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Hmm -- LJ continues to not quite get it
On the plus side, LiveJournal has just revived the lj_feedback community, so they can actually *tell* the users about changes that they are thinking of, before going ahead and making them.

OTOH, the first post there indicates some worrying blinders. They are considering adding a "+1" button, to keep up with the Joneses. That isn't an obviously crazy idea, but the poll that comes with the post, asking where the +1 button should appear, has the options:
  • Comments only

  • Entries only

  • Comments and entries both
Notice something missing?

I'm getting some sense of technical panic in the LJ team. They're not making consistently bad decisions, IMO, but they do seem to be terribly *rushed*, and making an implicit assumption that Change Is Good. That's often true, but not always, and I do suspect that they need to slow down and accept the possibility that copying FB and G+ may, in some cases, be a bad idea.
Sidebar: since somebody is going to ask, "Why not add a +1 button?", my counter-argument has to do with conversational style. LJ has always forced its users to actually *say* something, which means that replies tend to be slightly more considered and deeper. When you have to comment, not just press +1, that makes you think about this as a conversation rather than a vote, and you are more likely to add something more substantive; that, in turn, promotes the general LJ style, which is far more interactive and thoughtful than Facebook.

Is it a big deal? *Probably* not, but I'm not at all sure the change would be a net positive. Most of the folks who have stuck with LJ have done so precisely because it is *not* Facebook. So changing LJ to be more like FB isn't an obviously good idea. And every change, no matter how small, does have knock-on effects to think about. Overall, this change might be positive and it might be negative, but I don't find that balance to be at all obvious.
Giving credit where it is due, they are at least talking about giving journal owners the choice about whether to show this button. So if nothing else, there is the potential for some really interesting studies about how the presence of such a button *does* affect conversational depth and style. That being the case, I'm not terribly hot under the collar about the whole thing.

Still, I think it would have been appropriate for them to give "Don't add this feature at all" as an option in the poll; as it stands, they've automatically biased their data...

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I think by proposing it as an optional feature they are already taking care of the folks who don't want it.

I'm sure that's the way they think of it, but honestly, I think that's a bit naive -- an engineer's way of looking at a memetic question.

Social networks are creatures of convention and habit, and tend to certain kinds of conformity. I would actually be surprised if we don't start seeing subtle social pressure to turn on the button. (That is, I expect the folks who want the lazy way out to whine at the people who turn the button off.)

Adding a feature creates social expectations among the population as a whole, and that can have gradual cultural effects. Simply saying "you can choose not to use it" doesn't do much to alleviate that, if the overall culture shifts under you.

Again, I'm not *certain* that this would happen, and I'm personally on the fence about whether this change is a good idea or not. But their poll signals a disinterest in having the conversation, and I do think that's unwise...

They have decided not to pursue the feature. The LJ community has explained why they don't want to be Facebook, apparently. :-)

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