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Fueling the resistance
Tracking the stats on LiveJournal. 
19th-Dec-2006 05:21 pm - Tracking the stats on LiveJournal.
For most of the history of LiveJournal, you could take a look at archive.org and track the site's growth by looking at their archives of http://www.livejournal.com/stats.bml . This changed in early 2005, after LJ became a part of 6A, but there are a few LJers who are interested in this data, as it indicates that LJ has been effectively shrinking in usage for awhile now.

1488723 Jun. 16, 2005
1430672 Aug. 13, 2005
1372241 Nov. 6, 2005
1316574 March 16, 2006
1310048 Apr. 3, 2006
1301145 Apr. 19, 2006
1289993 Apr. 26, 2006
1203631 May 27, 2006
1197567 May 31, 2006
1196909 Jun. 6, 2006
1164416 Aug. 21, 2006
1137173 Oct. 12, 2006
1128562 Oct. 28, 2006
1092871 Dec. 19, 2006

We can determine a few things now with some degree of certainty:

1> LJ is shrinking, at least as far as the number of active users per month, which is probably the most meaningful stat LJ/6A tracks.

2> The rate of this decrease in LJ activity has been pretty constant since May 27, 2006. (LJ/6A may have made some minor changes in how they handle their stats between Apr. 26 and May 27 to account for the noticeable dip at that point.)

3> Based on the most recent data, LJ is currently about 1.65% less active every month than in the preceeding month.

This data is reenforced with the latest demographic data at http://www.livejournal.com/stats.bml, which now indicates that there are more 19-year olds on LJ than any other age. This is a pretty recent thing, and clearly indicates an aging of LJ's population. The number of young users has decreased greatly, to the point that a user is nearly as likely to be 25 as they are to be 15, for example. The average age of an LJ user is also increasing significantly, and is well into the 20's.

To me, this indicates the potential for problems, not only for LJ, but also for SixApart itself. Gartner recently predicted that blog growth will reach its peak next year, and, apparently, decrease from there. According to Gartner, even if new users create thousands of weblogs every day, twice that number are predicted to shelve their old blogs... and, as we've seen with LJ's stats, younger users aren't coming on board like they used to.

So, basically, we're in the blogging equivalent of the Golden Age of Wireless, and we're all the modern day equivalent of ham radio operators. While many people will read various big-named blogs for years, most will find that they don't want or need to keep a blog themselves.   

To me, as much as I believe in blogs, this makes sense.

Based on the stats I've gathered, I can now estimate LJ's "number of users updating over the last 30 days" in the future as follows:

March 2007  - 1055900
June 2007    - 1004490
Sept. 2007    -   955584
Dec.  2007    -   909059

Dec   2008    -   744533
Dec.  2009    -   609785
Dec. 2010     -   499423
Dec. 2011     -   409036
Dec. 2012     -   335007

In other words, LJ will be pretty damn dead by the time the next president starts campaigning for reelection, unless things change somehow. Personally, I think these stats may be an underestimate, as there is a very singificant risk that as things start to get more quiet around LJ land, people will leave / become inactive at an accelerated rate...

Where will people go? Well, according to Gartner, many of them will just... go. They'll grow up and be too busy with their lives and families. Younger users are presumably being swallowed up in other online social networks.... the most popular of these being World of Warcraft and MySpace. It is expected that massively multiplayer console gaming will also expand greatly in the future, delivering people a more immersive social environment.

So, we're moving from the age of the blog, to the age of the avatar, basically.  (Sorta makes permanent accounts not seem quite as valuable, eh?!)

Really, I have to wonder how all of this plays in to the idea of SixApart as a venture capital-funded company. How would you view stats like mine -- or predictions like Gartner's -- if you were an investor who heard that SixApart was about to make a public stock offering, for example?

To me, that's pretty depressing news, because it says that a the startup you're thinking about investing in has a shrinking market. And, let's face it, the difference between the hype of blogging and the reality of trying to make blogging profitable could be worth as much as 500 million dollars in a public stock's initial valuation. That's a big, big deal.

If I were at 6A, or one of their VC investors, I'd be second-guessing my initial thoughts about letting the company mature a bit or letting the marketplace for new public IPOs improve a bit before going public. I might even be saying "You must go public NOW! NOW! NOW!" to the people over at 6A, urging them on before the reality of the blogging business kills off the hype.

So far, I haven't seen any hard evidence of 6A becoming a profitable enterprise, aside from some foggy predictions that certain pieces of blog software might be profitable in a few years. I *have* seen signs of SixApart having some fairly difficult transitions this year, having a hard time selling advertisers on their sites, having unexpected difficulties with overseas partnerships, having higher than expected levels of competition on the high-end business market, of them spending quite a lot of money, and now, of them letting their VP of Sales go.

