February 1st, 2008

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Introducing the New Explore Area

When we first outlined the 100 Day Plan in early December, we told you of our intent to improve content discovery. Today, with the beta release of the new Explore LJ, we are one step closer to that goal. As you'll see when you try it out, the new Explore LJ is designed specifically to help you find the things on LiveJournal that interest you.

Let's be honest: There are times when you've updated your own journal, read all of your friends' posts, visited all your favorite communities, but are still looking for something more. It's not that you don't love the stuff already on your radar, but you want to branch outside of your comfort zone and find content that is not only new, but that actually appeals to you. We are hoping our new explore area will help you do just that. Much like how your morning paper is conveniently organized into sections so that you know exactly what to grab if you want to find out about world news versus your local sports teams, we've created six relevant areas of interest for you to explore: Culture, Entertainment, Life, Music, News & Politics and Technology.

In order to make sure each area has great content, recent public posts are analyzed electronically and then placed into the areas where they best fit, if there is indeed such an area. (Not all entries will necessarily appear in an explore area.) The feed of posts is updated constantly, so you can refresh the page to see new entries as they are posted. In some areas, you will also see featured content that the LiveJournal staff found to be timely, interesting, or well-written. As of today, we have featured content picked by the staff in both Entertainment and News & Politics, with more featured content to come.

Want your content to be featured? We'll let you know in the coming weeks how you can send suggestions for topics and entries you'd like to see highlighted. 

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Opting Out
First of all, let us reassure you that the only entries that will ever appear in the explore areas are public entries. However, you will have a few options if you don't want a post of yours to be included in the explore areas. You can remove individual posts that are currently appearing in an explore area by clicking on the delete button next to that entry. This will not delete your entry from your journal; it will only remove it from appearing in that explore area. If you want all of your public entries to be excluded from the explore areas, you may opt-out by going to Viewing Options and checking the box labeled "Explore Area Exclusion." Journal entries posted as private or friends-only are automatically excluded, but this will also exclude your public entries from the explore area.

Beta Features and Feedback
You can find out more information about the explore area in the FAQ. As we mentioned, it is still in beta and we are working to make improvements to both the relevance of the categories, as well as adding sub-categories that are more specific and unique to LiveJournal users. We are excited to try something new on LiveJournal, and we really want your feedback about what's working, what's not working as well, and what you'd like to see going forward. We will post a poll in a couple of days, after you've had time to play with the new features, so that we can collect all of your comments. Once we've aggregated them, you'll want to stay tuned for more changes and improvements in the New Year.

Speaking of...

It's the Year of the Rat
Chinese New Year begins on February 7th; those born in rat years (like chasethestars and janinedog ) are often born leaders who have practicality and charisma on their side. Whatever year you were born, it is considered good luck to give others a red envelope symbolizing luck and wealth. Pass out our red envelope V-Gift to all of your friends to celebrate what is sure to be an amazing New Year. Plus, we think you'll be happy to hear that we've made some more improvements to the V-Gift Shop. You can now send V-Gifts to more than one user at a time, as well as view the comment you include on the checkout page (thanks henrylyne).  We hope this makes it even easier to brighten a friend's (or many friends at the same time) day. Which animal year were you born in? Let us know in the comments!

From the entire LJ team... Happy Chinese New Year! 新年快乐!