Post-Mortem

14 March 2008

In case some of my readers could benefit by the consolidation, I here bring-together more of the reports on the elimination of LiveJournal Basic accounts.

Without prior announcement, Basic accounts ceased to be an option on 13 March.

When LJ was asked to restore the option, Jason Shellen, VP of Product Development for LiveJournal, made the ridiculous claim that the elimination was to help new subscribers:

From a product perspective it was more about creating a new registration process that was easier for new users to understand. I'm sure it's been ages since many of you signed up for an account, but it was quite confusing and included a table of options that was not very inviting to new users.
He expressed offense when he was called on having transparently lied.

Brad Fitzgerald, the original creätor of LiveJournal and a member of the Advisory Board, objected to having not been presented with the idea in advance except as a sort of trial balloon to which he had objected. Danah Boyd, another member of the Advisory Board, likewise objected to the failure to consult, and indicated some of the mentality of the present management:

When I get my feet back on the ground, I intend to talk with the folks at LJ, but I can already predict the first question: what can we monetize? how can we grow?
Fitzgerald had already told them how Basic accounts monetize:
In any case, SUP apparently sees no value in freeloaders not looking at ads, not paying, and oh wait… producing most the content for other members to read, other members who are looking at ads and paying for their accounts.
This elimination of Basic accounts isn't about actually maximizing profit; it is about a childish desire to grab money more immediately.

LiveJournal began admitting that it was a business decision:

Over the past 24 hours many of you have asked whether the changes to the account structure (removing the option of creating new basic accounts) is a business decision. It is, emphatically.
c·news, a Russian-based IT WWWeb journal, picked up the story, and reported Anton Nosik, Chief Blogging Officer for СУП, as saying:
We do not consider it necessary to inform those, who have not opened a basic account during 9 years of LiveJournal’s existence, that there is no such an opportunity any longer
Which implicitly refuses to acknowledge that all users, even those who do not plan to creäte new accounts, are affected by this change qua members of a community (and that users with existing accounts often want additional accounts). It also reveals that СУП more generally resists transparency, which resistence is also exposed in the same message in which it was admitted that the elimination of basic accounts was a business decision:
We're still working out how to strike just the right tone when communicating with such a diverse and complex collection of communities.
which is to say that previous pious words were empty, and they can't even figure out quite how to fake openness without giving away more information than they wish.

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