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Name: LiveJournal
Dates: 1999 - present
Type: Social Networking Site, Blogging Platform
Fandom: Multifandom, Meta
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LiveJournal, often abbreviated to LJ, is a social networking site and blogging platform where many fans post their fanfiction, meta, and other works, leave feedback, and have personal interaction. The website gained popularity in fandom in the early 2000s, which declined about a decade later. See also: Timeline of Fandom on LiveJournal.

It was created by Brad Fitzpatrick in 1999, [1] sold first to Six Apart in January 2005, [2] then to SUP in December 2007. [3] Both sales were unpopular among many fans using LiveJournal for their fan activities. Brad Fitzpatrick left SixApart in early August 2007, shortly after Strikethrough and Boldthrough. [4]

Other blog platforms arose around 1999-2001, but LiveJournal, with its threaded comments, friends list feature, and self-expression in the form of icons and interests lists, became the home for the "new" fandom.

LiveJournal is also home to many members of Science Fiction Fandom or other writing genre fandoms, including many professional authors, aspiring authors and fans. While there are many people who would identify themselves as part of both fannish traditions, the cultures of the two can be very different. Professional authors usually post under a version of their legal name or publicly link their legal name to their user name on LJ. They have also adopted integration of Facebook and Twitter into LiveJournal more readily than the more traditionally insular transformative works fans have. When the two cultures collide in large fandom discussions like Racefail '09, the culture clash can become part of the conversation as well as forming a barrier to communication.

The Migration to LJ

By the late 1990s, websites, newsgroups, message boards, IRC, AIM, and mailing lists like those hosted on YahooGroups had become more important than zines, cons, and informal in-person gatherings for fannish activity. Fans could now simply search for fiction on the Internet, rather than having to connect with someone who already knew about zines or stumble upon them at a convention or through an ad at the back of a science fiction magazine. (See also fannish mentoring.)

When blogging software started to become more available in 1999, some fans started up blogs on services like Blogger or Livejournal. Blogs on Blogger and similar services offered total control and could be integrated into a fan's personal webpage, for one-stop shopping. Livejournal was restricted to its own site and to specific layouts, but offered something new: the friends list, a site-specific form of RSS feed, and icons, to personalize posts. It also included threaded comments, such as those found on early message boards.

The appeal of being able to easily read other people's posts gathered into one place, and to take part in threaded conversations (plus the continuing service interruptions on the OneList free mailing list service[5]), began to win out and by 2000-01, there was a steady shift to Livejournal from mailing lists, and from other blogging sites.

A fan plugs the site in May 2002:

For those of you who have always wanted to blog but not have to worry about costs or updating the hard way, LiveJournal offers you AD-FREE space to do so. Have your posts include cute 'mood icons', post on other people's LiveJournals, and just plain be original!

There are also special community groups you can join once you sign up, and you can list your LiveJournal friends and have posts from their journals hosted on a special page of your own journal. You can use their templates for layouts and colors, or override if you're bold enough to go it alone.

The problem: You need to know a friend in order to get the crucial 'account creation code' if you want to do this for free. A paid account only costs $5.00 a month, though, and it allows you to create lots of codes for your friends later on. Or just pay for only 1 month of an account and keep it for free afterward. The choice is yours. The only other choice is to go to one of LiveJournal's clones, DeadJournal. Nobody will mind. [6]

A fan's comment in 2012:

[Mailing lists die because] People stop posting. Either because [of] no new blood, the conversations have happened so many times before, no new ideas, attention spans, drifting apart. That's more what it is. Because mailing lists used to be, you know, focused exclusively on a particular show, or a theme, or something of that nature. That was the only place where you could get conversation about your fandom. Whether it was a meta fandom, or, you know, an academic sort of fandom, or a regular, some other relationship fandom, or just the general fandom itself. And as chat rooms became more common, then people got, you know, real time chatting about their fandoms and what they liked. That's when I think mailing lists started to cool off a bit. And then in 2002, we — you know, by that time we were migrating over to LJ [LiveJournal] and that was really the end of the mailing list era. [7]

Invite Codes

One of the aspects of the shift that both added and slowed the fannish progress was invite codes. LJ wanted to control the speed of their growth, so initially, the only way to get a Livejournal account was to get an invite code from someone who already had it. While this did slow the fannish movement, on the other hand, if a friend specifically gave you one of their rare invite codes, you might be more likely to make the move than you would be from a more casual suggestion that you make the switch. Some fans with early LJs made a point of inviting writers in their fandoms to come over. Isis posted about an effort that she led in Harry Potter fandom in early 2003:

If you would like to be part of the Seekrit Cabal to bring quality fanfiction writers and readers to livejournal, please send two lj codes to me by email - you can find it in my profile. I promise to use them wisely....And, hey, as long as I'm playing coordinator of the Seekrit Cabal, I'll happily take recommendations from those of you who think a Potterverse writer or reader ought to be on livejournal, but who don't have codes to hand out.[8]

Arguments Pro and Con

The shift caused some tension (to put it mildly) in existing fannish venues such as mailing lists, with some fans polarizing over whether LJ was a good or bad thing for fandom, and for the next few years there were frequent arguments about it.

One topic: did LJ and its posting restrictions and customs start to affect the length of fiction produced?

