(LiveJournal today turned off the ability to create a Basic Account, the limited-feature, no-ads account that anyone was, until today, able to sign up for. Brad Fitzpatrick commented
, speaking as an Advisory Board member, on how he advised against this, but apparently his advice wasn't taken into account.)
A big part of my life has been related to LiveJournal: The people I know best now, spend the most of my time with, and consider my closest friends were met on this site. I met my wife as a result of LiveJournal, and almost every significant long-term friendship I hold at this point is at least tangentially related to LiveJournal.
I'm disappointed in LiveJournal's choice to remove the option to have a "Basic" account with no advertising.
Three years ago, I would have been furious. Now, as a permanent account holder, I'm for the most part not directly affected. (There are some exceptions: that hideous popup-in-window link shit I sometimes bump into when reading others journals bugs the crap out of me though.) In addition, although my life is still largely attached to LiveJournal, it's much less so: my relationships now take place much more in my local community.
I'm sure that people will continue to find new places to build relationships like the ones I built thorugh LiveJournal, but it's disappointing to see that what used to be a viable communication forum without commercialism now forces commercialism down all users throats: either ads or money. Nothing in life is free. Under that kind of situation, I think it may be harder, going forward, to establish meaningful relationships between users. Perhaps this is a bit overly dramatic, but reading about someone's heartbreak, in a friends only entry, and having some ad for who-knows-what staring me in the face, seems to get rid of some of the personal nature that has always made LiveJournal home for me.
I don't see any real reason for me to leave: at this point, I'm reasonably settled in life, and the relationships I'm likely to build going forward are far more likely to be professional ones built via services like LinkedIn than personal ones built via sites like LiveJournal. I would encourage younger users to go out and find someplace new to build their relationships going forward. This doesn't mean Facebook: Facebook has never been about building relationships. Maintaining them, possibly. Capitalizing based on them, absolutely, but not building them. A small, close-knit community is the ideal way to make friends: you can make that anywhere, but it's always easier to be close-knit without the threat of ever-increasing commercialism taking a role in your decision making process. It's just a shame that those communities can't really be built anymore on LiveJournal.
At one point, the LiveJournal social contract talked about never having ads on the website. Those days are long gone, and have been for a while. However, I'm surprised they went this far, and, as I said, somewhat disappointed. I am, however, thankful that LiveJournal has helped me build the relationships I have, and I look forward to continuing to maintain those relationships through LiveJournal (at least in part).