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you are so good to me eggplant mike
Let's be clear: I realize and understand that Live Journal is a business, which SUP bought with the intention of making money. And even though I miss the open-source ethos of the original LJ, I do understand that the internet is about change, and it's not the same as when I was on Usenet on my 1200 baud modem and Gopher was the Next Big Thing.

However, as with any business, I have a choice about whether or not to patronize them. When my paid account expired last year, I chose not to renew it, because I felt that I no longer wanted to give my money to a company that repeatedly tried to implement changes that they knew would piss of their user base under the radar, only to lie, backpedal, and scramble when the inevitable happened and they were caught out. For me, it boiled down to this: I prefer not to give my money to complete morons. Call it the McKay Principle of Consumerism.

There was one thing I was missing, though. Someone in telesilla's most recent LJ post said, It's typical business. Welcome to the internet, circa 1998. But that's wrong. LJ is the internet, circa 2004.

One of the truisms about print media is that you don't make money from subscribers. In order to just cover costs, you'd have to charge more than most people are willing to spend on something they're going to read once and then recycle. The real revenue generator is ad sales. Ads drive print media and network television. Why do the networks hate TiVO? What they have to sell is ad slots, and those slots become much less valuable when people can zip past the ads.

LJ's business model is Web 2.0, which expands on the print media paradigm: the "publisher" doesn't have to pay reporters and photographers and artists and writers. The users do all of that. Without the users--free and paid--there would be no reason to come to the site, and therefore, no reason to sell ads. It's a symbiotic relationship that in theory, benefits everyone.

6A and SUP, however, seem to forget that without the users they would have no product to sell to advertisers. With 6A, the primary problem seemed to be incompetence on their part: they bought LJ because they wanted the next MySpace, and didn't understand the problems with MySpace and who their user base was.

With SUP, unfortunately, the problem seems to go deeper than that. In a recent interview, Anton Nosik made his contempt for his users blindingly clear. To read a translation from Russian to English (Thank you, russianswinga!), click the cut.




Anton Nosik, The director of the blog division of SUP corporations, explained to the reporter of "AND" magazine what is preventing the administrators of Livejournal from cancelling the decision which discriminates new users of LJ that joined after 12th of March


Users that are unhappy about the fact that the right to a base account is reserved only for bloggers that registered before the 12th of march, are calling for a boycott of your resource. How massive do you expect this boycott to be?

I don't know any of LJ posters familiar to me, those I have friended and commented, that would want to join said boycott. I honestly don't know any people that would seriously take up that initiative. So I am presuming such an idea to be marginal at best. Something like calling all the advertisers in the American section of livejournal and calling on them to cancel their ads


Have they actually called them?

Of course not. Where will you find such idiots that will call serious companies? It's one thing - to call a newspaper in hope that they will give you 15 minutes of fame on their page. But a proper firm? The first thing you'll get asked is "so who exactly are you trying to reach? What is this about and why the hell should we care?"


So you're sure there will be no boycott?

No, I didn't say that. Because any person can create several hundred fake LJ accounts, comment in them that on the 21st of march I will be silent in protest. Then you journalists can quote those fake users and list the names of those that were silent that day. And add a cute catchprase like "that's just the top of the iceberg"


Do you believe then that there's no real reason for LJ users to be upset?

First let's try an understand what constitutes a base account. At one point those accounts were the main offering on LJ. Due to the poor financial situation of the creators, the lack of money for development. And that's when LJ was not a business, it was a hobby for students. Then users were told, and I quote, "Even if you pay, you will receive NOTHING extra for it. Your money is a donation. Do you like the project? Donate!" Such a model was in place from 1999 to 2005. Base accounts are inherited from this model and the mentality that went with it, a part of which is the fact that banners are evil.

Since then a few things happened, both with LiveJournal, and with those that carried with them such a mentality. Compared to a paid account, the features offered in a base account are Spartan. To give such anachronistic features to new users should not be standard practice. Kind of like mobile phones of the early 90's.


