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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.

My greatest concern with the policy is probably to FINALLY have a clear explanation of what content is and is not allowed, and how ambiguous cases are judged. Also the process of notification, and a clear appeals process. Please rethink the question of linking counting as posting - I think the current policy goes too far on that, making people responsible for content they have no control over (say, if I link to something and then three years later that site is hacked by a porn company, and suddenly I'm banned from LJ for linking to porn - when I had no idea it had happened). I especially find it absolutely ludicrous that people have been banned for drawing harmless pictures when people who ACTUALLY go around harassing users and breaking the TOS aren't touched at all, even after reports are filed on them.

I think the flagging thing is dumb. If people want to mark their own content, sure, fine, great. But if it's not against the TOS to post it, having someone else come in after and mark it as adult or offensive is really not a good thing. The controls on community membership and age sound fine, self-labeling sounds fine, but I don't want other people to be able to label my journal. Especially if I'm not even informed that such labels have been applied to my content.

And get rid of ads completely. (I know you won't, but it doesn't hurt to say it again.)

::cautiously optimistic::

My wishes and hopes are pretty basic, actually.

1. Clear, concise guidelines and terms of service, posted in an easily-accessible location.

2. TOS which is actually updated in a timely manner, and front-page notes when that document is about to change.

3. Clear, uniformly-enforced consequences for violating TOS. No more super secret "strikeouts", no more 'we banned you without warning but we won't tell you why or allow you to change your content to fit our poorly-defined and ever-changing tos."

4. No advertising force-fed to paid members (if that means a hike in membership $, I'm cool with that.)

5. Treat your users like adults. (Perhaps the teens need their own site, if age issues are creating liability hazards?)

6. Treat your users like people, not a commodity to be marketed to the highest bidder. Treat users with respect, instead of allowing your on-the-clock employees to insult them in open LJ communities (Burr, I'm looking directly at you.)

7. All filters (and whatnot) should be opt-in, not opt-out. I shouldn't have to find out from my friends list why I can't see half their journals (because my journal viewing was automatically - without my input - set to 'no adult content'.)

8. Just be honest with us. Don't patronize us, don't condescend, don't act as though we're a pain in the ass for questioning the wisdom of certain decisions ('cause we're got millions of outspoken people here, and boy howdy, are there always going to be questions.)

Thanks for the opportunity to talk, and the promise that y'all are listening. Here's hoping for a smooth partnership.

Edited at 2007-12-04 06:44 pm (UTC)

(Deleted comment)
One more thing... I know a site has to have income to survive. But can't we go more towards supporting paid users, and move away from the advertising?

1. That the policies will continue to become more draconian and less free.

2. No.

My ideal would be that LJ would not do any censoring of any journals ever. If they want to allow users to self-censor more easily, that's great. Having the flags go to the journal's owner ONLY so that they can reconsider locking their posts to adults only would be what I would prefer. I do not see any reason for LJ staff to get involved in the content of any journal unless there is something demonstrably illegal going on. Giving users a way to "ignore" other users posts/comments would also be helpful in this regard.

1- My greatest concern is this awful flagging concept. Bad, bad, bad! An opening to censorship, witch-hunts and flame wars. A secondary concern is that now that LJ is owned by a marketing company, that it will become rife with so-called "features" that only benefit some marketing scheme, instead of actually being something the users want.

2- Since I've never dealt with a site that introduced such an awful idea, I'd say that pretty much all of them handle it in a way I like - i.e.: they don't have a stupid flagging policy for personal journals. For the secondary consideration (and also for the first, now that I think about it) I think that Livejournal pre-SixApart handled it very well - by not having any ads or any income that was not from users, and therefore not inundating the site extraneous marketing crap. It was user-centric, not income-centric. It was a terrific way to handle it.

I'll say up front that I have absolutely zero faith that a marketing company is capable of running LiveJournal in a user-centric way.

