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theljstaff wrote in lj_policy
Welcome to lj_policy!

We're glad you're here. This community will be used to gather your opinions about social and community policy.

We understand that there is a lot to absorb and process right now with the creation of LiveJournal, Inc. Since this is a transition for all of us, we want to initiate a dialogue with you, the users. We feel it is very important to hear your concerns before we release any changes to current policies, and we want to start this process right away.

As a starting point, we don't want to just guess what's important to you; we want to hear about it directly from you. Please take a moment to answer the questions below:


1) What is your greatest concern about LiveJournal's current policies?

2) Regarding your primary concern, are you aware of a site that handles that issue in a way that you like?

This is just a starting point to get your initial ideas. We know you have a lot more where these come from, and in the coming days and weeks we will make sure you have a chance to voice your opinions. We look forward to your comments.

1) My greatest concern is that the TOS is unclear, and unnecessarily vague. Also, the LJ Abuse staff's standards need to be more transparent.


My biggest concern is LiveJournal's tendency to take a act-then-react stance towards major system changes, notably without providing a method to adapt to the changes, starting with changes after the introduction of the Vertigo site scheme.

Vertigo itself received lots of feedback and testing from users. Indeed, I expected it far sooner than it actually showed up. However, the 1000 tag limit and the increased usage limit on tags were introduced with short or no notice, forcing users to react to them and LiveJournal to react to its users. The inability to merge existing tags is a key factor in this. Had there been a warning that a new tag limit was coming, users could have spent some time reducing the number of tags they have to limit effects on their journals.

Those are just major examples, but they serve my purpose.

seconded. end of message.

 

My current biggest concern regards the new flagging system, the lack of clarity with which it has been introduced, and apparent complete lack of appeal or notification when one's post or journal is flagged.

Other concerns include the problems with the Abuse Team that I'm sure others will explain in far more elaborate detail from personal experience, and the lack of clarity in the Terms of Service.

I agree with this comment, and think it highlights a more general issue - many significant new changes (be they abuse-related, new features, a new UI, etc.) are foisted upon LJ users without much in the way of consultation, and usually in an opt-out rather than an opt-in manner. This is something that really needs to be addressed, if LJ users are to really feel they are a valued community, rather than simply a cash-cow.

1. LJ management makes changes in policy that affect the terms of service, but never seems to get around to actually updating the written TOS. This is arguably a breach of contract with paid members.

2. LJ has STILL not provided a clear and unequivocal definition of what constitutes objectionable content. the current 100-day plan simply pushes the delivery of that definition another three months to the right.

3. The LJ abuse process frankly sucks. Material which is clearly in violation of the TOS is allowed to remain posted to LJ, while material which is NOT violative of the TOS is removed and accounts are cancelled. The abuse process must be transparent, and must be based on standards that are unequivocal and clearly articulated. Abuse responses MUST be uniform across all operators on the abuse team. If two abuse team members can look at the same LJ entry and come to different conclusions as to whether it violates policy, then the standards are'nt written clearly enough.


I echo these concerns.

Further, I note that LJ's handling of things that started with the strikethrough mess is so messed up that it is on-going even now. Yet, since they asked, insanejournal took a different and much more direct approach even though it was an LJ and not an IJ mess. The person in charge said:

I am solely responsible for the sites content, design, administration, and ultimately decisions by our abuse team. I am proud to say that in the almost 6 year life of this site we have had to suspend fewer than a handful of journals, and we would like to keep it that way. Unless there is a DMCA violation or a court order to remove content, we will not delete journals. (Emphasis mine)

Simple. Direct. Effective.

Guess who got the money last time I spent any on a blogging service?


Two things are tied for my greatest concern, and I suppose they're connected.

For one, I am very concerned over the recent, rapid decrease in tolerance and increase in interference 6A has shown. The unilateral deletion of journals and, just lately, the flagging system that attaches to each post as well as the whole journal, both seem to me reactionary and quite unnecessary.

For another, I am equally concerned by the apparent inability of 6A upper management to understand the speed and intensity with which the LJ community reacts to changes and the absolute need to articulate clearly and in detail what those changes will be, and the rationale behind them, well in advance. And repeatedly, just to be sure.

As for sites that handle these issues well... I'd say LJ used to handle the first issue just fine. A link on site pages that offers a way to lodge any complaints seems quite sufficient to me, and most blog services seem to operate that way. Most services also, in my experience, only respond punitively to problems that are actually illegal, not merely to content that is marginalized and disapproved of by the Moral Majority.

