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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 is (tah-dah!) the growing limitations on freedom of expression. LiveJournal is a website mostly used by adults and older teens, who frequently discuss topics that make society in general squirm. Stopping that in favor of "saving the children" will only destroy what I hold most dear about the service. Understandably, American (and international) law must be followed, but efforts to comply with the law have taken an overly-moralistic bent that sincerely troubles me. Such steps have gone far beyond the word and intent of the law, resulting in an infringement on the customary freedom of expression that the community has become accustomed to.

Part of the cause of this has been, I believe, a basic misunderstanding as to the nature of the LiveJournal community. Other online journals are aimed at young teens, to great success. However, the "invite" system used at LiveJournal's startup effectively ensured that a more adult, mature group of journal owners were deeply entrenched long before the website's acquisition by Six Apart. That base of users, in turn, attracted more like minds, giving the website we now know a very different feel than MySpace or Facebook.

There is almost nothing that pleases me in LiveJournal's current handling of this issue. At all. Recent attempts to section off "adult" posts have been unwieldy and awkward, as well as easily avoided. The information we have on these policies is both confusing and vague, such as the adult content rating supposedly being voluntary, but if enough flags are chalked up against an entry, it may be reviewed and locked against the author's wishes. That is not a voluntary system. The adult-content warning links are entirely unnecessary, as the only people who should be able to even see them will be users who are old enough to view such material. All of this is topped off by a continuing vagueness in terminology, policy and the rights/responsibilities of the poster.

As far as issues currently facing LiveJournal, this is the one I would most like to see cleared up.

Hello new policymakers! Hello old policymakers!

1. I'd like clear, comprehensible-by-noncorporate-laypersons policy language regarding what content is and is not permissible. I'd like a minimum of hedging or waffling about this.
2. I'd like a nice, tidy reporting process with terms protecting sexual orientation along with race, ethnicity, and religion.
3. I'd like the zero-tolerance policy carefully monitored. In the early days of Strikethrough O7, communities like a discussion group for Nabokov's Lolita were banhammered; I do not know whether an appeal process exists, but if there is one it's not well-publicized.
4. I'd like clear answers to the following:
- Is there a place on LiveJournal for fandom? If yes, what limits would LiveJournal care to impose? Fandom customarily seeks to cover its own behind by using disclaimers and the like; will that do? Will it not?
- Is there a place on LiveJournal for communities that may include 'adult content'? Here I'm thinking of comms for survivors, informational comms for kinksters, comms for art students, writing communities that pull no punches, etc.

I want to feel that LiveJournal Inc is a company I can feel OK about giving my money to. If I hadn't been gifted with paid time months ago, my journal would have been permitted to lapse back to Basic status.

1) This isn't a policy change or anything to that effect, but I think it would be beneficial to LiveJournal to stop using theljstaff to post in official communities. I understand why it is done (or at least I think I do), but I think that posting with your regular username helps establish a connection between you and the user. Just sayin'. It doesn't bother me any, but it probably does bother a lot of people.

2) LJ prior to a few months ago. :)

1) The problem with that is that the person attached to the message normally didn't have anything *personally* to do with whatever is being announced, especally if it's something that turns unpopular. So attaching their name to it does nothing more than give people someone to email and comment on and hate, who had nothing to do with it. It focuses hatred on someone who doesn't deserve it.

This is a corporation -- decisions are made by a team of people. To single out one person to be the focus of any announcement is, IMO, very wrong. It's not Joe Staffer's personal decision to design, implement, and roll out content flagging, for example, so Joe Staffer shouldn't be personally crucified for it just because they drew the short straw on whose name got attached to the post.


so many questions...such a lack of organization and willingness to answer

The requests that people have made are straightforward with regard to policies on flagging gender, orientation, and g.identity and it has become obvious that LJ/6A doesn't give a flying monkey about its 'non-normal/non-suburbia goading' user-base and just ignores request after request with less than cryptic responses from Rachael.

If any normal retail business treated a portion of its customers this way they would go out of business. While I understand the internet is anything but normal this particular site is in the BUSINESS of selling memberships, so the least 6A/LJ needs to to is pull their head out of whatever orifice it is hiding in and step-up and show some integrity and ANSWER THE GODDAMN QUESTIONS!

i'm one of the (literally) hundreds of people who's pissed off about the way 6A handled users. they implemented changes without getting any feedback beforehand. when users asked questions, either their questions were ignored, avoided, or given unclear answers. when users complained, 6A brushed them aside. when the users asked for something, we didn't get it. namely, a rewritten TOS that is clear and precise.

i didn't, and i don't like the "we're in charge, so only we need to know what's going on" attitude that 6A has had in regards to LJ. making policies without user input, taking mass action without user input, making policy changes that users can't see...

My greatest concern aobut LJ is the new tagging policy. In most cases, content I've seen that has been anonymously banished behind a cut has not even had a swear word, and has had no sexual or graphic material at all. This system is an invitation to petty and spiteful abuses and while I've been a member of LJ for 7+ years, I am not comfortable continuing here under this policy.

Adutls write about things that concern adults, seldem pornographic, but possibly political or aobut relationships or work or the difficulties raising children. These things are not harmful to minors, although they may be boring. So my question is this:

Does SUP intend to run LiveJournal as a social networking site for children or a blogging community for adults?

Cordially,

Eleanor
user since 9/2000.

Your last question is right on target. Why not ban minors from the current LJ while also creating "baby lj" for those under 18. Adult LJ would be adults acting like adults so the need to police the behavior of minors would not guide the site policies. Baby LJ would be guided specifically by these concerns.