LJ's format already encourages people not to write longer fic and it's posting format means that in many communities things move off the front page very quickly. It doesn't seem fair to the writers of longer pieces, who are already fighting an uphill battle, to tell them they can only make one post on a story that's sometimes literally 50x the length of the average flashfic. If not more. [9]

Another fan writes of LJ and story length:

... if the story really is long enough that you literally *can't* post it all in one LJ entry (and you don't have a website that you can post it to) then, in that case, I can see it being reasonable to draw out the posting of a story over time. I mean, depending on how long the story is. I can see an author deciding it would probably not be good to spam her flist with 12 chapters of a story all at once. [10]

A fan in 2005 gave three reasons of their preference for mailing lists over LiveJournal:

I don't go for LJ, prefer email lists. As to why: 1. To get people to read your LJ, you have to turn into some kind of performing circus animal, constantly composing and posting cute/meaningful/insightful/witty etc. etc. posts. Exhausting. Like an unpaid part-time job. If you fall down on the job, people "unfriend" you because now you're boring. 2. LJs are great if you're a "somebody" in fandom. If you're a "nobody," then nobody friends you and no one will ever hear what you have to say ... except on a mailing list. Mailing lists are democratic. LJs represent the ultimate gated community. I am surprised at how popular LJs are with people who obviously consider themselves liberal. 3. I am amazed at the LJers who post in great and often unflattering detail about relatives, friends, co-workers and bosses. They must be very sure the aforementioned people are never going to stumble across their LJ. But in the effort to attract readers, it seems LJers must post detailed commentaries about their personal lives and jobs. That doesn't work for me. Mailing lists typically discourage the posting of personal info. So that works for me. [11]

Some fans felt that fandom was already too balkanized, and LJ increased these separations.

Others felt that LJ only increased that balkanization; there was little to no organization on LJ, and it was nearly impossible to find anyone or anything there unless you already knew what -- and who -- to look for.

Some fans felt that the fannish focus on LJ was bad as it shifted conversation from older venues:

I have noticed with dread that an unusual, prolonged silence has fallen on all my mailing lists. It's not just the Pros mailing lists (which in a way is reassuring!), and it's not just me: worried consultations with fellow fans has revealed that this seems to be a widespread phenomenon. After more anxious consultations I think I have pinpointed a possible cause: it's them goddamned blogs and livejournals! ... what is worrying me is that most fans have started dedicating far more time to their LJ than to fannish discussion.... I think what is actually happening is that a growing number of fans are putting all their energies/time into LJ, and as a consequence they're not participating in the fannish conversation within mailing lists. [12]

This was something that a fan in 2005 commented upon:

About LJ & mailing lists: I fell for slash (in Highlander) about two and a half years ago, and the first thing I did was to sign up to mailing lists. But there was a problem. At the time, the show was off the air and the listmembers were all "old guard" fans (though soon after, the show started running again, and started coming out on DVD, and there was an influx of newbies). So the lists were pretty quiet. The whole thing about lurking and getting to know a list before you post wasn't going to work. So I was frustrated. It was like being on a porch with a bunch of people who'd known each other forever, sitting in companionable silence until something interesting goes by in the street and they'd talk it over for a bit, and then the conversation would die down again.

But then I discovered LJ, and it was different -- people were all talking at once! <g> So I got one, and friended people, and got into conversations with folks... These were the very same people who were on the lists, right? So it was kind of like moving from the porch into the kitchen. [13]

Some mailing list and bulletin board users disliked LJ for its control of content and lack of enforced manners:

Nowadays people don't go to ASCEM the way they used to. LiveJournal is safer for them. They control the tone, they say what they want and walk away, there's no sense of community or crowding and everything is nice and neat. I hate LJ for that very reason. Here, for better or worse, there is a more personal aspect to everything. You are forced to use a certain amount of respect and etiquette and we do crowd each other but that's not a bad thing. [14]

A fan in 2007 commented upon the gate-keeping that LiveJournal had regarding accessibility:

> I also agree about on-line fandom becoming more > possessive. AFAIK this hasn't happened yet in TS fandom, but I was really surprised to learn that some writers on LJ are putting there fan fiction in locked posts, so you can't read the stories unless you've been friended by the writer.

While I agree that that looks oddly possessive and it sorta wigs me out, I also think that that's because I'm fannishly socialized so differently from people who use LJ more or less exclusively.

To me, locking something like that looks... I can't think of the right word. Snotty, I guess. Like the author is saying only certain hand-picked people are worthy of seeing her stuff (and she's making sure everyone knows it, to boot), and the rest of us can go suck eggs. I know that I get really pissed off when someone points me to a story on LJ and it turns out to be in a locked post, because it's like a slap in the face.

But my guess is that to the author, it's a totally neutral, natural extension of the LJ approach to fandom, which is almost entirely personal in nature, in that you almost have to choose your reading material based on person, rather than subject.

So where I'm going to think, "but fanfic should be accessible to any fan who wants to read it, that's the whole point of writing it!", she's probably thinking, "This group of people have shown their interest in me, and therefore in my work, so I'll share my stories with them because I know it will be welcome, and I won't bother anyone else with them, since other people may be annoyed by having to deal with my stuff."

