Brad Fitzpatrick (bradfitz) wrote in lj_biz,
Brad Fitzpatrick


For a while there's been people saying we should offer certain LiveJournal features alá carte.

For example:

  • extra userpics (+10 pics)
  • image hosting
  • full stats (when stats launches all paid users will get basic stats & reports, but we won't retain the full logs for all paid users because of disk space)
  • ... i forget the others

Anyway, the problem becomes: how do we charge for this?

We don't users to have 2+ things extending and expiring with their expiration dates all out of sync.

We don't want to create a situation where somebody's bonus features are paid for longer than their base paid account and thus can't access the bonus features.

Of course, we could allow the bonus features to keep working past the date of the paid account, but then that economic problem of "alternatives" shows up.... (at least, I think that's the term... it's been a long time.) Basically, we don't want people buying a userpic bonus pack as an alternative to a paid account. And we don't want to be forced to price the userpic bonus pack so expensive that people wouldn't do that.

Yet another problem: how do you deal with gifts? You can't let a bonus feature be paid longer than the base account, but you don't want to reveal to the buyer how long remains on the recipient's account. Even if you did allow that, what about two people simultaneously buying somebody a gift? (not uncommon on a birthday, for instance.)

So.... the idea that whitaker and I finally settled upon: credits. (don't cringe, wait...)

Each user has a number of remaining credits on their account. A paid account takes, say, 10 credits per month. All bonus features require a paid account to operate.

Users will be exposed to the concept of credits as little as possible. A new user just buying a paid account will only see months. People buying gifts for each other will only be able to give gifts of months.

By default, your credits will be used up at the rate of 10 credits/month. However, if you'd like bonus features (described above), then you can select what you want and your account will just drain quicker.

Now, let's say you've chosen a bunch of extra features and your account is now draining at 18 credits/month. Your last month approaches and the system notices you only have 9 credits. It renews your account for a half month. (actually, this will all happen in advance once your features are chosen, so you'll always know exactly when you're expiring and get warned via email appropriately, as happens already.)

When this goes into effect, all users with remaining time on their paid accounts will be able to change their features & credit consumption rate.

Permanent users will probably get most/all the bonus features anyway, so don't worry.... depends on how much resources the feature takes.



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