But there are people, who don't need smartphones, and just need a communications device for the minimal affordable price. Let's say I want to start a blog in LJ, but I hate advertising as a concept in our lives and I have no money for a paid account. I can't?

Today you will not be able to start a blog in LJ. As you would not, for example, on mail.ru, google, yahoo... There no longer exists an entity on the web, which, without specifically being a charity, would refise to make money - be it from users or from advertising. This is normal, you don't walk into a store and ask for free products.


So you're saying your service is the last in the world that turns down charity?

Actually the charity was turned down, in effect, not by LJ but by its users. Over the last 2 years base account registrations cover about 10 percent of new users. And a good portion of those are virtual, created by already existing users for spamming, increasing search engine ratings, leaving comments that would get their account banned. So there is no real demand for base accounts, it's not a viable product. So we took it off the shelf. Users of existing accounts are still not forbidden to make their accounts base accounts (if they want to switch from driving a Mercedes to a Zaporozets [car shittier than a yugo -translator])


So why would you not grant new users the opportunity to lose their mind in such a way?

In my opinion, they should be given that option. But since the new rules there hasn't been a single verifiable person who would have claimed that his right to a base account has been violated. Nonetheless, I don't believe we should forbid bloggers that join after the 12th of march to downgrade sponsored or paid accounts into base accounts. I hope we will make the matching change. But this does not depend on me, it will be the collective decision of the company.


When will that decision be made?

That's the problem. Because of the blackmail that has begun, our hands are tied.


Why?

Let's say, I say to you, mr. Journalist, "I think you put an extra comma here". Your natural reaction is "Oh, you're right" or "Let's ask the editor". But if I come to you and say "Take away the comma or I will beat you" Will you really go checking your spelling after that?

In a situation where people are trying to scare and blackmail us, threatening to destroy our business, there are business reasons for not rewarding such behaviour. This is not just human psychology, which retaliates more the more it is pressed. Problem is that there's never been a successful company whose success was based on bowing to collective resistant forces. No decision - no matter how correct -should be based on pressure.

It would be more prudent to review this decision in the coming days. But smart corporate politics dictate that we must now wait for the boycott. Let it come. So that the subject of people's frustrations, threats and scares will be closed. And then we can discuss the problem in detail.

This is not the first challenge issued to LJ in the last few years


How effective are these challenges?

So effective, that during the first year (from October 2006 until the end of 2007) of our work with LJ, its user base (who were actively persuaded to stop using LJ because the "Kremlin" and the "KGB" were now behind it), has doubled, from 700 thousand to 1.5 million users.

The audience of LJ is divided into 3 groups. There is the silent majority, which uses LJ for their own needs and is indifferent to who, when and with what money made such a resource and supports it. There are the positive minority (7-10 percent in the Russian LJ), these people like LJ, they consider it useful and want it to develop further. They help us, including constructive criticism, thanks to which we correct our mistakes. And there is the third category. They endlessly, during the entire existence of LJ promote lour initiatives, whose only purpouse is to bring harm to LJ, its founders, their goal is to criticize, destablilize and ruin our reputation. They are usually motivated by wanting to attract attention to themselves. And they are successful every time.

Their rhetoric is always the same - regardless of whether one blogs in English from California or in Russian in Moscow. These are the people that at one time wanted Brad Fitzpatrick to resign, when he was the sole lead of LJ. They asked to call each advertiser which cooperated with LK and to threaten them with harm to their reputation, if he doesn't stop putting ads on LJ. They advocated going to competing platforms first for one reason, then another.

It's understandable that journalists need sensations. A scandal in LJ -it's good material. The amount of corrections that LJ received, the amount of improvements and time spent on development, of course noone cares about that.

The administration has reversed or corrected decisions, published apologies, restored accounts which were blocked due to differing points of view, made corrections to rules of use... With constructive dialog with LJ users, we can reform anything.