So, if the hype of  blogging is dying, then where's the revenue?
20th-Dec-2006 02:25 am (UTC)
I think that these figures speak to the decline in LJ as a social networking site, not to mention the fact that there are all kinds of blogging tools out there. Now, when someone wants to start a blog, they have tons of choices rather than just a few.

Personally, I think it would be nice to ditch a bunch of the script kiddies who overpopulate LJ. I think the decrease toward the end of LJ's lifetime will be less stark than you make it out to be too.
20th-Dec-2006 02:27 am (UTC)
Which again makes me wonder at why they seem so indifferent to the paying clientele and so involved with the kids who have no intention of condtributing.
20th-Dec-2006 02:53 am (UTC)
LJ is just finding its niche. I think that 6A understands the concept of "long tail" marketing -- after all, they do have several different kinds of blogging products. I think that 6A doesn't quite "get" the zeitgeist of LJ, so they've been trying to stuff us into the wrong niche, but they do show that they realize that different blog sites will appeal to different people.

The LJ I see is a site for people who like to tinker with their stuff, who like to get involved, who are idealists, literate techies, adults who don't mind paying their own way but demand good customer service.

I'd love to see the emo kids all go over to MySpace where they belong. I really wouldn't mind paying more to have a site that runs quicker and feels more elegant. (Elegant = SIMPLE)
20th-Dec-2006 03:41 am (UTC)
i agree, LJ has a lot more to offer than any myspace blog ever will.
(no subject) - brotherskeeper1 - 2007-08-07 12:33 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - insomnia - 2006-12-20 04:11 am (UTC)
(no subject) - brotherskeeper1 - 2007-08-07 12:40 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - insomnia - 2007-08-07 12:51 pm (UTC)
20th-Dec-2006 06:25 am (UTC)
Let's clear up some misinformation. I was not "let go"...and the 6A advertising and sponsorship team will be even larger in 2007 than in 2006. Based on solid 3rd and 4th quarter revenue and demand, the revenue expectations for 2007 are very high. Blogging, social networking, virtual communities aren't dying, we're just at the beginning.
20th-Dec-2006 09:13 am (UTC)
"Based on solid 3rd and 4th quarter revenue and demand, the revenue expectations for 2007 are very high."


If Gartner is right, and blogging has hit its peak, what good are SixApart's revenue expectations? The best rumors I've heard from anyone over at SixApart is that they may achieve EBIT-DA profitability in 30 months, and if that's based on rosy growth estimates, it doesn't mean much.

I say this as someone who has seen plenty of dotcoms make claims about their profitability, up until the point where they went bust. I'll be less cynical when I see actual financial statements and earnings projections, complete with the data used to reach those projections.

"6A advertising and sponsorship team will be even larger in 2007 than in 2006"

1> I'm not sure this is exactly good news.
2> More advertising and sponsorship doesn't necessarily translate into greater revenue. In some cases, it can translate into fewer paid accounts, lower user growth rates, etc. More people do tend to increase gross revenue, but that doesn't mean getting closer to actual profitability. In many cases in the past with dotcoms, this only lead to the companies being further away from profitability, with larger losses.

You also can't assume that a staff of 10, for instance, will make twice the revenue as a staff of five... nor is all of the revenue raised by new advertising / sponsorship people above and beyond their own salaries, benefits, expenses, etc. necessarily profit.

In short, I've seen 6A get VC funding to substantially increase their total number of employees. That doesn't necessarily translate into achieving profitability, however, especially if their projections for the industry are off.

(no subject) - mskala - 2006-12-20 02:13 pm (UTC)
20th-Dec-2006 09:58 pm (UTC)
Why does none of this surprise me? Probably the reason why they stopped giving out permanent accounts also. They just don't understand that a big part of their revenue comes from paid accounts. No one wants those big ass ads on their page and most others are finding ways to get rid of them while still benefiting from sponsored accounts. Maybe 6A will realize they should have left well enough alone. LJ had it's problems in the passed, but it seems that since 6A took over, people are running away. I'll probably be next when my paid account expires.
21st-Dec-2006 01:19 am (UTC)
They just don't understand that a big part of their revenue comes from paid accounts.

But they have to realize it since they're the ones who have the finance books, not us.

No one wants those big ass ads on their page and most others are finding ways to get rid of them while still benefiting from sponsored accounts.

