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Medium Dawn Felagund of the Fountain

A Word on the LJ Mess

The (Cyber) Bag of Weasels

bread and puppet




"About as much fun as a bag of weasels"...when I first saw this Irish adage, it made me think of the life of a writer: sometimes perilous, sometimes painful, certainly interesting. My paper journal has always been called "The Bag of Weasels." This is the Bag of Weasels' online home.

A Word on the LJ Mess

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morgoth
I know that everyone is probably tired of hearing about this, but I missed commenting on both the FanLib and LJ Strikethrough the First scandals, so I will comment on this but keep everything under the cut without expectation that anyone read or comment. I know a lot has already been said. I have a mix of emotions about the whole Strikethrough thing, which can be summed up (at the present moment) as wearied, infuriated, and frightened. But then, that's my opinion on life in this country for the last six years anyway, so it seems keeping with the theme, doesn't it? :)

First of all, since people seem intent on stating their migration (or not) plans, I'm not leaving LJ at the moment. I did think about it a while back, though it wasn't entirely motivated by the Strikethrough debacle but also some personal misgivings I had been having about the wisdom of maintaining a personal journal in a place where it also serves as a public forum and people (therefore) expect that I will tidy up my writings and opinions to be well-worded, inoffensive, and politically correct. But that is a nattering for another time.

I do have LJ backup software installed on my computer, but I haven't used it yet. In all likelihood--I am not stupid--my account will never be in jeopardy here. 1) I'm not an artist, so my pr0n doesn't go beyond the written word, which currently isn't being targeted and I believe would be more difficult to target. 2) Even that pr0n can be defended as having artistic merit; I don't think that anything I've ever written--no matter how sexually explicit--is bona fide PWP. 3) I don't have many fandom enemies and those I do have don't seem to use abuse reports as a means to cleanse the fandom of heretics like me. And LJ--for all that they've made my skin crawl in the past few months--is not the Pit of Voles. I do believe that they might investigate an abuse complaint before simply deleting an account.

Others have said more eloquently why--metafandom has many of them for those of you who don't know what's going on--but my personal opinion is that LJ/SA has bungled this round of the witch-hunt as well. I think that they've not only treated their customers in a shitty manner but have behaved in such a way that has larger implications for the fight against the sexual abuse of children at large. Besides driving the real offenders underground by giving them plenty of warning, they've managed to turn the conversation in a completely counterproductive direction. We're not discussing how to apprehend and stop real offenders but are arguing in circles about drawings we don't like (or do). The fight against sexual child abuse tends to be an alarmist and irrational one to begin with (in the opinion of one who studied sexual child abuse as a psychology student and now as a law enforcement professional sees the apprehension and legal treatment of pedophiles) but this really takes the proverbial cake. We could have conversations about this topic and create an online fandom community that assists law enforcement in bringing the real offenders to justice ... but we're arguing about a drawing of people who don't even exist. Wow.

But on LJ/SA's actions ... is it really that surprising or have I just become that much of a cynic? Since when does the fair treatment of one's customers matter in Corporate America? When doesn't Corporate American bend to serve in interest of the almighty dollar? And LJ/SA is both: corporate and American. Corporate: they exist as an entity to make as much money as possible and to dominate an arena of online life (social networking/blog sites) that has since become quite crowded. American: this country is controlled by a tiny majority simply because they have the money to buy bigger megaphones. This is why abortion is still a contested issue even though the majority of Americans favor a woman's right to choose. This is why same-sex marriage is still illegal. This is why in the year 2007, we still have to fight not to have our children forced to learn Biblical creation stories in public-school science class, attend religion classes in public schools, and why we are all still saying "one nation under god" when we show respect to our flag and country. (And just a few days ago, Texas added the same phrase.) This is why individuals are being browbeaten for having the nerve to use automobiles to drive to work but it's been an uphill battle to get laws passed making auto makers conform to fuel-economy standards, oil companies still get tax breaks, and no one ever mentions making big corporations or the government itself require telecommuting or flex-schedules to keep their employees off the road at peak times. Because, omg, individuals can make all manner of sacrifices but heaven forbid we should ask a big corporation to do this! Why, they might lose money!!!

(And for the record, I think that personal sacrifice is necessary too. I make plenty in my own life ... but it's not the only solution and berating individuals to the exclusion of corporations that are causing the majority of the problems is ineffective and unfair. But I am getting off-topic.)