So if you disagree with LJ policies, if you are unhappy because of issues ranging from deletion of journals to the censoring of the popular interests lists to the proliferation of ads to the removal of basic accounts and you say so, if you're annoyed with LJ's habit of making significant changes and trying to slip them under the radar, you're a problem. Unless you can give "constructive criticism" by Anton Novik's definition, you're out to "bring harm to LJ, its founders" and to "criticize, destablilize and ruin our reputation". You're not a partner in a community, you're not a content provider: you're a consumer, and a good consumer shuts up and doesn't complain.

I've never been good at the whole shutting up and not complaining thing. I don't see any reason to start now.


ETA: An alternate translation can be found here. While it may be slightly less inflammatory, Nosik still makes it clear that he considers the proposed strike to be "blackmail" by an "aggressive, hostile force". He is also very wrong about the original LJ model, and his contention that paid users never got anything extra for their money and that it was considered a "donation" indicates that he doesn't understand the nature of LJ and what it means to the users--and that he doesn't care to learn.

Comments

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mahoni
Mar. 19th, 2008 03:43 am (UTC)
Wow, that's a whole lot of contempt for the people who use his product.

Okay. If there is a viable alternative out there, I think I'm kind of ready to use it.
briar_pipe
Mar. 19th, 2008 07:21 am (UTC)
Grab an IJ. Seriously. I think it might be easier to migrate the rare pairings over there first, since we're in smaller, tighter-knit groups, and we're used to having only a few comms to hang out in.
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skywardprodigal
Mar. 19th, 2008 04:17 am (UTC)
on contempt
goodfellasism=/=capitalism
crowdog66
Mar. 19th, 2008 04:19 am (UTC)
I think that Mr. Nosik is about to learn a short, sharp lesson in economics. Or possibly a long and painful one.

Insulting your content providers might fly where HE comes from, but it won't fly on LiveJournal. People are deserting, and they're taking other people with them, who in turn are giving other folks less and less reason to remain on LiveJournal for the advertisers to take advantage of. Not to mention all those, including myself, who are leaving the second our paid time runs out, never giving LiveJournal another cent of our money, and telling anyone who'll listen what's gone down.

EDITED TO ADD: And of course, thanks to russianswinga for the translation.

Edited at 2008-03-19 04:22 am (UTC)
viridescence
Mar. 19th, 2008 04:28 am (UTC)
O.M.G.

I am appalled.

Thank you for posting this. We now have crystal-clear proof for how little SUP cares about their users. How people can continue to support this site after this is made public is beyond me. I downgraded to basic after boldthrough and will never give LJ another cent. I used to love this site; now InsaneJournal is my home, and I love it there.
viridescence
Mar. 19th, 2008 04:31 am (UTC)
And thank you to russianswinga for the translation. This is much easier to understand (and is therefore more horrifying) than the babelfish/google translations.
(no subject) - lissiel - Mar. 19th, 2008 05:45 pm (UTC) - Expand
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gramina
Mar. 19th, 2008 04:43 am (UTC)
OK, this is enough. I know there are folks on InsaneJournal, and there's another newish one using the same opensource code, and people are basically heading to any of several sites, and I'm sorry about that, because I want to keep track of everybody.

Is there a way to post simultaneously to multiple blogs? (Even more pie-in-the-sky, is there a way to aggregate the comments so I can see and reply to them all at once?) If not, I guess I'll do my best to pick one that has most folks on it, or something, and maybe try to figure out how to create an RSS feed for the people who still want to read from LJ. (Since I very rarely lock anything, that shouldn't be an issue.)

Thoughts or ideas? Anybody?
lavendertook
Mar. 19th, 2008 05:41 am (UTC)
I listed the tools I know of for migrating and posting to multiple journals here.
(no subject) - elke_tanzer - Mar. 19th, 2008 05:52 am (UTC) - Expand
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normaltrouble
Mar. 19th, 2008 04:44 am (UTC)
Came over from LJSpeaks
~I've never been good at the whole shutting up and not complaining thing. I don't see any reason to start now.
~
Quote...

However, he would prefer customers that aren't like him??

Thanks to the translator who did this.
Interesting.