I'm going to go the amazingly shallow way and tell you that my biggest concern, right now, is not over policy or TOS. It is about those arbitrary tag limits you decided to smuggle into a post on lj_releases as though it had no bearing on most users like the rest of the stuff that gets posted there. And concerned as well that further "little" changes like that that actually really effect journals will be snuck through lj_releases with user preferences completely ignored, as with the tag limit.

I'm also concerned that, to date, I have not heard a thing about changes, further deliberation, other options LJ might consider, a stfu and get over yourself comment, or even an answer to my comment and question by an offical-type-person. Same with my email to LJ feedback. So not only was there no user feedback for that, our feedback after it has been implimented has been ignored.

Wordpress has no tag limits if you're fishing for sites that handle issues in a way I like. They also answer my feedback emails.

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. seems to mean you may want to hear our concerns, but you're still going to damn well do things your way. And if you didn't get any user input on a feature before implimenting it, you're going to not address it anyway.

Why bother?

I'd like to see a real announcement about the tag limit. I'd like to see someone who will actually answer our questions and concerns about the tag limit. I'd like LJ to work with users to develop the tools necessary to impliment these limits and chances. And I'd like LJ to have the foresight to change or compromise with their users when features don't work out or are not well received.

But I'm still planning on moving my community to wordpress, because to be honest, this tag limit thing is only the last in a long string of annoyances and limiting features lately. And even if the tag limits are upped or done away with completely, I have the feeling something else will come up that will piss people off just as much.

1. I'm also concerned about the "hate speech" aspect of the current flagging policy. I received the following response when I flagged some transphobic posts as "hate speech":

"While the content in question may be disturbing and in poor taste, it does not constitute hate speech under the LiveJournal Terms of Service. The content posted is simply an opinion, and we allow the expression of a wide range of opinions on LiveJournal. As long as the content does not explicitly encourage others to harass or physically harm any particular racial, ethnic, or social minority, it is considered allowable."

I find it worrisome that hate speech is defined as only speech that targets "racial" and "ethnic" "minorities". This excludes speech advocating violence against women (who aren't a minority) and queer and trans people (not being a racial and ethnic group). If there is to be a hate speech policy at all, I'd like to see a much more definite statement that hate speech based on gender, gender identity, or sexual orientation isn't permitted either -- or at least a rationale for why LiveJournal thinks it's only important to protect members of racial and ethnic minorities.

2. I don't know what other sites do about this.

Read more carefully:

As long as the content does not explicitly encourage others to harass or physically harm any particular racial, ethnic, or social minority, it is considered allowable.

Hate speech is considered as something that encourages others to harass or harm another group of people, demographic, clique...however you want to phrase it. It's not limited to just racial minorities, and it doesn't prohibit people from voicing their opinions about various groups of people (particularly gender-related issues, which are certainly a hot topic for many people).

1. Another concern I have is about the way in which LiveJournal has handled its technical errors. I've seen an overwhelming unwillingness to admit that mistakes were made and an enthusiasm to shift blame to users for problems that resulted from unclear policies and bad engineering. For example, in the current situation with tags, a clear apology along the lines of "We didn't think about scalability when we implemented tags, we'll have to disable them for a while in order to fix it, but we really fucked it up and we're sorry" would have been the right way to handle the situation. Instead, users who had embraced the feature and used it enthusiastically were targetted for punishment, as if it was their fault for using the tools that LiveJournal offered them rather than LiveJournal's fault for its poor software design.

Given LJ's history of friendliness and informal communication with users (i.e., "The heavily armed monkeys guarding the server report no problems"), it's disappointing to see LJ regressing into this.

2. Yes, Facebook handled this issue very well IMO; I'm particularly thinking of the issues resulting from their introduction of the Newsfeed feature. Users were upset, Facebook admitted they hadn't thought through the privacy issues involved, and in the end, all was well.

I am deeply concerned about your exceedingly narrow definition of hate speech: "material which encourages violence against a particular ethnic, religious, or racial group." What about gender? sexual orientation?

Icon love.

And yes, I agree. :) They could at least say social group or something like that.

1) My greatest concern is that LJ Abuse kneejerks.

