So, it’s official: SixApart are buying LiveJournal. Reactions seem to be ranging from horror to relief.
It’s not really a huge surprise to me. In spite of some claims to the contrary, I’d been told that Brad really didn’t have much to do with the day-to-day running of LiveJournal—stuff like policy, dealing with abuse, and so on. I’d already guessed that he was looking for an exit strategy.
I looked at Six Apart and Moveable Type when LiveJournal deleted my account without notice. The basic service (TypePad) starts at $4.95 a month, and that was more than I was willing to commit to. Plus, they have the same kinds of Terms of Service as LiveJournal, and I have no idea how reasonable or otherwise they are at dealing with abuse. Worse still, they put ads on your site. $50+ a year and crappy ads? I don’t think so.
You can use the Moveable Type software and “roll your own”, of course. Unfortunately, you can’t use the ‘free’ version if you “directly or indirectly support any commercial efforts” via your web site, and I’m not ready to agree to any licenses that put restrictions on what I can and can’t say on my own damn web site. To not have restrictions on what you can use your MT web site for, you need to shell out $199.95 for an MT license. Sorry, but that’s way too expensive.
Brad says they won’t be jacking up the prices for LiveJournal. However, note that he also says:
Our old TOS and privacy policies apparently sucked, from a lawyer point-of-view. We never had lawyers create or really even review the old ones.
This directly contradicts statements by the LiveJournal Abuse team. They told me that the TOS could not be changed, that it was the way it was because the lawyers said so, and that they couldn’t even discuss it. There have been public comments to that effect too:
—they do not set policy, they only enforce what has been told to them by LJ’s legal counsel, and they have no leeway in this.
I’m guessing that someone told the Abuse team that that was the case, and they believed it, but still, it points to some serious problems with LiveJournal’s management. (Not that that should be a surprise to anyone reading this.)
Brad says they won’t be jacking up the prices to match Six Apart levels. Well, I’m sure they won’t—not immediately, anyway. But can you really see Six Apart offering two services, one of which is free (or much cheaper) but offers the same functionality as the other?
But hey, let’s be positive. Maybe LiveJournal will finally get support for simply applying a CSS Style Sheet to your journal. We can dream.
So, for those contemplating the future with uncertainty, what are the other options?
Personally, I want some software that’s free-as-in-freedom and doesn’t put limits on what I can say. I want it to support comment threads and authenticated users, and I want it to cost less than $100. It has to have a way to put existing data into it, and to get data out of it for backup. I’d rather it wasn’t written in PHP for obvious reasons, and it needs to statically render as much as possible to keep server load reasonable.
Perhaps people have suggestions? Unfortunately it seems like most of the CMS systems out there are hacked together in PHP. I know about Plone, but their system requirements don’t give me much hope.