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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.

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.

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.

Yeps, this is another comment that exactly says what I want to say. Thanks and a me2!

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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My greatest concern is it's opaqueness, and the fact that it can be used to justify about everything with various interpretations.

1) Lack of clarity. A lot of the wank (which, let's be honest, I only care about because reading it is tedious) that comes up, does so because no one has stopped and spelled out what's allowed, what isn't, and where the grey areas are - unless you count making most of it grey areas. I realize that pinning it down completely probably isn't possible, but it really does need to be better than it is right now.

2) Not really, but then, this is my main "social" site. I do have a blog elsewhere but since it's just a blog host and not a community, it doesn't seem to have so many issues.

And it'd be nice to de-advertise things a bit. I'm obviously able to avoid most of them with a permanent account, but once upon a time, LJ promised they would never, EVER change their policy to post ads.

Of course, the policy still said they could, and they did. I think that was unfortunate, especially if forced on someone (no problem with plus accounts seeing ads if they choose, but others seeing them on plus accounts, yeah).

There are so many promises that LJ once made that were simply swept under the rug. :(

First amendment protection, transparency in policy and established steps for dealing with questions of content, both on management's side and on the user's behalf (i.e. appeals of flagged content, etc.) are paramount.

Also LJ has a nasty habit of enacting 'improvements' that many users don't want, don't like, never saw coming, and can't opt out of. It's rather like someone doing you a 'favor' by replacing your couch without telling you, with one in a color you hate. It really needs to stop....

I still spend more time here than elsewhere, but InsaneJournal, DeadJournal and GreatestJournal all seem to do better in most of these areas.

Second with great enthusiasm, except for the spending more time elsewhere bit.

1) That they will change to reflect both the business and political stifling of free speech the Russian people have struggled with for decades.

2) Ones that fall under American legal jurisdiction for copyright and civil rights issues, as well as laws regrading the physical storage and the data contained therein.

We are being held to a TOS which is unclear and often contradictory. Strikethough/Boldthrough were ridiculous because apparently the TOS changed, or at least the interpretation of the TOS changed, we were unaware of the new order of things, and users did not find out their material was inappropriate until after LJ/6A took the Draconian measure of deleting journals without warning. There is no proactive communication here. We were promised we would get some, when we were told the policy document would be written, and we never got it. And there is absolutely no sense that the LJ PTB are listening to us, IMO.

As others have said, pre-6A LJ is the best example I can think of for a site that handled issues the way I would like to see them handled.