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State of the Goat 2008

State of the Goat 2008

Independent Minds



State of the Goat 2008

LJ went through a lot of changes in 2008. Here are the highlights:

New features
  • Server upgrade. This was the biggest change of the year, if not necessarily the most visible. We moved LJ off the SixApart servers and onto our own servers in our own brand-new data center in Montana, resulting in a faster, stronger LJ with much more storage capacity.

  • Poll results and comment limits got up upped. 2000 for poll results, 10,000 for comments.

  • Mobile LJ. TxtLJ lets you post and receive notifications via text message. The LJ App for iPhone makes it easy for iPhone users to post entries (including photos) to journals and communities. And Russian users can access almost their entire LJ on their mobile phones with the 2008 updates to ljmob.ru.

  • Posting features. RTE now works for Opera and Safari and there's a new icon to identify filtered posts. If you're looking for posting inspiration, try the Writer's Block Archive. For Last.fm users, the updated Music field on the Post an Entry page can now automatically fill in what you're listening to when you write the post. LJ bookmarklet lets you easily post links and articles without leaving the site where you found them.

  • OpenID. LJ now supports OpenID 2.0 and your OpenID friends can leave comments in journal entries that are marked as "friends only."

  • Sponsored Accounts. We introduced a new account structure for Russian users, adding Sponsored Accounts that have all the features of Paid Accounts but are supported by sponsors.

  • New themes and v-gifts. We added some new themes, including the winners of the HP "What Do You Have to Say?" Theme Design Contest and the new Minimalism layout scheme with 25 themes.


    Theme contest winners, L to R: Shiny, River at Night, Live and Learn, Vector Drips.

    There were new v-gifts as well, for everything from Chinese New Year to chocolate ice cream, and some changes in the giving process. Now you can send v-gifts to more than one user at a time and view the comment you include on the checkout page.

  • Secret question. We added a new security measure that lets you access your account when you've forgotten your password or changed emails since you became a user—the secret question. You make up the question and the answer is the key to your account.

  • Account settings. We took all the various settings scattered around the site and consolidated them on a new Account Settings page. This feature is still in beta but will be making its sitewide debut soon.

  • <strike> vs. <b>. Back in 2007 we changed the visual display of deleted and suspended usernames from a line through the username to displaying the username in a bold font that was hard to read, confusing, and unclickable. So in 2008 we changed the display back to strikethrough and made it clickable again.

  • "Delete all." The private messaging inbox got a handy "Delete all" feature so you can clean out your LJ inbox with one click.


Paid Account Love
Users with Paid Accounts got some treats this year: persistent style=mine, collapsed comment thread expansion, and the very popular View Friends Page by Date feature. December saw the return of the Give More promotion and a Permanent Account sale. Permanent Account users also received an increase in userpics and storage limits.

Policy Changes
Updating and clarifying our Abuse policies as a result of events in 2007 was a major part of 2008. Among the most significant changes: Non-sexualized, non-graphic images of nudity are no longer considered to be explicit adult content; flagging content as explicit adult content does not mean the content is in violation of our Terms of Service; and the policy on removal of non-photographic images of minors was itself removed. Removal of this content is no longer required and users posting this content are no longer suspended. We also implemented the ability to suspend a single journal entry and to make a journal read-only, rather than suspending entire journals. You can read about all the policy changes and the reasoning behind them in lj_policy. The complete Abuse policy can be found here.

New Partnerships
Our global footprint got a little bigger in 2008 as we developed new partnerships in India, the UK, and Russia. Highlights included the Caferati flash fiction contest in India; us_election2008, where journalists from partner newspapers Gazeta, MINT, and The Independent posed questions to U.S. users about the presidential election; and the Independent Minds community created in collaboration with The Independent. We hope to build on these partnerships in the year ahead. To read about the latest development in our collaboration with The Independent, see below.

Giving Back
LJ continued its tradition of charitable giving in 2008. We donated proceeds from charity v-gifts to the Depression and Bipolar Alliance, PFLAG, and NaNoWriMo's Young Writers Program. To support all the LJers who take part in National Novel Writing Month, we supplied the Grand Prize laptop for NaNoWriMo's Writeathon and also pledged a dollar to the Young Writers Program for every LJ user who finished NaNoWriMo (up to $1000—we gave the full thousand). We also partnered with Razoo.com so purchasers of Permanent Accounts could donate a portion of their purchase price to the charity of their choice.

Just for Kicks
We had some fun in 2008, welcoming a new team member to the Advisory Board at the beginning of April and being taken over by a horrifying new site scheme at the end of October. Also in April we warmed up our new office space in San Francisco at a little get-together with some local LJers. And while the research report had a serious purpose, we really enjoyed reading it.

Controversies
It wouldn't be LJ without some controversy, and we had a few in 2008. Many of you objected to the plan to eliminate Basic Accounts (and the way it was announced). In the end, after a lot of feedback and discussion, we restored the option for existing users to downgrade their accounts to Basic and therefore see no ads when logged in and viewing Basic journals and communities. You can read the full decision here.

And then there was the Profile page redesign. Some of you didn't like it. We went through all of your feedback and comments and made some changes. You can find the full story in lj_design.

The Advisory Board was also the cause of some controversy. The purpose and usage of the Advisory Board wasn't conveyed as well as it could have been, and the election of user representatives had its share of trouble. We'll be having user elections again in a few months and we hope to apply the lessons learned from last year to make the process much smoother this time around.

Things We Didn't Get Done
We promised a la carte userpics and didn't come through. We're sorry. We know they're important to you and they're still on our priority list. We hope to get them to you soon. Another area we're still working on is search, where we had three priorities: improving public email search (Find Your Friends); Journal search to allow you to search within your own journal; and improved site-wide search for interests, tags, and more. We made a lot of progress on Find Your Friends (have you set your preference yet?) and journal search on public entries but not to the point where they were ready to release in 2008. You should see some new search features in the next few releases.

Looking Ahead, Looking Back
LiveJournal turns 10 this year and we're looking forward to celebrating our tenth birthday with a variety of special features. But before we close the door on 2008, let's indulge in some nostalgia. What was your favorite LJ moment of the past year? Comment with your favorite moment and why you liked (or hated) it so much, and the Paid Account fairy just might pay you a visit! We'll be awarding two months of Paid Account time to the best comments on the hits (or misses) of 2008.

And now it's full steam ahead into 2009!

Independent Commenting Powered by LiveJournal

Back in November we announced the launch of Independent Minds, our partnership with The Independent newspaper in the UK. Today we're happy to announce the latest development in the partnership—LiveJournal is the power behind The Independent's new commenting system. Now you can comment on articles on The Independent using your LJ account. This is the first time a newspaper has integrated LJ into their platform for commenting, journalist blogs, and editorial communities, and we're pretty excited about it. You can see it all and get the details at Independent Minds.
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