marahmarie: my initials (MM) (Default)

...get over. LiveJournal was my home from the fall of 2005 until I left in, I think, 2010 (I have no record of when I left except an initial post on Wordpress after leaving LJ, and apparently on that I linked to my LJ profile to explain why. I know I had some sort of rant about linkjacking there, but I just checked archive.org to see they never captured that version of the page. I've also found this comment I made, which indicates I won't be coding my journal anymore, so perhaps it was by April of 2010).

Well, anyway, on LiveJournal linkjacking was wherein you'd write a post with normal links in it. Say you'd write, "You can find the steps on how do this thing I'm talking about here", where "here" would be a normal link to anywhere, but say for this example, it linked to another page on my blog. Well, the linkjacked version of that was when you clicked "here" to go to the other page, you got shown an ad instead. Of course, LJ did this to us twice, two different times in one year, if I recall correctly (I cannot find supporting documentation for the first time but this article talks about a second round of linkjacking in 2010, so obviously there was a first time to make the second time...possible).

ETA: dug around some more and found this, so now it looks like I've got tentative dates for each occurrence; the first linkjacking occurred March of 2010; the second round began about a month later. The reason? LJ messed up their first version of the linkjacker code. The first version simply scrambled pre-existing affiliate IDs on people's links while leaking all kinds of information by allowing data sent via https://to travel to other sites via http://. People posting links on their LJs to Amazon and other sites where they made money were losing money by the fistful over this, so LJ took the code down for a few weeks and rewrote it so it literally hijacked every outbound link on every journal, then stuck it back in our codebase.

LJ also never announced they were linkjacking. Each time they did it, they just did it. No advance warning.

I can't emphasize enough how fucked up this is. I've had problems on websites, OK? It's not all been smooth sailing. I've dealt with features I thought were bugs. I've hit ceilings on my ability to change writing and layout environments that frustrated me. I've dealt with platform owners I thought were assholes (and no, I'm not talking about anyone on DW or LJ, just to be super-duper clear). I've felt some platform owners were not transparent or honest or invested enough in a lot of things. The Basic Account fiasco on LJ did piss me off. Russian ownership bugged the hell out of me and was not a thing that I could even, but I never liked SixApart, either, because when I started on LJ, Brad ran everything; when SixApart took over, it became impersonal - LJ was "just a business" to them.

But even taking 10 years of sometimes icky memories of various blogging environments into account, nothing got to me like LJ's linkjacking, and I'd bet nothing ever will. LJ violated my trust and in turn violated people's trust in me. I got so many fucking emails and comments from people every time they linkjacked saying something like, "I clicked a link from your blog and wound up in Timbuktu adland instead, why the hell are you redirecting people to ads on a blog that's supposed to be about AOL" that I was beside myself.

I couldn't prove it wasn't my idea: there was not a lick of official documentation or a single public post on LJ discussing the linkjacking being done to us. There was no official word on how to stop it or turn it off, either. The second time around people apparently found a way to do so on a per-blog basis via the admin console but it only worked while you were logged in, not for anyone else viewing your blog, and that was all just users digging around in the settings for something that worked - which is a lot like throwing one pot of spaghetti at the wall after another until finally, finally, something sticks. There was also an issue where using Adblock Plus or NoScript froze every link on LJ solid (depending on whether you blocked one or both link redirects and/or which link redirect was blocked) whether you used the admin console command to undo the linkjacking or not.

That was the end of LiveJournal for me. I had my first two journals there (the same ones I have now here and on Wordpress, respectively) and I made the first online friends I'd ever had there, some of who were wanting to meet in person when I left, some of who actually lived nearby me who became closer-than-usual friends just for that reason. I still think about them though we've never talked online or offline again. I also got on problem-free with LJ's staff, regardless of which company was running LJ from one year to the next, which I know is contrary to speculation I've heard over the years that I got on badly with some of them. Nothing bad carried over to Dreamwidth from there.

LJ was not bad if you discounted the drama in each News post that went on for years, all the different owners and ownership styles we had, and that making Basic Accounts see ads, when LJ had always been 100% free (but with more limited features for free users) until that moment (which I think they eventually might have gone back on) really kind of sucked. LJ only became intolerable when I realized linkjacking might always be an issue: there'd be an outcry, they'd pull the scripts that made linkjacking possible for a while, then they'd reintroduce them when things got quiet again. Always without warning: a true stealth strike every time. I just couldn't deal with it.

If they'd never linkjacked I might still be there, but it's probably for the best that I'm not. Dreamwidth's smaller and more personal, and I never have to worry about unknown (or any!) ads creeping around my blog, so I'm less stressed about where I'm keeping what online (and I mean, putting my other blog on Wordpress was not a bad choice, either, but they *do* show ads, which again I have no control over, which does sort of bug me). I look at LJ every once in a while (mostly because maybe half my list crossposts to it, otherwise I'd have no reason to visit at all) and I see they've 'gone Facebook' now that the real Facebook's stealing users and visitors from all over for itself, and I think, they were so short-sighted to do some of the things they did, but too late now.