theljstaff (theljstaff) wrote in news,

State of the Goat 2009

It's been a momentous 12 months here at LiveJournal. We crossed a capital T at Ten years young. And, like most precocious pubescents, we celebrated turning double digits by publishing our first book! Needless to say, we've experienced some major changes, both inside and out. Before we recap, we'd like to thank you for bearing with us as we've struggled through ungainly growth spurts, identity pangs, and, yes, the occasional blemish. We hope you'll continue to stand by us: We're gaining wisdom with maturity.

Stuff you liked

  • Back in February, we placed a call for entries for our ten-year anniversary anthology in lj_turns10. In December (less than a year later!), we officially announced the publication of Live Journal: The First Decade. Featuring an inspired collection of writing, photographs, and artwork from the pages of LiveJournal history, the book has been selected by as a top staff pick! We are proud to have played host to so much talent over the years, and we thank our contributors for sharing their extraordinary work.
  • We all love quirky surprises, but not when it comes to managing our account settings. This year we streamlined settings into one central account management area. No more sifting through FAQs to figure out how to control privacy settings, modify notifications, adjust mobile settings, or update contact information!
  • Being users ourselves, we realize our own mothers couldn't find us on LiveJournal based on our usernames and userpics alone (*heaves heavy sigh of relief*). But since there are times when we actually want to be found, we created a search tool--Find Your Friends--to help locate people by email address (it's in the Friends drop-down menu).
  • Spam counter-attack: The war against vicious malware and spambots reigns eternal, but we've been making serious inroads to ensure your online security. We've established new protocols, such as requiring email address validations. We've grown more savvy about ferreting out suspicious behavior. We've added features, like whitelisting, to help you protect your communities. Our valiant (i.e., overworked) spam avengers (a/k/a the LiveJournal ops team) are standing on red alert so you can sleep safely at night.
  • After an intensive beta, we launched My Guests at the end of the year, which lets you see who's been hanging around your journal. A number of you have even discovered secret admirers (not all of whom are creepy)!
  • Last, but by no means least, we want to thank our volunteers for providing invaluable support and feedback. Their Herculean efforts enable us to answer your questions more efficiently, identify spammers, reduce abuse, and deliver better features (through tireless testing). On behalf of the staff and the larger LiveJournal community, we are truly grateful for their diligence, intelligence, loyalty, and passion.

You got your fix

  • We recently debugged a number of the oustanding issues with the rich text editor so your entries look great regardless of whether you know html. You can read more about text editors here.
  • In response to user demand, we brought back international voice posting. Please note that this still needs more tweaking, and we are working on the one-minute cut-off issue. For more info on voice posting, read here.
  • At long last, we revived TxtLJ with Verizon. For more info on TxtLJ, check out the FAQ.

Paid features you enjoyed

  • In December, we introduced My Stats, which provides detailed data on who's been viewing your entries as well as statistics on commenting, RSS requests, friending history, and more. Despite a few early glitches, the response has been extremely favorable.
  • This year, we launched and improved Notes (i.e., the feature formerly known as Alias), which lets you add private comments on friends and commenters (it's in the Profile drop-down menu). This way you won't be caught red-faced when you strain to remember details about that wonderful LiveJournal friend who sent you a birthday vGift. For more info, read the FAQ.
  • When we first announced View friends pages by date, we thought it would be a quiet, minor enhancement. The rave reaction floored us, which made us all very happy. We gave it a fine tuning in February of 2009, so it's even better!
  • How embarrassing! It appears pingbacks have gone back to the shop for service. We’ll keep you posted. We didn't know just much you liked pingbacks until it went in for service. It's back and, judging by your irritation when it wasn't available, this is good news. FYI, pingbacks send instant notifications (via screened comments) whenever someone links to one of your entries on LiveJournal. For more info, read this entry in paidmembers or check out the FAQ.

Mixed reviews

  • The search is still on. Some of you have reported getting more comprehensive results for keyword searches using the new Yandex search engine and like the ability to search within content categories (like entries or comments). Others have not been satisfied with the relevancy of search results. Please be patient. We're still tweaking this product.
  • This past December, we wanted to try out a new holiday promotion. Given the crap economy, we decided to offer our Paid/Permanent users a stack of $10 coupons to send to Basic/Plus users for paid account upgrades. We hoped you would like it. And some of you did, but many were disappointed that we didn't offer Give More as well. We want to thank you so much for letting us know. Your input will help us plan better in the future. Just FYI, Paid/Permanent users can continue to send out coupons through January 15th. Coupons can be redeemed through January 31, 2010.
  • We were pretty excited about Your Journal Your Money, which allows Paid/Permanent users to earn extra cash by displaying Google ads to Basic/Plus and logged out users. A number of you tried it. Some of you really like it. Others, not so much. (Just FYI, Paid/Permanent users who do not participate in this program will not view ads on journals. Participants will see ads on their own journal, but won't see them on other journals unless they specifically opt in.) For additional details, visit here.
  • We relaunched, our mobile app. While it offers a nicer UI and enhanced functionality, some of you think we can do better on load times. Like most of us, it's a work in progress. You can customize your mobile settings here. For more info, please read the FAQ.

Missing Inaction

  • We shudder to bring up the neon purple elephant squatting on our heads, but, yes, we didn't give you those a la carte userpics. We've been making radical improvements to our backend in order to support them. But no excuses. We know you want them. We cringe every time you mention them. We're sorry we dropped the ball on this, and we promise to do our best to get them to you in 2010.

Stumbling points

  • Back in early August, we experienced outages related to a series of DDoS attacks. We are proud to report that we were down a total of one hour over the course of a few days. We thank our heroic ops guys for getting us up sooner and more consistently than any of our less fortunate social networking friends. We apologize for leaving you temporarily stranded.
  • A couple of months back, we offered a free, unrestricted vGift, which induced a snowflake cookie avalanche. This resulted in backed up/delayed notifications, which, in turn, led us to reboot systems, rendering scrapbooks unavailable. It took a while to shovel free. Apologies for the inconvenience. We learned a valuable lesson that should keep us calamity-free in the future (fingers crossed while knocking on wood).
  • That darn Best Buy ad. First off, we're sorry about the audio auto-play (we got it turned off as quickly as possible). While it's true that we'll continue to show this type of ad to accounts that normally see them (never to Paid/Permanent accounts), we'll make sure the sound defaults to off moving forward. We promise to do our very best to keep ads to a minimum on LiveJournal, while keeping a roof over Frank's head.

Full steam ahead!

As we plunge headfirst into the next decade, we want to take a moment to look back and thank all of our employees, both past and present, who have worked so hard to create our unique and magical universe. We couldn't have made it this far without you: Your contributions brighten our path everyday. We also want to extend our heartfelt appreciation to each and every one of you. Whether you've been around for ten days or ten years, your humor, intelligence, talent, and creativity are what makes this the most vibrant global community on the Internet (the best place on the Web, in our humble opinion). Here's hoping that 2010 will be the greatest year yet! We thank you for joining us as we embark upon another glorious decade of LiveJournal history!

Tags: 10th anniversary, account settings, best buy, blurb, find friends, holiday promotion, international voice posting, my guests, paid accounts, rich text editor, spam, stats, txtlj, userpics, volunteers

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