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LJ got rid of basic accounts with no ads - Journal of Omnifarious

Mar. 13th, 2008

09:20 am - LJ got rid of basic accounts with no ads

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I've thought about the demise of LJ for awhile. It's quite clear now from how the news wasn't mentioned in a news post, how it's being spun as 'making it easier for users to sign up' and various other things that LJ really doesn't care about it's users at all anymore. This was really quite predictable from the moment they started accepting advertising at all.

Brad Fitz, the person who started it all has a nice post in which he makes the most excellent observation that it's the users that create the whole reason people want to visit the site in the first place. This observation and a discussion of LJs legal status made me realize something.

The modern corporate structure is a wholly inadequate means of expressing the values and desires of the stakeholders in an organization where most of the value of that organization is created by what a corporation would think of as "its customers". Basically this legal framework has been shoehorned into serving a purpose it is wholly unsuited for because a corporation has only a very weak incentive to take the interests of all the people who create the stuff that enables its existence into account. Those users have made a huge investment into the site and that investment is almost completely ignored by the modern corporate structure and repeatedly leads to disaster when the corporation makes decisions at odds with its most important investors, the users of the site that it is a caretaker of.

User content sites need something other than a corporation, something where the organization is legally obligated to take the interests of those users into consideration as the most important factor in decisions made by the organization. I'm going to have to think for awhile to see if I can think of a structure that would work. It's tempting to think of some sort of trust or something quasi-governmental. I prefer structures that naturally and with very little oversight or intervention align the interests of all the participants.

Current Mood: [mood icon] contemplative


[User Picture]
Date:March 13th, 2008 06:02 pm (UTC)
eesh, when does that take affect? I haven't seen any ads yet, thought they log me out more often and I see ads before I log on. I figured that was a ploy to get me viewing ads at least sometimes.

corporate laws have needed to be revised for a long time. The repercussions of our corporate structure has caused a lot of problems in our society. It is high time to modify them.
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[User Picture]
Date:March 13th, 2008 07:42 pm (UTC)

Well, apparently they haven't killed the old basic accounts yet. But there will be no new basic accounts. I think it's only a matter of time before the old basic ones go away.

I do agree that overall corporations are a flawed legal concept that's in need of some revision. But I think in the specific case of user content generated sites that they are especially bad in some ways that are kind of unique to that situation.

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[User Picture]
Date:March 14th, 2008 03:33 am (UTC)
One of the travel websites--I think it was travelzoo--gave its early users shares of stock during the .com boom. It was disclaimed by others as a scam, but the company did eventually IPO. I could imagine a user-content based company doing something like that, only more aggressively.

For example, they could offer 1 share of stock to members each month they post, in countries where this is legal, and only if they give their contact info to the web site. Limiting shares to an easy rate of time-based participation, rather than per-post or per-byte would keep down the abuse, though obviously not prevent it entirely. Maybe add a monthly CAPTCHA? This would make the website that much more appealing to advertisers... I'm surprised nobody's done this.

Combine that with what's essentially a "share-holder's union" that is set up to be organizationally separate from the main website, free or cheap to join, but you have to be a registered share-holder of the kind of stock given to the users... That stock, btw, converts to a normal share, not eligible for union membership, when sold... The union is guaranteed a seat for its representative on the company's board of directors, say, or an ombudsman position, or something like that, in addition to representing the user/stockholders at stockholder meetings. Add some poison pills, e.g., the union stocks get 1000x the voting rights if the company or its successors break the compact with the union.

Blah blah blah. Totally doable within modern corporate structures. But you'd need owners/founders farsighted enough to do this.
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[User Picture]
Date:March 14th, 2008 03:45 am (UTC)
Change it from purchasing time to purchasing shares of the company. Then they HAVE to listen to us.
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