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No more Basic Accounts - brad's life [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Brad Fitzpatrick

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No more Basic Accounts [Mar. 12th, 2008|05:26 pm]
Brad Fitzpatrick
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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:
[User Picture]From: pyrop
2008-03-13 01:02 am (UTC)

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

No, I would definitely say it's "as bad as all that". You seem to fail to understand that a free account without ads is something that users want. You also seem to fail to remember the past promises that were made to us about when we would and would not see ads. Just because these promises were made before you came to LiveJournal does not mean they have not been broken.
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[User Picture]From: missysedai
2008-03-13 01:20 am (UTC)

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

You also seem to fail to remember the past promises that were made to us about when we would and would not see ads.


Those promises no longer apply. The new owners are not in any way obligated to honor any promises previous owners made.
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[User Picture]From: nibot
2008-03-13 01:24 am (UTC)

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

I hope you're kidding. When a company changes owners, the company retains all of its obligations, contracts, debts, ...., and, yes, promises.
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[User Picture]From: kimberlychapman
2008-03-14 12:19 am (UTC)

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

Or even if they can legally get around a promise, that doesn't mean it's ethical or in their best interest to do so.

This is a stupid decision, pure and simple, and that's from a long-term paid user.
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[User Picture]From: limbomonkey
2008-03-13 01:28 am (UTC)

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

Promises aren't binding anyway. But what about good will and um, contracts? Like say, you agree to do x (be a member) and I agree to do y (not place ads). Moreover, if LJ made the promises, and LJ still is exists doesn't it follow that the new owners assumed all the old obligations?

I have no idea about such promises, who they were made by, or under what conditions they were made. I just thank god my landlord doesn't think the way you do.
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[User Picture]From: peristaltor
2008-03-13 03:17 am (UTC)

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

Actually, if your landlord sold your residence, the new owners would no longer be obliged to let you live there at all. The lease agreement you signed with the previous owner would become null and void.

There are provisions that prevent most from being forcibly evicted, but usually only in the case of commercial buildings. Renters of condos and houses can be quite legally screwed.

That said, I agree with your sentiment. I just recognize it holds no legal water.
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[User Picture]From: pyrop
2008-03-13 01:30 am (UTC)

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

That is true in a legal sense, but if they are going to break promises made to the same users who were here years ago, they shouldn't be surprised when those users are not happy.

Ever wonder why the Native Americans are still pissed off about the treaties that past governments made to them? Not that this in any way compares to that, but still.
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[User Picture]From: theweaselking
2008-03-13 01:34 am (UTC)

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

That's not the same, because it's the same US government, despite different people running it.

In this case,
#1: Livejournal was sold wholesale, entirely, to different people.
#2: The LJ TOS include a little blurb about how they change the rules at any time they feel like, without warning.
#3: The LJ TOS, unlike the US constitution, don't contain a blurb about how treaties are the supreme law of the land, co-equal with the Constitution itself.
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[User Picture]From: missysedai
2008-03-13 02:58 am (UTC)

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

Not that this in any way compares to that, but still.


Jesus, not even close. Not even in the same universe. So why bother trying to compare them?

Sure, people are going to be upset. But they need to understand that Brad's pie-in-the-sky promise is no longer applicable. The money to run the site has to come from somewhere, and if the users have been here THAT long, then one hopes they've grown up enough to realize this.
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[User Picture]From: missysedai
2008-03-13 02:54 am (UTC)

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

Your lack of comprehension would seem to be a problem of your own making.

"No ads evar!" was not a contract. It wasn't binding then, and it surely isn't now.
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[User Picture]From: demiurgent
2008-03-13 03:29 am (UTC)

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

Actually, there is one way in which they are.

They didn't pay millions of dollars for a code base.

They paid millions of dollars for an extant user base.

They are not under a legal obligation to honor previous commitments. However, if they give the existing users a reason to leave, they've spent a lot of money for no good reason.

Brad nailed it in one -- it's all the stuff people are writing that has people coming back. And as a paid user, who is sending money in, I can tell you that if those folks find some other avenue to express themselves, I'm not likely to hang around here for the decorating, ads or not.
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[User Picture]From: sundre
2008-03-14 01:16 am (UTC)

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

We don't contribute cash. We contribute content. This adds value to the site. Without the community, the business would have very little to offer.

I considered buying a permanent account some time ago but didn't have the funds. I don't really care about the added features; I only use one icon, I don't have any pictures to host, and I couldn't care less about custom styles, polls, or text messaging. I just wanted to support a site I liked. I would be able to afford it now, but I have no intention of handing money to a group that does not respect me and mine.

I still may get a paid or perm account someday if SUP earns my trust. They'll have to work damn hard to do it.
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