copyright infringments is specific to Livejournal's country of origin. The approach to threats of violence against a single specific national leader is, again, unique to the culture of Livejournal's country of origin. It could well be argued that failing to act on any of these matters poses a threat to the continued wellbeing of Livejournal, and that any counter-argument effectively requires Livejournal to ignore its local laws, a path that could not be recommended to anyone.

Even when there is no specific legal cause, Livejournal does not hesitate to apply its cultural norms across the entire service. For instance, May's flap about nipples in default icons stems precisely from a cultural sensitivity in the U.S. and specific to the U.S. Regardless of the rights and wrongs of the specific decision, it is an imposition of cultural values from the United States on the rest of the world.

There are other examples I could pick - the continued use of Pacific time rather than UTC, an appeal to spring break, references to winter in February. All these are in Livejournal News posts from this year; all show a cultural bias towards the United States.

This is the arrogance I mentioned earlier. By appealing to standards in one culture, Livejournal is imposing those standards, and that culture, across the entire world. This is not illegal, but it is unethical and highly offensive.

Returning to the privacy policy, the 2004 version complied with the spirit - if not the letter - of the European Data Protection Directive. Facebook, which has come in for so much criticism recently, still has a privacy policy that complies with the European standard, at least in spirit.

Livejournal, however, has traded in a policy that may well have met the tough European standard, and replaced it with a far less stringent one. This is a further example of taking the cultural norms of the U.S.A. and applying them across the world.

It also introduces significant contractual uncertainties, for this substantial change requires each user to specifically accept the change; those who were on Livejournal before Six Apart arrived have never been asked to accept the change. There is a strong argument that the current privacy policy does not apply to them.

Equally, Six Apart posits that continued use of its products indicates an acceptance of the current term of service. In particular, section 23 of the current term of service has no counterpart in the 2004 term. In order to vary the term of service in the way Six Apart wishes, it is necessary to secure explicit agreement from each pre-takeover user. No such agreement has been sought; indeed, this process was proposed but cancelled by relying on precisely the term that needed to be accepted to allow the continual change. This is what's known as circular logic, and the practical upshot is that the variation in term of service is utterly invalid.

Readers may be wondering why I am publishing this lecture here, rather than in a direct response to Six Apart's statement. As you will have seen, I do not accept the contractual validity of the privacy policy or the current iteration of Six Apart's term of service. Six Apart is acting as though its interpretation of our contract is the correct version, and the company has indicated that it does not propose to alter its contract in any event. Until this contradiction is clarified, it is most prudent for me to remain aloof from Six Apart's products. As Six Apart insists on an unacceptable contract term, I decline to take up that contract.

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permanant link
posted 30 Sep 2006, 10.46 +0100

Fri 13 Oct 2006

A short public service announcement

There now follows a public service announcement for those who still use Six Apart's ad-infested Livejournal and are annoyed at the inordinately long delays when mousing over a user icon.

1. Go here.

2. Remove the tick by Contextual popup.

3. Select Save Changes.

4. That's it.

In their infinite wisdom, the advertisement brokers have decreed that everyone is on a fast connection, is prepared to accept insecure Javascript, and wishes to see all sorts of nonsense about their correspondents and reading list.

Alternatively, and if you're using Firefox, install the No Script extension and block all Javascript from livejournal.com. You will lose absolutely nothing, and gain plenty of time, during which you might wish to seek a better blogging platform.

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permanant link
posted 13 Oct 2006, 18.59 +0100

Fri 20 Oct 2006

What, Sup?

Another day, another failure of imagination from Six Apart. Back in the day, two of the tasks I set the failing advertisement brokerage in order to retain my custom were:

With that in mind, I note that Six Apart has entered into an agreement with SUP, a Russian advertisement brokerage. With, it appears, a manager who is as corrupt as any other Russian these days.

The devil here is in the details. It's clear that Six Apart wishes to maintain its existing contract terms, including its ineffably toothless lack-of-privacy policy. There's no mention that the service will become any faster, merely that it will be more Russianified. From the omission, I tentatively conclude that all the data will still reside on top of a seismic fault in Arizona West.