The point is that the US is largely controlled now by two small contingents of people: the very pious and the very rich. So I am not surprised the LJ is choosing to pander to their corporate sponsors rather than do right by customers who have been with them before they were an arm of Six Apart. And I am not surprised that the crackdown that has come has not been against any of the number unsavory uses people have found for LJ but against "obscenity." Hence the fact that a small group of conservative nutjobs managed to raise a brouhaha about a breast exposed for a half-second on national television but we can't stop our own citizens for getting killed in a stupid war in Iraq. Because corporate sponsors aren't daft. They know that the Christian-nutjob contingent in this country may represent a minority of Americans, but they have very big (very ignorant, I might add) mouths, and while they'll support a company that advertises on a journaling site that allows neo-Nazi communities*, then omg (or, as they would say, omG), if those same companies advertise on a site that allows drawings of a man performing fellatio on another man** ... well, the first LJ Strikethrough showed how quickly just a miniscule number of nutjobs can turn up the heat--and the volume--real quick on that.

* And I'm not saying that they shouldn't. I despise all forms of hate, but as long as people aren't harming each other, then I do believe that people have the right to say all manner of stupid things. Unfortunately, the "right to free speech" doesn't make much sense as a right to uphold only when it's convenient.

** Because, come on. We've all seen the drawing by now, right? (If not ... but be forewarned that this is a graphic drawing. Cover the eyes of thy children.) This is child pornography? The male in the picture could be seventeen or twenty-five. Unless context was given that stated otherwise--and as far as I know, it was not--such as if the title was something along the lines of "Harry Gets Extra Credit in His Second Year at Hogwarts," then I think that there are bigger fish to fry in the fight against sexual child abuse then this particular drawing.

So I suppose I'm cynical about this whole episode to 1) have a dismaying lack of surprise about the whole thing and 2) not believe that my own "migration" from LJ--should I choose to take this option--would make a whit of a difference. I have a paid account with the userpic upgrade, so LJ gets about thirty bucks a year out of me. How do you think my thirty bucks compares with the millions they get from advertisers?

Yes, but every drop fills the bucket, right? Don't I say this all the time, about what a difference would be made if every American recycled just one additional item per day, for example? Doesn't the same hold true here?

fandom_counts currently has 34,913 members, and one of the few things that Teh Fandom could agree upon during LJ Strikethrough the First was that it only took a second to join fandom_counts so why not? So I think this is a fairly accurate representation of the number of people who are really upset about these episodes. Now, if each of those members owns a paid account with the userpic add-on, as I do, that means that those members give just over a million dollars each year to LJ. ($1,047,390 to be exact.)

But how many have paid accounts? How many have add-ons? And how many members of fandom_counts would truly leave LJ if the shit really did hit the fan? Let's assume half have paid accounts and half of those have userpic add-ons. And then less assume that a generous 50% of fandom_counts would leave LJ if they continue toying with fandom as they have.

Given this scenario, LJ collects $436,400 in paid accounts and add-ons from the community above. So if half of them leave or cancel their paid accounts, LJ loses only $218,200. Does anyone think this is worth pissing off the corporate sponsors?

(And would people giving up paid time necessarily be a bad thing for LJ? I stay logged on LJ on my computer, so I have never seen a single ad or "sponsored community" on LJ, even though many of my flist have plus accounts. So I am a non-entity to ad agencies. They can't advertise to me. Now if I gave up my paid account, they could. So if LJ could guarantee a larger audience for a company's ads--i.e., more free and plus accounts versus paid and permanent accounts--it makes sense to me that they could justify charging more for those ads. And it makes sense also to me that those of us who spend the most time on LJ [and therefore would see the most ads] are those who aren't seeing ads because we own paid accounts. So the move for paid account holders to give up those accounts--thus tying LJ tighter to its corporate sponsors--has never made much sense to me. Wouldn't it make better sense to encourage plus account holders to switch back to free or to ante up for a paid account? Deny LJ the audience for their ads while also making it a service that is again largely financed by its customers? Yes, I know how pie-in-the-sky this is, and I know that it won't happen. But at the same time, switching back to a free account from a paid account doesn't make much sense to me either.)

So that was a lot of rambling (and fuzzy maths) to say that I am staying right where I am and not much is changing. I'm not "going underground" with my stories. AMC contains graphic scenes of Nelyo and Annawende, who are about seventeen if Elf years; the work-in-progress prequel to AMC features Nerdanel and Feanor married at age 15 (in Elf years) and are pregnant with Nelyo by age 16, so clearly they are having (underage) sex. I'll be honest: When I heard about this, that was the first thought to come to my mind. By the standards that LJ is upholding, I am not much between than a common kiddie pornographer. (And yes, I recognize the myriad distinctions. 1] AMC is a written work; ponderosa121's "infraction" was a drawing. So far as I've heard, LJ is cracking down only on "images." I've also seen the argument made that cracking down on fiction is more difficult, as it is easier to make an argument for artistic merit versus mere titillation. 2] There is no age difference. Nelyo and Annawenda are both horny kids; Nerdanel and Feanor are horny, married kids. I wonder what the reaction to the drawing would have been if it was Harry and Ron, not Harry and Snape. The younger/older, student/teacher dynamics seem to add an extra nefarious edge to the whole thing. 3] There is artistic merit. At least, the vast majority of readers seem to think so, and I'm really not trying to brag about this. But I don't think there's any way for AMC or its prequel to be mistaken for works without artistic merit existing for the purpose of mere obscenity, no matter how much people may dislike my writing or my interpretations of Elvish culture and sexual mores.)

