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Recent code changes require gender for sign up and profile edits, has only male/female options 
14th-Dec-2009 11:33 pm - Recent code changes require gender for sign up and profile edits, has only male/female options
Skittish Eclipse
So, as noted by [personal profile] synecdochic in this post, upcoming posts in changelog (http://community.livejournal.com/changelog/7932846.html and http://community.livejournal.com/changelog/7937189.html) suggests that the way LiveJournal treats gender information is changing:

* During the sign up process, gender will be on the first page, and required.
* The only options are male and female.
* You will no longer be able to save edits your profile without specifying a gender if you have not set it.

Unfortunately, not everyone fits into a gender binary, and not every one wants to specify their gender to their journaling service.

So, why is this post going into no_lj_ads? Because this decision is nearly certain to have been driven by the need for better ad targeting. (Despite this, paid users must also give their gender. This is an example of how site development done to increase ad revenue can affect paid users, even though they do not see ads.) I don't know how things are for others, but I know that being in a female demographic increases my receiving of ads irrelevant to my interests or downright offputting.

Now, I feel I must note that this change has not come to pass yet. It has opportunity to change or be revised. Other and unspecified could be added, and the information no longer required. However, given the new aggressive interstitial ads, LiveJournal appears to be strongly seeking ways to increase its advertising revenue. Better targeting could help them do that. Given this, it might be possible that they do not change this, although you may not personally see why they would need this information.

If this upcoming development is not changed, and you do not want to give LiveJournal your gender or be forced to choose a gender that does not fit you, you should edit your profile before the next site update to something you are willing to keep for the remainder of your use of the service. I suggest putting your bio into a post and linking to it from the profile, so you can change it without running into the restriction.

ETA: Response suggesting this might not make it live, thankfully:

hi Denise,

thank you for your feedback. This is all very informative, I received many email with this already.
However, the code update that you refer to is not live and did not have any chance to go live. That was a beta release, we always push code to beta to see if everything works correctly. In many cases it does not and we either fix bugs or pull the code from the final release plan.
We were going to add a gender field to the sign up user flow, which is fine, but by mistake it became a mandatory "female/male" field for everyone. This is why this is not going live. And this is what beta releases are for, to see problems and solve them before any user faces a problem.

I would appreciate if you share this information with your friends that are also concerned.

Best regards,
--
Anjelika Petrochenko
GM, LiveJournal US


However, the code to make the option mandatory on the profile was very much added on purpose (it's hard to write it on accident, so it's not a bug), so if there was a mistake in implemented, it was in miscommunication with programmers (or they'll decide not to do it after all). I'll be happy if it's true and she says this won't be going live--but I'm waiting until the next release at least before I'm entirely comfortable with the notion.

ETA2: We have rollback! And in unrelated news, apparently Nokia is going to be reskinning LiveJournal.
Comments 
15th-Dec-2009 07:51 am (UTC)
What's next in targetting ads? Ethnicity (so people of African descent get certain ads, "Hispanic" people other ads, etc.?) Religion (so some people get offered rosaries, others pentacles)?
15th-Dec-2009 07:53 am (UTC)
Well, to be fair, they've already been using gender in ad targeting. My guess is that the ads served to people who have a gender specified out perform ads served to people who do not.
15th-Dec-2009 09:22 am (UTC)
A lot of companies are moving to require you to disclose your gender and do not give the options for privacy or inter-sexed individuals. I'm rather disturbed by this trend and have been fighting with Yahoo and AT&T over their recent demands that I supply a gender to them for services provided. I see absolutely no reason to provide that information to them, or more to the point the third parties they want to transfer or sell said information to.
15th-Dec-2009 09:50 am (UTC)
The part about requiring existing users to specify one of two genders may have been unintended, but it still looks from that message that the part about requiring new accounts to specify one of two genders was deliberate. I'm sure I'm not the only one who has a huge problem with that.
15th-Dec-2009 09:56 am (UTC)
No. Requiring existing users to specify one of two genders was at least as intentional as the new users signing up and part of the second code change. The following code involving the profile edit page (htdocs/manage/profile/index.bml
), setting up error checking and making an error message saying gender must be specified does not happen unintentionally by the programmer (although, like I said, it could happen by miscommunication):

