All this leaving tumblr talk is making me hark back to the LJ days of old, man oh man.

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Title: All this leaving tumblr talk is making me hark back to the LJ days of old, man oh man.
Creator: stardust-rain
Date(s): November 2, 2014
Medium: Tumblr post
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All this leaving tumblr talk is making me hark back to the LJ days of old, man oh man. is a 2014 Tumblr post by stardust_rain.

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All this leaving tumblr talk is making me hark back to the LJ days of old, man oh man.

some of the older fans here, who remember when we had to blog uphill both ways in the snow, will recall that The Great LJ Fan Migration didn’t just happen within a few months.

It took years for fandom to fully migrate and build a presence on the alternative site DreamWidth, and in between those years LJ made several fuck-ups that lead to its own demise, turning it into the fandom* ghost town it is now.

Brief history:

  • LJ is sold to SixApart in 2005. Previously ad-free for nine years and run by one guy named Brad Fitzpatrick, 6A monetised it, introduced ‘sponsored’ accounts in addition to basic, paid and permanent, which gives you ads in exchange for more features. It was annoying, but LJ had grown into a behemoth by then so it was understandable.
  • 6A then later sells to Russian company SUP in ‘07.
  • May 2007 was the first strikethrough. Fandom banded together, collectively shat on LJ staff for deleting an HP porn community pornish-pixies, along with several others, for alleged paedophilia and ‘violation of the TOS’. Several personal blogs and communities also got deleted and the uproar was huge. Deleted journals looked like this, hence the name. There is outrage, there is uproar, there are news articles, a BNF attempts and fails to burn a t-shirt.
  • People were already talking alternatives by then - InsaneJournal, DeadJournal and JournalFen being the most popular ones, but each had their own faults. JF was invite-only and 18+, DJ was extremely buggy and tended to break down and IJ was…ass-ugly (and ableist). Communities were scattered, there was some general shifting around and there was the beginnings of Scribblit, an fandom-oriented blog community, which didn’t really go anywhere. LJ had been active for 9 years, fandom had been present for around the same time, and people were reluctant to move. At the end of the day, not much changed.
  • But here’s the kicker of the whole shebang: SUP was planning to take LJ public. Strikethrough/boldthrough was them cleaning up the mess.
  • In August, three months later, it happened again only this time the deleted journals were bolded. There was more uproar, only this time people started talking seriously about moving.
  • Things are quiet for a year or two, but most people have lost trust in LJ staff. In this time: LJ disables basic accounts, changed the layout of the profile page, disables comment headlines which made kinkmemes a special sort of hell to navigate.
  • DreamWidth started its roots around early ‘09 with invite-only accounts for beta testing, run by previous staff split from the LJ board. This was the days before kickstarter and crowdsourcing, so it was kind of a big deal.
  • It wouldn’t be until 2011 that the platform would complete beta testing and open to membership. Biggest early comms are kink_bingo and scans_daily.
  • AO3 also start gaining users around this time.
  • The move to DW is gradual and took years. People dropped off the radar, lost contact, some people stayed - it wouldn’t be until late 2013 that DW and LJ would be on equal standing fandom-wise.
  • Parallel to this, Tumblr was getting popular and some people skipped DW altogether and just moved to Tumblr.

LJ is by now a ghost town, but it’s going to take years before any significant change in userbase will take effect and make a dent in Yahoo/Tumblr’s pocket.

All has happened before and will happen again etc etc, because when fandom makes a blogging platform grow in size, they will inevitably have to sell out and this eventually fucks its userbase over. Tumblr has an estimated userbase of 30-50 million, which is at least three times the size of LJ when it was bought.

I’m glad people are so optimistic about all this, but I also doubt that much is going to come from it.

I’m sure that people older than me, who moved from usenet to yahoo mailing lists and Geocities, have a lot more experience in this.

(*LJ is still the most popular blogging platform in Russia, let’s not forget. Just because fandom doesn’t reside there any more doesn’t mean it’s completely irrelevant.)

