Global Voices Online
Friday, March 21, 2008
Yet again, LJ users are in distress. Unlike the previous times, however (more on that here and here, as well as here and here), the current situation involves both the Russian-language and the English-language segments of LiveJournal.
It all began when LiveJournal's owner Sup ("an international online media company [...] founded [...] with Russian seed capital") announced that no account created after March 12, 2008, could be turned into a free-of-charge and ad-free Basic Account.
Sixty-eight pages of comments (5,000 of them, the maximum number allowed) on a March 13 item (part explanatory, part conciliating) posted by theljstaff on the LJ News page is a good example of just how overwhelming the English-language bloggers' response has been.
Many more posts and comments on the unpopular changes can be found in the LJ Speaks and No Opt In, No Ads LJ communities (both in English). An informative post on Sup's other ill-received initiative - "censorship of popular interests" - was posted on InsaneJournal, an alternative platform, by Stewardess, here.
Cancellation of Basic Accounts seems to have brought the English-language and the Russian-language LJ bloggers closer together. (The initial lack of common ground was highlighted in the comments section to this post on Sup's acquisition of LiveJournal back in Dec. 2007.)
On March 16, U.S.-based LJ user beckyzoole announced her decision to go on "content strike" and called to other bloggers to join her:
The one-day content strike is on for this Friday, March 21, from midnight GMT to midnight GMT.
For 24 hours, we will not post or comment to LJ. Not in our own journals, not in communities. Not publicly, privately, or under friends-lock.
This is a protest that will have long-lasting effects, showing up forever in the daily posting statistics.
This is a protest that will not harm LJ in the long run, as leaving LJ might do.
This is a protest that will demonstrate the power of community, as all users unite to support Basic users and the concept of adfree space.
This is a protest that will educate the new owners that LJ is driven by user-created content. [...]
On March 17, she further explained the goals of this initiative:
[...] We are holding the Content Strike because all of us, Paid, Permanent and Plus users as well as Basic, want to demonstrate our solidarity as a Community of Users. We do not consider Basic users to be freeloaders, we consider them to be valuable content-providers and Friends. [...]
On March 18, Russian LJ user corpuscula posted a translation of LJ user beckyzoole's appeal and asked her readers to "Spread the Word!"
The word did spread, and a number of posts about the upcoming strike made it into the Yandex Blog portal's Top 30.
LJ user samoleg (Oleg Kuvaev, best-known for his cartoon creation, Masyanya) is one of the Russian LJ users on strike today. In the entry announcing his decision to join the silent protest, there's a drawing of Masyanya holding up a sign that reads (RUS): "LJ is all of us!"
Another blogger who supports the one-day boycott, LJ user rimona (Rimma Polyak), wrote this (RUS):
[...] We don't come to LJ as if it's a store, we - the LJ bloggers - are creating it by writing our blogs here. Sup is nothing without us. LJ is the bloggers, not Sup. [...]
Some Russian-language bloggers have chosen to take a more radical path, proposed (RUS) by LJ user lleo (Leonid Kaganov), who is highly critical of LJ user beckyzoole's initiative:
[...] The American thinks that the whole world will support her. In fact, 3 percent will join in. Sup will notice a 3-percent drop in traffic. And then what? [...]
On March 21, I'll go to this page:
and will change my status to "deleted." That is, I'll delete my journal. A wonderful form will appear on the screen then: ay, oy, [...] let us know what has made you delete your journal, and what we have to do to improve our service? In this line I'll write: "Return Basic Accounts." That's the real statistics that Sup is going to get. It is well-known that deleting a journal this way is pure formality, because it is possible to restore the journal in a second in the next 30 days, losing absolutely nothing. And so the following day, I'll go back to that page and change status to "active" (or not, I'll think abut it). But while my journal stays in the "deleted" mode for a day, it will not only keep me from writing in it (or comment on its behalf), but everyone around will also see that my journal has been deleted. Because this (unlike "outraged silence") is highly conspicuous and effectual. And if we want to do a protest flash mob, this is the only way to do it. [...]
If you try accessing LJ user lleo's blog now, you'll will not succeed: it has indeed been deleted.
LJ user corpuscula, the one who broadcast LJ user beckyzoole's silent protest appeal to the Russian-language bloggers, seems to have temporarily deleted her blog, too.