How does this address my points? It's true that the primi inter pares have finally woken up to the substantial Russian-language userbase - they constitute something over 8% of all users, something over 10% of persistently active users [1], and (anecdotally, at least) contribute more than their fair share of paid funds.

However, the manner of this awakening appears to be that Six Apart will wash its hands of the day-to-day running of Russian-language journals, and outsource to a separate company. I'm not going to comment on whether SUP is a reliable company, or if it can be trusted to keep its contractual promises; the reaction of Russians to the original post was profoundly unsympathetic.

How could Six Apart have done this better? One idea, not fully thought through by any means: Engage the talents of Latvia, where there is a substantial Russian-speaking population, who could provide all the translation and feature exchanges one could possibly imagine. There would also be fewer concerns about trust, for Latvia is - in general - a functioning market economy, a claim that cannot honestly be made for her neighbour to the east.

Of course, basing their team in Latvia would have brought the company under the local laws concerning privacy and contracts. By choosing a Russian company, Six Apart has found the one country that offers weaker de facto protection than Arizona West. This, as much as the enhanced revenues, ensures that this is only marginal progress on the last test.

[1] Persistently active: account has been created for longer than one year, and has been updated within the past month.

Also of note

Six Apart employee Abraham Hassan wrote, in response to objections from European users,

Would you rather we posted to news saying "Sorry, guys, we couldn't get a feature set up in Europe, so instead we're not going to offer it to anyone at all"? I acknowledged in the post itself that we know we don't have international support and that we're looking into it; what more would you like us to do, at this point? We know that not everyone can use these features, yes, but does that mean we can't be excited to be offering them anyway? You can't even argue that we're ignoring everyone else, since I made a point to specifically address that in my post.

As one would rather expect from Corporatist shills, Mr. Hassan sets up a strawman argument, and proceeds to demolish that, rather than address the actual question, as posed earlier by Curious Wombat: we just subsidise the US by paying as much for our accounts but not getting things like text and voice posts at all...

The model response would include a review of the international situation. If it is deemed likely that customers in other parts of the world will receive the feature soon (for values of "soon" measured in days or weeks, not months), then it would be honourable to delay a full roll-out until the initial spadework had completed. Where a feature will be available later, values of "later" should be measured in months, not years, as has been the case for voice posts.

(There is, lest we forget, no technical reason at all for any SMS service to discriminate by country of origin. The only reason why Six Apart's product is available in part of the world is because they're using an SMS Short Code, rather than a fully-qualified number. And the main reason to use an SMS Short Code is to raise revenue. You draw the lines.)

Mr. Hassan continues,

What's broken about LJ? Seriously, I'd like an answer, and I'm not being sarcastic; what are the things that you run into, on a regular basis, that you think we should be putting time and energy into fixing?

See previous entries in this category for my take. Many of them can be summarised as: stop being so utterly Yank-centric.

permanant link
posted 20 Oct 2006, 19.09 +0100

Tue 31 Oct 2006

How far has Livejournal fallen?

First run through what I hope will become a regular feature, chronicling the decline and fall of Six Apart's advertisement vehicle.

The headlines

size	accounts	11499439
size	accounts_active_1	539595
size	accounts_active_30	1875016
size	accounts_active_7	1200055
statbox	postyester	187644
statbox	totusers	2901464
usercluster	active	483304
usercluster	total	10818562
userinfo	allow_getljnews	439141
userinfo	randomcount	5000
userinfo	total	11485718
userinfo	updated	7537541
userinfo	updated_last1	213069
userinfo	updated_last30	1126003
userinfo	updated_last7	664145

Note that Size: Accounts > Userinfo: Total > Usercluster: Total. Would it be reasonable to assume that there have been 700,000 journals deleted off the system, either through renames or through purges?

The Updated figures would, I assume, be those people who updated their account in the given interval. The Active figures, I guess, are those who are posting or commenting. Would it include logging on? Don't know. I'd need Six Apart to be honest with an ex-customer, and there's a far greater chance of hell freezing over, or Portugal winning Eurovision.