#the great fandom migration #fuck you staff #fandom history #livejournal #tumblr update #1k text

Comments

[sainatsukino]:
I’m glad I wasn’t around yet when Geocities went down. Apparently that was quite a thing. I’d like also to mention DA and FF.net, which also had their fair share of migrations [1]
[toujoursher]:
This was actually my first thought when talk of strikes and petitions started coming up, and despite my distaste for the new direction Tumblr has chosen to go in, I can’t see fighting back making much of a difference at this point. (I will, however, fully admit that my past experiences with LJ have made me pretty cynical about this sort of thing.)

The thing is, while Tumblr has a huge fandom presence, Tumblr is beyond huge in general, and only a portion of its users could be labelled as being here for “fandom.” With LJ, fandom actually had some little influence, being such a dominant presence there for so long. With Tumblr, it’s quite a different picture, and I get the impression with their emphasis on video that Yahoo really doesn’t much care whether fandom fucks off.

Like the first push back against LJ, though, I feel like we’re looking at a lack of viable alternative. I love Dreamwidth, it’s an amazing improvement over LJ, and is particularly wonderful for roleplaying, but in terms of blogging and general fandom interaction, it’s a very different beast to Tumblr. There’s Ello, which is sort of like Twitter and Tumblr had a hipster baby, but I haven’t seen much there that’s impressed me or made me want to actually use my account.

So I suppose the question is, if people really are serious about leaving Tumblr, where would they go? I respect the desire to bail, particularly when it’s become clear that the content you contribute isn’t valued by the people running things, but does anyone know of reasonable alternatives? [2]
[actuallycallie]:
Exactly. And I guess I kind of have migration fatigue; I’ve been around long enough that I’m just weary of this kind of thing happening over and over. Yeah, this sucks, but until the day that video is the only post option, I don’t see myself migrating anywhere because what’s the point, only to leave yet again when that site does something stupid? :/ [3]
[butterflysleep]:
I’m glad to know that there are other people here who have been active in fandoms during the heyday of LJ.

It’s funny, when I joined Tumblr in 2009 I didn’t see it as a viable alternative to LJ. I was still hanging around LJ at that time, but it was also during that time that my fandom interaction was very limited. People were migrating left and right, and when a friend told me to join Tumblr I did so just because I was curious to see how different it was. At that time it felt like just a run-of-the-mill social media platform - definitely not in the same “heavy fandom” level as LJ was.

My point is, sometimes the viable alternative isn’t what we expect it to be. Who knows how fandom will share its content 5 years from now. We’ve gone a long way since Usenet newsgroups and GeoCities fanpages.[4]
[missivesfromghosts]:
Is there a reason why fandom can’t migrate back to Dreamwidth? Other than younger fanbase with different blogging styles and expectations? I actually think a longer form platform like DW or LJ before it would help cut down on some of the toxicity of fandom these days. [5]
[ark-shifter]:
I feel p strongly that the option to reblog quickly is a nontrivial difference. Even this conversation we’re having right now - it would be very different if we had to host it solely on a single person’s blog. We might not be having it, because who’s the OP on this, @stardust-rain? I didn’t follow them before this post, and I suspect nor you. But say you ask this question in a new post, inspired by something you read on your friendslist from @actuallycallie, who posted inspired by something they read from @toujoursher, and so on and so forth… and I reply to your post. In that case, only the people who follow you will see our conversation, and then only if they bother to open up your post. This scenario relies on a significantly greater effort from each person in this chain, to make a new post on their own blog instead of just replying to the person above them. My recollection of LJ was that it was much more of an echo chamber than Tumblr, because I rarely saw content from people I hadn’t personally followed. [6]
[flikky]:
Ditto above.

Fandom has always had a toxic side – you just have to go back in the Fandom Wank archives to see that – just like life does. It’s just that Tumblr gives it a different format and fandom has been on the internet long enough to have learned from some past mistakes.

Most of us know how to spot a pseuicide or a sockpuppet, we know how to spot it when someone’s trying to use fandom to scam money.

That didn’t happen because of Tumblr, that happened because all of those things were rampant back in the days of LiveJournal. Fanfic authors creating sockpuppets to ramp up the popularity of their own fics and/or tearing down other authors; BNF’s deciding their fans don’t appreciate them enough and fabricating intricate tragedies to garner more sympathy; people raising money to hold a onvention and then disappearing with it. There were weeks when Fandom Wank was updating every day with this kind of shit.

