Sholio (sholio) wrote,

Why I'm not participating in the LJ content strike

First off, I don't mind other people doing it. Getting enthusiastic and moved to act for a cause -- that's a good thing, right? I'm not going to be posting/commenting/giving them page hits in a deliberate effort to undermine the strike. I'm just going to carry on like I normally do.

I wrote out the first version of this in a comment elsewhere, and figure I'd repost it here (modified and updated for latest developments).

I do believe there's real power in grassroots movements, and that boycotts/strikes/protests with a clear purpose, well-organized, with their demands clearly communicated to the corporation/entity that they're trying to change, can and have accomplished a lot.

But I don't feel as if this one has a clear purpose and function, and I don't wish to get involved with a cause that's so vague and ill-defined. What are people angry about, anyway? Loss of Basic accounts? In that case, jumping ship to IJ, which has NEVER had Basic-equivalent accounts, makes no sense. Having user interests pulled from the popular listings? They reinstated them -- shouldn't we be thanking them for that, and letting them know that we'd like more of that sort of responsiveness? Anger at the corporate-speak and obfuscation that they use when trying to communicate their wishes to us, the user base? How is a strike going to help with that, especially when none of us are being especially clear about what we want, either?

This hadn't happened yet when I wrote my original comment, but LJ apologized for their hasty decision with Basic accounts and has floated the possibility of allowing existing users to continue to create Basic accounts. Which ... pretty much sounds like exactly what we wanted. At this point, continuing with the strike when LJ is meeting the strikers' demands is pretty counter-productive; the message it sends is "We don't care what you do, we're striking anyway." And it may well be that the threat of a strike was part of what prompted this, in which case, yay! Go strikers! But, again -- going ahead with a strike when everything seems to be going the strikers' way is only going to breed hard feelings, it seems to me.

The idea of proving to LJ that the site is content-driven sounds good and lofty, but there's no doubt in my mind that LJ already knows the site is content-driven, just as, say, Wal-Mart knows that their survival as a business is dependent upon consumers buying their goods. But in either case, a vague and undefined boycott isn't going to give them a respect for their customer base that wasn't there before. At most, if it's successful enough, it might just tick them off a little bit. I can't help feeling that the strike, for some people at least, is a way for users to get back at LJ for perceived injustices -- a way of "sticking it to the man" rather than working towards actual change. And it serves no more purpose than the wave of "MADE OF FAIL" and cat macro comments that attach to any LJ news post (regardless of what they're actually announcing).

The only way a strike could possibly have any effect is if enough customers refuse to use the service until the business makes the changes they want to see. If we're staging a one-day strike to make them respect us, I'm just not seeing how it's going to work. Businesses neither like nor respect customers who boycott them; it won't be more than a temporary irritant, and that's assuming enough people "strike" to make a noticeable difference in site stats. If not, then it will have proven the opposite -- that the dissatisfied customers are a small minority who can be easily ignored.

And to do it when things seem to be essentially going our way ... no, I'm not going to do that.

Like I said, though, this is an explanation of why I'm not doing it, not a condemnation of anyone else for participating. Having a passion for the place you "live" online, and the desire to change it and make it better, is a good thing, even though I don't feel that this passion is being channeled effectively and efficiently in the content strike. But I consider it my prerogative not to get involved with a cause whose process and goals feel unpleasantly murky to me, even if I think their heart's in the right place.

Obviously, if anyone has a good counter-argument, I'd be happy to hear it, either in the comments here or, if you are participating in the strike, via email.
Tags: lj
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