The equivalent Updating figures for this date in 2004, with changes against present, are:

updating in last 30 days:  1350624 (+16.6%)
updating in last 7 days: 861910 (+23.0%)
updating in past 24 hours: 249836 (+14.8%)

Can we get a handle on the number of actual people, as opposed to communities and syndicated feeds there are? I propose the Userinfo: Updated figure as a lower bound - there will be people who created their account to read, and I would expect that deleted journals would still count to this total. The actual figure will be higher than 7.5 million; I would be surprised if it were much higher.

Gender

F	3151353
M	1514624
U	1810116

Total gender declared: 6,476,093 (56% of Accounts, 86% of Updated)

Would leaving this box blank from the start cause one not to appear in any category?

Ages

Look, ma, a chark!

Livejournal users by age, October 2006

Modal age is 18, with 501,505 users. Quartiles come at 18.2, 20.8, 24.5.

Total declaring an age: 4,931,429 (76% of Gender, 65% of Updated). Is there any reason to suspect that older users would be less likely to declare their age? Anecdotally, yes; a large number of my acquaintances removed their birthday information entirely over the summer, when Six Apart tried an utterly stupid method of changing personal infomation. Whether this was by accident or design is not clear, but this will have primarily affected account holders pre-2006, who will skew older.

Top 20 Countries

US	3169661
RU	369794
CA	264459
UK	224143
AU	106115
UA	42386
PH	40399
DE	37430
SG	33604
FI	30129
JP	25300
NL	21478
IL	15507
NZ	15214
BR	14206
ES	14054
BY	13686
FR	13370
SE	10027
IE	9705

224 other countries: 229,611

Total countries declared: 4,700,278 (72% of those declaring a gender, 62% of Active, 95% of those declaring a country). Is there a reason why non-native English speakers might not list their country?

Signups

The historic growth between 2001 and 2004 is well documented. What's not quite so obvious is the slow fall-off since - 2006 beat the corresponding date in 2005 on just five days, and neither year ever beat 2004.

Livejournal users signing up, October 2001-6

Total signups:
2001 - 23,537
2002 - 36,244
2003 - 68,158
2004 - 307,746
2005 - 255,848
2006 - 233,334

Question for the panel: how many of these 233,334 accounts would be taking advertisements? The most credible independent survey suggests around 75% of new users take commercials after one week, falling to 60% after a month. These figures are disputed by Six Apart; the company consistently refuses to publish its in-house measurements, asking us to trust its claims that there are blogposts of mass destruction. Er...

Top 20 interests:

music	1501978
movies	975892
reading	661214
writing	622965
friends	608856
art	465838
computers	455829
dancing	428436
photography	416082
books	383849
shopping	346373
singing	339576
love	337737
poetry	318397
anime	309343
drawing	301912
sleeping	298431
swimming	290037
sex	257890
boys	241037

Also targetted for advertisements:

food, harry potter, video games, cats, laughing, dvds, chocolate, tattoos, guitar, rain
coffee, animals, concerts, stars, internet, guys, cheese, painting, cooking, soccer
piercings, girls, acting, talking, dogs, basketball, snowboarding, traveling, taking back sunday, women
family, manga, kissing, biking, lord of the rings, nirvana, rock, history, punk, running
tv, fashion, fantasy, philosophy, pictures, football, summer, shoes, green day, johnny depp
dreams, the beatles, clothes, cars, radiohead, hugs, driving, the used, eating, музыка
sleep, family guy, candles, psychology, drinking, snow, the cure, brand new, camping, pink
vampires, emo, dashboard confessional, parties, afi, aim, hiking, linkin park, cuddling, incubus

Next 25:

mp3s, water, sports, ice cream, politics, my chemical romance, bright eyes, life, travel, money
literature, men, black, weezer, thursday, piano, star wars, skateboarding, blink 182, pizza
skiing, romance, yellowcard, coldplay, guitars

Syndicated feeds

Top 10
Blogthings	33212
PostSecret	23110
Dictionary Word of the Day	16372
Neil Gaiman	15008
Astronomy Picture of the Day	10463
Penny-Arcade	8677
Sinfest	8424
VG Cats	8278
Dan Savage	7685
Overheard in New York	7621

Readership of feed ranked:
50	1250
100	627
200	292
500	117
1000	53

The Zipf distribution allows us to approximate n = (1/k^s)*a
where n = number of readers
k = rank
s = exponent (experimentally, 1.07)
a = scalar multiple (experimentally, 85,800)

We might extend the table:

2500	20
5000	9
10000	5
25000	2
50000	1

This suggests somewhere around 80,000 feeds have at least one reader. This distribution provides no information regarding feeds with 0 readers; it is known that these feeds are not deleted.

