jducoeur: (Default)
Having just shared an EW article on Facebook, it crystallized for me a point about LJ's recent "+1 button" flap.

The thing that bothered me about the whole +1 feature, I am now realizing, is that it was a solution in search of a problem. That is, my sense was that LJ was mostly doing it to keep up with the Joneses, with no thought to what the actual effects on the community would be. It was notable that they never said, "Here is a problem we're trying to address, and this is the way we're planning to deal with it" -- they just said, "Here's a new feature", with no rationale presented at any point aside from the fact that Everybody Else Does it.

And the thing is, I don't actually *like* this feature on FB or G+, because it is too ambiguous. I certainly use it, but I am always bothered by it. FB's "Like" is connotationally wrong in many circumstances: what I usually want to say is, "I agree with this post" -- but there are a lot of posts on horrible subjects, where pressing the "Like" button is just plain squicky. And Google's "+1" is (deliberately, I suspect), semantics-free -- it is never quite clear *what* somebody means when they press it. Sometimes it indicates agreement, sometimes it's a cheap-and-quick way to share the link, sometimes it is simply a way to store this link for future reference.

(Of course, the truth is that both buttons mostly exist for the purposes of giving more information to Facebook and Google, so that they can more accurately profile you, to sell you as an advertising target.)

When I ponder it, I find that I wouldn't actually mind buttons with clearer semantics. A simple "I agree" button would have some downsides (in that it would reduce the impetus to actually comment meaningfully), but at least I would understand its purpose. Frankly, an "I read this" would fulfill the social-back-scratching that many people mean when they say "Like". A configurable mechanism, that let you design your *own* buttons on your blog, and choose from a palette of canned options, might be downright spiffy and interesting. (If more challenging to implement.)

This is leading me to wonder which features from the big social networks I actually *want* in LJ. The one that jumps out to me is "Share". I've wound up doing most of my link-sharing via FB these days, simply because it is so damned *easy*: click the button, type my meta-comments, and it's done. I'd love to have something similar for LJ, but of course LJ can't make sites pick them up, and nowadays they're sufficiently minor that most sites won't. I suspect the right answer would be for someone to implement this as a browser plugin that detects the presence of a Facebook "Like" button and injects the LJ version. (Or possibly just adds a right-click that lets you Share any page via LJ.) Does this already exist?

Anyone have other ideas? LJ's comment system is vastly better than FB or G+'s, and it had the concept of distinct flists long before they picked the idea up. Are there any other features of the other social networks, or variations thereof, that you think would be positive additions to LJ? And for that matter, what features *have* you always wanted to see on LJ?
jducoeur: (Default)
On the plus side, LiveJournal has just revived the [livejournal.com profile] lj_feedback community, so they can actually *tell* the users about changes that they are thinking of, before going ahead and making them.

OTOH, the first post there indicates some worrying blinders. They are considering adding a "+1" button, to keep up with the Joneses. That isn't an obviously crazy idea, but the poll that comes with the post, asking where the +1 button should appear, has the options:
  • Comments only

  • Entries only

  • Comments and entries both
Notice something missing?

I'm getting some sense of technical panic in the LJ team. They're not making consistently bad decisions, IMO, but they do seem to be terribly *rushed*, and making an implicit assumption that Change Is Good. That's often true, but not always, and I do suspect that they need to slow down and accept the possibility that copying FB and G+ may, in some cases, be a bad idea.
Sidebar: since somebody is going to ask, "Why not add a +1 button?", my counter-argument has to do with conversational style. LJ has always forced its users to actually *say* something, which means that replies tend to be slightly more considered and deeper. When you have to comment, not just press +1, that makes you think about this as a conversation rather than a vote, and you are more likely to add something more substantive; that, in turn, promotes the general LJ style, which is far more interactive and thoughtful than Facebook.

Is it a big deal? *Probably* not, but I'm not at all sure the change would be a net positive. Most of the folks who have stuck with LJ have done so precisely because it is *not* Facebook. So changing LJ to be more like FB isn't an obviously good idea. And every change, no matter how small, does have knock-on effects to think about. Overall, this change might be positive and it might be negative, but I don't find that balance to be at all obvious.
Giving credit where it is due, they are at least talking about giving journal owners the choice about whether to show this button. So if nothing else, there is the potential for some really interesting studies about how the presence of such a button *does* affect conversational depth and style. That being the case, I'm not terribly hot under the collar about the whole thing.