I do not think I have seen a service that communicates as well as the recent, rapid changes at LJ require, though WordPress comes close. The News feed on the WP user log-in page is a feature I find very useful for tracking changes and upcoming changes. Perhaps that could be a major panel on the LJ user home page?

I certainly hope this "moral majority" wouldn't object to breastfeeding icons as the liberal types have. Apparently using a breast for porn is ok but not for what it was made for: feeding a child. Why LJ does not allow breastfeeding icons is a mystery since they allow other kinds of nudity (and pro anorexia sites and icons, I might add.) I don't think any of this has to do with a mythical moral majority. Liberals seem to be capable of being as pig headed as anyone else.

My biggest concern is LJ's habit this year of shooting first and asking questions later. Also? of not answering questions re policy and TOS (strikethrough, anyone?) in a timely or coherent manner.

My first amendment rights protected (USA) even if a Russian company spearheads LJ.

Does SUP stand for anything?

My thoughts exactly.

I actually have several concerns all of which have arisen from the events of "Strikethough" through the implementation of tagging features.

These include:

- Whether LJ believes that writers and artists -- professional, amateur and fan -- have the right to express themselves openly and freely. 6A repeatedly made confusing policy statements, asserted that they were competent to evaluate the artistic merit of work produced in genres they did not understand and cast aspersions on users who create, study or simply play with media properties. As a professional writer and performer whose livelihood is deeply intertwined with fandom -- I need an answer to this on both a personal and professional basis. As of now, I have explicitly asked my publisher not to advertise my book, The Book of Harry Potter Trifles, Trivias and Particularities, on LJ because of the utter incivility and incompetence evinced by 6A on these issues.

- Whether I am, as a gay woman, welcome on this service. Homophobia (along with racism and sexism) has been an issue that has repeatedly reared its head with regard to the content issues described above. Now, with the new flagging "feature" (which has its own set of somewhat bottomless problems I'll let others address), we discover that currently LJ only identifies hate speech as that which promotes violence against a specific racial or ethnic group. Under your ownership will it remain acceptable to advocate physical harm against individuals or groups if the reason for advocating that harm is sexual orientation, gender or gender identity?

As a columnist on Gather.com and IllustionTV, I've written about the disregard and hostility 6A repeatedly showed LJ's userbase. I'm hoping the change in ownership means these issues will cease.

Time to convince us you're actually willing to do better.



Seconded. Could not have put any of these issues better.

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1) The current flagging policy, which has already caused some of my friends to leave LJ.

2) Up until you instituted the flagging policy, you were.

Look, the ability to tag our OWN journals and communities as adult is a wonderful thing. HOWEVER, since we are a huge community, we are not likely to have a consensus of what is "adult" content, and I don't want the standard to be reduced to the lowest common denominator.

Happy holidays.

Has anyone bothered to realize that all an underage user needs to do to get around the new and so very unimproved security system is to create a new profile with a new and improved birthdate? And no matter how much the new and sure to be already abused flagging system is supposed to be fool proof, you know there a lot of fools on the intarwebs that are going to be making a whole lot of headaches there, and that is not even counting the users who aren't fools, you understand. Good Luck though. I have enjoyed my 5 years with LJ and really had planned on getting a permaccount last time they were offered, but I am one of the many people who did not opt for that in light of the FandomPurge. Now that LJ is again under new management, perhaps that decision will be reversed, as I hope many of the old management's policies will be reviewed and perhaps modified, as the powers that be keep saying that LJ is for LJers and yet pass down decisions that don't work for LJ. I plan to stick by LJ, since I was LJ when LJ was cool and I hope it will be again someday.

Edited at 2007-12-03 03:26 am (UTC)

And if they don't want to do that, all they have to do is log out. I mean, if you're not signed in and the post is public, You answer a question with your age, and then click on a forced LJ-cut (which is a little obnoxious. The button alone would make someone no longer liable for reading and it makes looking at someone's journal obnoxious when every post has a forced cut that tells you absolutely nothing besides it may contain adult content.) Besides, it's time someone takes the policy of "It's your responsibility, not mine, to parent your children on the internet or, I don't know, make them go outside and play."

I, too, was going to purchase a permanent account until this mess happened. I've since turned off my paid-time renewal. If SUP shows that it actually cares what we think, I'll consider re-upping when my time expires.

Other than the question of whether or not paid and permanent members' status will be continued under SUP, my biggest concern is the recent decision to allow users to flag one another's journals and entries. I agree with the user who said that it is sufficient to have a link for reporting abuse. Allowing general flagging is simply asking for trouble.

