Since the decision in March to remove Basic Accounts, a lot of concern has been expressed by the community about this issue. In the days following that announcement, the LiveJournal team acknowledged that the decision had been badly handled and ill-conceived, and that more time was needed for discussion and consultation before completing the account structure review.
In the past few months, this issue has been the subject of much debate by LiveJournal users, the LiveJournal team, and the Advisory Board (who have met on two separate occasions to discuss the issue, before and after the user elections). We have wrestled with some complex problems: how to generate the revenue we need to support the development of LiveJournal while respecting the community, and how to best integrate advertising into the existing account structure.
Today's post outlines the results of these deliberations and highlights the areas where we are looking for feedback.
Basic Accounts will become available again to all users (new and old accounts) by the end of August, possibly earlier. They will continue to offer basic functionality, and while it is unlikely that they will receive any major upgrades, people who want to use them will be able to do so.
We do, however, need to address the issue of ad placement on LiveJournal. As we made clear in an earlier post, the business needs to generate sufficient revenue to bring the service back up to speed. That means, among other things, offering more commercial opportunities to partners. At the same time, we need to ensure the commitment of the community and foster its growth.
We are considering several options and maintain an open mind as to the next steps we should take. Specifically, we are looking exclusively at adding limited advertising to Basic Accounts viewed in certain circumstances. The areas of potential change are of three different types, which could be implemented in any combination:
Proposal 1: Advertising would be displayed to visitors who are not logged in to LiveJournal at the time when they are looking at Basic Account journals and communities.
Proposal 2: Advertising would be displayed to logged-in Basic Account users when viewing application pages - pages which are not part of a community, a user's journal, profile or friends page (e.g. Update page, Edit Entries page, Manage Tags page).
Proposal 3a: Advertising would be shown to logged-in Basic Account users when viewing a journal which they have not friended or community they are not watching (e.g. if you friend a Basic journal, you do not see advertising; mutual friending is not required to avoid advertising).
Proposal 3b: Advertising would be shown to logged-in Basic Account users when viewing a journal of which they are not a mutual friend or a community of which they are not a member (e.g. if you friend a journal and they do not friend you, or if you watch a community but are not a member, you will see advertising; if you do become mutual friends or a member of a community, then you will no longer see advertising in that journal or community).
We are not proposing to show advertising to Basic Account users when they view their own journals (including their profile and friends page), nor would they see advertising in the Basic Accounts of their mutual friends. Paid and Permanent users will not see ads, as always, and no one will see ads on Paid and Permanent users' journals.
While we hope that the decision to bring back an altered form of the Basic account level is a relief for many users, we understand that any decision to show advertising at all will be an issue for some. On the positive side, we believe that these proposed changes will encourage users to engage with LiveJournal by logging in, creating accounts, joining communities, finding friends and more.
This is an ongoing dialogue that we hope to get off on the right foot. Any suggestions or ideas that would help us find a better middle ground, one which gives us the chance to generate revenue while also satisfying current and future LJ users, will always be welcome!
We'll be gathering your feedback on this issue over the next two weeks, so please give us your opinions by commenting below. We will discuss all points of view internally, with the LiveJournal team and the Advisory Board, and post a decision shortly thereafter; but this, as with all other policy positions we take, are part of an ongoing process and nothing is written in stone. We will implement any changes before the end of August.