Still, I think it would have been appropriate for them to give "Don't add this feature at all" as an option in the poll; as it stands, they've automatically biased their data...
jducoeur: (Default)
So yesterday's conversation led to me checking out the discussion over in [livejournal.com profile] james_nicoll's LJ, which led me to a comment that mentioned "Promo in journals" (which is a bit cryptic), which led me to the description of "Auction promo" (which, sadly, is not).

If I had any respect for the idea of those top-rated journal entries on the homepage before, it's certainly shot now.

Summary: it looks like, over on the Russian side of LJ, you can basically buy your way into higher rankings. It's auction-based, but basically you can buy an entry in the "Popular journals" listing. It seems to only be for Cyrillic users of the service currently, but I won't be terribly surprised to see it roll out to the US user base as well eventually.

On the one hand, yes, they're basically just aping Facebook, which (rather controversially) implemented something like this a while back. And I can't be surprised that they're doing what they can to make money. But it basically implies that the term "popular" means even less than I thought it did...

199?

Jun. 25th, 2013 01:37 pm
jducoeur: (Default)
I confess, I have paid precisely zero attention to the LiveJournal concept of "Social Capital" -- I didn't actually know what it meant until I looked it up just now.

That was prompted by the brand-spanking-new LJ homepage that was just announced, which shows your "ranking" in the social capital metric on it -- and said that I was #199 in the rankings. Which is, I confess, a tad startling (I post erratically enough that I wouldn't have expected to be in the top 1000), so I went and took a dig at the rest of the list. It seems to be real, although I still have no clear sense of what it *means*. But for giggles, here are the other journals I recognize in a quick skim of the top 500:

#4. [livejournal.com profile] seanan_mcguire
#7. [livejournal.com profile] james_nicoll
#9. [livejournal.com profile] girlgeniuscomic
#27. [livejournal.com profile] filkertom
#36. [livejournal.com profile] autopope
#62. [livejournal.com profile] siderea
#95. [livejournal.com profile] ginmar
#223. [livejournal.com profile] lyonesse
#224. [livejournal.com profile] woodwardiocom
#227. [livejournal.com profile] usernamenumber
#282. [livejournal.com profile] ceceliatan
#318. [livejournal.com profile] rigel
#323. [livejournal.com profile] teddywolf
#342. [livejournal.com profile] plumtreeblossom

Really, the most disconcerting part is that I've *met* the majority of those folks, and a few are old friends of mine. And while a part of me has a little ego-boo squee of being relatively high up in a very long (400k) list, mostly I suspect it reflects the gradual loss of ground as folks abandon LJ to Facebook. (Plus, I note that a number of the folks that I would expect to be high up don't show in the ratings at all, presumably because they've turned the feature off in the privacy settings -- [livejournal.com profile] siderea was the only one I specifically searched for who showed up.) So there's a definite "big fish in small pond" sensation to it...
jducoeur: (Default)
Just got around to reading the LJ News Update from last week, which has yet more interesting stuff. (Somewhere along the line, LJ clearly decided to start investing in development again.) From that, I found out about the newish LJ-Like feature, which is more or less LJ's answer to sharing.

So, purely as an experiment in new features, I present what should render as silly sharing buttons, at least the one I care about. Feel free to click on them, if you feel like trying sharing of LJ entries via this otherwise pointless entry.

jducoeur: (Default)
I just deleted a spam comment in my blog, apparently left by -- wait for it -- user [livejournal.com profile] livejournal. I did spend a minute or two confused by that one.

Apparently things are set up so that pingbacks (the notification you get when somebody refers to your post) are sent ostensibly from the main LJ account, rather than from the person who is actually committing the spam. The *content* refers to the spammer, but the header is from the system account. So I can mark the comment as spam, but then it asks me whether to ban [livejournal.com profile] livejournal, not the spammer. Presumably the spammer knows this, and is using it as a way to avoid getting quickly bounced.

Oops.

(Clever bit of spam -- I'm still not sure how he triggered the pingback, since the post doesn't obviously refer to mine. The account appears to contain only the one post, some conspiracy theory about the CIA having killed the Portugese Prime Minister. *Very* odd...)
jducoeur: (Default)
I just added a new person to my flist, and noticed that the add-friend page now has the ability to not just add the person, but to white or blacklist entries based on their tags.

Whoa. That's *huge*. I mean, that is the number-one feature I've been wanting from LJ since I first started here. It's not as good as I'd like (which would let me specify specific tags for specific custom flists), but it's a big step forward.

Of course, it implies that I should try to be more consistent about which tags *I* use, so that people can filter me appropriately: I suspect that rather different sets of folks are interested in the "programming" vs. the "sca" vs. the "politics" tags.

