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Fueling the resistance
Stat tracking and Brad leaving 
8th-Aug-2007 09:13 am - Stat tracking and Brad leaving
Mat Bowles
Livejournal usage continues to slowly decline. insomnia's post here from last december continues to attract new comments and the statistics continue to be updated. In addition, pyrop has posted a graphical representation of these stats on their own journal. Here's a key graphic:
Graph of Livejournal activity
The rest of the post and graphics are very much worth looking at as well.

In addition, brad himself has announced he is leaving Six Apart; some speculate that part of this decision is related to him seeing the writing on the wall. Not knowing more than is written online it is of course impossible to judge, but the loss of the site founder, combined with the continued decline in usage, especially after the introduction of advertising, does not look good for the future of the site itself.

ETA: From the comments to his post, brad says:
please, don't discuss this with me. The flood of personal emails to me about this is a big part of the reason I realized that after 9 years, I need to find something else to do.

ETA2: A lot of the comments have become about the current "fandom Vs 6A" arguments. I remain of the opinion that a huge amount of fan published stuff is of dubious legality, agree with liz_marcs when she says the artists in question were idiots but that the real problem is 6A customer service. My reading (as a British subject with a background in constitutional theory) is that the law in the US is not clear and quite simply LJ doesn't want to be the company that gets sued; it can't afford either the costs nor the negative publicity. Ergo their legal advice urges caution; fandom lawyers, naturally, argue for a more liberal approach. The big issue is two fold:one—6A hasn't clarified its policies. Two—the law is a problem that needs clarification.

This issue may indeed, as insomnia argues in the comments, the tipping point that sounds the death knell for the site—it may be that 6A can rebuild a business model afterwards, it may be that fandom doesn't walk, and it'll all blow over.

What I do know is that if the site is dying, and I believe it is, then I regret that deeply—I got engaged today, I met my new fiancé through this place.
Comments 
8th-Aug-2007 09:52 am (UTC)
This really makes my heart sink.

I've been a paid user since early 2002 and I've personally seen the climate around here change for the worse, especially lately. I really love what LiveJournal promised it would always be to it's users back then.

Goddammit, brad.
8th-Aug-2007 12:12 pm (UTC)
I hope it's not too far off-topic to mention here, but I think I've figured out an important issue a lot of people are missing regarding the recent conflict between 6A and fandom.
8th-Aug-2007 03:30 pm (UTC)
Excellent post. This may be getting even further off-topic, but there's the issue that's even larger still: the Web is not the lawless Wild West people want it to be, whether you're talking about fanfic, art based on trademarked characters, (non-)child porn, or music/movie piracy. Those who provide the space and means for people to post content are sooner or later going to tell you what they will not allow to be posted. And, it's not "censorship", they are within their right to do so.
8th-Aug-2007 04:13 pm (UTC)
"Excellent post..."

Except, of course, for the glaring inaccuracies about what the laws regarding pornographic illustrations actually are.

His analysis of the legality of such materials is highly flawed. While pornographic photographic images of any minor are illegal in the United States, there are no laws in the U.S. against pornographic illustrations of minors... only laws against pornographic illustrations of those who are pre-pubescent.

There has been talk, mind you, and attempts were made by Congress to make laws tougher during the Bush administration by going against virtual child pornography -- video/ photographic images which appear to depict sex with a minor, which is why Jeremy Irons' "Lolita" is being seen as a litmus test as to the constitutionality of such laws, but the standards for illustrations remain the same.

Truth is, there are more grounds to oppose the vast majority of fandom material based on potential copyright issues than there are based on whether they are pornographic or not.

Of course, there is an easy remedy for such situations. It's called the DMCA "takedown" requirement, which give copyright holders the right to complain about potential violations of their rights, which, in turn, should ideally result in a fast removal of said content, or at least a statement by the person responsible for posting such materials that they believe it to not be in violation of the claimant's copyrights.

And as bad and hamfisted as 6A/LJ currently handles such DMCA issues -- there are, under the DMCA, supposed to give the defendant an opportunity and a mechanism to contest the takedown -- the DMCA is designed to absolve the service provider of *ALL* legal liability for such content, so long as they comply with the terms of the DMCA.
(no subject) - av8rmike - 2007-08-08 05:31 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - insomnia - 2007-08-08 06:35 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - matgb - 2007-08-08 08:07 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - insomnia - 2007-08-08 09:22 pm (UTC)
8th-Aug-2007 04:15 pm (UTC)
This, btw, explains why you can go into any Borders or Barnes&Noble and pick up a wide variety of yaoi, yuri, and hentai manga, all of which contain graphic depictions of presumed minors having sex.
18th-Aug-2007 02:17 am (UTC)
I thought it was a rather poor post I'm afraid, full of contradictions (claiming that it's child porn if it looks underage, but then saying what matters is the commonly depicted age of Harry Potter in the original book), irrelevant points (IP laws are a red herring - if content had been removed because the IP owners submitted a DMCA notice, that would be fair enough, but that's got nothing to do with the situation), unsupported claims and strawman arguments (it's incredibly easy to make an argument against a large number of people one has grouped together - because out of 10,000s of people, there's probably 1 or 2 who actually are making the dumb claims that you're attacking, e.g., talking about Freedom of Speech or censorship, or suggesting that LJ don't have a right to do this; but that doesn't mean that the majority aren't making valid claims).

