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Well, *I'm* amused. [Mar. 13th, 2008|11:03 am]
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.

[User Picture]From: jducoeur
2008-03-14 05:41 pm (UTC)
I've of course got an unusual viewpoint on this, since I'm facing most of the same issue LJ is, and will probably wind up with the same decisions. Ultimately, you have to make enough money *somehow* if you want a site that's truly stable in the long run, and you don't have that many options. Either you charge, or you run ads, or you find Other Means. Since I consider most of those Other Means less savory than the ads, I consider them the lesser evil...
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[User Picture]From: laurion
2008-03-14 06:05 pm (UTC)
Oh, I definitely concede that it has to be paid for somehow. Software might be free as in speech in some cases, but server space, bandwidth, and administration are all going to cost somebody something.

I'm a bit unclear by the grammar in your last sentence. Do you mean that you find Ads to be the lesser evil? I think that's what you mean, especially as Other Means probably involves some sort of information selling, harvesting for spam bots, adware/malware, identity theft, etc.
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[User Picture]From: jducoeur
2008-03-15 02:38 am (UTC)
Yes, just so. Done right, I don't mind a modest number of ads. I honestly have no idea how LJ is doing this, so I don't know if I'd find them annoying or not, but it's a topic I'm thinking about a lot for CommYou. (Which probably *will* be ad-supported, but I'm going to be trying to find the sweet spot of the minimum number of ads to work well -- occasional, well-targeted ads that people are more likely to click through...)
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