LiveJournal and customer relations
A number of blogs have discussed this topic from a customer service point of view. Blogger Marshall Kirkpatrick says:
Breasts aside, though - the most surprising thing to me in this story is the following line from an email alleged to have come from the folks at LiveJournal: "Finally, please be aware that write-in campaigns are never effective in swaying the opinion of the Abuse Team or LiveJournal administrators, or in focusing attention on a particular issue. A flood of requests concerning the same issue only serve to slow down the responses given to valid inquiries such as your request for policy clarification."
LiveJournalWell well well! I suppose it is said that the blogosphere is about transparency, not responsiveness to customers! How can a flood of emails not even focus attention on a particular issue? That's harsh. And really, if one breast gets the attention of LiveJournal admin better than thousands of customer emails - who's really got the problem here?
So why don't people who are unhappy with LiveJournal's service just leave LiveJournal?
In an entry on her LiveJournal, realcdaae says:
On the flip side, I also get annoyed at people who get annoyed at people for protesting about something they care about. It doesn't really matter why they care about it, they don't have to justify themselves to you. I've seen this recently in some of the "nipplegate" discussions - LiveJournal is a private company so they can do whatever they want, deal with it. Well, yes, they're a private company. They can't actually do whatever they want as they're still bound by the law, but within those limits they can have whatever TOS they choose. And as users, we can speak out (or shout and scream) if we think that TOS and those rules are wrong, or poorly applied. Using the service of a company does not take away your right or ability to complain when you think something is wrong. Indeed, a company should be listening to its customers harder than it should listen to people who don't utilize it.
It's legal for Wal-Mart to use sweatshops, it's legal for Starbucks to sell "sweatshop" coffee, it's legal for all manner of companies to pollute the environment and screw over their workers. Of course, compared to these things, LiveJournal's TOS or abuse team problems are pretty insignificant. But part of LJ's business model, part of the reason we all use it, is that it builds up that sense of community. Without the community, quite a few of us wouldn't stay. If a company depends on its users and their communities for its popularity and success, it would be wise to listen to them. They may not owe any legal duty to do so, but it's a poor business decision not to.
Why stay with LJ? "People, even those who are highly unsatisfied with the way LJ handles complaints (or ignores them), stay on LiveJournal because that's where their friends are. Because they have joined communities where they've built up a rapport with people. And because they can control who reads what (to a degree, based on trusting their friends list and LJ itself), and post to communities which are locked against outsiders browsing."
LiveJournal's business model depends on the sense of community its users build up, but they don't feel bound to pay any heed to what those users say, or who abuse team actions affect that community.
How do questionable suspensions of users affect other users, for instance? When a user is suspended, all of their posts are removed, and all of their comments (replaced by "reply by suspended user"). If you have a post where a suspended user contributed significantly to the discussion, with information or ideas, that is lost. You do not have a choice about whether to retain their comments, they're just gone and the flow of your thread ruined. You've lost their whole contribution. If they were a prominnt poster in your community, everything they've contributed is gone. If they're your friend, all your threads and comments in posts on their journals are gone too.
LiveJournal Abuse doesn't seem to consider this when they make decisions - past actions and overall contributions on LiveJournal don't count, unless they're counted against you. Minor infractions, small enough not to warrant action, can be brought up against you. How much you've helped others, or spent time building the communities and community atmosphere LiveJournal depends on, doesn't matter. There's a prosection but no defense.
Are people who care taking it all too seriously? As realcdaae said, no one should have to justify why they care. But it's LJ's very business model which encourages this sort of attachment and makes people care. It relies on making networks of friends. It's full of communities for support, for sharing, for information, for entertainment. When people invest time and energy into those things, of course they care. For some more isolated users, and users with problems, the communities built up through LiveJournal can be invaluable.
So why does LiveJournal, or Six Apart, not care what we think?
Tags: social networks, livejournal, six apart, blogging, community, lj abuse