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Brad Fitzpatrick

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No more Basic Accounts [Mar. 12th, 2008|05:26 pm]
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I'm on SUP's LiveJournal Advisory Board. Apparently SUP just killed the Basic ("Free") accounts. Before my commentary, some history of LJ account levels:

When I started LiveJournal, there were two account levels:
  • Free Account -- no ads, no cost, but minimal features.
  • Paid Account -- no ads, costs money, get everything.
The paid users, while minimal, paid enough to keep the site running, and brought in enough revenue to keep growing the site, and paid our salaries. The free users, while not paying, were extremely valuable because they produced the content that the paying users were there to consume. You know, the whole network effect thing? Anyway....

When SixApart wanted to do advertising, they made a new account level in the middle that users could choose, and also renamed "Free Account" to "Basic Account" to disambiguate what "Free" meant. Now we had:
  • Basic Account -- no ads, no cost, but minimal features. (the old "Free Account")
  • Plus Account -- ads, no cost, medium feature set.
  • Paid Account -- no ads, costs money, get everything.
I was happy with this, because it was optional and ads would only be on their journals, and paid users would never see them. In theory. In practice, ads started leaking all over the site and paid users would see them whenever they logged in because they no longer had their cookies saying they were paid. The day SixApart decided that the site itself (not user's journals, but the chrome of the site itself) would have ads was a sad day for me... I cried a little tear.

And today, SUP has apparently removed Basic accounts altogether:

http://www.livejournal.com/support/faqbrowse.bml?faqid=38&view=full
...

"Basic Account is an option available to accounts which were created before March 12, 2008. No account created after this date can be turned into a Basic Account."

...
I advised against this (when I heard a rumor about it awhile back). I hadn't heard anything recently about it. Perhaps they interpreted my advice as "well, okay, then maybe we'll at least grandfather the existing Basic users, and not convert them all to Plus..."

In any case, SUP apparently sees no value in freeloaders not looking at ads, not paying, and oh wait... producing most the content for other members to read, other members who are looking at ads and paying for their accounts.

Let's hope my permanent account is grandfathered.

Yours truly,

Brad Fitzpatrick
LiveJournal Advisory Board Member
LinkReply

Comments:
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[User Picture]From: jasonshellen
2008-03-13 12:52 am (UTC)

...it's not as bad as all that Brad

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I responded to the first user who mentioned this and I hope this answers some questions:

http://news.livejournal.com/106731.html?thread=68484587#t68484587
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[User Picture]From: brad
2008-03-13 12:57 am (UTC)

Re: ...it's not as bad as all that Brad

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I understand that simplifying the sign-up flow is a good thing and you absolutely don't want to confuse new users so early on and force them to abandon the sign-up.

Yes, I agree with that.

So why isn't Basic still available? Let people "downgrade" to it later.
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[User Picture]From: desh
2008-03-13 12:52 am (UTC)

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I'll be interested in hearing if they give you any assurances that the advisory board will actually be consulted on future decisions, or whether it's going to be completely toothless from the start.
[User Picture]From: mank1nd
2008-03-13 03:47 pm (UTC)

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Forget it. RusFed is a monarchy, so is everything it touches.
[User Picture]From: henry
2008-03-13 12:52 am (UTC)

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Damn, I'm glad I created a shell account for Sophia a while back, she might want it someday. I should try to get it switched to a Perm while I still have contacts there...

Or just give her her own LJ server! My house is full of them right now.

$$God bless the almighty dollar$$
[User Picture]From: detritus
2008-03-13 03:40 am (UTC)

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I'm not sure how almighty it is lately.

[User Picture]From: rahaeli
2008-03-13 12:53 am (UTC)

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Every time I start wondering if quitting really was a good idea, something happens to make me stop wondering.

I need to stop thinking that; the fallout is starting to get ridiculous.
[User Picture]From: yukie1013
2008-03-13 02:05 am (UTC)

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I don't blame you for going 'see you guys later'. Things are getting a tad silly; apparently 'think before acting' is only something ADHD-minds like myself have to really obey these days. Everyone else faffs around at their personal whimsy! Blah.

*FTPs tea*
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[User Picture]From: speck
2008-03-13 12:54 am (UTC)

Yes, it is

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Your user number is low enough, and it is grandfathered in. I guess those become "valuable" now ... for those who care enough to stay. People had to read through several hours of comments and waffling to find it out, but you can just go to no_lj_ads.

