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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.

First. Change the Abuse Prevention Team's name back to the Abuse Team. That was a horrible idea.

Second, I think it is really really important for Management to support the Abuse Team and Support Administration in a way that hasn't been in the past. This comment says it much better than I ever could.

I second this comment with regard to communities. However, I would go so far as to implement a Heirarchy system within communities. If the owner goes batshit insane and wrecks the community, as long as its not in violation of the TOS, it really is their community. People can start another. I dont think an owner should be allowed to be usurped unless they have abandoned the community (then they can be transferred by the abuse team) or in violation of the TOS.

I also think that community maintainers should be allowed to grant moderators the ability, on a case by case basis to help them maintain the community with regard to comments. This would help ease the burden on maintainers and help them to not have to add lots of people they may not be able to trust as a maintainer.

Lastly, I'd like to see much more respect paid to long time volunteers that are heavily involved with the site. A public thank you, some public support.. and being completely greedy.. Even a small stipend a few times a year to help pay for their internet access would be nice. :)

Totally forgot to mention the flagging system. Lots of other people have already mentioned it, but I should throw in my piece.

This flagging system, while I'm sure it sounded good in some corporate boardroom, is a terrible idea for a blogging + social networking kind of site. I know it doesn't change the policies (such that they are) already in place, but when you give people an easy click-click-click way to shoot off a notification to lj_abuse, people are going to abuse it like fucking crazy. People are going to use it as a quick and easy way to exploit what seems to be the really elastic and arbitrary interpretations lj_abuse has about what constitutes illegal or obscene much like you can use QuickPlay to let a computer instantly choose your lotto numbers for you when you buy a lotto ticket.

A free and easy way to roll the dice that appear to be against the poster's favor everytime.

This is even more retarded than the time you guys went on a crusade against users with nipples in their icons.

Edited at 2007-12-03 04:19 am (UTC)

I agree with pretty much everything I've read here. LJ is very lucky indeed to have so many lucid, intelligent and invested users who are willing to contribute and share ideas.

My main concern is that increased focus on ads will erode what makes people choose Livejournal in the first place. Not just this, but I believe ad revenues are more unsustainable than other forms of monetisation that could be used.

More focus on paid accounts = more invested users = happier userbase.

(Deleted comment)
Yes. We might not be able to answer every comment but we read them all and one of us will respond to everyone we can.

Speaking as an LJ volunteer, I'd like more freedom to talk to the users about /why/ things are being done. And, of course, it'd be great if our experience and insight into the user community were given an appropriate amount of weight when decisions that radically affect that community were considered.

yes, yes.... +1 x 1.000,000

(Deleted comment)
Tell the users what your OFFICIAL policies are in relation to allowed content, and how those policies will be APPLIED day-to-day. Tell us exactly what happens when a post gets sent to the abuse team. Tell us exactly what they've been told to look for. Tell us exactly what the consequences will be for violations of policy. Tell us exactly how a user can appeal an abuse team decision.

Frankly, you're crazy if you think they will ever do this.

They will likely NEVER let any blogging customer (as opposed to advertising customer) get any concrete policy that could be interpreted as a contract, because then they would be legally liable for breach of contract.

So long as they maintain the status quo -

* ToS is not contract
* may be changed at any time without warning (and continued use of service is implied consent)
* all rights reserved to the corporation

they have nothing to fear from any of the complaints about LJ.
Because, no matter how bad their image has gotten among us users, LJ still has namebrand recognition.

They will continue to pull in new users, paid for by the advertising LJ said they would NEVER have (until they changed their minds after a sale).

Bloggers are NO LONGER LJ'S customer base.
LJ does not need to answer to us.

Edited at 2007-12-03 04:10 pm (UTC)

(Deleted comment)
My biggest concerns are the unclear TOS, unclear Abuse policies, unclear news posts, unclear lj_biz posts, unclear definitions of "adult content"..... Are you sensing a pattern?

You need to communicate with your users. You need to be completely clear in news posts. This business of making a post about flagging and then making a new post a day later with clarifications? That's the exact thing you SHOULDN'T be doing. Get it right the first time and there will be no bitching. It's really not that hard.

How many times recently have you guys had to go back and change things? You banned users, and then when the community went crazy you unbanned them. You introduced sponsored gifts, and when the community went crazy you let us opt out of them. How about you ask the community BEFORE you implement something new? Stop shooting yourselves in the foot with bad communication.