2) I pretty much only go on LiveJournal and online TCGs these days.

Aside from wanting to back everything I've written here up easily just in case?

My greatest concern? Well there was some psycho who was joining a bunch of communities I was in that I guess they didn't approve of on a political level and flooding said communities with photographs of bestiality, hardcore porn, and actual human corpses. A number of these communities had moderators who didn't check in on them very often because they had lives and didn't really have a reason to before. (Like Catsnotkids, a community for people who prefer to have cats rather than human babies... people post pictures of kitty cats there, ya know?)
People would open up their livejournal friends pages at work and see that stuff on there. They would open up their livejournal friends page in front of their kids and see that stuff up there. People reported it and nothing was done. I guess there aren't enough people on staff to handle all of the nasty trolls.
Now, I don't think that there should be policies passed that totally ban nudes or the like, but in cases like this where there's blatant trolling with things that go far beyond the pale, I think we could really use a faster and more decisive response time.

I would prefer that features start out as Betas(or opt-ins), let the users try them and then get a general consensus on whether the feature should be made permanent.

I second this! (and want in on the beta process!)

and in more human rights news

You guys planning to address this or are you going to deflect with more childporn scare-mongering tactics?


Re: and in more human rights news

Seriously. We need to know right up front. I do not live in Russia, nor am I a Russian citizen. But at times I write about Russia, or in Russian. I love Russia. Do we need to worry that the Russian citizens using LJ are going to be victims like Politkovskaya? Do we need to wonder if people outside of Russia who post anti-Putin entries will suffer the same? I'd really like to know.

And for all that's holy, don't fucking bring up kiddie porn because that is not what we are talking about here.

What has concerned me are a number of petty things that have happened under Six Apart with no one available for comment on why. For instance: no way to globally turn off the navstrip or the Snap previews (except the cookie method provided by Snap themselves, which is unsatisfactory for a number of reasons); changing strikethrough usernames to bold as if that will instantly solve the "strikethrough drama" which occurred earlier this year; removing the login box from Basic and Plus journals; putting ads on (a) the home page and login page for logged out users so that even paid accounts are finding it more difficult to avoid the ads these days, and (b) several official communities even though they are listed as permanent accounts; and probably lots more that I don't recall just now. These things aren't giving LiveJournal a popular image (especially ads on the homepage, which could turn out to be counterproductive in the long run as it's not exactly inviting for new users).

I would also hope for a bit more openness. To take an obvious example: the statistics for paid and permanent accounts on LiveJournal's stats page. These disappeared shortly after Six Apart took over on the pretext that this sort of information gives an unfair advantage to LiveJournal's competitors. I didn't really buy that then, and it seems even less relevant now that Six Apart, who know all the ins and outs of LiveJournal's finances, has presumably become one of LiveJournal's chief competitors.

Not to mention the things that other people have already mentioned about consulting the users before imposing massive changes. (I actually don't see anything wrong with the flagging system at all — other than the fact that the boundaries between fine and "adult concepts" and so on have not been made at all clear — but it's clear that lots of people are up in arms about it, and I'm sure a bit of prior warning would have gone a long way to making that better).

"other than the fact that the boundaries between fine and "adult concepts" and so on have not been made at all clear."
I think they would've been pretty clear if it weren't for the "Great Strike-Through" and the scare-mongering tactic of accusing all people involved in fandom of being pedophiles.

Before the scare-tatics happened, we could have easily said that Adult Concepts = PG-13 and Adult Content = R/NC-17/X.

However, after nothing has been clearly stated about what constitutes as child porn/not artistic, nothing is for certain. And thus, we can't just go by the PG-13 and R/NC-17/X thing anymore, which is a huge mistake for LJ. LJ should've just used the US movie ratings system. It wouldn't have been chrystal clear, but it would've been clear enough for most people.

However, because LJ chose to elect themselves as art critics, people can't just assume the whole PG-13 or R/NC-17/X rating theme.

LJ is trying to re-invent the wheel, and by doing so is sailing in a boat made of epic fail.