+ # gender
+ unless ($POST{gender} =~ /^F|M$/){
+ push @errors => $ML{'.error.gender.not_specified'};
+ }
+
15th-Dec-2009 10:09 am (UTC)
Thanks for that. Yes, miscommunication is the most charitable explanation, but I'm sure there would have been plenty of opportunities to fix that before it got as far as public entries on changelog and beta testing.
15th-Dec-2009 11:45 am (UTC)
What's the big deal? Nobody is verifying the location, age, schools, interests, or any of half a dozen other things one fills in in the profile. Why not just pick one gender setting and be done with it?
15th-Dec-2009 12:07 pm (UTC)
What's the big deal? [...] Why not just pick one gender setting and be done with it?

Whom are you addressing here? SUP or individual users?
15th-Dec-2009 12:27 pm (UTC) - one gender setting?
It's not about proving it, it's about being asked to pick one of two choices, when they may seem both wrong, or nobody's business.

If gender were a free-text field like interests, this would be much less objectionable.

But, since you ask: okay, you are now female.
15th-Dec-2009 01:02 pm (UTC) - Re: one gender setting?
Eh, I've been called worse. I already see ads for weight loss here on the site, and it hardly offends me.
15th-Dec-2009 01:20 pm (UTC)
Because there are people who don't identify as one exclusively, or are not sure which one they identify with for a lot of different reasons, because some people don't want to divulge their gender. But I think mostly because if it can be optional and making it a requirement is problematic for some, then why not keep it optional?

You ask why not just pick one, but I ask why should someone have to?
15th-Dec-2009 04:13 pm (UTC)
I...I guess since nobody needs to put in any of the information you talk about except age, and age is only needed because of COPPA. I am pretty sure nobody wants to be forced to enter in a location, either, or a school, or forced to have a certain number of interests, even though some of these things might make ad targeting easier. And having to falsify data just to have data is awkward for the data-hound in me.

And I guess I feel squirmy about your icon's usage of "bitch, are you for real", which turns the overtone of the question into accusation of ridiculousness over a genuine inquiry and ups the ante of any response, and then I feel weird about being too sensitive about icons, and I'm back in the car with my Dad, trying to explain why yes, it's important that my transgender friend actually gets to be transgendered and thinking about the suicide attempt I sat through with her before she was, and I think about all of the people that don't get enough options to identify themselves in so many myriad forms involved in life and I don't want LiveJournal to be another one of those inflexible, implacable places, and the way the religion I was raised in made a proclamation declaring gender was essential, predetermined, and binary, and I think about the way that so many intersexed babies end up with surgery to change them into one or the other sex with 20-30% of them ending up with loss of sensation because not fitting into the binary was so important, and its connection with seemingly unimportant, innocuous boxes that can only fit two genders, and all the myriad ways the personal becomes political.

And I'm thinking about how I'm really, really hoping nobody wails on you with personal insults, because I'll have to do mod duties, and I'm kinda tired for that today, but I'm still glad that enough people made a deal out of it that the changes got rolled back.
15th-Dec-2009 04:22 pm (UTC)
the way the religion I was raised in made a proclamation declaring gender was essential, predetermined, and binary

I think I know which one that is (the one I was raised in, too), and I don't know what to make of that part of the proclamation, either.
15th-Dec-2009 04:22 pm (UTC)
It's just an icon. The text is not directed at you or anyone in particular, just the ridiculousness of the situation. As is this one.
15th-Dec-2009 04:31 pm (UTC)
I thought that if I could explain why the situation was important to me, it'd become less ridiculous, but I guess not.
15th-Dec-2009 08:36 pm (UTC)
Thank you for writing this. I'd possibly retort to personal insults out of hurt, and I'm really grateful that you take the time and effort to engage and explain politely and eloquently, even though it's clear this ain't an easy discussion for you to have, either.
27th-Dec-2009 06:06 pm (UTC)
LJ really has changed a lot since they became part of sixapart..

If some people are searching for alternatives, but who still like how lj used to be, there are. I have created an lj-based website back in 2004, we aren't a lot but it has everything (and more) that lj had good to offer and with no ads at all.

You are welcome to join us on http://www.iziblog.net
27th-Dec-2009 07:53 pm (UTC)
I work on an open source fork myself at Dreamwidth.
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