[User Picture]From: brad
2008-03-13 12:58 am (UTC)

Re: Yes, it is

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It was a joke. I was joking about my permanent account switching to plus, not my basic account. I know the grandfathering policies as stated.
[User Picture]From: xb95
2008-03-13 12:57 am (UTC)

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I was always wondering why you would ever agree to be roped into this inevitable trainwreck. At least you're being pretty honest about it.

Good stuff.
[User Picture]From: brad
2008-03-13 01:00 am (UTC)

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I'll give them a shot. It's worth a try, ya know? All I have to do is give my opinion. If they constantly ignore me, then I leave and save some typing. But I'd like to think that if they went through all the effort to create an advisory board (and they did!), then they actually want something out of it.

I remain optimistic.
[User Picture]From: cacahuate
2008-03-13 01:04 am (UTC)

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Thank you for this, Brad. It's good to know someone's standing against this craziness... I hope you manage to talk them out of it.
[User Picture]From: maria_gorynceva
2008-03-13 07:07 pm (UTC)

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Ha! Ha! Ha!
Brad says:

***In any case, SUP apparently sees no value in freeloaders not looking at ads, not paying, and oh wait... producing most the content for other members to read, other members who are looking at ads and paying for their accounts.***

Alas! SUP doesn't seem to see any value in ANY kind of users. Content? What are you talking about? What's content? Who needs content? SUP need their money. And they are very much likely to misunderstand the connection between users, content and money.

A lot of people in cyrillic LJ are afraid that the end of it will come soon.
[User Picture]From: ambelies
2008-03-13 01:11 am (UTC)

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What I'd like to know is why we had to find this out through a comment on the news post and not an announcement?

*sigh*

[User Picture]From: brad
2008-03-13 01:12 am (UTC)

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Yeah, that too.
From: msirub
2008-03-13 01:13 am (UTC)

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heaven forbid they run livejournal the way they want. all they did was pay millions of dollars for it.
[User Picture]From: brad
2008-03-13 01:22 am (UTC)

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They are.

And they also wanted me on their advisory board! :-)
[User Picture]From: lavendertook
2008-03-13 01:14 am (UTC)

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Thank you for speaking out on this.
[User Picture]From: eames
2008-03-13 01:16 am (UTC)

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I don't like dropping in on anyone's journal that doesn't know me, but I just wanted to say that I, for one, really appreciate your honesty on the matter, and your willingness to express your opinions where anyone can read them. I won't get into a rant about the basic account thing, as I think the latest news post has enough flames to destroy the world already, but I just wanted to say your honesty is appreciated, that's all. ♥

(FWIW, this paragraph is more directed to Advisory Board Brad. :) I also just wanted to say, too, I totally understand the business (monetary) reasons for the decision, but I think everyone just wishes The Powers That Be would be more open about the decisions, rather than hiding them away from the news community. Honestly, I think the fallout would be a lot less. You'd still get people crying 'unfair' left right and centre, but I think all people really want is to be informed, and that would cut down on a lot of the animosity that's gathering momentum. :( I know you're trying, and I hope your influence on the board is listened to, because I do think honesty about this stuff would go a long, long way. I figured LJ would have learned that one by now, but here's hoping...)

I apologise totally if this comment was unwelcome, and if you want to screen or delete it, please feel free. It was meant to be a 'thanks' and then I got tangent-y.

But still, for the honesty, really - thank you. It's nice we're getting it from someone. :)
[User Picture]From: firewallender
2008-03-13 01:17 am (UTC)

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Thanks for trying, Brad.
[User Picture]From: sai17
2008-03-13 12:17 pm (UTC)

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+1
[User Picture]From: maidden
2008-03-13 01:18 am (UTC)

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This is all really disappointing. The only reason I haven't left yet is that I bought a permanent account last year, before I was aware of teh drama, so now I feel really bad to just throw all that money away. If things keep heading where they're heading, though, soon it's gonna seem ok to just cut my losses and get out.
[User Picture]From: literalgirl
2008-03-15 06:25 am (UTC)

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Agreed. I just bought my permanent account recently as well.