Mark Kraft, the Tony Benn of Livejournal, holds that the site peaked in early 2005, coincident with the purchase by Six Apart. A causal relationship? Good question.

permanant link
posted 31 Oct 2006, 18.20 +0000

Sat 04 Nov 2006

Is the other director called Michael Hunt?

I was going to flag this up based purely on the interviewee's name, but there's actual content, too. So, here goes with an interview with (and let's be absolutely certain that we pronounce this correctly) Andrew Anker. He's a professional vulture capitalist, currently preying off the unsuspecting users of Six Apart.

Right, enough sniggering, to business. In his comments, Mr. Anker says, We don’t think [the social network market] is anywhere near close to saturated, which I think is mostly evidenced by the fact that all of the current services are growing quite nicely. For example, the remarkable -8% year-on-year growth of Mr. Anker's Livejournal property, a statistic that shows it'll become quieter than a Jeremy Hardy singing lesson by 2020.

We can't claim that Mr. Anker is unaware of Livejournal, because he goes on to cite The easiest example we have is our own Live Journal, which has 11 million registered users. Er, no it doesn't, it has 11.5 million registered accounts. According to the company's own figures, there are approximately 7.6 million actual personal accounts; the number of people participating will be smaller than that.

Our customers need to know that they can make something private if appropriate. Create first, decide who can see if after. This sorely fails to square with Six Apart's ostrich-like mentality over individual privacy, and insistence that all Livejournal users expose a public feed containing their post title.

We don't see making money and doing advertising right [sic] as two mutually exclusive concepts. Neither do we, and we look forward to Six Apart bothering to do advertising correctly, by rejecting it in its entirity. Prior to purchase by Six Apart, Livejournal was a profit-making business, using donations and fees. Now, it relies on commercials, and I strongly suspect that it is no longer turning a profit.

Thank you, Andrew Anker. Try not to be first against the wall when the revolution comes and your entire company falls off the interwebs because it still insists on centralising the whole operation in one building... oh.

permanant link
posted 04 Nov 2006, 11.51 +0000

Mon 13 Nov 2006

Power out

It is to be regretted that personal attacks have led ciannait to deleted their valid points regarding Six Apart's latest screw-up from last week-end. The proximate cause is an ad hominem attack from the well-named crankygirlie. In a late post, she says, If you'd like to tell me I don't know what I'm talking about, come right out and say it.

Fine. Either you don't know what you're talking about, or the Six Apart staff are misleading their customers about their technical competence. Or very possibly both. It should be noted that crankygirlie is hardly a neutral observer of the situation, as she is in a relationship with a Six Apart systems administrator. There is, however, a lot of evidence to suggest that Six Apart is allowing its customers and prospective customers to be misled, and that is where I shall marshall most of my argument.

Six Apart has, by CG's own admission, bought space in a data warehouse where per-rack UPS systems are not used. This speaks volumes to the company's rank amateurism. Blaming "the fire code" is no excuse at all; Six Apart was not forced at gunpoint to use this facility, and any company worth its salt would have thought about this fact when selecting from where to run its operations.

Six Apart handles tremendous amounts of data, this is true. This is also a complete red herring in relation to last week's outage. If the company wants to be treated as a major player in the market, then it needs to act like a major player. Not a bunch of people still operating out of someone's bedroom. Six Apart is shifting enough data to make any loss of service embarrassing. At the size Six Apart aspires to be, multiply redundant data centres (and that's centres plural) are expected, if not mandatory. That's not to say that the loss of one centre should have no effect on the service, some temporary degradation would be acceptable, but it should certainly not have a prolonged fatal effect.