I would echo the sentiments that others have expressed here. I was quite alarmed with strikethrough and how they would delete journals first, ask questions later. There was no clear process that could be outlined as to how these decisions were made and what the chain of command was in making the decisions.

The most recent policy of flagging journals and posts is really rather unnecessary. Either LJ and its board believes in creativity and free expression and the ability of the community to police itself or it doesn't. The fact that 6A was willing to kowtow to the demands of an external group of people who had a clear agenda and to inflict that agenda on the membership says alot.

As someone who bought a permanent membership and belives in the site, I would like to remain hopefully optimistic in light of the acquisition by SUP. I do hope that SUP will honour that level of investment in LJ. Now, if all this means that LJ can be more focussed on what the membership truly wants, rather than putting a bunch of unwanted, superfluous features in front of us as a distraction, then I will remain positive.

Edited at 2007-12-03 03:27 am (UTC)

My biggest concern is that the people in charge of LJ are, less and less, actual regular users of LJ and members of the LJ community. And, no offense to whoever you are, but the posts in this community and in lj_2008 so far are dry and jargon-filled enough that I'm more concerned about that than ever.

If I have a sense that the people in charge use the service just like I do, then I have no worries at all that the details will work themselves out.

Edited at 2007-12-03 03:27 am (UTC)

Seconded. Ever since the sale to 6A, it feels like nobody involved in LJ policy decisions actually uses LJ; 6A just flailed around and kept wondering if they should turn LJ into Myspace or something. The "customer" became the advertisers they could sell all these tightly-networked pages to, not the people generating all those pages.

Admittedly, the need to pay for all that bandwidth means that the advertisers are a part of the customer base. But they're not the whole of it by any means.

One of my biggest concerns (and one that hasn't been covered by others yet) may actually seem like a rather minor thing -- the tendency, in policy-related announcements, for huge pieces of information that people will reasonably be curious about to be left out, only to be asked about in comments over and over and over.

For instance, in the recent announcement in lj_biz of the new flagging system, comment after comment asked questions about what procedures were in place to prevent abusive flagging of non-offensive content. The LJ staffer (whose username I've forgotten) gamely went through and answered the same question over and over -- but shouldn't it have been obvious that this was something people would want answers about? Wouldn't it have been easier on everyone to have that answer readily available in the post, or at least to have edited it in after it became obvious that virtually everyone who read the post wanted to know more about that issue?

I don't know of a site that does this particularly well. However, someone in those comments suggested having a person or small group assigned to reading over policy announcements before posting and bringing up "obvious" unanswered questions like that one so that they could be answered in the post, which I think would be an excellent solution.

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Question number one is easy to answer:

I'd like it if LJ stopped banning members without warning and deleting journals without cause. I'd also like this new 'flagging' feature gone, and I'm certainly not alone in this. Its left LJ WIDE OPEN to abuse of it, and it's already started - one of my favorite communities, ljsecret, has already been affected by this "delete first, ask questions later" policy (Though the asking is always done from the persecuted, and in many cases LJ never answers or merely send catch-all boiler plates).

To sum it all up - I'm concerned about the censorship-happy route LJ has been taking in the past few months. We need a service that won't cater to the thin-skinned moral minority, that is incapable of using a back button and whines incessantly.

We need a service that doesn't respond and immediately delete things someone finds 'offensive' - only removing things that are actually ILLEGAL would save both LJ and your customers much time and trouble.

We need a service that doesn't respond and immediately delete things someone finds 'offensive' - only removing things that are actually ILLEGAL would save both LJ and your customers much time and trouble.

Exactly what I've been saying: offensive is not the same as illegal. Illegal content should be deleted but everyone's idea of "offensive" is going to be different.

LJ shouldn't be the one monitoring a child's internet usage - that is a parent's job - but they've taken it upon themselves to be the savior of the blogging world and it's going to end up killing the service as more and more people leave or, like I plan to do, not end up renewing their paid subscriptions.

I'm going to second a lot of what has already been said, so please bear with me. My biggest concerns are:

1) Livejournal's lack of communication with their users. Recently, changes have been implemented with little or no warning and without user feedback, which makes for changes that either don't work properly or that anger the userbase or both. Additionally, when users try to address their problems with Livejournal's latest changes, major issues are often ignored, and the ones that are addressed are not addressed in a timely manner. To make matters worse, the TOS has also been changed without notice or warning, and is not clear enough for comfort. Complaints about this too have been ignored by Livejournal staff. The abuse team is also unresponsive to most complaints, or gives cookie-cutter answers that don't truly address the problem. In short, if Livejournal were simply more courteous and responsive to its users, everyone would have an easier time of things.