I think all of us on the Team want this as well. Its been very frustrating to say the least. I do hope that this transpires.

First of all, I want to thank you for opening up a forum for users to talk to you about our concerns. We've been asking for this for a while now, and I'm pleased that SUP has decided to listen to us. This is the first step in the right direction.

Second, onto my concerns. My greatest concern about LiveJournal's current policies is the lack of communication between management and the users. Creating this community and lj_2008 is a good first step in correcting this, as I said before. Along these same lines, I am greatly concerned about the lack of transparency with the Abuse Team and the lack of clear Terms of Service for users.

I look forward to a dialogue between SUP and the users.

Thoughts on the first amendment and the new ownership

I just want to tell you that starting this community is a very good first step. I do want to give you the benefit of the doubt, as I have been with LJ for a very long time. I joined LJ back when you needed an invite code, and few people knew about the site. I do understand that the job of your company, of any company is to make money. I do not want this site to become another Facebook or MySpace.

It does annoy me that people keep bringing up their 'first amendment rights' without knowing what those rights are. As a reminder to the members of this community this is the text of the first amendment.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

This company can, and probably will make many rules limiting the free speech of people who use this service. The LAW of the USA is that Congress shall make no law. That does not prevent a company, from making rules about how it's property should be used. LJ is now SUP's property, they and they alone can decide how it is used.

So, I guess I am concerned that this is not well spelled out in the TOS, and it should be. I hope to see the TOS changed, to become more of an agreement between the company and the users.

Banning users below a certain age, if possible would help. Monitoring users who 'flag' communities, to prevent people who just join LJ to go on a mass banning as happened during strikethrough.

Defining the difference between things that are illegal and things that are not. For engaging in a crime is illegal, talking about wanting to engage in a crime is not. Talking about a crime in the first person, to 'suggest' the crime might have occured, is the gray area.

Some things are appalling, such as people starving themselves to death. Sad yes, illegal no.

Finally I would like to know the requirements for joining the new advisement board? Is it first come first serve, should people post an 'idol' like entry to be voted on? Will you be looking for people based on an area of expertise, or just people who have more friends than anyone else.

Best of luck slogging through the many posts you will have on this topic, we are an opinionated bunch.

Re: Thoughts on the first amendment and the new ownership

Monitoring users who 'flag' communities
I think that is an important thought if you are going to leave the flagging (which I think you shouldn't).
Abusing the flagging system should be something to be acted upon. It must be penalized.

1) My greatest concern about LJ's current policies:

The lack of clear communication about those policies.

The policies themselves are unclear, and the implementation is invariably disorganized. The TOS are inadequate and inapplicable. The APT is a hidden star chamber that makes seemingly arbitrary and frequently biased decisions. The past year has seen one sweeping decision after another abruptly announced, unjustly applied, half-apologized for, and never clarified. This is then followed by further waves of equally unclear new rules.

The result makes LJ/6A look (A) unprofessional; (B) hostile to its own users; (C) controlled by purely reactive groups inside driven by purely bigoted groups outside; (D) a has-been, backup journal.

2) Am I aware of a site that handles issues in a way that I like?

Yes. IJ, which is where I bought a paid account after deciding NOT to do that on LJ. I was sorry to leave, but service and consistency are important, and virtually *everyone* provides that better than LJ these days -- for less cost.

InsaneJournal's openness, clarity, and willingness to stand behind their product -- which includes their guidelines -- impresses me. A previous poster said more about this here.

There are specialists in the kind of clear, respectful, constructive and timely user communications that LJ needs. Professionals in IAP2, the International Association for Public Participation, are public communication facilitators used to helping corporations, government, etc., handle very contentious issues with very large groups of stakeholders, such as gigantic controversies over nuclear sites, pollution, public land management, endangered species, 9/11 rebuilding, and the like.

6A/LJ knows computer communications. P2 folks know participatory communication.* There is a big difference. Please use it to your advantage.

* I'm not in IAP2, I've simply worked around them on very large, polarized, public environmental controversies with corporations, government agencies, Indian tribes, non-profits, you name it. I am impressed at how good public participation people can restore confidence in a process and organization. They save time, trouble, money and most of all - reputation.

Other have said it much more eloquently... but my main concern?