This one interview might lose him the complainers. I am not leaving yet, but next year, after autopay is over with on my accounts...might just do it.
He will get to be King of the Complainer Hill.
All alone.
darkrosetiger
Mar. 19th, 2008 05:17 am (UTC)
Re: Came over from LJSpeaks
I've never been good at the whole shutting up and not complaining thing. I don't see any reason to start now.

Sorry--that was bad formatting on my part. Everything after "With constructive dialog with LJ users, we can reform anything." is me.
Re: Came over from LJSpeaks - normaltrouble - Mar. 20th, 2008 03:09 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: Came over from LJSpeaks - lissiel - Mar. 19th, 2008 05:48 pm (UTC) - Expand
thevelvetsun
Mar. 19th, 2008 04:58 am (UTC)
Thanks for this post. What he said is completely appalling.
serenadesha
Mar. 19th, 2008 05:08 am (UTC)
I've been on LJ for seven years. And... I've never seriously thought about leaving LJ, but I am now. And I am one of the complainers, so I shouldn't give in... but I can't stand to see LJ turned to this.
griffen
Mar. 19th, 2008 02:17 pm (UTC)
What you said. This fiasco has done more to motivate me to leave LJ than Strikethrough did, and Strikethrough had me thinking that maybe LJ's days were numbered as a business.

I've moved about a quarter of my icons over to IJ... time to spend some time today moving more of them.
(no subject) - nonnycat - Mar. 19th, 2008 04:44 pm (UTC) - Expand
erikssiren
Mar. 19th, 2008 05:10 am (UTC)
Not only is he belittling the LJ users, but he's being completely disrespectful to this reporter and reporters in general.

Not cool.

Thanks for posting this, I am so doing this strike.
riverdresses
Mar. 19th, 2008 05:17 am (UTC)
This is disgusting. Absolutely disgusting. Thank you for letting us know about this interview. I can honestly not see myself giving another cent to this place, or even encouraging someone to sign up here after reading this. If he wants only users like this, this site WILL go under in a very short time.

(also, your subject line = FTW. & hello to another fellow Bay Area blogger! I'm in San Francisco, myself.)
stewardess
Mar. 19th, 2008 05:46 am (UTC)
According to him, the "positive" group of LJ users in Russia is a tiny 7-10 percent. What do you want to bet he doesn't see any relation between that and the way he runs the company?

I'm glad to see a real translation. Russian users were saying the babelfish etc. versions didn't get the contempt across, and they were right.

The growth of Livejournal in Russia indicates nothing positive about the company or product. There was no real competition there, no other blogging service to choose from.

I think the North American market is unimportant to SUP, which plans to expand LiveJournal globally. SUP will concentrate on untapped markets, where they will be the only game in town -- at least for a time. This means, as in Russia, they can treat customers with contempt.
rohaa
Mar. 19th, 2008 04:34 pm (UTC)
That's what I'm not understanding. How can North America not be important to them (and you can bet he'll get a similarly free thinking attitude in Europe)? Those are the countries with the most widespread internet, not to mention bloggers. Not to mention ones who are rich enough to pay for it. I'll bet more than HALF his customer base is hailing from North America/Europe.

I'll do what I can to get more ppl to strike. And I would REALLY like to see someone call the advertising companies, just because he said no one in their right minds (idiots, I believe he said?) would.
(Anonymous)
Mar. 19th, 2008 05:49 am (UTC)
Instead of a boycott wouldn't it be better to have a massive move-over to another blogging service?
lavendertook
Mar. 19th, 2008 05:53 am (UTC)
Well, personally I'm calling the strike Set Up an Insanejournal and Blog There Day.
(no subject) - aronwy - Mar. 20th, 2008 04:54 am (UTC) - Expand
lavendertook
Mar. 19th, 2008 05:51 am (UTC)
I'm not surprised this is his thinking, but I am surprised to see it in print. Thanks to you and russianswinga for posting this. I really hope more LJers will be disgusted by his over the top "you better be nice because I own you" attitude.
magda2em
Mar. 19th, 2008 05:55 am (UTC)
You're not a partner in a community, you're not a content provider: you're a consumer, and a good consumer shuts up and doesn't complain.

