Instead, we get "30 day trials". Whee. How generous... especially to new people who don't know any paid users on LJ. They'll just begin to get a taste for the site, only to have their accounts locked up on them. Just think of all the new users you will meet... after all, we're soon going to have more people begging paid users for invite codes than ever before!
Point of fact -- LiveJournal started as a free service, and started making money *AS A FREE SERVICE*, because it could reliably count on a given percentage of their users contributing to the site in exchange for more features. After all, the paid features were worth paying for.
There are, of course, other LiveJournal Server sites out there that are free -- the same sites which LiveJournal once welcomed as partners, but who are now referred to as "clones", with the implication made that they have lower moral standards and are of poorer quality. There is also an implication that LiveJournal.com is willing to use their knowledge and control of the codebase to press their advantage. As an example of this, LJ is no longer open sourcing all of its styles, with the excuse that they paid money to develop it. (Actually, you probably paid for it. However, when you gave your money to LJ, you probably assumed that whatever development came out of your donation would be open sourced.) Sure sounds like the Clone Wars to me.
LiveJournal should be developing an interconnected network of sites and a cooperative, open source development effort. Instead, they're building a castle with a drawbridge and a moat. (Watch out for the piranha!)
But at least we can all feel proud knowing that the money people paid for their LiveJournal accounts (nobody calls them contributions or donations anymore...) will pay for more advertising in movie theatres. Thanks LiveJournal!
Of course, what nobody is saying is that successful websites don't need to pay for commercial advertising. Google doesn't advertise, and they're the world's largest search engine. Blogger doesn't advertise, and they're the world's largest weblog service... and they're entirely free. Of course, the same could be said about most weblog services.
Some may argue that I'm being an idealist, but considering that LJ was once a member-run, open source, community-driven service that used to try to keep its promises, I consider it not idealism, but legitimate frustration over what LiveJournal could have become. Either way, I would still prefer to be an idealist than a mediocritist. Congratulations, LJ. You're just another big dotcom, if that is what you really want to be.
I'm not giving up on LiveJournal, however... my loyalty has always been to "LiveJournal - the members" and "LiveJournal - the open source project".. not to "LiveJournal - the dotcom", which, frankly, is in no danger of going out of business. I don't think you should give up on LiveJournal's potential either. I plan to oppose this in a simple, straightforward manner, but I need your help to make it happen.
Beginning on January 1st and continuing until LiveJournal changes its policy, I intend to form a coalition of users who will give away their invite codes freely to anyone who links them to a politely written comment made to a LiveJournal staffmember, or who CC:'s them on an email asking for LiveJournal to politely reconsider the site's invite code policy. Invite codes will not be given away to anyone who acts in an abusive or insulting manner -- only to those who make reasonable, thoughtful, and kind requests that LiveJournal should honor their previous commitments and remove invite codes permanently.
**We won! LiveJournal has backed down in the face of widescale protests and is getting rid of invite codes for good! See my statement on this for more details!**
Please link others to this post if you agree with it, and leave me a comment if you would be willing to donate some of your invite codes for this protest. It is my hope that LiveJournal's staff will reconsider this matter before such a protest is necessary. They responded quickly (albeit partially) to my initial request for them to remove invite codes. Now it's time for LiveJournal to complete the task.