All I want from LJ is a platform that works well for me to journal/blog/use for RP. I would like LJ to focus on that platform... and leave the content up to the users. Unless what I'm posting is illegal, I'd like to not have to worry that I'll wake up one morning and it will be gone, or there will be some drama over it. I'd like to be left to choose on my own, based on my own personal beliefs and desires on what I want to f-lock, to keep from children, to hide behind a cut, etc. I do NOT want to have to worry about what someone else might think about it, or how they feel about it. If someone is bothering me, I have the ability to block them or delete them. if all else fails, I can ignore them. They can do the same to me. I'm cool with that.

In short? I want to be able to post in peace.

As for sites that have done this well? LJ used to, before 6A. the Hyperchat sites do it well, also.

I am cautiously optimistic about this changeover, especially as the creation of the advisory board and the return of Brad may indicate better transparency and concern for lj's users.

The TOS needs to be clearly-written and transparent. Changes to the TOS must be made, clearly, in the TOS itself and not buried under six pages of comments to some journal or another. ALL LJ users should be duly notified of these changes immediately, and these changes should be highlighted or bold-faced or in some other way distinguished. I would like to see things omitted from previous TOS struck through and the new additions either in bold or a color when said changes are made and announced. I would like a historical archive of each incarnation of the TOS, dated, to preserve the history of these changes.

I have seen sites that require the user to review the TOS each time he or she logs in. This is not, perhaps, practical on LJ when so many people opt for and enjoy the ability to remain logged in-- but how about some kind of redirect screen that a user is directed to when a change in the TOS has been made, allowing them to see the changes, before redirecting the user to his or her original destination? I am thinking something like what eBay does when you first log in and they are advertising a sweepstakes or something-- Click here for details, or Continue on to Your Destination-- before opening to your summary screen.

I would like to see better and more consistent communication with LJ users from LJ staff. Whenever I read comments on posts bade in lj_biz, etc., it is obvious that for whatever reason LJ staff picks and chooses which questions to answer and which to ignore. I understand that many comments are just comments, but I am concerned with the valid questions that are ignored. Even a reply by an LJ staffer that says honestly "I don't know; and here's what I am going to do about it" would be better. It seems to me that LJ would be well-served to having staff dedicated to making these responses-- and these staff members must have either the authority to make true and binding statements on the part of LJ, or a very clear cut guideline as to what they can and can't say.

I would like to see better, more well-thought out posts when announcing changes... to hopefully cut down on the obvious questions that have to be asked by lj users (and are often ignored) when lj users should never have had to ask the questions. LJ staff should attempt to anticipate all possible questions and answer them the first time, in the initial post.

The questions which come about in a news post, I would like to see compiled (with answers) in a 'mini-FAQ' linked in the original post. Many online retailers offer extremely detailed FAQs because they know it is good business (and good service) to anticipate and clearly answer as many questions as possible-- and, when an unanticipated question comes up, answer it promptly and clearly.

I'd like an official list of LJ, Inc's staffers, linked prominently from my LJ portal/ home page or some other logical location, who are authorized to speak on behalf of LJ. I would like for these LJ staffers to continue to use an official icon to indicate he or she represents LJ in his or her comments or responses.

(Continued in reply.)

(Continued due to word length from previous.)

I think the new flagging feature is well-meaning but fraught with potential for disaster, both for LJ's end users and LJ's staff. Self-flagging of my own journal or community is, I feel, a great feature. I am uncomfortable with the concept of anyone with a month-old journal being able to flag any post they like for any reason they like. There are too many people out there who are willing to use such a tool in an irresponsible manner, as has been demonstrated on LJ many times over every time someone starts a flame war. I don't like that I, a logged in user, cannot see if someone has flagged one of my posts or my journal. There should be some kind of automatic notification generated, at the least, or some kind of indicator in the post (This post has been flagged for content X times.)? LJ staff have not been clear as to how many flags it takes before someone will look at something flagged. There has been nothing (to my knowledge) to address ISP tracking of those who flag content. In my opinion, a 'report abuse' link is a much better and less invasive way to allow other users to report content they find objectionable.

I think the majority of people on LJ truly believe in the site (or at least what the site used to represent) and want to follow the rules-- if only everyone knew exactly what those rules were. I hope SUP is able to restore confidence and trust in LJ-- this should be your top priority before any kind of bells and whistles/ new features/ new look.