And it’s not that people don’t try it anymore – of course they do – it’s just that we’re all better at being able to recognize it. Because we already went through it.

Implying that Tumblr is the cause of toxicity in fandom is the most ridiculous argument against the site that I see over and over and over. Tumblr doesn’t create a toxic environment anymore than Facebook creates a bigoted environment.

Those things were already there and would still be there regardless of if the sites never existed – or even if the internet never existed.

There are toxic people in the world, there are bigoted people in the world. And that’s on them, not the sites they happen to use to spread their shitty opinions. [7]
[velociraptorsss]:
It’s going to be interesting to see what happens because as of right now, there’s not even a place for tumblr as a whole to move to. There’s never been like a huge mass migration; it’s seemed like it a few times but in reality, if you actually look at it, it’s almost always been more of a gradual move that started happening in bigger chunks, but never all at once. And it’s never to something that’s exactly like the thing fandom is leaving either - it’s why fandom didn’t end up on DW (and before that on other mailing lists or forums before the move to LJ from mailing lists and forums) and probably won’t end up on soup - when fandom jumps ship, it’s usually because everyone has found a new way to do things that they like better than the old way, not slightly better/worse versions of the way they’re already doing it. Everything that’s happening with tumblr - changing features/things being taken away that are necessary for fandom use, the addition of ads and other monetization things, people getting tired of just how fandom runs here etc etc - happened before, and will happen again. And it will take years and years, plus other fandom hubs also getting popular, before we see anything like the move from LJ to tumblr/DW. And I suspect that the move won’t be back to DW, since fandom’s already “left” there, and will be to something that’s totally different from both LJ and tumblr - we just haven’t seen what it is yet. [8]
[lookninjas]:
It’s also worth remembering that a lot of people clung to lj until a string of hacks (what was that, 2011-12?) rendered the site inaccessible for days at a stretch. I know I didn’t move over until then, and a lot of the people I followed were at least cross-posting. But once the outages started, the conversation moved to websites we could actually get to. Were it not for that, there might still be more of a fannish presence there. [9]
[spartytoon]:
I think a blogging platforms popularity is its ultimate downfall. More users = more bandwith, which means it costs more to operate. If you want to keep things running, you HAVE to monetize it. There’s no ifs ands or buts about it. You can’t expect something that’s all volunteer to work perfectly all the time, and really, you shouldn’t. I actually don’t think xKit guy should go to so much trouble to “fix” Tumblr. He doesn’t work for Yahoo, he’s not getting paid for it but Yahoo ultimately benefits from his hard work.

Fandom has had a long, sad history of not wanting to pay for things, and its very telling that the greatest rage swells up when platforms go after illegal (scanlations, fansubs and so on), and questionable content (all the porn) first. That’s ultimately what gets fandom to move: the lack of easy access to free stuff.

Tl;dr: blogging platform gets popular; becomes too costly to operate; clears out all of the illegal/questionable stuff; monetizes somehow (ads, usually); fandom gets pissed and leaves. Lather, rinse, repeat.[10]
[helgasbattleax]:
So when are a handful of us getting together on the coboat to build the next alternative? I think one of the keys would be to find non-advertising revenue so that it will be monetized right from the beginning and therefore not as likely to get sold to some mega corp who just wants to show us ads. [11]
[doctorscienceknowsfandom]:
Correction, from one of the Fandom Old Ones:

At the end of the day, not much changed.

Not true! Strikethrough was the genesis of both Dreamwidth and the OTW. These were separate projects, but had the same goal: fandom platforms not supported by ads, where we would be the customers, not the product.

Because the organizers of the two projects knew what they were doing, they each spent a year or more laying legal, organizational, and coding foundations. This has proved crucial for their long-term success, IMHO.

