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an open letter

i just caught this open letter to lj/6a that's in progress, and thought it's a wonderfully productive and constructive way of helping out -- it's making the assumption that LJ-the-business and LJ-the-community are on the same side, which we are! I don't honestly know enough of the details to know which parts are right or wrong or somewhere in between, but a lot of it looks exactly like the conversations we've been having internally about getting our relationship with some of our communities back on the right track.


Thanks for the link - am passing it along!
Can you tell us anything about why no one has even put up something saying "We're meeting and talking about things right now guys" during the past several days? The silence is making us all a little hysterical and angry.
For whatever this is worth:

I think LJ/6A needs to put together a team of staffers and users. Not "abuse prevention team members," but the actual users who make the LJ community what it is. Put them in a room for a couple of days. Talk. Figure out what's important to us; let us figure out where you're trying to go with things.

It wouldn't be too hard to figure out who to invite. The person working on that letter. copperbadge, who has a whole well-regarded thing of his own that I haven't had time to read yet. bookshop, who's about to leave this place she's loved for so long. Similarly smart, generally respected, coherent people from various fandoms, groups, and so on. Even someone to represent the actual adult content that's on LJ, like the "show_your_[body part name]" communities. Someone affected by the breastfeeding icon fiasco. heidi8, because whatever issues people might have with her, a lawyer who actually is familiar with fandom might be a good person to have around at a time like this.

There's a really scary feeling out there that LJ, a place we've considered home for years and years, a place where we talk about our lives as well as our fandom interests, doesn't want us anymore, and is intentionally giving us vague, contradictory guidelines about what is and isn't allowable, and if we god forbid post, in good faith, a piece of artwork, whether it be drawn or written, that clearly isn't child pornography, but could be interpreted by some viewers as being obscene, we have no idea if we'll end up being just fine, end up being asked to remove it, or end up having our years of content suddenly deleted without warning. It's unfair, and given that the works in question clearly aren't child pornography in any sense of the definition, deleting entire journals is incredibly excessive.

It's quickly becoming a frightening atmosphere. Every post to news or lj_biz raises more questions that it answers. Some of the questions get answered by LJ employees in ways that just cause more confusion. No one knows what's going on, and everyone is creating a loud, unpleasant, tense atmosphere that can't possibly be good for Six Apart's image or the image of fandom in general. This current train wreck is benefiting no one.

If you really want us gone, just tell us. I think it would be a complete one-time PR disaster for Six Apart, but what you've got right now is actually worse, because it's an ongoing disaster where grudgewank and cluelessness are going to combine, time and time again, to produce negative headlines, bad feeling in the community, and eventually, cat macros. We can't keep doing this; LJ is fast getting the reputation for being the RIAA of social networking sites -- i.e., the one that hates its paying customers.

Thanks for your time, and sorry for the barge-in.
Thankyou. I would just like to register my absolute support for the suggestions in this comment, and say that my respect for the 6A/LJ company and staffing community would rise if some were undertaken.

At this point a reasonable, well-informed dialogue needs to be opened between 6A and its fannish users, or else an official party needs to come and put its foot down and explain what precisely it wants gone.

The longer this goes on, the more people will get sick of it and leave, and the louder it will resound across the internet. Cutting your losses now would save everyone the time and effort of a long, pointless war. Won't someone please think of the kitties.
I just stumbled across this post through following various links, and then found this comment.

I will also point out that I think that this is an EXCELLENT idea, and was what I was trying to get across in that open letter when I mentioned a committee. It is put far more eloquently here than I put it there.

I also wanted to state, publicly, that, were I asked, I would be more than happy to accept an offer from LJ/6A to serve in this capacity if it would finally help clear these matters up. I love LJ and I don't want to leave.

Perhaps you should also be made aware of femmequixotic’s An Open Letter to LiveJournal and Six Apart. She is the moderator of pornish_pixies, and she has been desperately trying to get LJ/6A to answer her questions regarding that community. To date, they (you) have ignored her, even though that community is a known target of LJ/6A’s newly revised, confusing, and vague obscenity stance.

As a permanent account holder and long time user of LJ, I am urging LJ/6A (you) to respond to her.

Thank you.
Honestly, when I look at Livejournal as a corporation with reasonably intelligent management, I think of two different sets of actions they might've taken. Firstly, those of a company really wanting to tackle the problem of child pornography and avoid widespread damage to everyone else:

#1. Ban child pornography. Refund all relevant payments to banned members. Warn creators of questionable content. Publish accurate and steadily updated guidelines of actions taken. Change the TOS to refer directly to new policies and warn of actions being taken.

This would be somewhat costly, somewhat difficult, and would not be perfect. It'd also be the set of actions a company remotely caring of users would take.

I can think of another set of actions, however. One that would be taken by a company which wanted to make its site look safer and better in the most cost efficient way.

#2. Search for anything that looks dirty, and bring the ban hammer down on it. Don't update your terms of service or release strict guidelines; instead, keep them guessing.

Who's going to get hit next? Nobody really knows; if all of fandom with interests related to the things LJ dislikes (slash, child abuse, Harry Potter fics) is liable for deletion, anybody could get hit next. It's a basic rule of censorship; if everyone is afraid, they pull back and censor themselves in a manner far more effective then you could've done yourself.

Don't refund or back down. Don't apologize for who you hit and unban accounts, even if they were innocent - that shows weakness. Instead, say you're sorry for how the process worked, and for how you talked about it and that you made everyone so angry. Talk about how you're going to do better - and keep doing the same thing, over and over. Eventually, you'll have a site that looks around like what you want - and you won't have incurred a bit of collateral damage - the users will take the hit.

Now, I have to ask you - which of these does Livejournal's actions look more like? Why shouldn't I think that Livejournal is following #2? Why is it that Livejournal's actions just happen to appear like those of a company which is doing exactly what it wants and deflecting concerns as best as possible?