Meanwhile, I also offer apologies to non-American LJ friends for the fact that you've been dragged into a day in the life of the money-hungry, corporate-owned, morality-obsessed, and sexually repressed US of A. *sigh*
  • You could add an extra disclaimer: 'No characters were actually harmed in the writing of this work of fiction'.
  • We could have conversations about this topic and create an online fandom community that assists law enforcement in bringing the real offenders to justice ... but we're arguing about a drawing of people who don't even exist. Wow.

    Exactly. That's what truly boggles my mind. We are arguing about a painting of fictional persons where one of those persons might be 17. *brain knots into painful tangles*

    While I do sympathize with lj about having to cover their asses because of American obscenity laws and election-induced witchhunts, the way they treat their customers and especially their overseas customers who are not native speakers stinks to high heaven.

    Otoh, there's also a part of me that's groaning about fandom hysterics ... posting un-locked explicit HP fanart in the current climate - is that really necessary? I know that some people are going to say that it's necessary *because* of that. But as lj is a private company, free speech really doesn't enter into the equation, much as it sucks.

    And I just can't believe that lj has stooped to making PANEL decisions on the artistic merit of fanworks. *runs away screaming*

    • While I do sympathize with lj about having to cover their asses because of American obscenity laws and election-induced witchhunts

      Exactly. Heck, I run a group, so I do understand this ... and appreciate that every site has the right to allow and disallow what they will. I take this liberty all of the time. You can't leave a review on my site that says, "This story fucking sucks and you should die." Hey, argue about free speech all you want ... but at the end of the day, I pay the bills and say I don't want that sort of thing, and that remains my right.

      LJ of course has the same right. And I would be very uncomfortable hosting the same artwork that got Ponderosa kicked off of the site. But if I ever hosted artwork, I'd like to think that I'd consider this ahead of time and address it in my site policies in a clear way that everyone can understand.

      the way they treat their customers and especially their overseas customers who are not native speakers stinks to high heaven.

      Exactly. I'm an American-born native speaker of English who thinks herself pretty savvy with regards to the language, and I can't understand the nuances of most site TOS.

      I agree with the people who are saying, let LJ make the rules it wants or feels it needs. But be clear to us about what those rules are. If I'm not allowed to post NC-17 stories anymore, that's fine. I can't post NC-17 stories on the Pit either, and I still post there. But don't give some wishy-washy explanation that seeks to satisfy both sides then ban my account when I post an NC-17 story and think I'm still in the clear.

      Otoh, there's also a part of me that's groaning about fandom hysterics

      Me too. Like the attempted mass exodus to other sites ... if a person honestly feels s/he cannot abide with LJ's policies and TOS and chooses to cancel his/her account because of it, then I respect that choice. But this whole "relinquish you're payed time to stick eljay where it hurts!!1!!one!!1!" and all that ... I'm dismayed to see so many people approaching this with utter irrationality, which is a favored tactic of the nutjob contingent.

      But of course, that is the fandom monster. It is, in its own way, a nutjob contingent. ;)
    • (no subject) - crowdaughter - Expand
  • and people (therefore) expect that I will tidy up my writings and opinions to be well-worded, inoffensive, and politically correct.

    Pray tell, what people do you care about who expect that sort of thing from you?

    I think that what we are seeing here is a corporation that got blindsided. As far as I can tell, LJ doesn't seem to have cared much about explicit writing or art for much of its existence, other than the most basic CYA moves -- encouranging cuts and flocking, and a basic promise in the ToS that you won't use your account to exploit people. Strikethrough I seems to me to have been the uncoordinated flailing around of a corporation suddenly called out and spooked by a shadowy group threatening prosecution under our notoriously murky child pornography laws.

    The long arm of the law hasn't quite caught up with the international nature of the Web yet, and the particular laws involved don't make this any easier. Strikethrough I was an overreaction, and to be fair, LJ did admit that after a week or so.

    That Strikethrough II happened at all, I find absurd. The blame here goes equally to the artist who (from what I understand) posted that picture unlocked and uncut -- really, who thinks that sort of thing is a good idea, honestly? -- and to LJ for overreacting once again. Neither party seems to have a very good grasp of how their actions read to other people.