I think it’s an *excellent* time for fans to seriously discuss creating SNOO, the Social Network of Our Own. It could be a LLC, like Dreamwidth, or a non-profit, like OTW. Either way, it needs an organization and a plan – and someone (better yet, a group of someones) who, unlike me, knows about project planning, management, and organizing. [12]
[ajaegerpilot]:
Why did people ‘strike’ over a website getting rid of pedophilia and pedophiles? [13]
[butterflyspit]:
I love getting bitchslapped by nostalgia. Oh geocities… i remember you like it was yesterday[14]
[devilishkurumi]:
hey remember though: just like now, it was people on the site who were tired of the site treating them like shit that decided to make the move, and they’re the ones who helped get dreamwidth going (and it’s still going today!). so even if it might take a long time (which i’m not sure it will, given how long we’ve ALREADY been dealing with tumblr), don’t give up because of that! we will find our new land, it just takes a little bit of time and a leap of faith [15]
[adrivenleaf]:
ah, memories. the trans internet has never recovered from the loss of LJ, as far as i can tell. everyone scattered between facebook (for the types who do that sort of thing), reddit (for the types who are into that), and tumblr (for the types who are actual children). [16]
[brolinarlin]:
i feel so fucking OLD I WAS THERE WHEN THIS HAPPENED i distinctly remember all the ruckus and all the uproars. the whole fucking lot of fandoms migrate like fucking salmons only theyre scattered all over the place. we didnt know a tumblr back then we were SO worried hearing the hoax about tumblr containing viruses that we didnt even dare step foot in this place but even then, the amount of deleted blogs were so severe we braved ourselves and now here we are. all this updates are giving me terrifying flashbacks. [17]
[secondcoolest]:
Oh my god I forgot about the attempt to burn a shirt. What beautiful fuckery that was. [18]
[pcktfox]:
Oh my god I forgot about the attempt to burn a shirt. What beautiful fuckery that was.

Oh Jesus, I just had the biggest attack of nostalgia. The shirt-burning. The term “BNF” (when was the last time anybody saw that?). Strikethrough. FandomWank.

Kids these days don’t know. They don’t know, man. [19]
[spooopygames]:
I literally thought it happened because of all the DDOS attacks, I had no idea it was because of all that o__o It really sucked, though. I still haven’t fully made the emotional move to DW, even though I don’t use my LJ anymore. I think I just ended up on here instead. [20]
[hausoftrinity]:

I cant believe i lived through this

I spent a LOT of time from about the time I was twenty to about 2 years ago on LJ. I made many friends there, a couple of whom became my very best friends, I wouldn’t change that time in the past for the world, but man…I do not miss LJ. [21]
[wickedwitchshaming]:
Let’s not even mention the roleplaying communities that dropped LJ en masse to move to Dreamwidth and there were like WARS fought on the anon comms. Would this RP be moving? Was this one staying?

Games had votes to move or not that made or broke the RPs. Games fell overnight. Loyalties were split. People dropped from the games that didn’t get the results they wanted– some games nearly halved in size from the people furious that their game was moving and refusing to go with it.

It was beautiful and horrifying. Like it was a legitimately tense time of all the games and people in the games looking at each other nervously wondering if their game would be closing down for good, if it would survive the move. Friendships were made and broken over if you were in favor of moving to Dreamwidth or not. It was crazy. [22]
[fencer-x]:
When strikethrough started happening and the major cosmetic changes like no comment headers and the /feed URL and whatnot, I migrated everything over to DW, but I suppose at the time there was nothing really there to keep me interested. None of my comms had moved there, none of my friends had (or those who had were still crossposting), so it was a dead space with nothing for me to really put down roots in. I started a tumblr to follow a user who posted a lot of really nice No.6 fanart and gifs, so that would’ve been 2011. I’ve tried a few alternatives–I hate twitter’s limitations (and their photos don’t look nice), medium has no one around beyond artsy fartsy types, and pillowfort doesn’t exist yet and I fear may be biting off more than it can chew by trying to please too many people (for a while, it looked like RPers were going to take over their whole project…). [23]
[21st-century-flapper]:
As one of those older people, I can remember the shift from yahoo mailing lists and fan websites to LJ and yes, it was very gradually. The mailing lists just got quieter and quieter until one day, they went completely silent. The same happened with LJ fandom, although it’s not completely silent - there is still some activity.

