I’ve been thinking even more (as I eat my lunch) about the latest LJ bru-ha-ha about new free accounts having to have ads. Lots of folks, if you were to read the comments on the recent news posts, believe there should never be ads on LiveJournal; that somehow the service should be provided solely on the back of the paid users. They seem to feel that they should have the right to create as many ad-free no-cost accounts as they want, and that their payment on one account somehow would justify and cover their use of resources. They seem to feel that programmers employed by Livejournal should add all sorts of nifty features, and their salaries would magically come from somewhere. But I digress.
What got me thinking about this again was looking at some of the news sites I regularly visit. They are ad supported. No one complains. Folks who put up their wordpress or blogspot blogs have ads on the blogs… and no one complains about those ads. Google presents sponsored results everytime you do a search. No one complains. People have links to books and other stuff and make Amazon referral credits… and no one complains. You visit Slashdot, and there are ads. So what’s so special about Livejournal?
Could it be that people have less control over the ads? They view the page as their own, and thus want more control over the ads and placement? I know on Boardgamegeek, one can control the placement of the ad, but one can’t eliminate it without paying. Perhaps folks are upset that something might be advertised that they don’t personally endorse. Again, that’s addressable, either through an automatic disclaimer (“This ad placed by Livejournal Inc, not the journal owner”), or by providing selections about the categories of products that could be advertised on a page. Perhaps folks wish that LJ would share the income from the ads on their page with them via some formula (perhaps it could build up credits towards various goodies such as extra userpics, more storage, LJ gift-certificates for V-gifts, or other features people want).
(Note: I’m aware that the original LJ owners promised no advertising. But those creating new accounts never had those promises made to them, plus we’ve changed owners twice since then. So, at least for the sake of discussion, let’s set that particular issue to the side.)
ETA: (There’s also the issue of the “free” content drawing people to LJ, and thus enhancing business. Some believe that the ad-free accounts are suitable draws for the creation of free content. But there are other models for this — again, I point to BGG and the Geekgold system, where you get virtual geekgold that you can then use for fancier user pictures or microbadges, or to gift others for their good stuff. A similar approach could be used at LJ to get good content, especially if you seeded all users with some small amount of GoatFood to gift others for good posts)
So what’s so bad about advertising? It’s the American way.
[20 meaningless points to anyone who can indicate why I chose this userpic. You have to pick the right reason.]