2) Livejournal's recent campaign against "objectionable content" and increase in censorship, including the flagging system which leaves far too much room for abuse. I can't even talk about this in detail without becoming righteously incoherent, so I'll leave it to the many other people who will undoubtedly bring it up. I'll just leave it at this: Free expression is a right, not a privilege, and I should not be forced to parent other people's children.

All that said, I'm remaining optimistic about this and I look forward to seeing what you do with the place. This is an excellent first step.

I agree with this completely. Both 1 and 2.

The ToS is horribly unclear, full of loopholes, and seems to be interpreted differently by everyone... "laws" shouldn't be like that. And all the censorship... wasn't LiveJournal started so that people could speak their minds, no matter what was on it? It's horrible to see something beautiful like that being silenced by its own founders.

Most users are becoming more and more uncomfortable being here... (hence the huge migration to InsaneJournal) we're just waiting for something else to be taken away or tacked on without warning.

Edited at 2007-12-03 03:40 am (UTC)

Others have said it already, but lack of transparency and increasingly heavy-handed interference with user content on the part of management have been major concerns of mine. They never used to be, but since late spring they've gotten worse and worse: LJ has repeatedly taken ill-advised action with no notice to users, claimed it would explain and then produced incoherent, senseless answers (or else none at all), and tripped over its own feet while backtracking from some of those positions.

Clear explanations of matters like what constitutes objectionable content, and immediate reasonable communication with the community in moments of crisis are key. There's an enormous amount of mistrust in the user base now that didn't exist half a year ago, and I suspect all of it could have been avoided if management had treated the community with honesty and respect.

Also, I hate the flagging system with a venomous passion. It reeks of big brother-ism. But I'm willing to listen to reasonable arguments in its favor, if you folks are willing to discuss it with us now that management is changing.

I moderate an adult fanfiction community in the Harry Potter fandom. My community has been hit twice this past year for what LJ has termed child pornography despite the fact that the posts were most obviously not. They were fanfiction and fanart hosted in a community that has been part of LJ for four years now.

Despite a series of communiques with LJ staff in August, I still have yet to receive any solid guidelines regarding the ToS/ToU and objectionable content.

Fannish users and communities who have never been associated with any illegal elements have been suspended without notice, without recourse in some instances, and without a clear clarification of policies.

I also have serious issues with the ability for other users to flag my posts as containing objectionable content.

Frankly, as a fannish writer on LJ, I used to feel this was a very safe space for my work. It was my home, my community. I've been here since 2003 and many of my closest friends have been made on these journals. Since May, however, I don't feel safe or particularly welcome on LJ. And that's incredibly disheartening. I've already moved some of my communities to Insanejournal; others will most likely be following.

1. The last time I checked, Russian users hated SUP.
2. Does minimalist mean they won't be fucking with us anymore?
3. What does this mean for censorship on LJ?
4. Is stuff that should be fixed going to be worked on before bs "updates" that are ugly and slow the site?
5. The flagging system is a horrible witch-hunt inciting thing.
6. Are you ever going to talk to us?

Maybe I'm just a brain-dead knee-jerk reactionary, but I do not like this at all.

Edited at 2007-12-03 03:35 am (UTC)

Please, could I ask for clarification on "Last I checked, Russian users hated SUP"? What were their complaints? This phrase by itself doesn't tell me much.

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In complete agreement.

Also, can we change the team's name back? ;)

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1) I think others more eloquent than I will point out the problems inherent in the recent shifts towards small-minded, autocratic behavior by the 6A management, so I'll just say, for the record, that I agree with them.

2) On a much less serious note though, I would like to register my concerns that LJ has continually headed towards this concept that it needs to be bigger, badder, and flashier than all the competitors. LJ under 6A has constantly been throwing new features at the users, and usually ones that haven't really been thought through to the fullest extent of their usability. Not that new features are inherently bad, just so long as they don't get in the way of people who enjoy LJ's simplicity and clean functionality. I would like to hope that the new management will remember why people choose LJ over myspace (etc) and keep in mind that many users don't want their blogging experience to be more cluttered up than it already is. Thanks.

(And no, I can't think of a site that does it better, I use LJ because it's still less irritating than all the others!)

I have to agree... I'm all for customization of journals and such... but I use LJ because it let's be journal, without the clutter that's my space, or whatever. I don't need features all over the place, unless they actually make it easier for me to journal. In fact, the only feature I've ever really bemoaned not having was the ability to upload icons in bulk. Everything else... gifts, IM's, whatever... while nice for those who use them, I guess... they're not why I'm here.