And let me tell you another thing: I sometimes miss the yahoo mailing lists. Why? Because it was a very friendly environment. You knew that the people who had signed up were also fans of whatever show/char/pairing the list was for. You didn’t really get that much anon hate because making troll accounts was a bit of a hassle. You didn’t get people in your group who were just there to shit on it. Basically, it was a FAN space.

I also learned something else there that people here seem to not have learned or realized. See, I was on a mailing list for fans of a pairing that, in current lingo, would be classified as extremely problematic and garner accusations of apologism. And guess what, everyone on that list was aware of it. We even discussed those aspects. Alongside writing fic and discussing shippy moments. Because tumblr isn’t as communication and discussion friendly, these things don’t happen out in the open, but I’m pretty sure they happen in the background. So maybe think on that next time you want to go into a ship tag and tell people how icky and problematic they are being. [24]
[sucymemebabaran]:
idk, it’s hard to draw a parallel between the removal of content to appeal to advertisers and tumblr’s neutering of core site features for no discernable reason?

the ads, sponsored posts, etc. I can understand and live with but what about shit like removing tag tracking??

tumblr’s problem isn’t that it’s selling out, it’s that they keep making absurd design choices that serve no purpose other than making the website more difficult to use. like swapping the post/close buttons, what the fuck [25]
[yell]:
It’s interesting to me that this writeup only addresses the loss of comment headers as a quick little (almost foot-)note. I was on LJ when the great migration of RP to DW happened, and the loss of comment headers was really the straw that broke the camel’s back.

The layout update that got rid of subject lines was a complete overhaul of LJ’s appearance–and it sucked. Accessibility for anyone with vision problems went way, way down (I personally had a low-vision friend who couldn’t read LJ any more after the update and had to switch chiefly to using screenreaders), and of course there were the issues of subject lines being gone.

Subject lines weren’t only used in kinkmemes. They were used in RP to differentiate the medium by which a character was speaking (voice, text, video) or to denote “locks” that, in-game, prevented other characters from seeing what was being said. Trigger warnings, used in RP, fic communities, kinkmemes, and in survivor support communities, are now reduced to a single line of bold text at the top of a comment (and that’s if it was a comment made before the layout change!).

When the uproar began (and ohhh, was there an uproar! [Mind you, that’s just where fandom found out about the subject lines being lost. There were comments all over the place and on multiple news and dev posts urging them not to go through with this.]), the person responsible for the change, igrick, pointedly refused to take any criticism at all. He pulled stats out of his ass saying 99% of LJ users didn’t use subject lines (then when someone wanted a source he responded with “I just gave you the statistic!”), accused English commenters on his blog of being spammers, and was a general all-around asshat about the entire deal. The seal on the whole deal was this exchange on Twitter, capped and translated by bilingual LJ users:

igrick: I’m receiving insults from Americans via PM. Excellent opportunity to build up my collection of English profanity.
veselova102: @igrick For what reason are they doing this?
igrick: @veselova102 They don’t like that we’ve removed the comments subject.
veselova102: @igrick they’ll get used to it :)
igrick: @veselova102 I’ve no doubts ;)

As it came out that igrick was the head of LJ Russia, Ilya Dronov, LJ’s fandom community was incensed to the point of demanding change. Now the talks of moving websites caught wind; now enough people were upset to do something about it. While Dreamwidth had existed before, we’d been complacent enough to be annoyed at LJ but stay. Now that it was being made perfectly clear that certain members of SUP (the company that owned LJ at the time) didn’t give a rat’s ass about whether we were happy or not, people were willing to go through the hassle of moving.

And Dreamwidth saw its opportunity and stepped up to bat. Starting on December 16, 2011, they opened up account creation so that it would no longer require an invite code (December 12 was when igrick first posted about the loss of subject lines…). They’d been working on a way to import one’s LJ contents onto a new DW journal, and worked with the RPers to get everyone moved across. Originally communities couldn’t be imported, meaning that games were worried about losing their main comms–by December 29, DW had community imports active. One of the biggest games at that time, Camp Fuck U Die, had so much content that needed to be imported that it took nearly two full days.

On December 21, 2011 (one day after the new comment pages with no subject lines went live), Dreamwith saw 21,903 new accounts created.