Better coordination - especially in policy and documentation terms - between different areas of the site.

I'm a librarian, professionally interested in how one teaches online safety to teens, parents, and various other adults. I understand the political and social climate that is forcing all online sites to try to address these issues in an extremely complex legal climate.

I'm also a former Abuse Team volunteer, so I've got a very good idea of what types of things cause concern and why, and how a small percentage of people try to manipulate any system of clear boundaries and documentation.

What LiveJournal needs is people who are able to develop and coordinate cohesive policy: documentation and general information for users, appropriate handling information for the APT, coordination with code development - and most fundamentally, a willingness by higher level management to listen and support those decisions once made, without backsliding.

(Re-evaluation is obviously always an option, but it should be well-considered, not just a panicked response to challenges. Good policy should already have thought of the likely fallout or concerns and have a pre-planned way to address as many as possible.)

As an example, take the following situation:
* LJ has teenage users and adult users.
* LJ has received reports of offensive content.
* LJ also has heard concerns from users about freedom of information/free speech issues.
* There is a general concern in the overall population about online safety, predatory behavior, cyberbullying, and other related topics.
* Content concerns are a very tricky topic indeed.

Someone focusing on these issues might ask:
* How can we address that and improve online safety awareness in meaningful ways (not just Good-PR ones) while also supporting adult users in as wide a range of content as is legally possible?

* What technological tools would help? Which ones are too easy to defeat or place burdens on adults?

* Are we providing clear information on what the legal limits are, where the gray areas are, and how we've decided to handle those gray areas for right now?

* How do we coordinate policy in handling various types of Abuse reports (everything from DMCA to harassment to content some find offensive) so that people get consistent responses along with the general reasoning behind that policy?

* How do these choices affect different known segments of the existing community (for example, those concerned about LGBT material, or sexual health material, or fanfic, or whatever other topic you care to name). Can we provide specific reassurance through clear documentation?

These aren't easy tasks, but are feasible - if LJ's owners are willing to support this, have an open discussion process, and provide back-up once the decisions are made.

Other sites also struggle with this. It's not easy, and it's a rapidly moving target. I do notice that MySpace does a decent job of providing parents and teens with online safety information (though they could go much further than they do.) If LJ wants to be a leader in the area, there's a lot they could do that would both reassure existing users, and attract new ones.

Clear and articulate as always :) Therefore, seconded :)

My greatest concern is not about policy, it is about process. I'd like to suggest two things:

1.
Usability Testing and user involvement in the testing of new features & policy changes. You may be doing this now, but it isn't visible to us. And I have to think that if you were adequately communicating about and testing changes, then they would roll out differently. I would suggest a forum where people can make themselves available for testing, and a place where feedback can be opened up before you make a major change permanent.

I actually think that Amazon does a good job at this with its reviewer community. I realize that you are a very different kind of company, but there are surely lessons there to be learned.

2.
Communication, communication, communication.

Your policies on communicating with the community are (apparently) ad hoc and unpredictable. It is very frustrating when you roll out something unclear or unpopular (tag limit) and then refuse to respond to that point despite the majority of comments in the release forum pointing out that this causes major user problems. You can't please all of the people all of the time, but silence pleases nobody. As has been said already, a simple "We had to do this because the database kept crashing. However, this is what we plan to do to make it less painful/to fix the problems in the future" would have done wonders in terms of making people feel talked with instead of talked at.

My greatest concerns about LiveJournal:

1. Livejournal has shown a disturbing disregard for true freedom of speech since 6A acquired it. Prior to being sold to 6A, Livejournal was a forum for free and open discussion of pretty much any topic. If the topic was objectionable or distasteful it was of little consequence so long as nothing illegal was done.

6A pandered to fundamentalist and pressure from social 'conservatives.' I really hope the change of upper-level management seriously addresses this issue as 6A has seriously damaged the community that exists here on livejournal.

The community is the reason I use Livejournal as opposed to Blogger or Myspace.

2. Communication. During 6A's tenure as the owner of Livejournal communication with the userbase about new features and policies was dismal at best and non-existent at worst. The new flagging feature, for example. The community of Livejournal users are chiefly responsible for its success, and I hope SUP will keep this in mind where 6A failed to do so.

I think the new flagging system is great in theory, but the explanation of exactly how it works was very vague. Add that to the problems with censorship and journal deletion, and I think the biggest issues with LJ/6A/SUP/whatever company's in charge is the need to make everything CLEAR and easy to understand for the users.

1. There are two things: lack of transparency and clear policy, and meddling with content that is neither illegal nor harmful to others. 2. LJ used to handle at least the second very well (by leaving well enough alone!).

What I want:

--Communication and transparency of both processes and the TOS

--for LJ to be more concerned with facilitating the creation of content and communication between users than with limiting those things. LJ's strengths are its simplicity of use, its methods of connecting people with each other. I'd like to see a focus on maintaining those strengths as opposed to prohibiting any content other than what is specifically required by law. I don't want LJ to promote itself as a "safe" website, because life isn't safe, and a journal should be a place that people can go to talk about what's personal to their lives.

re: Pendlebury family

Don't like surprizes. We'll see.

One point I have not seen anyone address: Whether or not I and others with disabilities are welcome on this service. Perhaps tellingly, the last time I tried to ask this question on lj_biz, the only response I got was from another LJ user who advocated "messing with" depressed people online because they "deserve it."

So. Are my rights and the rights of other people with disabilities important to you, or are they just something to be "reviewed?"

I'm pretty sure the majority of people just want the old lj back.

Not just a place where free speech could flourish but a place where if something did go wrong the first thought of the people involved is not "hey, we need to change the look of the update page!"