Basic accounts suggestion
Short, concise description of the idea
There is talk of restoring basic accounts for some people. This one suggestion of a possible tiered account system, that I think would benefit the LJ business and users alike.
Full description of the idea
Despite Mr. Nosik's disparaging dismissal of the stripped-down level of basic accounts, that's exactly what many people want. I have people who comment in my LJ who have never made a post in their own journal; they join LJ to have an identifiable name, and to be recognized as a friend for friends-locked posts. They don't need or want extra icons, or Scrapbook space, or customizable journal styles, etc.
Also remember -- many products entice people by offering free samples. I was extremely reluctant to join LJ, and did so only after the arm-twisting of several friends. I started with a basic account -- no payment, no ads. After about four months, I went paid (Plus wasn't an option) and have maintained that for 3-1/2 years. If I had to pay before I decided if I liked the place, or to look at ad content which I despise, I wouldn't be here.
Many people already don't use the features to which they're entitled; but does LJ have to "hold" that amount of server capability in case they do? (Honest question; I don't know how this works.) I will assume they do. So, if LJ knew that user 'X' would never use Scrapbook, they would need that much less dedicated server space.
My suggestion is -- offer basic (free, no ads) to new users for four months trial period. Let them develop a circle of friends, join communities that interest them -- IE, learn to enjoy and appreciate the "community" aspects of LJ. After that time, they must decide to go to a Plus or Paid account. But there should be several levels of Paid account, starting with stripped-down bare-bones, and allowing the user to select specific extra features for higher fees. It might look like this --
1. Minimum paid = $5.00 per year. Only three icons, no customization of journal, no Scrapbook space, etc.
2. Moderate paid = $5.00 per year plus whatever features they choose.
- [a] 25 icons = $5.00 per year
. . 50 icons = $9.00 per year
. . 100 icons = $17.00 per year . . . and on up
[b]Scrapbook space for 100 pics = $5.00 per year
. . Scrapbook space for 200 pics = $9.00 per year
. . Scrapbook space for 300 pics = $17.00 per year . . . and on up
[c] Customizable journal = $5.00 per year
[d] Ability to use polls = $5.00 per year
[e] Ability to voice post = $10.00 per year, or $1.00 per post (for people who never expected to use it, but had an emergency)
[f] Ability to have friends page show 100 or 150 posts instead of a max of 50 (personally, I'd happily pay an extra charge for this feature)
3. Plus accounts. I can't speak to this very well, since I maintain Paid to avoid ads. But others have pointed out -- no flashing, strobing, covering user-text, etc. And allow each journal user some input as to the ad CONTENT that will be placed in their journal. A journal that advocates against bulimia or anorexia does NOT want weight-loss ads to show up.
In short, we understand that LiveJournal is a business, and needs to make money. I think most of us don't mind paying for features that we use. But we DO object to paying for "improvements" that we'll never use, while LJ seems to bow to outside pressures against the well-being of their customers. Your user base is largely adult; treat us like that, and we'll respond in kind.
.An ordered list of benefits
I think you'll have more satisfaction among users and management alike.
You'd have to set the system for keeping track of this stuff. But since you already have a system for keeping track of time, icons, payments, etc, I would think this would just be an expansion.
ETA: Folks, I offered this as a suggestion! I have no idea how LJ would implement this, IF they even do decide to implement it, whether it would apply to communities, new accounts, current accounts, or any permutation thereof. I would like to see it implemented across the board -- but I'm not LJ, and have no input as to what they decide.