LJ is just a very different approach to fandom, to me; I find that even people who don't lock their posts are less likely to use central archives (happily, this certainly isn't true of everyone who uses LJ -- several are posting to 852 Prospect), or even to have their own websites where it's easy to find all of their fiction in one place (or to update them, if they had websites before they moved to LJ). Things just seem to be much more ephemeral on LJ in general; if you don't happen to see something within 24 hours of it's being posted, you're likely never to see it at all. (Again, with exceptions, of course.)

And with most feedback coming in via LJ, usually within the first 24 hours of posting, there's less incentive to take the time later to put the story up on an archive or website where you may never hear another word from anyone about it. Better to just move on to the next thing you can post to your LJ and get a response to -- a story, a meme, a really cute picture of your cat, whatever.

LJ posting/reading always seems to be about the next/new thing, not about making sure things are still around for posterity so that people coming into the fandom two years from now can easily enjoy what's gone before. (Again, there are exceptions; I'm speaking in general, and partly in terms of LJ's physical limitations -- e.g., a list of "memories" in a fic-posting community is not remotely the same as an archive with flexible search criteria, etc.)

And all that said, in fairness I have to add that keeping fanfic restricted to a certain audience isn't new, and isn't just an LJ thing; it just somehow *feels* more blatant when it's a locked LJ post. But there have always been authors who posted only to their own website (Lemon Drop/Quercus springs to mind) and avoided lists and archives, or who posted only to a mailing list where you have to be a member in order to read the stories, or who created vanity lists where people who subscribed got sneak previews or access to WIPs or what have you. And there have always been fans who'll write only for zines so net-only folks have no opportunity to read them (such as Tiger Tyger), and fans who'll write only for net, so offline fans have no

opportunity to read them. [15]

Some long-time, more established fans were puzzled, and horrified, by the amount of personal information and lack of privacy they saw displayed with LJ;

I may be an old dinosaur, but I am fairly sensitive to issues of privacy, and I have a high embarrassment threshold: so the mere idea of making my diary public makes me queasy.... It is painfully clear that many authors doesn't really understand the difference between public and private writing and self-expression. Time and again, the reader is treated to embarrassing, detailed and utterly personal descriptions of yucky illnesses, nervous breakdowns and sexual dysfunction. I squirm for them, and I hasten to flee the site: there is definitely such a thing as Too Much Information (not to mention the fact that when the author is someone you know it's doubly agonising!)... what is worrying me is that most fans have started dedicating far more time to their LJ than to fannish discussion.[16]

Other fans felt that LJ was invaluable as it gave them the freedom to say whatever they wanted and to mix'n'match their fannish interests in single posts without breaking someone else's rules. They also felt that LJ removed the intimidation factor of posting to a list of potentially hundreds or thousands of people.

A fan in 2008 wrote of increased communication and community:

I've been an LJ user for years, so I'm very familiar with the technology; when I got into fandom, I was really excited to learn that I could join the community by using a format I already understood. LJ makes feedback really easy (and it's part of an accepted community practice already); it makes publishing your work really easy, and formatting is a snap; you don't have to worry about hosting or any of that drama. At the same time, it puts you immediately in touch with a community. I literally spend most of my days that I'm working at home on LJ; I comment back and forth with friends, I laugh at whatever's on the_caps_files, I read fic from communities and squee about Battlestar Galactica and whatever. Because it's a social space as much as a place to post, it really draws me in, as a participant, and I feel more connected to the fannish community because of it. (For example, I'd read everything Dasha K had ever written, but I never said anything to her, because it was too weird to email someone out of the blue and say, hi, you write good. But we met on LJ, and not only have I told her how much I like her work, we've also become actually friendly... See? LJ makes people talk to each other! MAGIC.) [17]

A fan in 2012 said:

Yeah, because if it was your space I mean there weren't any rules for what was off-topic. You could talk about anything. You could post your fic in more than one fandom. [T]hat was a big draw for a lot of people, just having a place to corral their fic without having to make a website and maintain it on their own. Because there weren't a lot of multifandom archives at that point besides FFNet, which—I mean, FFNet kicked out the NC-17 stuff in 2002. [18]

While many individual fans finished having these discussions in the early 00s, people do continue to migrate to and from Livejournal, and the arguments in the 2010s remain similar.

Comms and Other Efforts at Organization

Even as some fans on mailing lists were decrying the lack of organization on LJ, other fans on LJ were working to fix that. By 2002, fans were creating centralized places for fannish engagement, either by using a regular journal as a non-personal LJ, or by taking advantage of LJ's community feature[note 1]. For example, in mid-2002, the dsreporter was created to track due South fandom across Livejournal, blogs, and archives: the moderators effectively turned a single use journal into a community by sharing the password. A few months earlier, Lorelei F. had created metablog, a community where anyone could post a link to a post on LJ or any other blogging system that would be of interest to fandom in general (similar to the later metafandom community).

As LJ-based fandom grew, such communities quickly became invaluable. Communities being formed included fic communities for people to post to a central location, noticeboard communities where fans in a given fandom could announce posts made to their personal LJs to make them easier to find, challenge communities to encourage more fiction, etc. The new infrastructure, echoing centralized mailing list structure in many ways, made Livejournal easier to adapt to, and even more fans switched.