I don't use a basic account, I'm happy with my plus account and I like it this way. But this sentence - in total disregard of the whole issue of basic/plus/paid accounts - is just outrageous. Sure - we're only consumers, and consumers should keep their mouth shut and don't say a word, when they get a filthy rag instead of a new fluffy towel. I'm sorry to say that, but it looks like policy from the times of communism - you either accept that there's only one brand of milk in the shops, or you don't drink milk at all. The problem is that there isn't only brand of blogging service. There are more. I'm staying here, because I like it here - but I'm not surprised that many people leave.
As a matter of fact - they are content providers. Without the content they provide, without adding new stuff, this site doesn't exist. Apart from a few selected technical blogs, it's people who create the community. People. Not owners. So I'd suggest some serious thinking on the part of the marketing team - speaking like that will not result in more people coming to LJ. The trend will go in another direction. Good luck...
M.
pantryslut
Mar. 19th, 2008 02:45 pm (UTC)
You are aware that that sentence -- "You're not a partner in a community, you're not a content provider: you're a consumer, and a good consumer shuts up and doesn't complain" -- is darkrosetiger's, not Nosik's.
(no subject) - djinnthespazz - Mar. 19th, 2008 04:38 pm (UTC) - Expand
duskwuff
Mar. 19th, 2008 06:11 am (UTC)
Actually, there's one really interesting nugget in that heap of steaming excrement:
"Nonetheless, I don't believe we should forbid bloggers that join after the 12th of march to downgrade sponsored or paid accounts into base accounts. I hope we will make the matching change."
So apparently they're considering a middle ground where you can't create a Basic account initially, but can convert any Plus account (even a new one) into a Basic account later on? Hopefully I'm reading that right, because that'd actually kind of make sense.
darkrosetiger
Mar. 19th, 2008 06:17 am (UTC)
So apparently they're considering a middle ground where you can't create a Basic account initially, but can convert any Plus account (even a new one) into a Basic account later on?

That's how I read it as well. Of course, they can't do that until everyone's shut up, because then they'll be giving in to blackmail.
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seperis
Mar. 19th, 2008 06:12 am (UTC)
Thank you for posting. That's appalling.
dearfromxxx
Mar. 19th, 2008 06:26 am (UTC)
Found this in my search for info on the whole situation.
Thanks so much for posting, I'll definitely be linking this to other people so they can know how horrible this guy is.
I think LJ is going to realize very quickly that letting him speak on behalf of the "business" that LJ has become and not rectifying the situation was not a very smart plan.
dearfromxxx
Mar. 19th, 2008 06:31 am (UTC)
and, like everyone else, I am going to forget to thank russianswinga for the translation. ... Thanks! lol.
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snowpuppies
Mar. 19th, 2008 06:34 am (UTC)
I'm actually kind of sad that I read this, because now I'm seriously thinking about leaving LJ altogether - I already x-post to IJ. But LJ's been my home for so long, and there are features that I love here that I can't get elsewhere, and people here that aren't elsewhere...

Why the hell can't they just leave well enough alone?

*headdesk*


(nevertheless, thanks for posting this. even if it makes me sad.)
serenadesha
Mar. 19th, 2008 06:45 am (UTC)
Ditto. :(

Basically I don't want to leave LJ because of the people, but it's looking more and more like I am going to be moving. Sigh.
(no subject) - the_first_chibi - Mar. 19th, 2008 06:03 pm (UTC) - Expand
bluewingedcat
Mar. 19th, 2008 06:48 am (UTC)
I theory, boycotting content isn't what people should be doing. They should be boycotting the SITE altogether. Page and ad views generate revenue. You can not post new content and still view the site and generate them some money.

