But nobody (not us, not the companies) wants to trick you about what they are ... these companies want a place to communicate with you. Yes, with you. Not at you. If they wanted to communicate at you they'd make a website or advertise on a billboard. (which they also do) But they want a forum in which they can talk with you. Maybe you have no interest in talking to them ... that's fine. Don't go there.
But done right (which we haven't done yet), they can be good in two ways:
1) they give us money, so we keep going and doing things which you do care about,
2) if you care about the company, you have a place to talk to them, on a site you already use.
Sure, maybe you don't care about the current company(ies) which have sponsored communities, but maybe your favorite wonderful company (not an evil one like us), comes along and you actually would like to talk to them ..... then you might care.
Help us make it not suck. Asking for it to go away won't help, so give us something constructive ....
-- if we can rename it, let's rename it
-- if we can hide it better from you, tell us where (and we will hide it for Basic users... subsequent post coming on that)
Basically we screwed this up. The feature could've been great, but everybody thought, "What? Companies want to pay for LiveJournals to talk to their customers? Uh, sure.... we already have that!" But obviously we didn't already have it, because it needs more disambiguation loving.
So about renaming it...
I was thinking today about calling them "forums". As in, "a forum for companies to talk to its customers". The the icon could be a little greek forum w/ columns and stuff.
Or maybe "Sponsored Community" everywhere is enough, if we don't forget anywhere. And maybe still keep the forum icon.
Thoughts? We don't want you to think it's a trick. That's totally not the goal. We're also fine branding employees that maintain the "forums" too ... the more you know, the better.
Brad just does damage control....
And yes, I do only come out for damage control, but that's because I care about LiveJournal a lot... it's been my baby for like 7 years. The reason I sold LiveJournal, to retell an old story, is because I was too stressed doing LiveJournal alone (it's a ton of work), and I was on the verge of shutting it all down. I sold it to the least evil company I could find, for a lot less money than I could have if I had no standards. I was looking for help, and Six Apart's been great. They let me work on the things that interest me, and generally that's the more technical backend details ... the plumbing that makes LJ tick, not the user-visible things. But when I see the users in distress, I care and get involved with the community again to fix. Let's fix this together. We have a lot of cool shit coming down the pipe.... IM/Jabber integration, SMS, another round of ESN (notifications) improvements, etc...
As Abe keeps saying, this is far from over. More later.
Please reply, but constructive, please.... it's a lot for us to read.