Newsletters, noticeboards, flashfiction communities, and fandom-specific, multifannish, kink-specific, and other rec LJs were all formed to create fannish order out of disorder. In addition to being, typically, fandom-specific, these communities are easy to friend and defriend at will, while individual people are not. Savvy fen also used the community's membership lists as reading lists; this provided a quick and easy way to find people who are likely to have an interest in the same shows as you.

By the mid-2000s, LJ was a thriving center for fandom, as large sections of fandom had moved to Livejournal, and new fans were starting out there without ever having been on mailing lists or newsgroups. Those who consider LJ their fandom home generally conduct all or most of their fandom activity there.

Fan Activity

some 2009 stats gathered by Laura Hale on a flyer that was distributed at MediaWest*Con for the purpose of sending fan traffic to Fan History Wiki

LiveJournal's casual, unmoderated approach to self-publishing changed the way fan writers shared their work. Most mailing lists had strict rules about what could and could not be sent to the list. For example, some lists didn't allow WIPs, some lists didn't allow stories with more than a PG rating, and some lists were slash-only, or no-slash allowed. Mailing lists were also restricted by their text-only format. LiveJournal allows writers to post whatever they want, regardless of whether it's rated, titled, or even finished. This gave writers the freedom to experiment with form and length, posting multimedia pieces, or stories that were under 500 words. It also meant that a lot of the formality had been taken out of publishing a piece of fic. Writers on Livejournal habitually post snippets of works-in-progress, deleted scenes, and chatroom fics, things that would have been rare or unlikely in the days of centralized archives and mailing lists. For a more in-depth discussion read the series of essays The Impact of Blogging on Fandom posted across Livejournal and dairyland in 2002.

One consequence of the fannish shift to Livejournal is that comments were no longer linear--that is, in the order they were posted. A comment could be addressed to whichever comment it was in reply to, but unlike on mailing lists it would not be sent to everyone automatically. This facilitated sub-discussions that could be joined or ignored, and it was no longer necessary for the entire line of comments to shift discussion together. (It is possible to dethread a comment page on Livejournal; add ?view=flat to the end of the page's url.)


A major facet of LJ community is participation in memes. Out-of-fandom memes include things like quizzes and surveys (e.g., What Color Are You? or the iPod Tarot), and once they catch on they tend to spread very quickly across a user's friendslist. Fannish memes have a similarly rapid growth. Whether a format (like 5 Things) or a challenge (like the first kiss drabble challenge), it is easy for one idea to propagate rapidly across fandom. This usually sparks a backlash after a certain point, with users complaining that the bulk of the posts on their friendslist are just duplications of the meme. Format memes are considered part of the lemon-garlic hummus syndrome.

The friendslist replaced the mailing list, which immediately broadened the scope of a fan's participation because she might have friends who wrote in different fandoms from the ones she participated in off-LJ. As more and more fans migrated to Livejournal, people were commonly "getting into" new fandoms, as well as becoming multifannish and writing and participating in multiple fandoms at one time.[19]

LJs as Archives

Livejournal's "memories" option, and later its "tag" option—introduced in June 2005[20]—allowed people to archive their stories on their Livejournal, without worrying about additional domain space, and because of that, many writers started "fic LJs" — journals or communities that existed simply as archives for their fiction, tagged by category, fandom, etc., at the author's choosing (and not necessarily that of some central archivist's.) Many fan artists, vidders, and more LJ-specific fan participants like icon-makers, and fanmixers created similar journals for their fanworks.

Disadvantages of LJ as a Fannish Home

  • On mailing lists, you could usually count on people talking about stuff you found interesting, since you were all there to talk about whatever the ML was made for. On LJ, people talk about a variety of topics, not all of which every person who has them friended will find interesting. So if you want to friend someone because of their posts on A, but they also talk about B, C, and D, which bore you to tears, you're kind of stuck. This problem remains even when all the journals are fannish -- the LJ multifannish culture means that you can have fourteen Supernatural fans friended and all of them will talk all week about American Idol RPF. One fan summed it up this way:
    So when you post in your LJ about something that happened in your life -- do I owe you a story of my own? Even if I don't know you, and don't particularly want to invite you into my life? I mean, I was reading your LJ hoping to see your reaction to last night's SGA, not to hear you talk about your life.

    If I make a filter for NUMB3RS, I want everything that appears in that filter to be about NUMB3RS, and I would really like it if the posts were related to each other, part of a single ongoing conversation with many voices, full of tangents and offshoots but all connected. I don't want a dozen posts on a dozen subjects written by people who happen to be interested in NUMB3RS.[21]