    I think, at this point, LJ is caught coming and going. If they make explicit exactly what they will and will not allow on their site, the Mel-Gibson-In-Blue-Facepaint howl of "FREEDOM (of speech)!" will go up all over the world and overwhelm their servers. If they try to leave the guidelines a little vague, someone will find a sexually graphic picture, and the Sid-Davis-in-High-Dudgeon monotone of "BOYS BEWARE!" will go up from the people they're in hock to and overwhelm their servers. If they deal with "offenders" quickly and quietly. . . Mel Gibson in blue facepaint. If they conduct long, drawn-out examinations before Doing Something. . . Sid Davis in high dudgeon. Damned if they do, damned if they don't.
    • Pray tell, what people do you care about who expect that sort of thing from you?

      Now, if I was to name names, that would cause Drama™. And we all know that I am not a big fan of Drama™ except where it pertains to fictional people. ;)

      But I will suffice to say that over the course of about four months, I had five people get very upset and vocal about posts/comments that I made in my LJ. Four of these people I consider to be close friends, as in they are on my "close friends" filter and all. The fifth was an acquaintance.

      Which led me to consider if my regarding my LJ as a safe place to get my unfiltered thoughts onto "paper" for consideration was such a good idea. Because most people view LiveJournal as a public forum, not as a private diary, as I did. I'll admit my own foolishness in this: in leaving certain posts unlocked and putting thing to "paper" that I knew had the potential to rile up certain contingents and thinking this okay "because it was my diary."

      So moving and being without Internet--and up to my neck in SWG alligators while getting the archive started--actually came in time to give me a much-needed LJ break. But I am firmly off-topic. :)

      Back on-topic, I completely agree with you. I run a teeny, tiny group (compared to LJ) and recall how much angst, deliberation, and hair-pulling was involved in formulating our own TOS. After all, I'm just an ordinary netizen ... and here I was trying to understand the complex legalese of American child protection laws. Not fun. I'm glad that the Silm fandom is rather quiet and controversy free, so I'll likely never be called out on any blunders I may have made.

      I think a lot of fandom's hysteria, too, has to do with LJ making its corporate presence well known mere months before the Strikethrough the First. Conspiracy theories abound! ... and I don't think they're entirely without merit. LJ started (as far as I understand) as a networking tool for a group of friends. It's obviously had to grow so much larger, hence the corporate sponsors. But I remember when the sponsored Science of Sleep community debuted, and all the monster-shouters were pointing and saying, "See! See! Corporate sponsors!!! Soon they'll be telling us what we can and cannot post in our journals and comms!"

      Sure enough, a few months later, LJ appears to be doing just that. Now the monster-shouters don't look so hysterical.

      But the fact remains that 1) LJ exists now to make money (like it or not) and 2) if people want to continue to have the fast servers and easy-to-use software that LJ provides, then someone will have to foot the bill for it. It amuses me, in my perusal of posts related to Strikethrough the Second while researching this post, the people who say, "LJ is evol! I only stay because I love their features ..."

      Which makes me want to ask, "Now how else do you expect LJ to pay for those features you love so much if not with ads ... especially when you're screaming your little head off to all your friends about canceling their paid account time?"

      So yes, irrationality, hysterics, and clusterfuckery from both sides.
    • (no subject) - frenchpony - Expand
    • (no subject) - ithilwen - Expand
  • Oh dear... how did you manage to miss out on the strikethrough '07 and fanlib events? Fanlib still e-mails me, but that love is just from one side...

    but we're arguing about a drawing of people who don't even exist. Wow.

    *nods* In a nutshell...

    So I suppose I'm cynical about this whole episode to 1) have a dismaying lack of surprise about the whole thing and 2) not believe that my own "migration" from LJ--should I choose to take this option--would make a whit of a difference. I have a paid account with the userpic upgrade, so LJ gets about thirty bucks a year out of me. How do you think my thirty bucks compares with the millions they get from advertisers?

    1) me too, I immediately thought... oh no, what now? What happened now?

    2)Yeah, I agree, I am keeping GJ as a back up when LJ is unavailable. I should have thought about that earlier this year since I do have this account for a while. Anyway, even if people should migrate to other services, the more these grow, the more strict the rules (inevitably) will become as well and well. *sighs* LJ is always better than Myspace.

    yes, I recognize the myriad distinctions. 1] AMC is a written work; ponderosa121's "infraction" was a drawing. So far as I've heard, LJ is cracking down only on "images."