*shrug*
quoting_mungo
Mar. 19th, 2008 07:45 am (UTC)
On the other hand, page views from paid users cost them money. If I browse all of LJ in one day without leaving a single comment I'm giving them nothing and using their bandwidth. I'm not nearly vindictive enough to do so. Of course it can be argued that they can still tell their prospective advertisers that they have a buttload of page views, but sooner or later they will have to tell those advertisers that, by the way, X percent of those page views never see an ad on LJ, ever. (Well, except when LJ inexplicably logs me out for no good reason, and they no longer provide a "keep me logged in" checkbox by the login box, nor take you to the login.bml page when you log in. Coincidence? I think not!)

Considering "I will not blog or comment for one day to show you that this does damage your stats since you seem not to believe this, or you would have taken brad's advice in the first place" blackmail takes a special kind of attitude. *sigh* "We think abolishing basic accounts was a stupid move" is, too, the equivalent of saying "you missed a comma there"; the reaction we're having now is more "if you don't take care of that comma I already pointed out to you, I won't publish your article" than "I will beat you".

I know I wasn't personally convinced to observe a day of blogging silence due to the action of abolishing basic accounts in itself. It was the "we're sorry you got mad" (which is very different than "we're sorry we did a stupid which made you mad", tyvm) and the blatant ignoring of both user comments and the word of the advisory board members that convinced me. I'm not sure the idea was even concieved before the advisory board members came out with their posts.

That, and WTF on trying to slip things under our radar. That's like purposedly leaving out every single comma in a three-page article.


-Alexandra
(no subject) - cantinalaughter - Mar. 19th, 2008 11:11 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - quoting_mungo - Mar. 19th, 2008 11:51 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - lizvogel - Mar. 19th, 2008 05:04 pm (UTC) - Expand
msilverstar
Mar. 19th, 2008 06:50 am (UTC)
WTFFFF??????

I can see how he got there, but he's digging himself deeper into the swamp. Customers! Content creators! Community! He's a dumbshit and is going to fail bigtime. No matter how many of us they run out of the system, and how many ads they show, it still will never be MySpace or Facebook.

Thank you for posting.
julia_here
Mar. 19th, 2008 07:01 am (UTC)
What the hell does he think we're here for if not what we get from each other? What else is there?

Julia, else FM at journalfen
fer_de_lance
Mar. 21st, 2008 12:26 am (UTC)
Word.

I sure don't come here to look at the pretty sparkly ads.
briar_pipe
Mar. 19th, 2008 07:11 am (UTC)
I came over because you were one of only two people I saw try to correct some misinterpretations on pat_d's journal re: IJ vs. LJ. Thank you for that, and thank you for this, much as it saddens me to read.

If I am upset with a store (to use Mr. Nosik's own analogy), the manager usually bends over backwards to make me happy, so much so that I'm usually embarrassed to have complained at all. And then I go back to that store, and feel a sense of loyalty to them because they were so good to me that one time they made a mistake. It makes my loyalty stronger.

Has lj done that on a some occasions? Yes. On all of them? No. And their screwups are more public, so they have to do a better job of thinking through their responses.

I'm saddened to discover anyone could think I was a self-aggrandizing wanker, or that you were, just for being concerned and a bit upset.

(Thanks for the translation, russianswinga!)
briar_pipe
Mar. 19th, 2008 07:23 am (UTC)
Er, sorry. It was pat_t's journal. *my stupid southern accent...*
(no subject) - germankitty - Mar. 19th, 2008 07:03 pm (UTC) - Expand
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randomposting
Mar. 19th, 2008 07:15 am (UTC)
This is horrific.
the_first_chibi
Mar. 19th, 2008 06:04 pm (UTC)
...Sebastien's face says it all
(no subject) - randomposting - Mar. 19th, 2008 06:53 pm (UTC) - Expand
mark356
Mar. 19th, 2008 07:28 am (UTC)
That's frightening. Thanks for sharing.

It looks like he really doesn't understand the whole way LJ works at all. In his model, how could such a vast community of people be out to get him? Why does he think that they joined in the first place?
peoplewantducks
Mar. 19th, 2008 07:49 am (UTC)
That guy is a knob.
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