They are idiots, making up lame excuses like "three options are too confusing". And the claims that they "can't make money" are specious. It's obvious that the paid accounts should be priced to cover the rest (and of course, they get the ad revenue on top of that).

I was Facebooking a lot the last few months, and had just recently come back to LJ, and now I am just disgusted. I hate stupidity and arrogant business school bozos, and this is clearly the kind of decision-making that comes from that type. Sigh. I guess I am going to end up relegated to my blog, but it's professional and I have no anonymity, so cannot post anything risque, artistic, or political. *sniff*
[User Picture]From: separated
2008-03-13 01:21 am (UTC)

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Ah, 2004 was the end of a golden age.
[User Picture]From: n0tqu1tesane
2008-03-13 01:28 am (UTC)

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oh hay, fancy seeing you here
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[User Picture]From: la_magdalena
2008-03-13 01:30 am (UTC)

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I'm not sure why they don't have basic ads - everyone says it is because you get more money through advertising but I had a basic account and still saw ads everywhere. I don't think that counts as total free-loading, you know?

Well - I guess we'll just wait and see
From: tom
2008-03-13 01:31 am (UTC)

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How does one get a permi account? Unless it was/is staff shit only. And of course, you got the Early Adopter status as well, never upgrading until forced though, no ads for me.
[User Picture]From: keikain
2008-03-13 02:04 am (UTC)

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It's explained here?
[User Picture]From: isis
2008-03-13 01:35 am (UTC)

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Interesting to see "Early adopter" still exists though. Hmm. Guessing they forgot about us. Crap, I probably shouldn't even say anything!
[User Picture]From: madamemonday
2008-03-13 11:09 pm (UTC)

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It's sad that 'early adopter' ceases to mean anything anymore, especially when it was people like us who brought the site popularity.
[User Picture]From: northswainglow
2008-03-13 01:48 am (UTC)

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What the hell, they seriously ignored you? SUP, I am amazed. And may take business elsewhere.
[User Picture]From: brooksmoses
2008-03-13 01:48 am (UTC)

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In any case, SUP apparently sees no value in freeloaders not looking at ads, not paying, and oh wait... producing most the content for other members to read, other members who are looking at ads and paying for their accounts.

Yes, that. I'm glad someone remembers.

Thanks for the transparency, meanwhile; I appreciate it.
[User Picture]From: azurelunatic
2008-03-13 01:58 am (UTC)

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This would not even have been so bad if there had been some warning.
[User Picture]From: signe
2008-03-13 01:59 am (UTC)

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I'm most impressed that they did it under cover of night, with no mention in today's news post.
[User Picture]From: joellevand
2008-03-13 02:36 am (UTC)

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You know, they are from Russia. We're lucky Brad hasn't suddenly turned lumpy from some radioactive poisoning or ended up with an ice pick in his head.

...so far.
[User Picture]From: mejeep
2008-03-13 02:05 am (UTC)

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I agree with you on the value of free accounts (like mine). We generate content that makes the entire site more attractive.

But "welcome to the NEW AND IMPROVED SERVICE ECONOMY". Many companies made promises based on assumptions that are no longer true. I have shelves of abandoned hardware and software because the mfgrs failed to deliver things that worked as advertised. I have "lifetime warranties" that are no longer honored because the company found ways to say "it's an obsolete/abandoned/end-of-life product". I have CDs from NetZero, bluelight.com and others promising "totally free internet service" (at least netzero still offers free access albeit for only a few hours a month). Google knows the "value of free". It's sad that the collapse of many huge online systems (GEnie, Delphi, AOL) is never seen as a cautionary tale of DO NOT PISS OFF YOUR CUSTOMERS!
[User Picture]From: thevelvetsun
2008-03-13 02:07 am (UTC)

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Thank you for keeping us informed about your views on this, it's appreciated.
[User Picture]From: wolfsilveroak
2008-03-13 02:17 am (UTC)

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Some advisory board. They won't even listen to you, what makes us think they'll listen to us?
[User Picture]From: darknightmare
2008-03-13 02:20 am (UTC)

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At least your honest about your opinion.

I do hope it never gets so bad, that you ever leave.

It wouldn't be the same.

It'd be like Myspace without Tom.
[User Picture]From: admiralmemo
2008-03-14 04:42 am (UTC)

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It'd be like Myspace without Tom.

You're saying that like that's a BAD thing.
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