    No they did test trails with fics from the Harry Potter fandom as well. One was initially not allowed until the author in question took out the roleplaying element. But an average Snape PWP fic where he has nc17 fun with a Ron Weasly (I think) is allowed. This is where LJ contradicts itself and shoots itself in the foot. Zero tolerance is zero tolerance and if you can explain the artistical merit in that piece regarding that image... oh oh oh. Oh and here is LJ abuse's stand regaring PWP's

    But you know, as far as LJ staff sometimes make me sigh deeply, it are the fanatics who scream that people in the fandom are pedophiles which hide their true intent behind fanfic... that truly annoys me, I mean... wtf??? Its the same that I'd say, oh you are American and your deepest wish is to kiss Bush' feet. I mean come on!
    • Oh dear... how did you manage to miss out on the strikethrough '07 and fanlib events?

      I followed them quite closely but by the time I got around to writing something to put up in my own LJ, everything I wanted to say had been said elsewhere and better. I remember I started a FanLib-related post on the day Juno posted to the Henneth-Annun list about Strikethrough the First, and that was the first that I heard of that.

      I did follow them quite closely through metafandom and the LJs of friends. The social dynamics of online interactions fascinate me ... I can't help myself! :)

      Anyway, even if people should migrate to other services, the more these grow, the more strict the rules (inevitably) will become as well and well.

      Exactly. I mean, everyone bemoans, "What has Brad's LJ come to?" But Brad was one guy ... LJ is now how many accounts and users? It boggles my mind to consider how many emails LJ Abuse alone receives in a day. One guy and his friends can't handle that or they will become another ff.net. The site started "by the people, for the people," yes, but it grew, and with any service designed to serve a bigger/broader population, stricter rules had to come into play.

      So this "by the fans, for the fans" idea is nice ... but when three million fans are networking on their site; and they need bigger, faster, more reliable servers; and they need to make their site competitive with the features offered by LJ, GJ, MySpace; when everyone doesn't automatically know everyone else ... well, you are exactly right. The rules will become stricter. Ads will probably pop up. Corporate sponsors will turn up the heat.

      It's like I said to frenchpony above: You can't have your cake and eat it too. LJ users want the freedom to do what they want (short of illegal or harmful activity) but they also want cutting-edge technology for free or for cheap. It doesn't work that way. All the people who are saying, "I hate LJ but the features are great," need to consider the fact that the LJ policies they hate help to afford the features that they love. Now which are they willing to sacrifice?

      Personally, I'm not controversial enough to warrant deletion; now that my head is on straighter, I don't fear this so much. And I do love the features, so I will do my best to play by the rules until I feel that they compromise the fun I can have here ... then I will leave for a place with more freedom and less features. But for now, I can live with the rules, even if I think they did a shitty job in handling Strikethrough I and II.

      it are the fanatics who scream that people in the fandom are pedophiles which hide their true intent behind fanfic... that truly annoys me, I mean... wtf???

      I saw it put beautifully somewhere--I can't remember where--that fandom is a subculture that has its own rules, checks, and understandings that don't necessarily coincide with the "real world." I mean, I tell most people, "I've written a novella where two fictional male characters have sex together," and they look at me like o.O. They think I'm perverted, possibly. (Maybe they're right. ;) But I tell you--or anyone else in fandom--and even if you don't particularly care for slash, it's not so odd. And I'm not so odd. Just look at the heat the movie Brokeback Mountain got, and most fandom people I know who saw the movie said, "It was really just a run-of-the-mill slash, not half as graphic as what you'd find even on ff.net."

      So we understand that Ponderosa et al aren't pedophiles; we understand (even if we don't like that type of writing/art) why some fans create what they do. But to outsiders, it looks dubious, worthy of suspicion, fear, and inevitably, censorship.

      Thanks for the links too! :)
  • First, kudos on writing a screed that would fit nicely on the Chimp Refuge where we, or mostly Kev these days, do not go gladly into the wingnut night.

    It really does boil down to who has control and monetary interest. Case in point: one of my very favorite science blogs, Frink Tank*, was invited to join Science Blogs, owned and operated by Seed Magazine, upon its inception in January 2006 and then was summarily booted when the wacky Frinksters made snark upon the founder and editor-in-chief of Seed (his initials are AB; I don't want this to be readily searchable). I'm not sure precisely what transpired, but I do know that a) it was verbal, not visual and b) much less controversial than Big Bad Non-Procreative Sex, the ultimate corrupter of the Nation's Youth. Still, Frink Tank was shown the door and kicked out of the precious Seed salon for twitting the chief honcho. That's always made us bonobos wonder where one crosses the line. I guess as long as one doesn't deride the editor-in-chief, all's copacetic. So what's my point? Uh, it'll come to me in a moment. Oh, yeah! It could be worse.

