liz_marcs (liz_marcs) wrote,

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This is Why You Won't Be Getting My Hard-Earned Cash...

This is a somewhat longer response than what I posted in paidmembers, news, and lj_biz.

Dear 6A/LJ,

It appears that day has come around: a permanent account sale. For the low, low price of $150 (please note sarcasm), I can not only ensure a permanent spot on your servers for my journal, I can also protect myself from future price increases. That means at the current rate of $35 per year ($20 for the journal, $10 for extra userpics, and $10 for extra scrapbook space), I could make good on my investment in a mere 4.5 years (more or less).

However, considering the crap you've pulled just here in recent months, I am not entirely convinced that you will be here in 4 years.

Since it appears that you are completely clueless as to why I and many others are not willing to give you $150, I've decided to spell it out for you.

Need I remind you that you have yet to do the following:

  • Clarified your policies of what is and is not acceptable content.

    What's even better, you've added this little nugget: "...kinds of content Six Apart is either unwilling to host or legally unable to host." Note the bolded part. That's a very, very mushy standard (as opposed to, y'know, a legal one) that says nothing at all to your customers.

    Do you know what that tells us? You may today be willing to allow some kinds of questionable content — say a certain CD review community that engages in a little filesharing — but tomorrow you may suddenly bring down the hammer without warning on that same community because you're suddenly "unwilling" to host something like that.

    Also, the whole "unwilling" bit...didn't your legal eagles tell you that you could be skating dangerously close to becoming a publisher rather than a service provider if you start doing that? And maaaaan, if some court decides that you are indeed a "publisher," that means you are responsible for every single word typed by every single one of your 13 million users. Under U.S. law, that opens you up to all kinds of interesting bits of legal libel laws.

  • Put together a transparent system where, in your words, this kind of stuff will be "predictable" for users so they can plan accordingly. Okay, that's nice. However, you haven't put it in place yet. You want me to give you $150 before you put it in place. What are you? High?

    I also feel the need to point out that you have not mentioned anything about warning users about content you consider questionable before suspending a journal, or a right of appeal for users should they find their journal suddenly suspended.

  • Compensated those journals that were affected by the DDOS attacks in the days leading up to the Great LJ Strikeout of 2007 and in the days immediately after. I know I had limited access for a total of 6 days, and I've yet to hear "boo" about you giving me those 6 days back.

  • Compensated those journals and communities that were unjustly yanked during the Great LJ Strikeout of 2007. Some of those users and communities were paid members. They at the very least deserve a week's worth of free time to make up for the fact that you yanked them off-line.

Now, I won't even get into the part where you keep throwing shiny, shiny beads at us, without fixing the problems we already have.

For example, at some point are you gonna fix your bug-tastic RTF editor? How about letting people edit their own comments to other peoples' posts (Edit: Or at least give a technical or legal reason why you can't do it)? Oh, and there are an awful lot of people who'd like you to fix email notifications.

Instead, you're waving these shiny, worthless beads in our faces:

  • An automated system for reporting offensive and abusive content.

    Yes, because that's going to go really, really well.

    Some Internet crank with a bee in his or her bonnet can now peg my journal as containing "offensive" or "abusive" content if I piss them off.

    And, dude, have you seen the regular wank that sometimes washes over your user base? The possibilities for abuse of the automated reporting system are simply endless.

  • Reputation engine that avoids the majority or a vocal minority from constraining open and free expression under the policies in above.

    I...don't even know what that means, and I've read the stupid thing 10 times. Are we all being graded on our content now? Are you going to have some kind of Super Secret Squirrel system wherein you decide who's naughty or nice? Or are you leaving it open to a vote by LJ members? Because, yeah, I don't see how this can turn into a problem at all.

  • Clarifying the differences in policies between public and private content...

    But, but, already have this! It's called a friends lock! And a private lock! And security settings for journals that allow them to go "friends only" and "private only."

    I know that it's true know because it's right here on my update interface. When I allow "everyone" to see a post, it's public. When I choose "friends" or "custom," that means only select people can see a post. When I choose "private," that means I'm the only one who sees a post.

In conclusion, this ain't Manhattan, we are not members of the Canarsee Delaware tribe, and you sure as shit don't look like the Dutch.

What doesn't help is that your track record doesn't just suck with LiveJournal, it sucks even more with MovableType. And when it comes to MovableType, your problems there go back years.

And you want me to give you $150 for a permanent account that's only as permanent for as long as you choose to allow it or you exist?

I'll pass.

And if you think that we're "whining," it may have escaped you that $150 is a lot of money to just hand over to anyone without getting any kind of guarantee in return.

Just to give you an idea:

  • $150 is roughly five months worth of filling up the gas tank of my car (Yay Saturn and your awesome MPG rating!)
  • $150 is more than my monthly car payment
  • $150 is more than my monthly car insurance payment (and I have all the bells and whistles on my car insurance because I live with Masshole drivers)
  • $150 is more than my monthly cell phone, telephone, and DSL bills combined
  • $150 is more than twice what I pay monthly for electricity and natural gas combined
  • $150 is three weeks' worth of groceries

And I live in one of the most expensive parts of the U.S. where you can possibly live, and $150 covers an awful lot of stuff.

Just the same, I started saving my pennies when you announced you'd be selling perm accounts, because at the time my problems with 6A/LJ were very few.

Now I've got a bushel full of 'em, and it just so happens that an awful lot of people have the exact same issues with you that I do. And you have done nothing, nada, squat, zero, zilch, zippo to address those issues beyond a half-hearted apology (which we got only after you pulled damage control with the press) and vague promises that you'll "fix it."

Now that I've spelled out why you aren't getting my $150, I'm going to tell you what I did do with that $150.

I have:

  • Spent $40 to purchase a permanent account on InsaneJournal with extra userpics
  • Spent $25 on a Pro Account for one year on Photobucket (just today, in fact!)
  • Donated $25 to the ACLU. Yes, I know that they have zero to do with corporate policy and would be zero help if you decide to screw me over because of my content, but it's the principle of the thing.
  • Put $60 in my savings account, where it will earn interest for me instead of for you

Hey! Looks like you guys just saved me $60! Thanks LiveJournal!

While I can't do anything about my paid account, which is set to expire in July 2008, I've got plenty of time to think long and hard about whether or not you get another dime out of me. But if you do get more money out of me, rest assured that I will be switching to monthly payments, so I can vote with my feet at the drop of a hat, rather than being tied to you for one second longer than I have to.

After all, if the money is in my pocket, instead of yours, I'm hoping that it'll give me some small hold over you.

If nothing else, it means that I won't be out a boatload of money should you decide to yank my journal out from underneath me.

Gee. I feel bettah now.

Keep in mind: I understand that 6A/LJ is a private enterprise. They own the servers. I'm basically renting space on those servers. They have every right to decide whether or not they want to rent me that space based on whatever criteria they see fit.

However, asking me to hand them so much as a penny before they tell me the rules, and without giving me any sort of protection against unwarranted interruption of service, is more arrogant than words can express.

I'm a customer, damn it. And customers with reasonable requests deserve more than just being fluffed off.

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