But I'm going to have to go through and give this some real thought. Frankly, there are a fair number of people I haven't been able to follow as regularly as I'd like, simply because of volume. But given the ability to follow a specific subset of their entries, it might be worth revisiting.
jducoeur: (Default)
There I am today, skimming through my friends list as usual. I click on one of the posts that has new comments since I last looked. (I always set up my flist so that I can tell at a glance when there are new comments -- that's an old feature, but is a client-side cheat). And there, in the comments, next to each comment I haven't read yet, is a tiny "New Comment" token.

Whoa.

I mean, this looks minor to most people, but from a usability perspective it is big. It means that LJ is actually tracking when you last read a thread, and which comments came in since then. And *that*, in turn, means that it's a very small step to implement "Show me all of the flist entries *that are actively being discussed*." It allows you to do client-side stuff to de-emphasize the bits I've already read, so that I can quickly focus on the new material. It's basically the poor man's version of a key feature of CommYou, the ability to track where the interesting conversations are happening.

I wonder if they have any clue how important this one is, or what to do with it? (And now I wonder whether DW already has this feature -- I haven't been paying much attention over there...)
jducoeur: (Default)
Folks might want to read the report of the latest LJ release. It has several interesting changes, including two that sound downright useful -- an official mechanism for "sticky posts" that show up permanently at the top of a journal (which a number of people work around today), and a new <lj-spoiler> tag that is apparently just like <lj-cut>, but expands in-line. Which means that I suspect it is usually just plain better than <lj-cut>. Let's try that out: Aren't you disappointed at being spoiled?.

Anyway, there's more in the linked article: it's probably worth a skim if you're a regular LJ poster...
jducoeur: (Default)
There. My previous thread turned into a complex enough discussion to finally break the camel's back.

For many years now, I've been using a highly-customized but antique style for LJ. AFAIK, the base style doesn't even exist any more, and mine has been hand-patched repeatedly to keep it running. Finally, a week or two ago, comment indentation suddenly stopped working, making my comments pages very difficult to read.

So I've finally given up and moved to a modern style. Still slightly tweaked here and there (for instance, I like being able to tell whether a conversation has new comments), but just a little extra CSS on top of a major theme, instead of a big custom blob.

None of which matters to anybody, unless you read comment threads in my journal and don't force your own style on them. That now works properly again. Might get a bit more tweaking (I don't love the pink on the comments page), but it's functioning properly...

[ETA: ... okay, the style had been working for *me* for many years. Apparently it's *never* worked for many other people. I had no idea. It must have been doing something right at the edge of HTML-legal, I guess...]
jducoeur: (Default)
I have to say, Dreamwidth is looking more and more appealing, simply because the folks at DW are working so much harder to produce a good site.

I've finally knuckled under, and just started a full journal import from LJ to DW. Partly that's for backup purposes -- it looks like most of the old LJ backup tools are now dead. But more, it's because DW is actually searchable, and that does sometimes matter to me. (Like right now, while I'm doing the Timeline.)

I'm fond of both sites, but still mainly using LiveJournal. But that's increasingly out of habit -- DW just plain works better, and the differences are starting to really show...
jducoeur: (Default)
I have to say, Dreamwidth is looking more and more appealing, simply because the folks at DW are working so much harder to produce a good site.

I've finally knuckled under, and just started a full journal import from LJ to DW. Partly that's for backup purposes -- it looks like most of the old LJ backup tools are now dead. But more, it's because DW is actually searchable, and that does sometimes matter to me. (Like right now, while I'm doing the Timeline.)

I'm fond of both sites, but still mainly using LiveJournal. But that's increasingly out of habit -- DW just plain works better, and the differences are starting to really show...
jducoeur: (Default)
[Poll #1730537]

ETA: Okay, poll is now done enough, and the spammy comment has been deleted. For future reference the account in question was "nodeshop". Still not quite sure what its game is, but it appears to be fronting a bot of some sort...
jducoeur: (Default)
[Poll #1730537]

ETA: Okay, poll is now done enough, and the spammy comment has been deleted. For future reference the account in question was "nodeshop". Still not quite sure what its game is, but it appears to be fronting a bot of some sort...
jducoeur: (Default)
This week's new feature on LJ is the "vertical" pages -- categorized listings of communities. Being me, my first question was, of course, "So is there an entire page just for the SCA?" The answer turns out to be "not quite" -- under the "everything else" catch-all is a "historical reenactment" subcategory, which is of course utterly dominated by SCA communities. (And, unsurprisingly, specifically dominated by the East. In fact, Carolingia turns out to be the first Barony in the list. Shocking.)