That Six Apart was (effectively) offline for the best part of a day is bad. I suggest that paying customers would be prepared to let it slide if the company were learning from its errors. Indeed, some of us said after the January 2005 outage that we would prefer a more resilient systems architecture to any compensation. The offer was rebuffed, with the results we've since seen. To have apologists like Cranky Jessica sticking up for Six Apart's refusal to learn from its errors does rather stick in the craw; to find the company's apologists making ad hominem attacks is perhaps worse.

permanant link
posted 13 Nov 2006, 13.29 +0000

Thu 30 Nov 2006

How far has Livejournal fallen? (November 2006)

Unless indicated otherwise, comparisons are against last month's figures.

The headlines

size	accounts	11717087 (+217648, 1.85%)
size	accounts_active_1	589457 (+49862)
size	accounts_active_30	1852281 (-22735, -1.21%)
size	accounts_active_7	1178102 (-21953, -1.83%)
statbox	postyester	187644 (n/c)
statbox	totusers	2901464 (n/c)
usercluster	active	483304 (n/c)
usercluster	total	10818562 (n/c)
userinfo	allow_getljnews	435119 (-4022, -0.92%)
userinfo	randomcount	5000 (n/c)
userinfo	total	11702739 (+217021, +1.89%)
userinfo	updated	7636741 (+99200, 1.32%)
userinfo	updated_last1	232884 (+19815)
userinfo	updated_last30	1104471 (-21532, -1.91%)
userinfo	updated_last7	644637 (-19508, -2.94%)

The 24th month of unconstrained growth sees raw account growth of slightly less than 1/50th. I don't attach a huge amount of importance in the last one day, and the last seven is affected by a public holiday in Japan and parts of Canada. The number of active accounts, though, continues to fall away at a rate of knots.

As mentioned last month, I propose the Userinfo: Updated figure as a lower bound for the number of accounts created by people.

The Statbox figures are completely unchanged after a full month; it is exceedingly improbable for this to happen by pure chance.

The News account reaches less than 5% of all personal accounts, and that its reach has actually fallen by 1% in the last month. Could this have anything to do with the woeful quality of advertorial in the official spokesblog, and the way that site news now creeps out across a dizzying array of journals?

Gender

F	3212264 (+60911, 1.93%)
M	1548087 (+33463, 2.21%)
U	1865248 (+55132, 3.05%)

Total gender declared: 6,625,599 (56% of Accounts, 86% of Updated - no significant change.)

The traditional assumption is that Livejournal skews female; this month has certainly moved more male.

Ages

Livejournal users by age

Modal age is still 18, with 516,771 users, though 19 is barely 1200 people behind. Quartiles come at 18.3 (+0.1), 20.8 (nc), 24.7 (+0.2); a slight skewing older, possibly significant, as I would only expect an increase of 1/12 of a year (~0.08) per month.

Total declaring an age: 5,128,434 (+197005, 4.00%) (77% of Gender, 67% of Updated). It's clear that some existing users have declared their age during the month, this figure is up by just 20,000 fewer than the total number of new accounts.

Top 20 Countries

US	3207059
RU	386877
CA	268846
UK	228577
AU	108307
UA	44529
PH	41557
DE	38516
SG	35438
FI	30881
JP	25897
NL	21911
IL	15926
NZ	15566
BR	14564
BY	14423
ES	14409
FR	13775
SE	10284
IE	9900

224 other countries: 235,811

Total countries declared: 4,783,053 (+82775, 1.76%) (93% of those declaring an Age, 72% of Gender, 63% of Active). In the top 20, Belarus (BY) moves past Spain (ES). Fastest growth amongst the 20 came from Singapore, Belarus, Ukraine, Russia - all managed 4% growth, no other nation grew by 3%. Only Canada (1.6%) and US (1.2%) were slower than the 1.8% global growth in accounts.

Signups

Livejournal signups in November, 2001-6

The November period actually runs from 29 October to 28 November.

Total signups:
2001 - 22,381
2002 - 37,330
2003 - 71,159
2004 - 321,102
2005 - 246,873
2006 - 223,664

Six days in 2006 were more popular than the exact corresponding date in 2005. The system outage on 4 November caused total signups to dip to 2542, fewer than the corresponding date in 2003 (2795).

Top 20 interests

music	1509982
movies	995567
reading	664496
writing	626881
friends	611323
art	483951
computers	463142
dancing	429673
photography	419095
books	403795
shopping	354195
singing	340951
love	339306
poetry	330157
drawing	313963
anime	311816
sleeping	299205
swimming	290462
sex	259002
food	251416

Drawing moves past Anime for 16th, Food displaces Boys from the top 20. Greatest gainer is Books (+19,946); Swimming is the slowest climber, +425.