I've seen quite a few posts talking about someone going Plus, but look here's how to ad block! Heh.
22nd-Dec-2006 01:24 pm (UTC)
What model are you using to make your prediction? I like see a bit more than handwaving when it comes to statistical analysis (ie. some evidence that the poster isn't just going with assumptions that are most favourable towards whatever conclusion they're making). You have, at least, taken the possibility of seasonal variation into consideration with whatever model you're using?
22nd-Dec-2006 04:12 pm (UTC)
I completely agree that you should be able to take a look at what went into my methodology, and should also be able to run the stats yourself to be sure.

Here is a discussion I had with another person interested in knowing how I reached my conclusions.

Basically, I calculated the decline in LJ users posting in the last 30 days in a very conservative manner, throwing out data that I thought might perhaps be an anomaly that, while it would support my conclusion, could bias my results.

As a result, I came up with a 1.65% decrease every month, while mathematically, it's actually more like 1.71%.

Basically, I disregarded the data for the month with the most severe decrease in LJ's stats, which could've potentially been caused by either a seasonal variation or a minor change in how LJ tallies its stats.

I also tested my model against data over 18 months, which goes some way to rule out seasonal variation, and calculated the decreases month-by-month. I saw no sign of any substantial seasonal variation in the decline, which can be traced back to early 2005. As such, I feel very confident that the decrease I cited has been occurring. Other LJers into statistics have also confirmed that this is occurring, and even people from 6A have basically admitted this fact.
24th-Jan-2007 05:25 am (UTC) - "LJ is currently about 1.65% less active every month"
You act like this is a bad thing. In the past, much of LJ was the "what I had for breakfast" posts. Then the stupid, badly-written quiz became the lamer's post of preference. Gradually, people have realised that even if they don't have a life, proving it all day with vacuous LJ posts doesn't help. Over the long term, I've been seeing a reduction in posts and an increase in content. Looks good to me.
24th-Jan-2007 05:49 am (UTC) - Re: "LJ is currently about 1.65% less active every month"
On the other hand, these stats are based on users who have posted within the last 30 days, not how many posts they have made within that period. I still see a lot of fluff on the latest posts page, honestly. (Of course, that's fine with me; I use LJ a lot to keep in touch with my real life friends, and so I do enjoy hearing about the littler details of their lives. Unfortunately, a lot of them have kind of drifted from LJ, making it harder to keep in touch with them here. Sadface!)

In any case, I think this metric leaves a lot of room for people who make one quality post with a lot of content a month, because it doesn't weight them as being more "active" than someone who makes a hundred tiny snack-lite posts a day.
7th-Mar-2007 01:07 am (UTC)
When I looked just now, the figure was 1080476. I don't know whether your "March 2007" prediction refers to the start, middle or end of the month, but it seems that the decline has at least slowed for the moment.
31st-Mar-2007 10:12 pm (UTC)
End of the month: 1053800. Hmm.
(no subject) - insomnia - 2007-04-01 07:42 am (UTC)
(no subject) - insomnia - 2007-04-01 07:44 am (UTC)
(no subject) - insomnia - 2007-04-01 08:00 am (UTC)
25th-Jun-2007 09:47 pm (UTC) - Just posting to keep track
* Total accounts: 13209821
* ... active in some way: 1776469
* ... that have ever updated: 8303967
* ... updating in last 30 days: 1010039
* ... updating in last 7 days: 588018
* ... updating in past 24 hours: 195444
24th-Jul-2007 07:24 pm (UTC) - More keeping track
* Total accounts: 13428764
* ... active in some way: 1745946
* ... that have ever updated: 8399488
* ... updating in last 30 days: 993098
* ... updating in last 7 days: 566314
* ... updating in past 24 hours: 195125
29th-Jul-2007 08:38 am (UTC) - Re: More keeping track
Thanks for keeping track of this.

FYI, the general trend that I saw -- a reduction in "updating in the last 30 days" active users of 1.65% per month -- seems to be holding up.

Your stats on 6/25 were 1010039. Multiply that by .9835 and you get 993373. Compare that to the stats you posted on 7/24 and it's 993373 vs. 993098. The actual reduction over the last month was actually a bit *more* than 1.65%, especially given that your stats were for 1 month - 1 day.
7th-Aug-2007 12:24 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the info. There's a lot to read (in the comments that follow) and a lot of good info there.
7th-Aug-2007 11:43 pm (UTC)
Not reversing....

* Total accounts: 13527313
* ... active in some way: 1735260
* ... that have ever updated: 8442592
* ... updating in last 30 days: 981300
* ... updating in last 7 days: 557513
* ... updating in past 24 hours: 190530
8th-Aug-2007 12:39 am (UTC)
So, in half a month, LJ has shed 12K accounts updating in the last 30 days? That seems like an acceleration.

