Антон Носик (anton_nossik) wrote,
Антон Носик

This journal has been placed in memorial status. New entries cannot be posted to it.

A note to English-speaking readers

It had been brought to my attention, that some of my comments, carried on Tuesday by a Russian online daily called Izbrannoe, drew immense criticisms from many American LJ readers and users, who were never given a chance to read them in the first place. Some were basing their impressions on a machine translation, and others, even worse, on a recount of that translation by a third party, who, in just indignation, went on to distort whatever little was left of my original words.

Since I do not want fellow LJ users to be offended by things I've never said or meant, I find it appropriate to offer some clarifications.

Who I am and on whose behalf I am speaking
Let me start with one small clarification, which should show, to what extent the distortion had been thorough and wholesome.

There were many job titles ascribed to me by republishers of my maimed comments. They called me the head of Sup, the Russian Master(s) of LiveJournal, the chief of Sup Blogging Service et cetera. Not a single reference to my actual title and responsibilities with the company, which, I believe, is a somewhat relevant fact, when one tries to present my words as the official position of the corporation.

Anyone visiting dolboebmy blog in LJ (not reading it, just looking at the first page) is offered a glimpse at my pages in some networks, like LinkedIn and Facebook, and he can see my official English title there. It's called Social Media Evangelist. Probably, this title requires some clarification, but several things are quite obvious even without it. It's clear enough, that I'm neither the head of this company. nor an executive officer, nor the head of LiveJournal department, nor a principal shareholder. Indeed, I have some serious knowledge of the service, having used it for over 7 years, earning two Permanent Accounts as early as in the Spring of 2001. My blog on LJ is among the top 5 most read journals in Russia. A score of early LJ adopters in Russia either learned about the service from my articles, or used my invite codes to join. Therefore, when SUP company first started cooperation with LiveJournal, in fall of 2006, they invited me to contribute my knowledge of the service, acting as an advisor, and I felt it quite natural to join. This doesn't mean that I am in a position to change things in LiveJournal at will (outside my own blog), or that the company must have my permission before doing any changes to LJ. To make long story short, I was never part of the decision to stop offering basic accounts, I learned about it during my trip to the States, from the press, asking me for comments which I couldn't offer, for lack of knowledge. This, I believe, was an indication of a severe communication error within the company, and I hope it's being fixed now, and won't be repeated.

What Izbrannoe published was my personal opinion of a veteran Russian LJ blogger, who happens to know the service since its early days, to love and value it, and who's seen his share of scandals, protests and flashmobs over the years. I believe that I am entitled to my own independent opinion, which needs not reflect either the positions or the motives of the corporation I work for. Sup has its top management, there is also a press-service in both hemispheres, so there is absolutely no need to construe my own personal opinion of a Russian blogger (and creator of such respected free speech outlets as Lenta.Ru, Gazeta.Ru and NewsRu.Com) as an official message of Sup corporation, or its management, to the LJ users.

Indeed, anyone has the legal right to demand (by strikes, boycotts, threats, flashmobs or petitions), that the company should now fire me for my personal views and beliefs. Such demands had been made a thousand times over the years, from different companies I worked for, since many of my views (as well as my race and creed) are seen as controversial by some people, including my own bosses. But there is absolutely no reason to take my personal views of a veteran LJ user as an official stance of any corporation on Earth.

And now, still speaking in my personal quality, I would like to address some specific issues, that had been misquoted, mistranslated or misconstrued from my comments.
I did not dismiss user complaints
Neither did I dismiss any complaints from LJ users, nor am I in charge of handling complaints in LJ. There is a team of extremely professional and competent people, both LJ/SUP employees and volunteers, who do that, and none of them is my subordinate. All I said was that not a single LJ account out of the 15 something millions created before March 12, was affected by the changes introduced. This might seem trivial to an attentive reader of the original LJ news post, but, unfortunately, Russian press and part of the blogosphere is awash with speculation about basic accounts being "shut down" or "liquidated", or "users of basic accounts made to pay for the service since March 12th" and other such horrors. On Wednesday alone I was approached by at least 6 journalists asking my comments about "the closure of basic accounts in LJ". I don't feel it's wrong to dispel these false statements, even if some users do believe in them and do complain about this "closure".