Of course they have the right to do so, but that's missing the point. Customers have the right to criticise, complain, or go elsewhere. They could clamp down on all non-family-friendly material if they were that worried about obscenity laws, or maybe not have reinstated the 500 accounts with "incest" in the interest after WFI complained - but that they have a "right" to do so isn't going to stop people complaining, and walking elsewhere if they were to do such a thing. It would be a lot better handled if they simply explicitly stated they didn't want to host specific material, rather than the whole fiasco of WFI, bans without warnings with no way to know what's disallowed, and poor communication on their policies.

I don't think I've seen anyone make the claim that LJ don't have a right to do this (though as I say, out of 10,000s of people, maybe there are a few people making silly arguments).

LJ have the right to plaster the site with ads if they want, but we're still here on this community, right?
8th-Aug-2007 03:44 pm (UTC)
Disclaimer: this is not me saying what you're saying is wrong and this is not me giving my opinion about LJ's policies.

It seems it's not just about what is illegal. I quote the lj_biz post: "Content that encourages or advocates hate crimes, the abuse of children in any form, or rape, even if the content itself is not illegal and may be protected by the First Amendment."
8th-Aug-2007 03:48 pm (UTC)
Posted too soon. And it seems it's not that much about child pornography laws than about obscenity laws:

"The comment you are referring to is correct; the content does not meet the legal definition of child pornography. As other, more recent entries in the community explain, however, non-photographic content involving minors in sexual situations which does not contain serious artistic or literary merit is likely in violation of Federal obscenity laws, and is content LiveJournal has chosen not to host."
This is part of an answer given by the Abuse Team which has been reposted here.
8th-Aug-2007 03:53 pm (UTC)
And again here:

"It's not child porn, but it might still legally be deemed "obscene and without artistic merit" (or however it's phrased), in which case it would be illegal."

"Right. And as has been mentioned a number of times in a variety of places, determining obscenity is a subjective matter. Because determining obscenity is so subjective, and because images of minors in sexually explicit content has such a high likelyhood of qualifying as obscene, it was decided that simply not allowing that type of content was the safest route to take"
(no subject) - insomnia - 2007-08-08 04:05 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - elfwreck - 2007-08-08 06:06 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - matgb - 2007-08-08 06:34 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - insomnia - 2007-08-08 07:13 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - insomnia - 2007-08-08 08:25 pm (UTC)
8th-Aug-2007 04:29 pm (UTC)
This is the heart of the matter.

6A's policies regarding what could be seen as reason to delete a journal include a whole lot of various reasons on why they could choose to delete you, and even make it clear that they reserve the right to delete your account at will, without cause.

The decisions they are making regarding abuse on these matters have no legal basis or requirement behind them, and are simply a matter of them choosing to delete accounts for _________ reason.

The thing is, they are speaking about this whole issue as if there was some kind of imperative for them to take action, when there absolutely is not.

(Some would argue that the imperative *should* exist that they would champion their user's free speech and freedom of expression rights, and stand up for them up to the point that the law allows, but...)
(no subject) - ex_uniquewo - 2007-08-08 04:56 pm (UTC)
8th-Aug-2007 04:01 pm (UTC)
"I think I've figured out an important issue a lot of people are missing..."

(...excuse me, but could you crank your "disingenuous / condescending" knob up to 13, because I can't seem to hear you.)

Your analysis of the legality of such materials is highly flawed. While pornographic photographic images of any minor are illegal in the United States, there are no laws in the U.S. against pornographic illustrations of minors... only laws against pornographic illustrations of those who are pre-pubescent.

There has been talk, mind you, and attempts were made by Congress to make laws tougher during the Bush administration by going against virtual child pornography -- video/ photographic images which appear to depict sex with a minor, which is why Jeremy Irons' "Lolita" is being seen as a litmus test as to the constitutionality of such laws, but the standards for illustrations remain the same.

Truth is, there are more grounds to oppose the vast majority of fandom material based on potential copyright issues than there are based on whether they are pornographic or not.

Of course, there is an easy remedy for such problems. It's called the DMCA "takedown" requirements, which give copyright holders the right to complain about potential violations of their rights, which, in turn, should ideally result in a fast removal of said content, or at least a statement by the person responsible for posting such materials that they believe it to not be in violation of the claimant's copyrights.