Also targetted for advertisements:

boys, harry potter, video games, cats, tattoos, internet, guitar, laughing, chocolate, dvds
coffee, concerts, rain, animals, stars, guys, cooking, painting, cheese, soccer
acting, piercings, dogs, girls, family, talking, basketball, snowboarding, traveling, manga
taking back sunday, women, kissing, biking, philosophy, lord of the rings, rock, nirvana, summer, history
punk, fashion, running, tv, fantasy, pictures, football, shoes, green day, cars
dreams, johnny depp, the beatles, clothes, radiohead, psychology, hugs, driving, музыка, the used
eating, sleep, candles, family guy, literature, drinking, snow, the cure, brand new, camping
pink, vampires, emo, sports, dashboard confessional, parties, afi, aim, hiking, politics

Next 25:
linkin park, cuddling, incubus, mp3s, water, romance, ice cream, life, my chemical romance, travel
bright eyes, money, men, black, weezer, cartoons, thursday, piano, theatre, star wars
skateboarding, blink 182, pizza, skiing, yellowcard

Literature (111-85), sports (103-94), politics (105-100) enter the top 100. Out go linkin park, cuddling, incubus. A total of 454 interests are recorded in the stats.

Syndicated feeds

Top 10
Blogthings	33225 (+13)
PostSecret	23348 (+248)
Dictionary Word of the Day	16453 (+81)
Neil Gaiman	15225 (+217)
Astronomy Picture of the Day	10547 (+84)
Penny-Arcade	8785 (+108)
Sinfest	8476 (+52)
Dan Savage	7763 (+78)
Overheard in New York	7676 (+55)
New Urban Legends 6535 (NE)

Last month's number 8, VG Cats, has been deleted; the readership of vgcatscomic is just 85, compared with 8278 a month ago.

Readership of feed ranked:
50	1283 (+33)
100	658 (+31)
200	300 (+8)
500	120 (+3)
1000	54 (+1)

The Zipf distribution allows us to approximate n = (1/k^s)*a
where n = number of readers
k = rank
s = exponent (experimentally, 1.07)
a = scalar multiple (experimentally, 87,600 - last month 85,800)

We might extend the table:

2500	20
5000	10 (+1)
10000	5
25000	2
50000	1

Somewhere around 80,000 feeds have at least one reader.

These are the statistics. Conclusions may be yours.

permanant link
posted 30 Nov 2006, 19.11 +0000

Wed 13 Dec 2006

It's Pottymouth Season!

The annual Le Web conference has been hi-jacked by politicans seeking election. Both Nicolas Sarkozy (UMP) and François Bayrou (UDF) gave tedious speeches that were roundly condemned by attendees. Ben Metcalfe, who became our hero last year after being told by the obnoxious Mena Trott that he was a fucking arsehole, has more on the conference.

One critical blogger, Sam Sethi, was graced by a response from Loïc Lemur, Six Apart's head of insults European operations. We reprint M. Lemur's comment in full:

Sam. There is no word to qualify you and this post. You are just an asshole.

Someone has since deleted this comment from Mr. Sethi's post, we found it here. Mr. Sethi has now been resigned from Tech Crunch.

This, people, is the highly professional calibre of employee that you are funding. Your Livejournal subscription, your Vox posts, all are going to employ people who do nothing more than call names at those who speak their mind.

permanant link
posted 13 Dec 2006, 20.18 +0000

Thu 14 Dec 2006

Mourir demain: Le Meur

A follow-up to yesterday's post about Six Apart being a bunch of pottymouths. The story has reached the ivory towers at Het Grauniad, where they're concentrating on the dismissal of Sam Sethi and closure of Techcrunch UK. Het Graun's original piece did not mention Loïc asshole Lemeur's employer once; could this be because Six Apart also supplies the newspreap's webties comment system? Could this latter fact be why we will never use said newspreap's webties comment system?