    This issue has been alleviated somewhat by the introduction of tags and tracking, allowing someone to follow a fan's posts about a given topic without having them friended. Nevertheless, the diffusion of the culture and the voyeurism inherent in the system remain.
  • Livejournal is not optimal for archiving fiction (or any kind of fanwork), as many people don't tag properly (or at all) or keep a master list of their fics. Fanworks can also disappear whenever someone temporarily deletes their journal to gafiate, or when someone migrates to an LJ clone.
  • The unfortunate "friends" terminology. Because of the (real or perceived) connection when calling someone a "friend" on LJ -- which elsewhere would simply be considered someone whose blog you enjoyed reading, or someone who read yours -- blurs the line between social connections and simply culling fannish information. Therefore "friending" or "de-friending" someone comes with unfortunate emotional connotations and can cause anger and resentment and sadness and woe. As an additional negative side-effect, you can end up with huge, unwieldy flists out of fear of hurting someone's feelings by not friending them back or by culling them.
  • It can be difficult to find the right balance between public and private on an easily searchable blog site. If you friends-lock an entry, sure, your dad won't find it, but then neither will a fan not on your flist who might be looking for fic in that fandom.
  • On Livejournal, there's no neutral ground; everyone feels qualified to comment on everything else, because they're making posts in their own journals. Fights skip here and there like wildfire, making wank harder to control.
  • In December 2011, igrick, the SUP staffer responsible for LiveJournal's design announced on his Russian-language LJ that soon it would no longer be possible to give comments a subject line and that existing subject lines in old posts would disappear. This was listed as "non-negotiable." Many fans immediately commented to explain the importance of subject lines to fannish communities such as RPers, kink memes, and anon memes.[22][23][24][note 2]

2008: Changes and the Russians

Things are getting a little tight in San Francisco. Livejournal Inc., previously owned by Six Apart, before that owned by Brad Fitzpatrick, now in possession of Russian company SUP, has been gearing up some major changes for the site. Last week, keen-eyed observers found out that Basic accounts (the no-frills unpaid accounts with no ads) were about to become artifacts. Users with accounts prior to March 13th could keep or scale back down to Basic, but all new accounts created after that time default to Plus, with an option on Paid. (Plus accounts are still free, but ads run in the margins much like competitor sites MySpace and Facebook. Paid accounts are exactly what you think they are.) With no official notification to current users that this was going to be the case, Livejournal users once again applied excrement to fan and hit "High."

Then came this past weekend. Again, sharp-eyed users noticed a problem. This time, certain words were no longer showing up in the site's "Most Popular Interests" list. Among the missing interests: "depression," "bisexuality," "faeries," and "fanfiction." The interests in question appear to have been blocked after 2/28/08, according to one user's cache of the data.

Firefox News contacted SUP's corporate office and were told by a spokesperson: "Regarding the possible censorship of certain lists, this appears to be a technical issue. LJ is trying to fix this at the moment." As of this writing (and checked as of earlier today) those interests have been restored to the list. No reason was given from SUP as to the nature of the technical problem, leading some to speculate that an ad-monitoring program may have been the culprit; no use putting ads on that page if the program grabs the wrong keywords, after all.


The purchase of Livejournal by a Russian-owned company raised questions at the time of SUP's commitment to LJ's long-standing relationship with its user community, for good and ill. The recent decision to drop the ad-free Basic account is "a business decision. It is, emphatically." It may however be a poor business decision, one made in the hopes of making a fast buck off the content provided by the users without understanding the background of those users' relationship with the site. The removal, for whatever reason, of possibly controversial interests gives users good reason to worry that we are not wanted on a site we helped make so popular. The restoration of those interests, allowing us our thoughts on yaoi once more, does not immediately restore our faith in the company, especially with the clandestine removal of the primary way in which most of us first came to the site (and then brought our friends).

In short, Livejournal users no longer feel like customers, but product, and that's bad business all around. [25]

2011 Changes and 60 Pages of Negative Comments

See 3046 comments at Release 88 sneak peek, Mashable Awards nomination, Holiday promotions, ONTD Games (December 14, 2011) (scroll down).

LJ and Privacy

Also see Fandom and Visibility.

A comment from 2005: Newsletters...How Public Are Public Posts? is a September 2005 LiveJournal post by cathexys. It was picked up by Metafandom and excerpted on their roundup of links with this excerpt:

So one of the fundamental problems is whether it's OK to link to other things online, whom to share this information with, and how public or private LJ entries really are. Because here's the thing: LJ is on this bizarre verge of being both, neither totally one nor totally the other. Some folks don't have robot and spider block so that you can google their public entries; some flock part of their stuff, others most or all. Some change settings continually, keeping posts public for a few days or going through fits of changing filters [...] // And how we regard our own journal, how much info we share in public and private posts, how open we think of our posts will obviously affect how we view other journals. [26]

A comment from 2008:

Have you all see this about the new LJ explore?

"In order to make sure each area has great content, recent public posts are analyzed electronically and then placed into the areas where they best fit, if there is indeed such an area. (Not all entries will necessarily appear in an explore area.) The feed of posts is updated constantly, so you can refresh the page to see new entries as they are posted. In some areas, you will also see featured content that the LiveJournal staff found to be timely, interesting, or well-written. As of today, we have featured content picked by the staff in both Entertainment and News & Politics, with more featured content to come."

So, as I understand this, I could write a squeeing post about Jensen Ackles and it could end up on the front page of Live Journal. I'm not sure I'm comfortable with this. YEs, I know my journal is public and anyone could stumble upon my LJ. But that's not quite the same as putting my posts on the front page.

