Posted in full at: http://ift.tt/1iFBsJK at November 05, 2015 at 08:00AM
All this leaving tumblr talk is making me hark back to the LJ days of old, man oh man.
some of the older fans here, who remember when we had to blog uphill both ways in the snow, will recall that The Great LJ Fan Migration didn’t just happen within a few months.
It took years for fandom to fully migrate and build a presence on the alternative site DreamWidth, and in between those years LJ made several fuck-ups that lead to its own demise, turning it into the fandom* ghost town it is now.
- LJ is sold to SixApart in 2005. Previously ad-free for nine years and run by one guy named Brad Fitzpatrick, 6A monetised it, introduced ‘sponsored’ accounts in addition to basic, paid and permanent, which gives you ads in exchange for more features. It was annoying, but LJ had grown into a behemoth by then so it was understandable.
- 6A then later sells to Russian company SUP in ‘07.
- May 2007 was the first strikethrough. Fandom banded together, collectively shat on LJ staff for deleting an HP porn community pornish-pixies, along with several others, for alleged paedophilia and ‘violation of the TOS’. Several personal blogs and communities also got deleted and the uproar was huge. Deleted journals
looked like this, hence the name. There is outrage, there is uproar, there are news articles, a BNF attempts and fails to burn a t-shirt.
- People were already talking alternatives by then - InsaneJournal, DeadJournal and JournalFen being the most popular ones, but each had their own faults. JF was invite-only and 18+, DJ was extremely buggy and tended to break down and IJ was…ass-ugly (and ableist). Communities were scattered, there was some general shifting around and there was the beginnings of Scribblit, an fandom-oriented blog community, which didn’t really go anywhere. LJ had been active for 9 years, fandom had been present for around the same time, and people were reluctant to move. At the end of the day, not much changed.
- But here’s the kicker of the whole shebang: SUP was planning to take LJ public. Strikethrough/boldthrough was them cleaning up the mess.
- In August, three months later, it happened again only this time the deleted journals were bolded. There was more uproar, only this time people started talking seriously about moving.
- Things are quiet for a year or two, but most people have lost trust in LJ staff. In this time: LJ disables basic accounts, changed the layout of the profile page, disables comment headlines which made kinkmemes a special sort of hell to navigate.
- DreamWidth started its roots around early ‘09 with invite-only accounts for beta testing, run by previous staff split from the LJ board. This was the days before kickstarter and crowdsourcing, so it was kind of a big deal.
- It wouldn’t be until 2011 that the platform would complete beta testing and open to membership. Biggest early comms are kink_bingo and scans_daily.
- AO3 also start gaining users around this time.
- The move to DW is gradual and took years. People dropped off the radar, lost contact, some people stayed - it wouldn’t be until late 2013 that DW and LJ would be on equal standing fandom-wise.
- Parallel to this, Tumblr was getting popular and some people skipped DW altogether and just moved to Tumblr.
LJ is by now a ghost town, but it’s going to take years before any significant change in userbase will take effect and make a dent in Yahoo/Tumblr’s pocket.
All has happened before and will happen again etc etc, because when fandom makes a blogging platform grow in size, they will inevitably have to sell out and this eventually fucks its userbase over. Tumblr has an estimated userbase of 30-50 million, which is at least three times the size of LJ when it was bought.
I’m glad people are so optimistic about all this, but I also doubt that much is going to come from it.
I’m sure that people older than me, who moved from usenet to yahoo mailing lists and Geocities, have a lot more experience in this.
(*LJ is still the most popular blogging platform in Russia, let’s not forget. Just because fandom doesn’t reside there any more doesn’t mean it’s completely irrelevant.)
I think a blogging platforms popularity is its ultimate downfall. More users = more bandwith, which means it costs more to operate. If you want to keep things running, you HAVE to monetize it. There’s no ifs ands or buts about it. You can’t expect something that’s all volunteer to work perfectly all the time, and really, you shouldn’t. I actually don’t think xKit guy should go to so much trouble to “fix” Tumblr. He doesn’t work for Yahoo, he’s not getting paid for it but Yahoo ultimately benefits from his hard work.
Fandom has had a long, sad history of not wanting to pay for things, and its very telling that the greatest rage swells up when platforms go after illegal (scanlations, fansubs and so on), and questionable content (all the porn) first. That’s ultimately what gets fandom to move: the lack of easy access to free stuff.
Tl;dr: blogging platform gets popular; becomes too costly to operate; clears out all of the illegal/questionable stuff; monetizes somehow (ads, usually); fandom gets pissed and leaves. Lather, rinse, repeat.
Tags:fandom history, fandom meta, livejournal, strikethrough, tumblr, the way of all flesh', DWCrosspostTumblr post (this is likely a reblog, and may have more pictures over there)