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Unpopular Fannish Opinion: LJLogin

LJ just had a release, and somewhere in the stuff that went on, some changes were made to LJ's login cookie such that LJLogin, the amazingly popular tool for, well, logging you in to LJ, broke.

(For those who are saying "Hey wait, why not log in using username and password like the rest of us?", you are probably not the target audience for LJLogin. The target audience is from what I gather mainly roleplayers, who can easily have dozens of accounts, any five or ten of which may be interacting with each other in comments, choosing a different icon for each comment, in near-real-time-IM speed. It's amazing what people can use LJ to do. The people who use LJ for this often have not just one but multiple paid accounts, because number of icons is very relevant to roleplayers.)

Deep in the comments of the most recent lj_releases entry, markf explained: "This is actually unrelated to the release, but we did make a minor change today in the way we handle cookies which has affected this plugin, and it will require the developer of the plugin to make some changes to it before it will work again. The changes made will make life significantly more difficult for automated spammers, and is something we intend to leave in place."

That, there, full stop, is why I am not going to start yelling about this. LJ has a spam problem. LJ has a major spam problem and I am pathetically grateful every time I see a report that there are changes that look to be effective in the fight. One of the major reasons I now prefer comments on Dreamwidth, and lock many entries on LiveJournal that are public elsewhere, is because of the spammers hiding in the cushions at LJ. Even knowing that this may cost LJ paying members, if this will address some of the spamming, I cannot fault them for rolling it out as fast as they could. (I do not know any of the other considerations, but faster is better when it comes to dealing with spammers.)

There is a completely hypothetical requirements-gathering session for an LJ-side login switcher. (I already checked and the previous (2010 and 2007) suggestions discussions on the topic were not helpful enough to be worth the trouble of linking there in my opinion.)

The LJLogin (Firefox) dev, slarti sounds plenty mad on the grounds that it sounds like LJ knew this would break LJLogin before it was rolled out but did not give notice, did not include the change in a numbered release so there was no mention in the release notes, made the change at the same time as a numbered release which made it less obvious to the external observer what was going on, and has not made the actual nature of the changes easy to track down. The dev of LJ Juggler (Chrome) also joins the thread.

I am sure it could have been handled more gracefully, but I'm still willing to extend LJ the benefit of the doubt and hope that the next time something comes up that will affect legitimate users using mostly a single third-party tool, that they take the time to notify the maintainer of that tool as a courtesy. (It is much easier for me to feel this placid generosity of spirit now that, in the words of james_nicoll "I do not personally have a squid in this fight".)

I hope things improve for everyone, except for the spammers. Those can go crawl off a cliff or something. I don't like spam.

Crossposted. comment count unavailable comments. Sign in with OpenID (use your LJ URL), confirm an email address, and leave a comment.
Gone away, gone ahead,
Echoes roll unanswered.
Empty, open, dusty, dead.
Why have all the Weyrfolk fled?

Where have dragons gone together
Leaving weyrs to wind and weather,
Setting herdbeasts free of tether;
Gone, our safeguards, gone, but whither?

Have they flown to some new weyr
Where cruel Threads some others fear?
Are they worlds away from here?
Why, oh why the empty weyr?

-- "The Question Song", Anne McCaffrey
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