    Although a true mass exodus from LJ might cause a ripple, I honestly don't think one can avoid the potential for similar censorship on other sites in the current cultural environment. I also think you hit the nail on the head (har) with point 2 in your penultimate paragraph, i.e., the student/teacher dynamic.

    *The Frinksters stopped updating the Tank a while back, much to my sorrow. These guys are hilarious, so much so that if I still had functional ovaries, I'd bear their spawn. Check out their archives when you have a moment.
    • I just read a bit of the Frink Tank and definitely laughed out loud ... luckily, Bobby is in the basement loudly playing his guitar!

      Wonder if I can get the Frink Tank on the work comp ... >:^)

      Although a true mass exodus from LJ might cause a ripple, I honestly don't think one can avoid the potential for similar censorship on other sites in the current cultural environment.

      Exactly. The current chatter seems to surround the creation of a fandom-owned journal site with people supposedly working on the project.

      But isn't this how LJ started? A group of friends creating networking software that they thought too good not to share? I think there's about 10 million accounts on LJ now, though I can't seem to easily find this information like I once could since they've taken it off the front page.

      But once FandomJournal (or whatever it will be called) has 3 million accounts, people demanding them to keep up with the latest technology, needs newer/faster/more reliable servers, they will be forced to cave to pressure just like LJ did. They will bring in advertisers who won't want their shampoo ad next to a drawing of Harry Potter fucking Snape in the mouth, especially when Harry might be seventeen.

      And I can't see an honest mass exodus from LJ. Even if an infuriated fan deletes all of her personal and RPG accounts and goes Wherever, I don't believe that if she finds out her favorite story is being updated only on LJ, that she won't be back to read it. Or to keep up with friends or a favorite comm. And LJ knows that they have those page hits and--especially if they have ads on them--that's all that they need.

      At this point, short of giving up the Internet entirely, I could not give up LJ. I care about too many people here, rely on too many comms for references and research ... so short of every person I communicate with here moving elsewhere, I'm here, like it or not. :)
  • So the move for paid account holders to give up those accounts--thus tying LJ tighter to its corporate sponsors--has never made much sense to me.

    Excellent point. I'm holding tight to my LJ and keeping my paid account, mostly because I get the services I signed up for and pay for, and I use the website so much it's plain and simply not fair for me not to pay, I think. If they ever piss me off too much that I can no longer stand paying them, I think I'd just leave LJ entirely for another site.

    And I wonder how much of this mess is because of SixApart's "greed," and how much might be paranoia that, "Hey, people are drawing pornographic pics of this rich author's copyrighted (and popular among children) characters. Do we want some bunch of crazy people to get us into some 'ZOMG, my Harry Potter fan child saw this picture and is traumatized, TRAUMATIZED!!!' lawsuit?" I keep wondering how the image would have been dealt with if it didn't have any Harry Potter or other "fandom" characters in it at all (if it would have even been reported to LJ then).

    My biggest issue is that I wish SA/LJ would just make their rules clear and firm and stick to them, whether they're popular with paying fans or not. They're a private business, so if they say they don't want porn at all on their site, it's not a violation of the First Amendment or a human rights issue in the least and completely within their rights--it's better to let people think, "Not my thing then!" and head for a site they'll like better now then to let them think, "Oh, this picture should be okay then" and then have them wake up the next day and find all of their accounts suspended permanently.
    • Excellent point. I'm holding tight to my LJ and keeping my paid account, mostly because I get the services I signed up for and pay for, and I use the website so much it's plain and simply not fair for me not to pay, I think. If they ever piss me off too much that I can no longer stand paying them, I think I'd just leave LJ entirely for another site.

      Exactly. If I wake up tomorrow and can look in the mirror and say, "I honestly cannot stand LJ's policies to the point that I feel dirty in giving them money to use a service that I do use to its fullest potential and really do enjoy," then I would be fine with canceling my account and leaving.

      But there seems to be a strong contingent that think that canceling paid account time then hanging around for free is the answer. I can guarantee that LJ knows precisely the number of hits its pages get each day and how many of those pages have visible ads. Now today, for example, I've probably given LJ between 200-300 page hits. Not a single ad was displayed, however; their sponsors had not a single chance to make a buck off of me. And they know this. Now if I was on free or plus? That's 200-300 opportunities to sell something to me. That's worth more money than the first. And if I made a daily habit of that sort of activity (which I don't anymore but once did, when I could use LJ at work), then that might be worth more than the $30 I pay annually for my account and extra pics.

