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

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

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?

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Couldn't have put it better myself.

3:48 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

No surprise MySpace has overtaken LJ in numbers long ago even though their design is hideous and they have virus flaws. They don't have abuse nazis policing them.

4:04 PM

Blogger panda cookie said...

I keep a journal on LJ because of their friend system. That, and the fact that the average user cannot access my friends only or private posts. Too bad I can't say the same for LJ Administrators, who can look at any post any time they want.

I used to be a Support volunteer for LJ. I didn't care for the way they handled thier customers, so I left. I've NEVER thought highly of the Abuse team, even when I was a Support volunteer. This whole thing with breastfeeding just makes me dislike them more.

4:42 PM

Blogger Christine said...

Thanks for the link. :)

Panda Cookie, maybe you should volunteer for the abuse team - the best way to change it would be getting decent people on there, I think. Unfortunately they probably aren't too keen on applicants who disagree with them, though.

4:49 PM

Blogger LJAB said...

You're welcome, thanks to both of you for the links too.

4:56 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good piece agent orange.

5:04 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here from

5:38 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

THANK YOU. I used to do volunteer support for LJ too, but I began to get sick of their attitude when the abuse guys got so out of control. It's a pity because LJ has a lot of benefits to it.

6:31 PM

Blogger panda cookie said...

Christine Daae, I actually have volunteered for LJ Abuse, but they turned me down. No surprises, there, right?

6:51 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

My problem with abuse is that they use volunteers, so there can't be any consistency.

As I noted on my LJ back when it happened, a young lady was mad at a community, so she wrote something about it. The community linked, so she changed the lj-cut to load a trojan. This was a purposeful act and because it overwhelmed my machine, it took an effort and a couple of hours to get back online.

When I reported it to abuse, it took them 19 hours to respond, by that time she had deleted the post and abuse said there was nothing they could do. When I responded with a WTF?, they told me that they're an international volunteer force with a large caseload; they couldn't do anything if the post was deleted and any way you look at it, linking to a trojan, virus or worm is not a violation of the TOS.

SA really should take some of the money that has been flowing into their coffers to professionalize abuse. It'd help clear up a lot of the problems and confusion.

7:53 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

19 hours?!? I reported a porn default icon 2 days ago to see what the response was and I got an answer in half an hour!

5:35 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Denise should have been fired years ago.

6:11 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

A lot of people are waiting to see the resolution on this from six apart's (and not the abuse team, who doesn't seem to know their head from their butts)
If the answers/customer service is not up to speed,i know quite a few people who have already made journals over at
they won't all "leave" lj all together,but a lot of them are planning on not renewing paid accounts.
If it was only a few people,i'm sure no one would care, but when you're looking a thousands as of two days ago, and still counting, six apart has a huge could-be wreck on their hands.

6:47 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow I never knew what a nutjob Densie was. I guess that is my fault for not keeping up with

6:52 AM

Blogger Christine said...

Panda Cookie: I thought about volunteering for it too in the past, but I know there's no way they'd accept me now, lol.

I have a GJ, but most of the people on my flist don't. I use it a bit, but it'd be nice to see more people going there.

Re: response time of LJ Abuse - I've had the same experience, of reporting something that takes them over 24 hours to respond to, and by that time the person has deleted the post/comments.

It's ridiculous to say that changing an lj cut link to point to a trojan isn't against the rules. They've suspended people for things as nebulous as using LJ for purposes other than what it was intended for (will have to dig up info on that to send here), so deliberately and maliciously linking to viruses ought to count!

7:30 AM

Blogger Christine said...

One other thing, I reported a default icon with a nail through, uh, an intimate body part, and got a response within 5 minutes. So I don't buy that they can't look at other reports as quickly!

7:31 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

For the record, they received multiple reports about the trojan and others said they had sent screenshots. I didn't get a screenshot of the link, but I did send a copy of my v-scan report that showed 15 attempts to install the thing. I was told that screenshots weren't acceptable and that once the entry was gone, they couldn't reconstruct it.

I was also not the only person who asked WTF? and we were all given canned language which included; "The Abuse Team has specific standard policies used to ensure consistent responses regarding reports. We must apply our policies equally and fairly. You can find further information on the Abuse Team's policies at _address_. However to begin an investigation we need need specific links to Terms of Service violations on's servers." We each determined individually that this meant trojans and virsuses aren't against the rules.

The 19 hour figure was from the timestamp on my archived report to the their initial reply. It took me a couple of hours to get back up before I could report (I got hit in the middle of the night). And to show part of the inconsistency, my WTF? was replied to in about three hours.

I don't remember which blog, but I've seen Mena mentioning a $12m influx of capital or some similar amount; The AG of CT forced MySpace to install a safety czar and I think LJ should take some of their money to professionalize abuse.

I, also, wholeheartedly support the breastfeeding icons and have been following this story, since it first broke on LJ.

7:57 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Check this out:

We will strive to keep you informed of changes to the best of our abilities without being intrusive, and to run our business based on feedback from the LiveJournal community, with the LiveJournal community's best interests in mind.

9:06 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

10:59 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

LOLOLOL, LJAbuse have deserved this for so long, here's hoping Six Apart LISTENS AND LEARNS.

They need a whole new abuse team with whole new managers. Start from scratch, with professional people.

12:36 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm glad you brought up how suspension affect other users. I looked in my memories last week to find two posts that were very informative and interesting and I wanted to quote them. They no longer existed because the OP had been suspended. Why should the rest of us be punished because someone else is suspended? If someone deletes their LJ their comments and community contributions stay, why can't it be the same when someone is suspended?

5:47 AM

Blogger Jennifer said...

Are those dumb attention-whoring bitches STILL at it? When are they going to LEAVE? I thought they were theatening to leave! I see a lot of threatening, not enough leaving. When are they going to walk the goddamned walk?

7:24 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

some of them have left, some of them are using GJ more and LJ less. there are still talks going on with six apart.

7:29 PM


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