Thanks for opening a forum to actually get user input. I think the advisory board is also a great step in the right direction.

I would like to say that I don't use most of the features added since 6A took over, and I too find them cluttering and not user-friendly.

I liked LJ because it was blogging and not everything else. If I wanted Facebook or Myspace, I would get those. I wanted Facebook and I got it. It didn't mean I stopped using LJ.

I think we should flag our own things and not anyone elses. If you still insist on using the flag system, there needs to be a way to notify a user if an entry has been changed. This thread has still not been answered by marta or anyone else, as far as I can tell. We cannot appeal something that we are not aware of, and many people never log off of LJ on their personal computers.

A site that operated well was LJ in 2003, as another user already pointed out.

I think we should flag our own things and not anyone elses.

Hear hear!

I would also like to know why the Abuse Team is confidential. That has never been explained anywhere that I have found. If someone could point me to it that would be great. I never understood why we the users couldn't find out why decisions were made. A lot of people who are smarter than me seem to think it should be more transparent.

To protect them and their jobs.

Everything I have to say is an echo of what other people have already said very eloquently.

Nothing is clear. Since 6A took over LJ they've tried to implement policies, features and ideas that THEY thought would be beneficial to the site and users. However they had terrible foresight in anticipating how the users would react. Many of us have been users for years--PAID users, at that--but we were not consulted, asked or seemingly even thought of when these ideas were brought in.

It's been pointed out that there has been a "shoot first, ask questions later" mentality happening with LJ. When the Strikethrough debacle earlier this year happened it was pointed out that it's the users who are aware of the REAL pedophiles on LJ and some of them had even been reported in the past, to no avail. There are geniunely harmful and illegal communities and activities on this site but instead of taking the advice of the users and listening to them, they were brushed aside in favour of attacking the users who creatively express themselves.

There's been no clear definition or statement of where LJ stands on the "adult content/concepts" matter. I'm of the school that the parents should be the one policing their children's online activities. If they don't want their precious angels' delicate sensibilities offended they need to put a net nanny or whatever on their computer or make sure they know what their kids are doing. LJ needs to FIRMLY and FINALLY say what is and isn't acceptable on their servers and site. Give examples, scenarios, etc. They also need to run through in a detailed step-by-step how sample cases of abuse will be handled, aka the transparency issue.

There's also no opportunity for the people who USE LJ, for the people in the middle of it all, to test/beta/respond to any of the new features. If we're paying for this service, shouldn't we get the CHANCE to have some input as to what's going on here? I'm not saying we should be able to say how you run the company down to the last penny but as paying customers we deserve to have our voices heard and to have our VALID feedback be taken into account in everything you do. A lot of companies use focus groups before marketing a product, this is no different. It's time for LJ to look to the current customers to not only find out how new services are working out but also to get information on how best to market to people who aren't here yet.

Also? There needs to be a PR team. DESPERATELY. Not just one, poor overworked person. There needs to be a specific team to instruct the staff/volunteers on how best to respond to the backlash to things like Strikethrough, the Flagging system, etc. The staff should NOT be allowed to comment all willy nilly with their opinions and be rude to the users with their valid concerns and further damage the reputation of the company. Release a statement saying within 24-48 hours you'll have a statement for whatever bruhaha has happened and STICK TO IT.

Finally, the flagging system. No. I support the idea of covering your asses with pages that force people to verify their age. I'm cool with that because if you don't want to fuss with that crap you can get an LJ and log in. Or you can be underaged, get an LJ and lie about your age (which I believe was probably thought of during the great meeting of the minds to come up with that brilliant bit of shitstorm but as long as the pages are there to cover your asses you can't control what people do to get on here, so whatever). However, the pages should be sufficient. Period. Implementing a flagging system that HAS ALREADY BEEN abused (and there's no proof it won't be), especially without clearly spelling out the abuse procedure and appeals process was careless and stupid. Some people are worried it's been implemented in an attempt to eventually (or quickly?) wipe out all the "adult" content at once.

I'm sure this is all a repeat of things people have already said but I've added my voice and I really, REALLY hope this is a genuine attempt to undo the mockery of a nanny state 6A has tried to bring in. We're not MySpace and we don't want to be like it. That's why we're here at LiveJournal.

This is excellently put. All of it.