      Do we want some bunch of crazy people to get us into some 'ZOMG, my Harry Potter fan child saw this picture and is traumatized, TRAUMATIZED!!!' lawsuit?" I keep wondering how the image would have been dealt with if it didn't have any Harry Potter or other "fandom" characters in it at all

      I was *this* close to going off on a "protect the children!" tangent in the post, but it got so unintentionally long that I resisted. There are few sentiments in this country that I dislike more than this trend to "protect the children!" in spaces that are designed and intended for adults. Whatever happened to parental responsibility? A ten-year-old kid reads a chapter of AMC where Nelyo and Annawende get frisky, and that is more my fault than the parents'? WTF??

      Likewise, I think it goes without saying that pornish_pixies is a space created for adults.

      I've had people suggest locking down adult-rated material more on SWG, for example. But I am adamantly against this. We are a site for teens and adults; we require ratings and warnings on everything posted on our sites, so it is up to parents to decide if the group--and content within the group--is suitable for their children. I refuse to play parent for every kid in the world, especially when it inconveniences other users.

      So yes, I think that it being Harry Potter had a lot to do with it. And the male/male, adult/youngster, teacher/student dynamics as well. Something tells me that a Hermione/Ron drawing of a similar nature--even if both characters were 17--would have drawn the same shitstorm. Or teenaged!Maedhros/teenaged!Fingon. Or even teenaged!Elrond/Maglor.

      And if the partners were unrecognizable at all--as you said--then it would have maybe caused a scowl but not much more. Because Harry could, imho, be any age in the drawing between 15 and 25.

      My biggest issue is that I wish SA/LJ would just make their rules clear and firm and stick to them, whether they're popular with paying fans or not.

      Agreed again. It seems that their trying to make both sides happy, but this is impossible. They have to protect their own interests, of course; all groups have to do this. If people don't like it, they need to buy their own webservers, set up their own sites, and see how it feels to take their chances with pressure and possibly legal retribution. But they want it to look to fans like, yes, we still give you the freedom to do what you want! I wish they'd just say, "We can't. We have to uphold certain standards." And then put in plain English (and Spanish, French, German, Russian, Polish ... Quenya ;) what those standards are; make them easy to find, search, and read; and then give users the ultimatum: take them or leave the site. Your choice.

      And guess what? I think most people would stick around. :)
  • But on LJ/SA's actions ... is it really that surprising or have I just become that much of a cynic?

    Nope, you're not that much of a cynic. What's happened to LJ over the past few years, ever since the merger with SixApart, is very typical of what happens to small business going big and corporate.

    That said, I guess it's still frustrating for people who have 'invested' in the site from even before SixApart came into the picture, to see so many things happening on LJ that goes against the site creator'(s) original philosophy?

    I'm not really sure what's going on with the Paid Account/sponsorship thing, although this post might be worth looking at.
    • I can totally understand the frustration of people who were pre-Six-Apart. I think I was pre-Six-Apart, for that matter! I certainly remember signing up for LJ and reading the bold statement that LJ didn't use ads; that they were funded for and by their userbase.

      I remember the Science of Sleep sponsored community--the first--and thinking to myself, "*sigh* There goes the neighborhood." I guess it's like knowing everyone on the town council, knowing every neighbor, and then suddenly, without anyone's knowledge or consent, a toxic waste dump appears behind your house overnight.

      At the same time, I'm a realist. I run a website. I know that it's expensive and that when it comes time to pony up for paying the bills, many people won't help ... or simply can't.

      So I do understand why LJ needs advertisers, much as I do personally dislike it. Though the day when I see a Viagra ad alongside Medium Dawn Felagund of the Fountain at the top of my paid-for page ... I will leave then and host a blog on my own webspace.

      And thanks for the link. That's ... interesting. I wasn't aware of those things, having been off LJ pretty much for three months now. I go away to buy a house and look at how the place falls apart! ;)
  • Maybe OT, but: There are worse things coming just now...

    While lj/SA gives a chilling taste of the new definition of online morals coming our way and what chilling effects they may have for the willingness and eagerness of people posting their stuff and engaging in their web communities online (and let's not forget that the second wave of all this hits us after the new permanent account sale, so after people were encouraged to invest in lj some more...) -- so, while all thios gives a very grim outlook on the possible future of fandom and its possible means to articulate and communicate, at least around here (and which community or platform will be affected next?) -- there is something worse going on, right now.

    In USA, they are a step further in this than they are in Europe, but believe me, down here in Europe they are trying to close up to US standards, fast.

    I am refering to this link about US new wiretapping legislation as part of their fight against "Terrorism":

    article about planned wiretapping without Court Order

    In Germany, meanwhile, our gouvernment does all in its might to create a law that will allow to secretly spy on private harddrives, for a number of crimes (among them child pornography, terrorism, and, as far as I kniow, copyright infringements.) There are not as far advanced yet in the law giving process, but still...