Anyway, the list is there, and I gather that any community owner can request that their community get added to a category. Public SCA communities may well want to list themselves in this directory, which I think will quickly become a mildly useful phone book for SCA-on-LJ...
jducoeur: (Default)
This week's new feature on LJ is the "vertical" pages -- categorized listings of communities. Being me, my first question was, of course, "So is there an entire page just for the SCA?" The answer turns out to be "not quite" -- under the "everything else" catch-all is a "historical reenactment" subcategory, which is of course utterly dominated by SCA communities. (And, unsurprisingly, specifically dominated by the East. In fact, Carolingia turns out to be the first Barony in the list. Shocking.)

Anyway, the list is there, and I gather that any community owner can request that their community get added to a category. Public SCA communities may well want to list themselves in this directory, which I think will quickly become a mildly useful phone book for SCA-on-LJ...
jducoeur: (Default)
There -- I think I *finally* have things set up so that I can read my LJ flist from my Droid. That was way harder than it should have been.

Most of the social networks have dedicated software for the major mobile platforms, or at least excellent sites. The Facebook app for Android is stellar, and ships with the phone. There are a host of decent Twitter clients (I'm currently using Twidroid), and even Buzz has a web version that is tailored specifically for phones.

LJ, OTOH, has a simplistic mobile interface, m.livejournal.com. Used naively, it has a glaring weakness: you can't use friend filters for reading on it. That makes it essentially useless for me, since I *always* read using filters. I've got all kinds of people and feeds on my full flist, including a bunch that I follow rarely if at all. For actual reading, I use one of the filters -- ranging from "Daily Reading" if I'm caught up, or "Critical High-Priority" (which mostly consists of close friends who I particularly care about not missing posts from) if not. If I have *gobs* of time, I'll use one of the optional-reading lists, but that's really pretty rare.

Anyway, after far too much digging around in the LJ FAQ, I finally found the right incantation. It turns out that, if you create a special friend list titled "Mobile View", that defines the friends that will show up in the mobile app. Not ideal from my POV -- it's duplicating data, and I'd rather have access to my standard filters -- but at least LJ is now on an even footing with Facebook and Twitter (both of which I am following *far* more regularly on my phone than I ever did on the desktop)...
jducoeur: (Default)
There -- I think I *finally* have things set up so that I can read my LJ flist from my Droid. That was way harder than it should have been.

Most of the social networks have dedicated software for the major mobile platforms, or at least excellent sites. The Facebook app for Android is stellar, and ships with the phone. There are a host of decent Twitter clients (I'm currently using Twidroid), and even Buzz has a web version that is tailored specifically for phones.

LJ, OTOH, has a simplistic mobile interface, m.livejournal.com. Used naively, it has a glaring weakness: you can't use friend filters for reading on it. That makes it essentially useless for me, since I *always* read using filters. I've got all kinds of people and feeds on my full flist, including a bunch that I follow rarely if at all. For actual reading, I use one of the filters -- ranging from "Daily Reading" if I'm caught up, or "Critical High-Priority" (which mostly consists of close friends who I particularly care about not missing posts from) if not. If I have *gobs* of time, I'll use one of the optional-reading lists, but that's really pretty rare.

Anyway, after far too much digging around in the LJ FAQ, I finally found the right incantation. It turns out that, if you create a special friend list titled "Mobile View", that defines the friends that will show up in the mobile app. Not ideal from my POV -- it's duplicating data, and I'd rather have access to my standard filters -- but at least LJ is now on an even footing with Facebook and Twitter (both of which I am following *far* more regularly on my phone than I ever did on the desktop)...
jducoeur: (Default)
Huh. Just noticed in today's DreamWidth update that they are now allowing "cross-site reading" -- the implication being that you can integrate your LJ friendlist into your DreamWidth one. It's a feature that I *desperately* wanted in CommYou, but concluded was difficult-to-impossible at the time. So now I'm curious how DW is making it work. My suspicion is that there's been an API enhancement while I wasn't looking, and that's very intriguing: if the API now provides a good way to get at your flist, it might make a good Android LJ-reading client more plausible...
jducoeur: (Default)
Huh. Just noticed in today's DreamWidth update that they are now allowing "cross-site reading" -- the implication being that you can integrate your LJ friendlist into your DreamWidth one. It's a feature that I *desperately* wanted in CommYou, but concluded was difficult-to-impossible at the time. So now I'm curious how DW is making it work. My suspicion is that there's been an API enhancement while I wasn't looking, and that's very intriguing: if the API now provides a good way to get at your flist, it might make a good Android LJ-reading client more plausible...

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