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LJ Social Hacking Meme

LiveJournal is under the assumption that the bulk of the userbase are 18 year old girls. Thus there is the addition of features aimed at 18 year old girls.

Things like nudge, and advertisements and the like.

Well. The statistics say that the bulk of the users are 18 years old because the older users don't list ages. After all, the older people get, the less likely they are to divulge their age. There is a big difference between 18 and 16 and 21. Between 35 and 39? Not nearly so much.

So:Help correct the demographics. Go to http://www.livejournal.com/manage/profile/ and specify your full DOB, including your year of birth. If you don't want it displayed on your profile for everyone to see, uncheck the box that says " Show your birthday to other users".

Thats it. Three ticky boxes and LJ realizes that another adult is on board.

PS: Remember how many of you have multiple journals? Might be time to update them all. And pass this on. It's important.

And yes, I know there are people who aren't giving out their ages because they're concerned that LJ might be doing horrible things with the data. If you're concerned about this, significantly older than 18, and think that "nudge" is a horrible thing? Then know that they are doing horrible things based on the data, but probably not the kind you were thinking about.

In Support volunteer circles, there's an analogy that comes up every time people start seriously complaining about changes that are essentially cosmetic: "Does it really matter what color they paint the bikeshed?" The answer is generally along the lines of, "It doesn't really -- it can always be repainted so long as it's not rotten or smashed up or something."

LJ, of course, is the bikeshed.

The structure of LJ is the nitty-gritty details of how it works and runs and stores stuff and doesn't smash when ten thousand people all post that quiz telling them what brand of kitty litter they are. (Most sites, if they get "slashdotted", or linked to so that a whole big group of people come to them at once, go down badly, from lack of bandwidth and lack of machinepower to handle the influx. LJ barely gets a blip when slashdotted, and mentioning /. in a news post could conceivably slashdot /. itself.)

The structure is the power staying on at the host. :-P

The structure is the social contract between LJ and the users saying that the users will not try to destroy LJ and everything it stands for, and LJ will keep the users' content safe and provide as positive an environment as you can get when you have a million typing monkeys using the service. (Propz to the Abuse team.)

The paint on the bikeshed is all the cosmetic details of the site, and some of the extra bells and whistles. Sometimes there are some very tacky and wrong things done to people's journals, never mind the main site pages. That Christmas banner? Paint. The blue cprod box giving features of the site? Paint. Excolibur vs. Dystopia? The most painty paint you can get (short of the Random Flashing Fangirl Layout from Hell). Nudge? Those tacky out-of-key windchimes that someone hung up because they thought they were cool, and everyone wants to take them down but no one quite knows where the ladder is.

There are really mixed feelings about ads. The pro-ad or neutral camps tend to regard them as paint. The anti-ad camp views it as a threat to the structural social contract of the site, or a sign that the social contract was never as strong as we thought it was.

At the end of the day, though, the stuff that keeps us on LJ instead of taking our bike and finding another shed -- that's the structure. That's the stuff we want to keep. And so far, LJ's been doing pretty well. There are a lot of users picking this site and sticking around. The site does have a reputation for collecting overdramatic teenage girls, but really, there are a lot more interesting people on this site than that. It's a good place and I like it.

...and, anybody got a spare bucket of paint?
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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