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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:
From: coyl
2008-03-13 09:39 am (UTC)

Why upgrade?

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All that voice posts, space for photos and extra pics are complete crap. Not worth paying for.

The features I would buy are:
- comment threads unfolding using ajax
- a possibility to give friends some tags - that is not just a filter for friends' latest posts, but also a way to manage them (view list, add, remove). Since friend count gows beyond 50 (or 150) you fail to remember who is who and why do I still read him? Arranging them into groups would help.
- Ajax again, for disclosing lj-cut contents. While reading friens it gets unconvinient to open a separate windows for aech post.

So the general advice is to improve quality first and think about money AFTER.
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[User Picture]From: summercomfort
2008-03-13 09:40 pm (UTC)

Re: Why upgrade?

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>> - a possibility to give friends some tags

I thought that's what custom friends groups are.... I *totally* sort my friends into different groups.
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From: coyl
2008-03-14 03:18 am (UTC)

Re: Why upgrade?

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Yes, there are custom groups... hidden deep inside the profile, not just two clicks away as in gmail or uTorrent, for instance.

Look, it's immpossible in LJ to select an object (person in our case) and tell the system with a couple of clicks "move him to group A" or "assign him tag B". Instead one has to look through the menus, get to groups editing, then select the right group, then scroll to the right person (so one has to remember the name), then click the arrows button, then click "Save"... And then one should return to the place he was before.

7 actions totally. Isn't it too many?
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[User Picture]From: summercomfort
2008-03-14 06:22 am (UTC)

Re: Why upgrade?

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That's true. I guess that's what happens when things are designed pre-tagging.
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[User Picture]From: admiralmemo
2008-03-14 08:54 am (UTC)

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Yes, there are custom groups... hidden deep inside the profile, not just two clicks away as in gmail or uTorrent, for instance.

This is why I use SeMagic for LJ. Much easier to find stuff.
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[User Picture]From: ithinkitisayit
2008-03-14 08:46 pm (UTC)

Re: Why upgrade?

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That's why I use Dystopia. Much easier to find using that layout.
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[User Picture]From: palmer_kun
2008-03-14 02:05 am (UTC)

Re: Why upgrade?

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Ajaz comment unfolding has been available on the standard comment page layout for a few weeks now, as well as Expressive based themes.

They can't add it to every layout ever made, because the code needs to be tailored for the actual layout, otherwise it just ruins things.
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From: coyl
2008-03-14 03:25 am (UTC)

Re: Why upgrade?

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:(

well, then maybe some special or functional skins can be charged for? I'm pretty sure that the improvements I'm dreaming about concern mostly UI, that is HTML+javascript part of the site.
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[User Picture]From: ladylynx
2008-03-14 07:58 am (UTC)

why pay when there's a script?

(Link)

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[User Picture]From: clauclauclaudia
2008-03-14 09:05 pm (UTC)

Re: why pay when there's a script?

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Unfortunately, that version was broken by the recent LJ changes.

http://www.userscripts.org/scripts/show/1167 (without Unfold All) has been fixed to work with them, though.
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[User Picture]From: akirashima
2008-03-16 06:59 pm (UTC)

Re: Why upgrade?

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SKINS
what a wonderous Idea! People could make skins for layouts and "sell" them to LJ (for account payments) and then LJ could Sell those to people for a little money. both to paid and ad accounts (and hopefully though not realistically basic accounts assuming they ever bring them back)

that would be a very nice thing to do i think. generate revenue without bedning us over to shove more things we do not want up our asses
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[User Picture]From: arethinn
2008-03-14 04:29 am (UTC)

Re: Why upgrade?

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All that voice posts, space for photos and extra pics are complete crap. Not worth paying for

We all use and like different features. I heavily use my ScrapBooks on both of my paid accounts. I don't need the 50+ pics I have one account (which got loyalty pics) but the 35 I have on the other is not enough, so I dont mind paying to have more than 6. The ability to filter posts in my own journal by the filter to which they are posted is something I wanted for years. I don't use all the paid features (I have no plans to ever make a voice post, for instance) but the ones I think are "crap" are not others' "crap".
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[User Picture]From: ithinkitisayit
2008-03-14 08:49 pm (UTC)

Re: Why upgrade?

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I agree with you there, but have you tried looking at Yahoo!'s flickr?

That's what I use instead of LJ's photos. I like it much better. Enough to finally pay for the service when I get my first paycheck! :D

Also: as far as I know, you can "hot link" flickr photos. I'm not sure what the bandwidth is for them (or even if there is a bandwidth), but I know you can hotlink them. I have a friend that does that.
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[User Picture]From: feemaudite
2008-03-17 12:25 am (UTC)

Re: Why upgrade?

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You can hotlink scrapbook pics. You just need to turn around a couple of times more around it than with flickr, photobucket and the rest of picture hosting sites.

Yeah, I have to agree that scrapbook needs a LOT of work to be practical. I prefer using my scrapbook because I'm strange like that. But god...Scrapbook does needs a massive revamp to be competitive and be considered a reason to pay an LJ account.
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[User Picture]From: ithinkitisayit
2008-03-17 12:32 am (UTC)

Re: Why upgrade?

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I agree 12098213% with the need to upgrade the LJ pics. The interface is rather clunky at the moment. Not to mention, on a different account, it still gives me friends groups that have since been deleted. Said accounts have been deleted for about a year or three now. Makes no sense to me.

I hate how I'm either forced into the lame ass "upload one photo at a time" thing, or the "upload through Windows Explorer" thing. That's really annoying. There are far better ways to get your pictures uploaded on other sites. Flickr, for example, allows me to download a small program to upload all my photos. I can upload different groups of photos and have them be auto set to a certain "set" (category) with certain tags for all the photos as a group (I can go back and go into more detail in the tags at a later time).

I've always felt the Scrapbook interface was rather user unfriendly. It mostly seems like a pain to use (for me), and I find that I only use it for posting pictures in my LJ for when I want said pictures to still be working years down the road.
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[User Picture]From: sarahcb1208
2008-03-14 03:46 pm (UTC)

Re: Why upgrade?

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Why pay for that? You can get it easily with a Firefox add-on.
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[User Picture]From: ithinkitisayit
2008-03-14 08:50 pm (UTC)

Re: Why upgrade?

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I hate the expand option built in. The "Unfold" option from greasemonkey works better and faster. At least, it did until the "Expand" bullshit from LJ broke it.

I have no idea if the "Unfold" creator updated their code for it, but I'm hoping they did. It was the shit! :D
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