LiveJournal: When the LJ abuse prevention team become the abusers, who will protect the LJ users?

Friday, March 17, 2006

Why stay with LJ?

An anonymous comment in the post below asks "Why stick with LJ at all, why not move to one of the other blogging networks?"

I read today on the socialsoftware blog that Blog software provider Six Apart gets even more money, in part to move forward with plans to offer private blogs. Cofounder Mena Trott believes that blogging is unlikely to ever go mainstream until it was easy for people to limit access to their content online.

Marshall Kirkpatrick, writing for the blog, said "Maybe I don't have enough LiveJournal experience, but I question how widespread the practice of regular posting is going to be on personal sites that aren't publicly visible."

I posted a comment, saying:

LiveJournal allows users to set up a number of filters on their posts, so they can make public posts, and non-public posts which only a certain set of friends on the site can see. For many users it's their most valuable feature, because you can combine blogging about current events or your chosen topic with public posts, and allow your friends to read more personal thoughts on the same page. For people writing about personal experiences like mental illness or abuse, it's a great tool. LiveJournal thrives on the sense of community it builds up, rather than any serious blogging content.

Unfortunately the sense of community, and privacy on some posts, is spoiled by them having an abuse team made up of volunteers who can read users' private posts, and who are known for suspending journals for breaking rules not mentioned anywhere in the Terms of Service.

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.

Unlike blogs which are primarily about reporting and commenting on links and news stories, or trying to sell something, LiveJournals are usually personal. Some people post everything publically, some people keep everything locked only to their friends, some do a mix or have many different filters. People want to feel safe to talk about the issues they don't want to share with the world - problems at home, abuse, trauma, depression, how much they hate their boss, how they're afraid their father is an alcoholic. With its network of communities for every possible interest, including support communities, LiveJournal actively builds up this community and people's connection to it.

If you're tech savvy enough you can set up your own personal blog and set passwords for your friends, but when people are used to reading their friends entries together on one page (with LJ's friends page), you can't be sure that everyone will remember, or bother, to see how you're doing. On LJ you know someone's going to read your post within a few hours of you posting it, depending how many people are on your friends list.

So people stay with their LiveJournals even when they're mad as hell about how they or some of their friends have been treated. Nevertheless, some are starting to make more noise -- as you see here.

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Blogger Christine said...

That's it in a nutshell. I have various filters set up. Only people I know and trust get to read my really depressed entries, for instance. Ironically one of the reasons I keep a lot of things f-locked is because of the constant harassment from Melanie, who I'm not allowed to write about! So I guess harassment can be good for LJ, since it keeps people on the service for the ability to filter and lock entries (which does not, of course, stop LJ Abuse from reading them).

7:59 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I also like LiveJournal's FOSS approach and their syndication feature (so I can use my friends lists and news readers).

5:20 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Word. Sad they get to take advantage of it because Denise P needs to be fired.

6:53 PM

Blogger Alleykitten said...

There are lots of features that I really appreciate in LJ. But, mostly my friends are there.

7:10 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think that frank the goat is an idiot. I think live journal is over rated much like myspace and msn spaces. If I wanted to be in a community full of users who make their blog or journal unreadable, it doesnt matter what features they have.

I have sinced tried a simpler blogging solution,, most people dont know about them, but thats what I like about a simpe blog community site.

1:31 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

It seems that I don't have any way to e-mail you, so I'll post here.

You may want to make a post out of this so that people are aware of what they get themselves into when they purchase a paid account.

I posted a support request here (
(and closed it because I don't expect them to be able to give a good enough excuse) regarding a post here ( about bradfitz apparently scraping users' voiceposts into a folder on his server. The evidence (until they get rid of it) is at

I would like to know exactly for what reason the "esteemed" founder of LiveJournal has for violating other users' privacy. I suppose "because he can" is good enough for him.

8:25 PM

Blogger Colin said...

Hey, you guys are still going at it. Pretty well written too...I don't see what the benefit would be for any LJ user who has spent the time creating a social network around themselves to move to a blogging community outside it, unless they could, more or less immediately, re-establish the same or nearly the same network. Odds are costs will be more significant, as will time spent on upkeep on the site itself.

It's telling that, while you guys get a few comments here or there, your respective LJs would likely get at least that per entry.

5:19 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Until they got suspended for being against LJ's secret TOS.

5:44 PM


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