And as bad and hamfisted as 6A/LJ currently handles such DMCA issues, the DMCA is designed to absolve the service provider of *ALL* legal liability for such content, so long as they comply with the terms of the DMCA.
8th-Aug-2007 04:03 pm (UTC)
I think it's an issue a lot of people are arguing about, rather than missing entirely.
8th-Aug-2007 04:18 pm (UTC)
+1
8th-Aug-2007 04:18 pm (UTC)
Many people are missing it. Many others are arguing about it; but very few of those are arguing in good faith. The usual pattern seems to be "We know what's true because it MUST be true, now we will set out to prove it by ignoring anything that doesn't fit." Acknowledgement of the possibility that the legal boundaries could actually be relevant, seems to be lacking.
(no subject) - insomnia - 2007-08-08 04:43 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - ex_uniquewo - 2007-08-08 04:49 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - insomnia - 2007-08-08 08:31 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - foxfirefey - 2007-08-08 08:37 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - tallblue - 2007-08-09 03:30 am (UTC)
8th-Aug-2007 06:10 pm (UTC)
That is very interesting.
8th-Aug-2007 08:19 pm (UTC)
As usual, I find myself torn; both you and insomnia make some compelling arguments, and I'd seen similar (from bradhicks before.

The hysteria and sense of entitlement from some elements within fandom gets very stale very quickly at times.

But I also think that 6A have messed up big time, and their PR has been a disaster—plus they could (and should) have declared the law to be unlcear and that they didn't want to be the test case.

So on one side we have hysteria, on the other side what is, effectively, corporate cowardice; even if for bloody good reasons.

Stuck in the middle, Joe User is losing a site they love (slowly) because too many idiots are doing daft things.

Ah well; jumping ship is something I plan as well, but not quite in the same way as yourself I think.
8th-Aug-2007 09:08 pm (UTC)
Everyone in fandom's a pervert? So writing G-rated drabbles makes you perverted while watching Big Brother in the hope that Bimbo and Lizard-Features are doing under the duvet is normal. Riiight.
8th-Aug-2007 09:12 pm (UTC)
Well, the G-rated drabbles aren't at the heart of the current suspensions, nor the controversy surrounding them.
(no subject) - thewhiteowl - 2007-08-09 12:08 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - ex_uniquewo - 2007-08-09 07:54 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - matgb - 2007-08-09 09:10 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - ex_uniquewo - 2007-08-09 09:17 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - ex_uniquewo - 2007-08-09 09:27 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - foxfirefey - 2007-08-09 09:33 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - matgb - 2007-08-09 09:43 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - ex_uniquewo - 2007-08-09 10:10 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - ex_uniquewo - 2007-08-09 09:57 pm (UTC)
8th-Aug-2007 04:17 pm (UTC)
I wish people would stop bugging brad about this. Yes, we can justifiably be upset that LJ has gone back on its promises to be ad-free, but I don't ever remember brad committing to be in charge of this site forever.
8th-Aug-2007 04:58 pm (UTC)
Agreed. However, he needs to take "I'm now in San Francisco working for Six Apart, where I continue to run LiveJournal with the rest of the Danga crew." out of his profile--he says he hasn't worked on LJ for a year. Appearing as the white knight come to soothe the frantic masses on the sponsored community issue (and say silly things that would get discarded like how sponsored content was considered ads) did little to combat the perception that he's a go to person for upsetting problems. I'm not surprised that people still are under the impression that he could actually achieve a resolution, given those things.
8th-Aug-2007 07:57 pm (UTC)
In case you haven't subbed/noticed, I thought I'd let you know ~I've edited into the post some stuff about the discussion this has become, rather than the topic it initially started as; LMK if it's too much and I'll take it out again.

A little busy with comments elsewhere to be reading and replying to everything here as well.
(no subject) - foxfirefey - 2007-08-08 08:54 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - foxfirefey - 2007-08-08 09:00 pm (UTC)
PS - foxfirefey - 2007-08-08 09:02 pm (UTC)
Re: PS - matgb - 2007-08-08 09:31 pm (UTC)
8th-Aug-2007 07:06 pm (UTC)
Agreed, it's one of the reasons why I quoted him; he's fed up dealing with expectancy whores, and in his position I'd probably be off too; I do think it's a damn shame that they didn't hire a decent (ish) business manager 5 years ago and build the site up properly—I'd still rather see Brad + XXX in all the media instead of bloody Zuckerberg.
8th-Aug-2007 09:56 pm (UTC)
Congratulations! :)
8th-Aug-2007 10:39 pm (UTC)
* delurks *

Thanks!

* relurks *
8th-Aug-2007 10:46 pm (UTC)
Ha! It's too late, now. You can't relurk. Relurkage is totally impossible. You've commented and I've unscreened your comment. We KNOW you're here, watching and reading from the shadows.

:P *off to take her med*
(no subject) - miss_s_b - 2007-08-08 10:48 pm (UTC)
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