I did not call anyone an idiot
I never called anyone an idiot in this interview, especially not anyone involved in the ongoing discussion of basic accounts. Speaking of a 2006 protest against the introduction of sponsored communities in LiveJournal (see antisponsoredlj for the story), I said, that contacts of LJ advertisers were posted in public, together with an invitation to flood them with calls of protest, thus undermining the LJ ads business. In my personal opinion, it's an idiocy for an LJ user, wishing well to the service, to follow such instructions from someone whose contribution to LJ is unclear, to say the least. But I believe no one did follow them.
The said community also carried an open letter to Brad Fitzpatrick, which I also mentioned, with these words in bold: Brad. I'm saying you don't know how to care about LiveJournal.
Later there had been some Russian protests against Sup, carrying much the same wording, and also making a mention of calls to advertisers. Some of them were made or popularized by LJ's and Sup's direct competitors.
Here, again, I believe, that such calls did not find any followers.
And many calls I've heard in the recent days, about teaching LJ a lesson, are reminding me of these past protests. Can't do anything about it: I have a long memory.

I did not say we won't return basic accounts because of the boycott
Speaking of my quote, where I allegedly say that the boycott might be the reason not to review the freeze on basic accounts, confusion here originates from the Russian journalists' editing of my words (the comments were neither written, nor proofread by me, the published piece was actually a freeform abstract of a 2-hour long phone conversation). What I was actually saying, was that threats should not be the reason influencing decisions, if we want these decisions to be sane, reasonable, motivated and acceptable for all parties. Decisions should be made when they are ripe and integral, not by a calendar date set by a third party, who assumes no responsibility for their outcome.

Facts from LJ history: who's lying?
There's been quite a rude personal attack on me in an editorial in Firefox News by one Ms. Melissa Wilson, who obviously hasn't understood any of my comments, but goes to great lengths further distorting them, and sparing no harsh words when it comes to characterizing me and my views. The lady can't spell either my name or my job title, but that's probably not an obstacle for a true expert in LJ matters.

Then he (that's probably me — A.N.) lied about the previous payment structure which existed before SixApart purchased the company... — Ms. Wilson writes. — I'd like to take this time to point out that I've had a Livejournal account since 2002, and a Paid account since 2003. Paid accounts, even then, offered more icons, more space, and more bells and whistles, and those of us who came to the service free found that we liked it enough to pay for more. Nosik is gravely mistaken about the history of his own company, and that's a serious problem on its own.

I wouldn't want to discuss, whether I am lying, or mistaken. I would simply quote the document, that was found on http://www.livejournal.com/paidaccounts/ when I started a Paid, then a Permanent account back there in 2001. Luckily, the text is freely available from Archive.Org for anyone who cares to see for himself, who's lying here, who's mistaken, and who was simply quoting the LJ official position about payments.

I have to pay to use LiveJournal? That's stupid!
No, of course not... paying for web services is annoying, we agree. That's why nearly all of LiveJournal's functionality is available free of charge. However, if you're happy with the service you're being provided, show your support and get a paid account.

It takes money to run websites (for servers, colocation, and bandwidth), and this seems like a better way to pay for it than blasting you with pop-up banner ads and spamming you with advertisements.

Just for the record I must say, that when Ms. Wilson purchased her account in 2003, the wording was still the same, although some bells and whistles started appearing in Paid Accounts. It was last seen there in July 2005, and was actually gone next month, when the same page started hinting, that LiveJournal had actually produced some services worth paying for, and wasn't just asking money to avoid showing banners on any of its pages. This was also the moment, when the ad-bashing rhetoric has been removed.

Speaking of the shift in LJ business model, these are the plain facts, that, in my humble opinion, are self-explanatory.

Were freeloaders really so welcome in donation-backed LJ?
One last relevant fact I would like to mention, if we're suddenly nostalgic about the pre-SixApart years of LiveJournal, is this. For more than two years the only way to get on LiveJournal for an outsider was by paying money. The free alternative was to beg an existing user for an invite code, but this was no analog to Gmail's 99 invitations for every newbie, or to Facebook's 20 per day per applet, with supply renewed constantly. LiveJournal offered its users something like 1 invitation code per new account created, and generated 1 code per month for a paying user. The only exception was Permanent Accounts, we had a bigger supply of invites, 5 per month, but I soon ran short of these as well, and had to pay a 2 months' minimum fee of $5 for any friend I wished to introduce to the brave new world of LiveJournal. I even used to have a small monthly budget to pay Brad for getting Russian friends on board every month (being the only Russian user in LJ, who wasn't banned by IP when he was paying — I was personally excluded from the IP geographical check).

So much for the myth about freeloaders beeing more welcome in LiveJournal of 2002-2003, than they are today.

Let's hope tomorrow is another day, and we'll soon leave all these scandals, threats and misunderstandings behind us, together with the bad decisions that led to them, and the bad feelings that helped fuel the flames.
Tags: english, internet, lj
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