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Well, *I'm* amused. - Laurion [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Laurion

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Well, *I'm* amused. [Mar. 13th, 2008|11:03 am]
Laurion
LiveJournal today revealed that all new accounts in the future will either be ad-supported, or paid. I think many of us saw this coming when they first announced ad-supported accounts. On the one hand, I think it shows the failure of LJ to offer a compelling paid product. They are under fire from many other blog platforms and social network sites, including, but not limited to Blogger, Wordpress (both the hosted .com version and the HIY version so many of us with our own websites prefer), Facebook, MySpace, and whatever comes out tomorrow. It also shows that ever since the first buyout by Danga in 2005, and now by SUP in late 2007, buyers are interested in monetizing as much as they can, both to recoup what may have been overvalued purchase prices, and to maximize profits while they can. I'm fairly sure that the creation of new accounts has at least leveled off, if not dropped, since the 2002-2004 heydey, when almost everyone I know joined up. (well, those who hadn't moved in earlier). On the other hand, I think LJ still has enough critical mass that they might get away with it. As strong as the other blog platforms are for blogging, and as strong as the other social network sites are for social networking, neither quite seems to meet in the middle where LJ sits. MySpace actually comes closest, as it has a decent built in Blog capability, but it is underemphasized, in favor of music, glitz, friend rankings, etc. LJ won't lose a lot of people over this, as those with Basic accounts get to keep them, and members here are likely to use other sites as complementary to, and not replacements for, LJ. And even if MySpace could replicate the featureset of LJ, the design doctrines of MySpace tend to create a divide in the demographics and draw. We see that currently, with the divide in average age, creative use, content types, etc. Much of LJ's code is open source, and has been for years, and even with that, it has fended off competition mostly through the force of the established userbase, nor do I see a clone service changing much at this point. Deadjournal had some success in its time, but most spinoffs have been very narrowly focused (Deisjournals, for instance), and because of LJ's already established organic ways of building communities, there hasn't been much call for a community specific version.

All of this is mostly a dispassionate study for me. Most of the time, I make postings on my own blog, but I crosspost to LJ, so I have no real concerns over keeping control of my content. I do comment regularly here at LJ because of the social aspects. I even have a paid account, mostly so I can pipe LJ out through a custom style (as most of their APIs are focused on getting content into LJ, not out). For most of us, not much will change. Amusingly, as of this morning, the Terms of Service, the closest thing to a legal contract, stated that all LJ accounts with a valid registration are eligible for a free Basic account. Until they change the TOS, they may have to offer new account holders the ability to switch. As of this moment though, there is no way to sign up for a Basic Account, or to switch your account type to Basic once singed up.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: taellosse
2008-03-13 06:31 pm (UTC)
Interesting. I hadn't noticed yet. It doesn't really mean much to me right now, because I bought a permanent account a year or so ago, the last time they were being offered. I figured I'd be staying for a while, liked the added options a paid account gave me enough to pay the minimal fee, but didn't like having to pay an annual bill if I could avoid it. It wasn't a huge amount, so I said what the hell. I only wish DeviantArt would offer something similar, so I wouldn't have to renew my account there.
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[User Picture]From: laurion
2008-03-13 06:57 pm (UTC)
I briefly considered a permanent account, but I've never been a dyed-in-the-wool, arisia-panelist LJer, I've always been a 'I like running my own stuff with some measure of my own control' kinda guy, and so some part of me has always looked forward to a time when FOAF, OPML, now Open-ID, etc, etc, all start to coalesce and we'll be able to have the same social features of LJ, but without being locked in to a single provider. Fer cryin' out loud, it's easier at this point to move your phone number from one carrier to another.

For a comparison scenario, look at the IM world. At first, it was pretty much ICQ, then AOL, because they leveraged their huge install base. Then Microsoft and Yahoo started doing the same. Then some people got tired of the balkanization, and you saw two things happen: Unified/multi-protocol clients (which almost everyone runs these days), and Jabber/XMPP which does for IM what has existed all along for e-mail: use whatever server you like, we'll still interoperate. For a long time, Multi-protocal clients were making an end run around what the stakeholders wanted, and up until recently, it was typically a violation of TOS to use a non AIM client on the AIM network, and even now, AOL is trying to get client makers to display advertising on AOL's behalf. Social Networking is going down the same road.
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[User Picture]From: taellosse
2008-03-13 07:04 pm (UTC)
Yeah, and I knew that when I paid for the permanent account. But I figured it'd be several years before that happened, and odds were even I'd wind up paying little to no more for the permanent account than annually paying for it before that time came, and in the meantime, I didn't have to think about it. *shrugs* I doubt I'd make the same decision if I were making it today, because I have less free spending cash than I did then, but there it is.
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[User Picture]From: ultimatepsi
2008-03-13 07:50 pm (UTC)
That's hopeful (-:
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[User Picture]From: laurion
2008-03-13 07:59 pm (UTC)
Oh, I fully believe the market will sort things out. At this point people are very accustomed to having good free options, but as soon as some part of the quality or cost changes, the game changes. New opportunities for competition on price and features arise. None of it is truly 'free' though. The old model for LJ was that some people would pay for more features, and that would offset the expenses of those who didn't. Obviously that isn't working out so well, so they're increasing the cost of the 'free' accounts, but not to the account holder, in the form of ads. Blogger does it at the expense of aggregating all your information into the Google Oort Cloud. Hosting yourself gives you the best features, and the software is free, but you have to pay for the infrastructure to support it (although acceptable quality of webhosting has come down in price, to less than $10/month), and the knowledge expense to implement it. Currently there's also the cost of losing the connection to the rest of the social net.

The eventual upshot will probably be a better set of options in the long run, but in the short run we have to make it through any transition periods.
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[User Picture]From: ultimatepsi
2008-03-13 08:12 pm (UTC)
I have webspace, and some skills, but I like the social net. I'd to be also able to customize my interface more (like with the whole chronological/reverse chronological bit).
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