My big problem with this above recap of the move from LJ to DW is that it makes it sound like the change was extremely gradual over a span of several years. Instead, fandom began moving at the very end of 2011 and in less than two years (after all, the original post says late 2013) was standing on equal footing with LJ fandom.

Now, that doesn’t mean that tumblr fandom will find an alternative, snap their fingers, and everybody will transfer over immediately.

But word on tumblr spreads like wildfire, a hell of a lot faster than word on LJ spread. It’s entirely possible that the migration from tumblr happens in 2016. I wouldn’t be that surprised.

(And it’s worth noting that LJ now has subject lines back as part of its default layout. Too bad all the fandom folks were already gone.) [26]
[apolloandellipses]:
Just so everyone is aware: blogs have already started to get deleted. Here, on tumblr.

Bloggers who posted lots of dead/decaying photographs and posts, heavily tagged for triggers, got reported. Enough to have their blogs removed. The kicker? They got reported because tumblr changed the search function, destroying the accessibility of the site for tons of people. These posts need to be heavily censored in order to stay out of range of the “squirrel” searches- where they aren’t wanted.

These are the same people who refused to remove actual threats to community spaces (KKK blogs, etc) and removing specific tags from mobile because of “obscenity” (LGBT tags). Now that they’ve ruined the functionality of their own website, there’s really no saying how many people with NSFW blogs could get impacted. Tumblr wasn’t ever really made for fandom in the first place so I don’t expect they’re going to try and keep us here. [27]
[fool-errant]:
Ah yes - the Great LJ Migration. *Sits on porch sipping tea* I was there for the scans_daily migration back when it was all beta accounts and we were fleeing a community shut down. It took a while for number of members to get back up and even now it feels less active than it was.

Just this past month or so scans_daily shut down their last companion blog noscans_daily on livejournal. Took years for that to happen.

Sadly as much as I dislike what tumblr is doing I’m not really in the mood to deal with another migration. I’m lazy and its messy and irritating to deal with. [28]
[nekobakaz]:
I’m still on LJ, mainly cause 1) I gradually became more mellow about fandom news 2) some of my friends on there aren’t necessarily in fandom and 3) I have no idea whether I’d be able to find everyone again if I moved. [29]
[enbogger]:
my livejournal was deleted on wednesday (11/25/15 never forget). that was where i did most of my growing up, and i came away with two lifelong friends, a godchild, a t-shirt, and enough experience to power through a writing degree. i just can’t believe that this is part of fandom history now. it’s amazing. [30]
[sorceressrinoa]:
Might be worth noting that while RP continues to stick around over there because the format’s pretty great for it, fandom as a whole seems to have moved on to tumblr by now. Don’t ask me why.[31]
[remindmeofthe]:
An RP game I was more-or-less in at the time was years old and so huge (thousands of entries and about four million comments) that when we decided to move in the early days of the final massive migration to DW, the game mods had to coordinate with the DW folks to make sure that importing that much content didn’t crash DW entirely. As I recall, we had to wait a while after deciding to move from LJ just because DW first had to get to a point where it could handle making that importation at all.[32]

References

  1. sainatsukino, archived
  2. toujoursher, archived.
  3. actuallycallie
  4. butterflysleep, archived, 16 February 2015.
  5. missivesfromghosts, archived, February 21st 2015.
  6. ark-shifter, archive.is, February 23rd 2015.
  7. flikky
  8. velociraptorsss
  9. lookninjas, archived, 2 November 2015.
  10. spartytoon, archived, 2 November 2015.
  11. helgasbattleax, 2 November 2015.
  12. doctorscienceknowsfandom, archive.is, 5 November 2015
  13. ajaegerpilot, archived, 6 November 2015. See also Anti-shipper.
  14. butterflyspit
  15. devilishkurumi
  16. adrivenleaf
  17. brolinarlin
  18. secondcoolest
  19. pcktfox
  20. spooopygames
  21. hausoftrinity
  22. wickedwitchshaming
  23. fencer-x
  24. 21st-century-flapper
  25. sucymemebabaran
  26. yell
  27. apolloandellipses
  28. fool-errant
  29. nekobakaz
  30. enbogger
  31. sorceressrinoa
  32. remindmeofthe