I think this means I'll be going friends only again and very soon.... [27]

From 2009, concerns about content from locked journals being displayed in searches:

I saw this on my droll/flist this morning, and verified it myself: I just ran a vanity search on LJ's new search engine (announced in the LJ news community here) and had it return a post that I am not supposed to be able to see. That is, I can't see the post itself (it's actually a comment), as clicking the link gives me a "You are not authorized to view this protected entry" page, but the search engine does show me the line of text in which my journal name appears: [image does not display]

This is -- not optimal. I should not be told that this comment and post even exist, let alone be able to see a snippet of text from it. The person whose post I was alerted by has already filed a support request with LJ, but in the meantime, be aware.


I didn't write anything here. The last blacked-out line is a snippet of what Person B said, mentioning me, in a comment to Person A's locked post, which I do not have permission to see and therefore should not be shown. The line of blue text is the subject line of Person B's comment (preceded by the icon that Person B used on that comment), and is also a link to that comment thread. The second line, beginning "comment of," tells me who Persons A and B are and when the comment was posted. The third line is a snippet of text from that comment, showing me the context in which my journal name appeared. Do a search yourself, and you'll see how it works! [28]

Migrations away from LJ

Fannish backlash against LJ policies and the availability of other sites lead to some splintering, but LiveJournal remained a major hub of fan activity until Tumblr finally supplanted it around 2012, though some fans and fan communities remain on LJ as of 2014.


On several occasions over the years (see Strikethrough, Boldthrough, and Nipplegate as examples), a large group of fans spread across many fandoms would threaten to jump ship to other journaling services, such as DeadJournal, InsaneJournal, Journalfen, or Dreamwidth. Some communities, especially those whose members were directly affected by the content restrictions, e.g. Snape/Harry communities allowing chan fanart, saw large number of fans move to other services or switch to a crossposting model, where the content itself was not on LJ, but an announcement was still made there. Some fandoms became more splintered across journaling services, while others, especially those not affected by the bans because their content wasn't problematic, just remained on LJ.

Fans and fan communities have moved to new sites because the sites have features they like, such as Dreamwidth's split friends list or Tumblr's ease of image posting. Fannish avoidance of sites is sometimes because of features or site rules too. While many fans have Facebook accounts, or have tried out Google +, those sites policies on pseudonyms have kept them from becoming major fannish homes, while Twitter has siphoned off some of the casual fannish chat from other sites because it is open to pseudonyms and is easily integrated into Livejournal itself.

Some reading about changes to accounts in 2008:

  • Livejournal Bigwig Says "You're All Sockpuppets and the Lurkers Support Us in Email" by Melissa Wilson ("They're the dog, we're the fire hydrant. Anton Nossik, the director of the blog division of SUP corporations, went on the record with Russian-language publication Izbrannoe about the Basic account kerfuffle and the planned user strike on March 21. The interview is a PR disaster made in Fandom Wank Heaven. Translated by Livejournal user RussianSwinga and verified by AltaVista's Babelfish, the interview makes one thing very clear: Livejournal users are not welcome at Livejournal anymore as far as Nosik is concerned. ") (March 19, 2008)
  • Livejournal Apologizes For Lack of Communication by Melissa Wilson (""Our Bad," Says Company. Livejournal made an official apology this evening for the lack of communication leading up to the loss of Basic accounts.") (March 19, 2008)

The late 2000s also brought a new game in town, Archive of Our Own. In 2009, a fan wrote:

Like many people, including a large number of my livejournal friends, I absolutely loathe LJ as a platform for fic. The reason I personally use it that way is that I once used pretty much exclusively (due to being in fandoms that didn't have a central archive) and when it kicked out explicit material, I was kind of at sea. I'm hoping that the OTW's archive, when it comes out of closed beta, will lure most of my friends into not posting long fic to livejournal anymore. (Much as I like mailing lists for some things, I really do not like them for reading fiction.) [29]


As of 2011, there were still fans who conducted all their fannish activity on LJ, but there were also fans with multiple accounts across many sites loosely interconnected by mirrored posts, cross-posting features and interoperability features like OpenID. Twitter and Tumblr were becoming popular.

Some journal fans began noting an overall decrease in fan activity on journal sites. In August 2011, Slash Report guests commented that they didn't have as much trouble keeping up with their friendslists and that they were noticing signs of people leaving for Tumblr.[note 3] In 2012, Slash Report speculated that the decrease was due to fans posting their fanfic to AO3 instead.[note 4] In December 2012, another fan started a friending meme specifically to encourage more discussion on Dreamwidth and commented, "It's pretty clear, though, that fandom has been migrating again, this time to tumblr, and that this means that there are fewer fannish posts here on the more text-based journaling sites."[30]

In a 2013 interview with the MIT student newspaper The Tech, Flourish remarked,

I think there’s a lot of things that have changed since fandom moved off of LiveJournal and on to Tumblr. For about 10 years, fandom was really centered about LiveJournal. Moving to Tumblr has made a lot of changes in terms of how you get involved in fandoms, and how you can build communities or not. I think that fandom has become a lot more decentralized and there’s less of an emphasis on fanfiction now than there ever has been, and more of an emphasis on GIFs, on a lot more visual stuff.[31]

In 2014, anons on Fail_fandomanon discussed the timing and cause of LJ's demise as a fannish hub:

I don't think there was one deciding factor - there were a lot of little things that led up to fandom moving away from LJ, going all the way back to things like Strikethrough (and the subsequent creation of DW and AO3, which gave people easy non-LJ venues for their fandom stuff). IME there was a general growing sense that LJ didn't really give much of a shit about their non-ONTD users, which came to a head around 2011 (I think it was '11?) when they made a bunch of unpopular changes to the code and pretty much ignored all the complaints about it. As I remember that was the year they had a lot of downtime due to DDOS attacks as well, which didn't help things. For me personally, it was a combination of everyone else on my friendslist posting less and less and my getting into a fandom that was mostly on tumblr - after a certain point I didn't see any use in posting to LJ anymore because there wasn't really anyone around anymore to see it. I remember that people started making noises about migrating elsewhere right after Strikethrough, but it was very gradual for a long time (with a lot of people dual-posting), and then at some point the activity petered out enough that things kind of got into a death spiral.[32]

In late 2016 was also migration from LiveJournal (and to Dreamwidth[33]) following the move of LiveJournal's servers to Russia [34], as well as LiveJounal no longer allowing access to https when posting or browsing.[35]

2017 Russian TOS

In 2017 there was further migration following LiveJournal's 4 April 2017 Terms of Service, banning political writing including pro-gay propaganda and adding an explicit risk of being spied on; the true TOS was in Russian with a non-legally-binding English translation, and required acceptance before users could log in[36][37][38][39][40][41]. suricattus said

follow-up: even if I were willing to sign, holy shit this is a red flag, pun intentional:

ATTENTION: this translation of the User Agreement is not a legally binding document. The original User Agreement, which is valid, is located at the following address:

so, what you’re agreeing to isn’t the translation given, but the original user document. Which is in Russian. And might be exactly the same context as the translation… and might not.

Um. Children, this is the point at which I say “get in the damn car and drive in the direction of Away Very Fast.”[42]

2022 Termination TOS

On January 20, 2022, the website's TOS was updated,[43] bringing for some users a long-overlooked threat, accounts without activity deleted now with a 2 year period of inactivity responsible for this termination. The lack of crossposting option was already a reason for many to abandon the platform, and now many are saying that this is the end of LJ and that with it the definitive migration to sites like Dreamwidth will be inevitable.

Excerpt seen as worrying by LJ users extracted from their new TOS:

6. Account Termination
6.1. Termination of Inactive Accounts by the Administration
6.1.1. The Administration reserves the right to delete Account and Blog if User did not access the Account or the access was restricted for more than 2 years due to a breach hereof.

Common LJ Terms

  • The name of the site is styled variously as LiveJournal, Livejournal, LJ or sometimes as el-jay.
  • Icon - A small graphic that displays next to a user's posts and comments. (The official term used by the site is "userpic.") Livejournal icons are limited to 100 by 100 pixels.
  • GIP - Gratuitous Icon Post. A post or comment whose entire purpose is to show off an icon the user likes, is proud of, or finds relevant to the conversation.
  • Flocked - Friends-locked. A post that can only be read by other Livejournal users on one's friendslist.
  • Flist - Friendslist.
  • Commentfic - A short fic posted in a comment to a friend's LJ post, or in your own with another person. (See also tigging.)
  • Comm - Short for community, an LJ discussion forum.
  • Friend - v., To add someone to a friendslist.
  • Defriend - v., To remove someone from a friendslist. This, obviously, may be the cause or result of some tensions.
  • Master Post
  • ETA - "edited to add" (commonly used when a post is updated after commenters have already started responding to the original version)
  • Banner - an image (often of fannish favorite BSOs) at the top of a user's journal.
  • lj-cut - a way to hide most of the text of a longer entry or post behind a cut tag (some other blogging platforms use "jump"). Often the lj-cut tag's text will say "read more." Used to avoid cluttering up one's flist with the entire text of a fic or long post, or to hide NSFW items behind the cut. Not using cuts is seen as a sign of newbie-ishness at many LJ comms.

Meta/Additional Reading


  1. ^ Livejournal had begun offering a community function as early as December 2000 (official announcement, accessed April 11, 2009), but fandom didn't really seem to notice until 2002, possibly because that's when a support category for communities was created and announced (accessed April 11, 2009), and by then there was a big enough fandom base for that knowledge to start spreading.
  2. ^ Новый ЖЖ. Шаг первый — комментарии - original post by igrick from 12 Dec 2011, with an English-language addendum from a day or two later that says "A note to users of RP, Meme and other communities, where subject line is crucial for operation: for the moment we are developing only standard commenting representation, well know in LiveJournal as S1 styles, but we will keep subject lines, both in terms of form and representation, in advanced — S2 — styles, and provide an ability to keep it forever for certain communities, as well as, by request, will develop an extra functionality for such communities thru OpensSocial applications going public next year." (Accessed 15 Dec 2011)
  3. ^ "It's not like LiveJournal is dead, though I mean I will say my flist even though I follow the same number of people is not as active as it was a year ago." Conversation starting around minute 41, Episode 1x03 Hurricane Safari with Merelyn and Twentysomething, 28 August 2011.
  4. ^ 218 Mobile Fandom. Slash Report. July 22, 2012. LJ discussion starts 32 minutes in. Mklutz also reports that "The way that I use LJ and Dreamwidth is so minimal compared to three years ago."