We note that the politicians who spoke at the conference were Shimon Peres (Israel, centre-right), M. Bayrou (France, centre-right), and M. Sarkozy (France, right-wing). There was no platform for Mme. Royal or any other left-of-centre speaker. What does this tell us about Six Apart's politics? In particular, this provides more ammunition for claims that they're closeted Corporatists, in favour of invading Iraq, killing innocents, abandoning democracy, supporting the military junta, and fleecing the many for the benefit of the few.

Or is it, as many voices suggest, more to do with M. Lemeur's ambition to achieve elected office himself, and beat Iain Dale as the first professional blogger in the corridors of power? Tom Raferty says this in so few words. Nicole Simon says that she's betrayed, this event has been hijacked to be a pit stop of the french presidential election campaign, and accuses M. Lemeur of selling out European bloggers for a cheap headline. Even the Torygraph is wondering, Why are we here?, and goes on to call M Sarkozy's appearance the equivalent of a pop-up advertisement. Shane Richmond, a hundred thank yous, I shall be using that image for at least the next four-and-a-half months.

For those of you who like nothing more than to cut-n-paste graphics into your blogs, here's a graphic to cut-n-paste into your blog.

LLM
Recommandé par des Influenceurs.

In rough translation, it says,

I want to be the voice of the internet user - Loïk Le Meur, in le Parisien, 9 December 2006.
My vote, you see, is up to me, no room for error.
Le Meur cannot steal my voice; I affirm with my click.

What would be really, really good is for this to be shrunk into the 100x100x40K limits for a Livejournal icon, so that the resistance can display it as their default. Just imagine, searching for France and not only coming up with fifty identical icons, but coming up with fifty identical icons railing against Six Apart's employee in France. The fucking arsehole would tear her hair out.

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posted 14 Dec 2006, 19.57 +0000

Mon 18 Dec 2006

L'ancien regime

More sucking-up from Het Graun, where there's an interview with the Fecking Arsehole (yes, it's a change to the Search Engine Bomb, thanks to the Profanisaurus) and Andre Wanker, Six Apart's leading liars.

The Fecking Arsehole said, I don't think anyone thinks that as a company we're pushing a French political agenda. Well, that's arguable; M. Lemeur is certainly using company resources to push his domestic agenda, so it's a credible charge. On the other hand, she goes on, Loic's [sic] a very large personality, but we trust our team members and groups to act independently, and that feels like a slight disassociation from M. Lemeur's actions. On the other other hand, Six Apart as a company has been pushing a right-wing, ultra-capitalist, screw-the-users approach to business from the moment it was set up, one that dovetails neatly with the pop-up policies of M. Sarkozy.

Anker said, we don't mind what people say, good or bad, as long as they're using our tools to do it. Does customer retention mean nothing to you? Does it help to employ a malicious liar? What about honouring your promises? I've seen LiveJournalers worried that we're going to ... plaster their sites with advertisements. (We're not going to do this).

Perhaps the most interesting part is Anker's blathering about the future of Six Apart's latest shiny new thing, Vex. The telling line seems to be, one of the things we're going to do is let partners offer private content to their community members, so for example a TV company could push video into the library of everyone who was part of the group. Users are happy because they get new content, and companies are happy because they're building loyalty. It makes absolutely no sense to me, but the growing army of Sixapartologists might be able to get something out of these statements.

Anyway, danah boyd has her own thoughts on the pop-up politician, M. Sarkozy, French politician's attitude proof that they were just as clueless as American politicians. They know that this tech thing is important but they don't actually understand it, and still they want to find a way to manipulate it to make them look good.

We may as well sound the death knell for Tech Crunch UK, killed by its publisher's arrogance. Remaining employee Mike Butcher said, I feel that this is a case of censorship and You asked my colleague and co-editor Sam Sethi to remove the comment in what appeared to be a personal favour to [Loïc] Le Meur. While the idea of Tech Crunch UK - a clearing house for dotcodotuk startups and investors - was sound, the whole project followed the Tech Crunch Com model far too closely, and was insufficiently localised. The heavy-handed tactics of publisher Michael Arrington only served to kill his brainchild.

And finally, we note that Livejournal is beginning to serve images and code from its Russian partners, SUP, to European readers outside Russia.

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posted 18 Dec 2006, 14.52 +0000

older writing... write to