Invite codes II: Electric Boogaloo
Short, concise description of the idea
Bring back invite codes, with a few twists to prevent abuse and make them more palatable.
Full description of the idea
Make new accounts a restricted account type (I'm calling these "Starter Accounts") that can only post private posts and read the posts of others. This account type would also have a hidden profile (i.e. it would just display "This person has a Starter Account and does not have a public profile yet. Invite them so they can keep a public journal?) Note: the intent of this account type is so anyone can still create a journal; if you want to make your journal public, you then need to be 'trusted'. CAPTCHAs are basically irreparably broken for these purposes.
Introduce invitation codes to upgrade accounts from Starter Accounts to Plus Accounts (by default; of course they could downgrade to Basic Accounts if they wanted).
Set the generation requirements for these upgrade codes to these:
- Permanent Account users get unlimited invite codes. Paid Account users get unlimited invite codes after their account has been active and paid for 6 continuous months (and continue to have unlimited invite codes as long as they keep paying). They'd also get the free account codes while they were waiting. Since we can trace these users back to a real payment and can easily ban anybody that used the same method of payment all in one fell swoop, and we can also determine the 'family tree' of invites very quickly, enabling us to take out botnets based on hard evidence and not the manual spelunking we have to do now.
HOWEVER: You can only have 5 unredeemed invite codes outstanding at any given time. You can't generate more than 20 invite codes a week. (These restrictions are to prevent botnets from purchasing one paid account and then spewing out an entire botnet from it.)
- Plus/Free/EA users get 2 invite codes after 3 weeks. They get 5 more after 6 months. Current free users would all get their 2 invite codes now and their 5 more 6 months from now.
- Joe Stranger who just stumbles across LiveJournal and wants to make an account would get a starter account. Of course, we'd have a [info]codesharing or equivalent, and we could push that from create.bml. However, I think selling "On LiveJournal, you don't journal alone; we require all new accounts be invited by someone else in order before they can make public posts in order to eliminate spam and to connect you to someone else who uses the service and will read your stuff" or something like that. It's not all doom and gloom "i have to get an invite" but "Oh, hey, they'll find me a friend to get me started with this blog 2.0 tagosphere stuff!"
- You would be eligible to purchase one extra invite code with a new purchase of a Paid Account, in addition to the codes listed above. Any TxtLJ-eligible phone number would also be eligible to receive a single invite code via SMS for free. You would also be able to mail a postcard to the LiveJournal office and receive an invite code via e-mail. LJ could also post photos of the wall of postcards at the office and show the wide array of places LJ users come from.
These numbers have been chosen from my understanding of how the site works, how bots spread, etc. etc.; of course they can be tweaked around as necessary. I don't have any sort of inside knowledge as to how these things work; I just want to make sure the site continues to feel like a community.
- Seriously reduces the problem of spam
- Helps build connections between users and ensures that statistics about new account creations are accurate (i.e., now they are thrown off with bots)
- Permits users to still make journals for free and without an invite code.
- Likely increases Paid Account revenue as people purchase codes and/or maintain time to get new codes.
- May limit growth of the service if new legitimate users can't find invite codes or use the codesharing, pay, postcard, or SMS methods.
- SMS costs money and does not work outside the US (maybe there is a TxtLJ alternative that could be used to reach Russia as well?)
- Creates problems for users who want to create/maintain hundreds of journals (although in this case, one single Paid Account doesn't seem too much to ask.)
- Potentially reduces ad revenue due to the dropoff in 'new accounts' in the statistics.
- Will require considerable change to the account creation flow and the coding of the new account type.
A few clarifications:
- These accounts would be able to comment anywhere; with the comments treated as anonymous (images placeholdered; links nofollowed)
- A very common type of spam account is one that contains links to porn/pharma/etc. sellers, then the link to that journal is e-mailed through spam. The existence of these accounts is the reason for the Starter Accounts being private-view only; such a solution makes these accounts completely untenable.