  1. ^ One of the first posts is dated November 23, 1997: Depressing News - brad's life, possibly copied from the founder's personal website.
  2. ^ Young Web whiz blogs his way to a bundle, from The Oregonian and posted to LiveJournal (Posted January 7, 2005. Last accessed November 16, 2008.)
  3. ^ "LiveJournal FAQ: How did LiveJournal get started? Who runs it now?". Archived from the original on 2012-11-01. (Accessed 1 October 2008.)
  4. ^ brad's life - On Leaving SixApart, Archived version, August 6, 2007
  5. ^ Several posts on a private list mention blackouts through June 2001 -rache
  6. ^ blurb about LJ (May 2002)
  7. ^ Fan Fiction Oral History Project with Rachael Sabotini
  8. ^ invite codes, business models, and community: a historical perspective
  9. ^ comment by saeva at Doling out fiction; Archive, page two; Archive for page two April 17, 2007
  10. ^ comment by liviapenn at Doling out fiction; Archive, page two; Archive for page two April 17, 2007
  11. ^ Fanthropology - The Study of Fandom - And here we go . . ., Archived version
  12. ^ from Discovered in a Letterbox #23 (Summer 2002)
  13. ^ comments on FCA-L, quoted anonymously (April 16, 2005)
  14. ^ comment by Jen in 2008 at ASCEML
  15. ^ comments by Margie at Prospect-L, quoted with permission (January 25, 2007)
  16. ^ from Discovered in a Letterbox #23 (Summer 2002)
  17. ^ from How Will It End? Interview with Amal Nahurriyeh
  18. ^ from Fan Fiction Oral History Project with Ellen Fremedon
  19. ^ See Busker, Rebecca Lucy. 2008. On symposia: LiveJournal and the shape of fannish discourse. Transformative Works and Cultures, no. 1. Busker discusses how LiveJournal caused fans to acquire a "peripheral, and sometimes even very specific, knowledge of other fandoms."
  20. ^ See LiveJournal News, archived 02 July 2005 by the Wayback Machine.
  21. ^ From Arduinna's essay LJ and Me/WebCite, written 2004, posted 2005, accessed 24 April 2012
  22. ^ "Soon-to-be-implemented changes in lj comments: no more subject line" thread at Fail-Fandomanon, 12 Dec 2011 (Accessed 15 Dec 2011)
  23. ^ Livejournal to do away with subject line in comments post by heeroluva, 12 Dec 2011. (Accessed 15 Dec 2011)
  24. ^ Oh, LJ post by havocthecat, 13 Dec 2011. (Accessed 15 Dec 2011)
  25. ^ from. Missing Interests and Planned User Strike on Livejournal by Merlin Missy (March 17, 2008)
  26. ^ Metafandom
  27. ^ comment by LJ's new policy..., comment by jdsampson, February 2, 2008
  28. ^ [1]; archive link by Shoshanna (October 23, 2009)
  29. ^ comment by Franzi at Zinelist (July 23, 2009)
  30. ^ kouredios. Being the change I want to see in my f-list. Posted to Dreamwidth 6 December 2012. (Accessed 21 December 2012)
  31. ^ Interview by Deena Wang, "Fandoms, the Internet, and Harry Potter The Tech". 2013-05-14. Archived from the original on 2021-09-21.
  32. ^ 2014-10-24 anonymous comment thread, Fail_fandomanon. (Accessed 1 November 2014.)
  33. ^ Dreamwidth Studios. raw Dreamwidth statistics (Accessed 5 April 2017)
  34. ^ morgan dawn. Deleting Your Livejournal: You Don't Have To Set Yourself On Fire On Your Way Out Of The Building Posted to Dreamwidth 29 December 2016. (Accessed 4 April 2017).
  35. ^ swan_tower. a note for those who read this blog via LiveJournal Posted to Dreamwidth 30 December 2016 (Accessed 4 April 2017)
  36. ^ Russian-Owned LiveJournal Bans Political Talk, Adds Risk of Spying on IO9 by Beth Elderkin, dated 4/08/17 accessed 2017-04-16
  37. ^ After Moving Servers to Russia , LiveJournal Bans 'Political Solicitation' in Global Voices AdVox by Kevin Rothrock, dated 4 April 2017 (Accessed 16 April 2017)
  38. ^ Users are fleeing LiveJournal over Russian owners’ possible anti-LGBTQ terms in The Daily Dot by Ana Valens, dated 6 April 2017 (Accessed 16 April 2017)
  39. ^ It Might Be Time to Delete Your LiveJournal in The Mary Sue by Marykate Jasper, dated 8 April 2017 (Accessed 16 April 2017)
  40. ^ Blogging platform LiveJournal’s new user policy threatens pro-LGBT content in Las Angeles Blade by Mariah Cooper, dated 10 April 2017 (Accessed 16 April 2017)
  41. ^ This Week in Fandom, Volume 46 (2017-04-11)
  42. ^ suricattus. Untitled Tumblr thread Posted to Tumblr 3 April 2017 (Accessed 5 April 2017)
  43. ^ "User Agreement". 2022-01-20. Archived from the original on 2022-03-29.
  44. ^ reference link -- the draft post with a list of suggestions from the community is here; reference link

Related Links
Places LJ clones (and code forks): Dreamwidth · GreatestJournal · InsaneJournal · JournalFen · Inksome! · DeadJournal
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