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I am going to second/third/whatever and further the point that I am mostly concerned with the TOS and the abuse policies. I am not in favor with censoring the internet and being that this is such a large community it is very difficult to make people happy. Many communities online are struggling to deal with underage viewers viewing adult content. This issue needs to be dealt with largely and I hope to see more attention taken to the community's views and what legal issues are involved. More communication between LJ staff and users about what is acceptable here and what is legally accepted here would be a great step here to understanding and dealing with abuse. Right now it's very vague as others have pointed out.

My questions and concerns are with a few things. First of all -- the current policies are here [http://www.livejournal.com/abuse/policy.bml], for anyone that wants to see what's what before commenting.

First of all, I would love to see a cutdown on bullshit DMCA reports. I mean, for stuff like "OMG THAT'S MY ICON, YOU WHORE!" when, okay, all you did was crop Britney into 100x100 and make her look like an alien with photoshop filters. You didn't take the photo, it's not yours. Get over it. (This, of course, wouldn't apply to photos you obviously took).

Secondly... harassment. No, I still don't think that insults constitute harassment. It's the internet; if you can't take insults find the power button. I just feel it needs to be more than what is basically invasion of privacy to be considered harassment. What that is, I'm not sure.

Moving on, community takeovers. Yes, people should use their brains and not give anyone that breathes maintainership of their comm. The problem is, that people obviously DON'T THINK and do so anyway. There needs to be a way that the creator (first validated email?) of a comm can get it back if their co-admins turn into douchebags.

I'm sure there's more, but these come up the most while doing abuse so I figured I'd get them out there *hides*

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1. I would love to see LiveJournal actually start having a paid support staff rather than relying on volunteers who often don't know what's going on to answer support requests, well-meaning as they may be. How many other major Internet companies have volunteers doing their tech support? Maybe some of the more competent support volunteers could be hired as staffers.
2. Sure, when I submit a support request on Facebook, I'm pretty sure it isn't volunteers.

As a volunteer for this site for the last four + years, I do resent this comment. It takes dedication, and training and an absolute thick skin to take what the users dole out. When stuff goes wrong, who do you think hears about first? We do. But we understand that, and deal with things the best we can. Let me say this much, there is no absolute way that *anyone* knows everything on LiveJournal, paid or not.

As this recent weekend showed, users worked around the clock getting information to users about content flagging. Getting things answered, and helping everyone who was freaking out. We're users too, we understand the frustration and annoyance when things go wrong.

As always, if people feel they can answer better, they are welcome to do so. But don't think for a minute that we don't bust our asses providing support to millions of users with a team of under 100 :(

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Chiming in to support the general concensus here. Greater transparency, clarification of policies, much better communication with your users, and a very hard second look at this new flagging system are all needed.

I would also like to point out that just because SUP (or Six Apart, for that matter) has increased the number of LJ users and added/changed features doesn't necessarily mean they've made the service better. Many of us LIKED LJ small compared to behemoths like Facebook and MySpace. It felt exclusive and cozy. Now it's becoming just another social network competing for eyeballs and user data. Also, I can't find anything since the interface was changed to be 'more user-friendly.'

If I could change just one thing about LJ, though, I'd want you to stop letting loud-mouthed third parties with some crackpot agenda come between you and your users. What we put in our journals should be our business and (to a limited extent) your business and that of law enforcement, nobody else.

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1. Since 6A's acquisition of LJ, there has been a marked erosion of tolerance of the full spectrum of speech and expression here.

Once upon a time, as long as you didn't harrass users, cause damage to LJ or break U.S. law, you were good. Since then, a slippery slope of gradual tightening of what's acceptable or not acceptable has led us to the point where lj_abuse is in the practice of permanently banning users after arbitrarily declaring content to "likely" be some hazy shade of obscenity with no appeal process or transparency into how this decision was made. This policy has been used to censor even fictional art which is most certainly legal.

I realize that LJ is under no legal obligation to provide any measure of freedom if it doesn't want to. But brad once said that he preferred LJ to err on the side of freedom. That was the LJ I joined years ago. We need to get back to that seriously.

2) Yeah, a site that handled this the way I liked was LiveJournal circa 2003-2004.

If you're so concerned with omg someone think of the children, perhaps this would be yet another good reason to bring back the invite code system and seriously limit LiveJournal to those who can prove that they are adults.

Edited at 2007-12-03 04:04 am (UTC)

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