    Live Journal and Six Apart are private companies. If they restrict whatz can be posted on their boards, it means that fandom has one board less to establish and maintain a working community; and unfortunaely, the danger is that an increasing number of communities will give in under the pressure of the new morals you have spoken about here, so alternatives might become increasingly rare. But the permission to wiretap and spy out about anybody, without court order, and with any chosen reason, on the simply accusation that he or she *could* be terrorists (or simply opponents to the current politic?) - this gives me the willies. And yes, I do see both issues somewhat connected. Call me paranoid, but still...

    Aislynn (in Germany, but nevertheless freaked out about this).
    • Re: Maybe OT, but: There are worse things coming just now...

      I see the connection too and agree that it is frightening to consider. What I always want to know: If these people are so bad, why does the spying need to be "warrantless"?

      I work with warrants. Granted, they are a very different type of warrant, but at the same time, I understand how the process works. It's not so hard to get a warrant, with reason. We had a violent sex offender released from prison; he missed one parole appointment, and we had a warrant for him. And we've gotten warrants issued in a couple of hours ... and our agency is not a model of competence. We don't even operate 24/7.

      But I am wandering off-topic ...

      Technology is a wonderful thing. It is also a scary thing because it seems for every good use I can find for it, someone out there is answering with a bad use.

      The scarier part is that Internet subcultures may be viewed by mainstream as lawbreakers, but they are not. For example, the immediate urge to label the artist responsible for the latest scandalous art as a child pornographer ... but it is understood in fandom circles that this was not her intent. Still, to the outside world at large, many of our activities are weird, even deviant.

      For example, if I told my boss that I've written a novella where two male characters have graphic gay sex with each other, he'd probably think me odd. If he knew this when he was hiring me, maybe it would have even swayed his decision to give me a job.

      Now imagine he had this information made available during my background investigation. To others in fandom, the novella in question is quite normal, actually pretty tame compared to what some have written. But I don't fool myself that to mainstream Americans*, I am deviant.

      *I keep saying "Americans" because I am hesitant to speak for other cultures, btw. :)

      Or spying on someone's hard drive, finding a story where 14-year-old Hermione has sex with Snape. The story isn't even published; the person wrote it for their own personal reasons. So are they a child pornographer now?

      I still think it's dangerous that we now define child pornography to include fictional people. To me, harm must be done before a crime occurs, and pursuing people who play in fictional sandboxes only diverts time, energy, and resources away from the real problem--and makes it something of a joke as well.
  • At this point, I think a lot of people would leave LJ if there was an easy way to port over all their journal and community entries, and if everyone else they interacted with all moved to the same site. It's the social networking that ties people to this site; once you're here, it's hard to pull up stakes and leave. But if LJ doesn't figure out this whole customer-communication business, they may eventually succeed in driving even the most die-hard of us away. Who wants to post on a site with unclear and arbitrarily-enforced rules?

    Unfortunately, there aren't many good LJ alternatives out there. JournalFen's fine for purely fannish activities, but not for non-fannish stuff, and it has unreliable servers and an over-18 policy. Greatest Journal is ad-supported and has a TOS which resembles Live Journal's. Insane Journal's looking more promising, but it's a small site, and how it will respond to rapid growth and external pressures by groups such as Warriors for Innocence is unclear at this time. It seems to me that the real problem is how to keep not-for-profit community sites from being bought out from under their users by for-profit corportations after they reach a certain (lucrative) size. I don't think anyone has a good answer to that problem quite yet (although the development of better RSS readers may eventually solve the problem).
    • Possibly even more than the inconvenience of moving my journal to a new site would be the loss of my flist, most of whom aren't going anywhere.

      It seems to me that the real problem is how to keep not-for-profit community sites from being bought out from under their users by for-profit corportations after they reach a certain (lucrative) size.

      Maybe I'm being cynical again, but I had to raise my eyebrows at the number of "LJ suxxors!" posts/comments I came across while researching this post ... but then the person qualifies, "Though I love their features ..."

      I think that part of it is users coming to terms with the fact that a user-funded (and therefore, in all likelihood, volunteer-run) site isn't going to be able to keep up with the latest technology like corporate-run sites can.

      I consider how many people throw hissy-fits every time LJ is down for a couple of hours and think, "Sheesh. If LJ's servers had the reliability of SWG's servers, where would these people be?!" :^P

      Personally, LJ usually announces new features, and my reply is, "So?" The features I do love--extra userpics, customizable layouts--come with my paid account. I usually don't care much for their pre-packaged (ad-slathered) layouts, extra voice posts, and increased scrapbook storage space. I haven't even used my loyalty userpic spaces yet.

      But someone must be asking for and using these things. So someone has to pay for it ...
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