Brad Fitzpatrick (bradfitz) wrote in lj_biz,
Brad Fitzpatrick
bradfitz
lj_biz

Punching the monkey...

Hi, LiveJournal founder here. I haven't posted here in awhile, but I figured it was time I made an appearance. If you don't remember any of my previous rants over the past seven years or so, the summary is that I hate advertising. Especially punching animated monkeys that slow down my computer and distract me from what I'm reading.

Ever since LiveJournal started, we've had a very anti-advertising stance:

  • We don't put ads up on journals.
  • We don't spam you.
  • We don't even let YOU put ads on your journal, just in case other people on the net see them and think they're from us, and we don't want that reputation.

So how does LiveJournal continue to exist? (financially, etc...)

We've always asked users to pay. Normally websites make money from advertisers, not from users. To entice people to pay, we've held back some of the features from free users so there's a reason for people to pay. And though not everybody paid, the small percentage of people who did covered the costs for the entire operation.

This kinda sucks because:

  • Not all users want to pay. They're used to sites on the web being "free" because they're used to advertising.
  • Not all users can pay.
  • We want everybody to see all the fun features we have. As it is, only the paid users can appreciate them.
  • If more people could pay (even indirectly through looking at ads), then we'd have more money to hire more hacker monkeys to bust out cool features.

The thing people have been trying to beat into my head lately is that some users don't mind ads. That's frickin' crazy talk to me because I can't stand the things, but I guess it makes sense. (I also still don't understand why people would want to use a web-based email client, whereas most people nowadays don't even know of any alternatives! tangent...)

So in summary:

  • Some users can pay.
  • Some users can't.
  • Some users hate ads.
  • Some users don't.
  • The world doesn't universally recognize the awesomeness that is LiveJournal because some of the awesomer stuff is locked up in paid-only land.

My goal is to make everybody happy all the time. I always fail, because it's impossible, but it's a noble goal. So how do we make everybody happy?

Currently we have two main service levels:

Don't
Pay
Extra
Features
No
Ads
Paid Accounts - Check! Check!
Free Users Check! - Check!

What about the people who don't want to pay but want more features? Remember our impossible goal of pleasing you all.

So what we're planning on adding as an option (details still fuzzy) is a third level that users can choose if they want:

Don't
Pay
Extra
Features
No
Ads
Paid Accounts - Check!+ Check!
New Level Check! Check! -
Free Users Check! - Check!

(It's in yellow to show it's new, not that it's golden or better.)

Key things to note:

  • Paid users won't see ads -- if you're logged in as a paid user, you won't see ads, anywhere, even on a journal of a user that has enabled ads. We're not going to double-dip on you. If you paid us directly, we're not going to make more money by putting ads in front of you.
  • Paid journals won't have ads -- anybody looking at any part of a paid user's journal won't see ads, logged in or not.
  • You can switch levels -- if you want to try out the ad level, go for it. You can switch back to free or to paid if you don't like it.
  • Free is staying -- we're not phasing out the free level.
  • The new level with ads is opt-in -- we won't throw ads on your journal without you switching to the new level.
  • You should control your ads -- we want you to have a lot of control of what ads and what type of ads we can/can't show on your journal, lest you offend your readerbase/etc. These options won't be available right away, but it's what we're most interested in developing over time, especially as we get feedback from users.
  • We haven't worked out all the details -- a lot of details haven't been figured out, so we'll be asking for the community's input as things firm up. The last thing we want to do is tick you off. If we tick you off, you leave, and then we're sad because we're sitting around computers writing code for nobody.
  • We want you to kick and scream right now -- because I'm sure we missed some stuff in this post. Please let us know all your fears about how stupid/evil we are, so we can try and show you otherwise. (We can say whatever we want in lengthy posts like this, but actions speak louder than words....)

Pre-emptive FAQ time!

Read the FAQ....Collapse )
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