By month's end, assuming a reduction of 1.65% per month, you'd expect 976,711 accounts in that 30 day range, which is a drop of 16,387 predicted for an entire month... but LJ is on pace for losing about another 48% more than that in this upcoming month... perhaps more, given all the recent suspensions and now this news about Brad.

I mean, I've been around a long time, but I keep thinking that it's a really good time to call it quits myself. The only thing holding people back, it seems, is that there isn't an obvious place to move to, and that people are locked in.
(no subject) - elfwreck - 2007-08-08 07:14 am (UTC)
(no subject) - foxfirefey - 2007-08-08 07:35 am (UTC)
(no subject) - matgb - 2007-08-08 08:16 am (UTC)
(no subject) - foxfirefey - 2007-08-08 08:17 am (UTC)
(no subject) - matgb - 2007-08-08 08:29 am (UTC)
(no subject) - insomnia - 2007-08-08 11:16 am (UTC)
Geez mateez - foxfirefey - 2007-08-13 06:08 pm (UTC)
Re: Geez mateez - matgb - 2007-08-13 07:18 pm (UTC)
Re: Geez mateez - insomnia - 2007-08-14 01:43 am (UTC)
Re: Geez mateez - foxfirefey - 2007-08-17 02:40 am (UTC)
Re: Geez mateez - insomnia - 2007-08-18 02:11 pm (UTC)
Re: Geez mateez - g_shadowslayer - 2007-08-19 09:36 pm (UTC)
Re: Geez mateez - matgb - 2007-08-20 12:28 am (UTC)
Re: Geez mateez - insomnia - 2007-08-20 12:52 am (UTC)
Re: Geez mateez - g_shadowslayer - 2007-08-20 03:26 am (UTC)
Re: Geez mateez - kayay - 2007-08-17 11:45 pm (UTC)
30th-Aug-2007 08:37 pm (UTC)
Seeing how many people are emmigrating after the strikethrough and the lastest incident i wouldn't say that the hype of blogging is dying..
14th-Sep-2007 08:03 pm (UTC) - The usual
* Total accounts: 13798921
* ... active in some way: 1735584
* ... that have ever updated: 8562276
* ... updating in last 30 days: 983054
* ... updating in last 7 days: 572004
* ... updating in past 24 hours: 196727
14th-Sep-2007 08:43 pm (UTC) - Re: The usual
Up again. Weird. Still massively down on last year same time though.
Re: The usual - insomnia - 2007-09-14 11:13 pm (UTC)
27th-Sep-2007 08:51 am (UTC)
* Total accounts: 13890781
* ... active in some way: 1732267
* ... that have ever updated: 8602637
* ... updating in last 30 days: 983606
* ... updating in last 7 days: 571467
* ... updating in past 24 hours: 197187
27th-Sep-2007 09:57 pm (UTC)

One thing that the statistics point out is that 100,000 new accounts were created in just the last 14 days. Given that about 983K users have posted in the last 30 days, does that mean that up to 200,000 out of 983,000 users recently updating are new users?

If so, then there are still some real issues regarding the LJ experience deteriorating, even if the number of people updating remains constant. Clearly, the number of established users updating must be decreasing if up to 1/5th of those updating are from new accounts. Such a situation would still mean that established users to experience a significantly dwindling number of posts in their friends list.

A certain amount of "fade out" is expected for established users, but this appears to still be an amount that is unstable and unhealthy in the long term.

So, watch and wait I guess, and see whether this relative lack of change after a slight increase last month is a trend, a beginning of a very gradual upswing, a pause before a downswing, etc. My gut feeling is that it's the result of LJ being more aggressive about sending out nag notices, but how that changes longterm behavior remains to be seen. It could mean that more people "check in" occasionally due to nag notices, but that actual per-capita posting frequency decreases over time.

It might be interesting to do some number crunching and make a chart of per capita posting frequency over time... updating in the last 30 days divided by total accounts.

1> There's enough new blood
2> New users are effectively becoming part of the larger LJ community, rather than being isolated and fading out
3> Nothing changes that would discourage existing users from posting in a statistically normal manner

... then this stat should remain fairly constant after whatever change LJ made to nag notices. Likewise. it could point out the overall effect of the nag notices more clearly. If the stat didn't change historically at all, then we could largely rule out nag notices as the reason for the change in the downturn, too. Only problem is, we'll probably need a few more months data to really determine that with any kind of certainty.
(no subject) - matgb - 2007-09-27 10:17 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - insomnia - 2007-09-27 11:21 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - insomnia - 2007-09-27 11:29 pm (UTC)
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