Livejournal Deathwatch

Since Livejournal's ability to keep their various services actually running has gotten so much worse this year, I've started divesting myself of reliance on them. Last month, LJ went a full five days without updating RSS feeds, so now I no longer use LJ as my feed aggregator (I'm using NetNewsWire now; it's ok). And last week, LJ was totally down for 4+ hours, meaning that I couldn't use my LJ OpenID token to log in to other sites, so now I'm running my own OpenID provider too (phpMyID, it's really easy).

My question is, what do I use to replace LJ's Jabber server? (Other than Google Chat, obviously.) I'd like my Jabber ID to be "" instead of "", and I suspect the only way to accomplish that is to run my own Jabber server. Said server would only ever have one person connected to it and would peer with the rest of the network. I tried installing Djabberd, but there is basically nothing in the way of documentation or examples, so I couldn't get it to do anything.

(I imagine the lack of reliability that seems to be Livejournal's new way of doing things -- plus the fact that the site feels like a ghost town now -- will eventually cause me to move this blog to somewhere else. I'm not sure where, though. All the options are bad. Run it on your own site: get no comments but lots of spam. Just use Facebook: effectively limited to friends-only posts. Bleh.)

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98 Responses:

  1. jorm says:

    I've noticed that facebook seems to be moving into a "follow but not friend" system. If you "friend" someone, and they don't deny *or* accept, you'll still be able to watch their public posts.

    I expect that this is intentional, and will eventually birth systems where by you can "follow" people just like you follow "pages" or "fan" things. There are two things Twitter has over facebook: 1) the ability to "follow" people without them following you back, and 2) the ability to search globally for trending topics. Bets on how long it will be before those features are implemented?

    That being said, I set my FB "notes" to public, all access, and there are random people who read them. It's not ideal by any stretch, and I fucking *loathe* their editor and display system (LJ seems to be significantly more robust in that regard).

    I just want FB notes to allow internal HTML correctly. Just do that, guys? Please? Shouldn't be too hard. This is a solved problem.

  2. dr_memory says:

    If you've got a copy of OSX Server floating around, "iChat server" is in fact a full-on jabber/xmpp server. Otherwise, pick your poison. FWIW I found eJabberd to be reasonably well-featured and easy to set up back when I last looked at it (about three years ago), and these days they seem to have a MacOS installer.

  3. yan_1976 says:

    i use ejabberd to back end chat for my project. it seems solid. check it out, you'll like it...

    $ ejabberdctl connected_users| wc -l

    • eqe says:

      I use ejabberd as well, and it's fucking annoying because it's Erlang and I can't hack the source and the config files are written in moon-man language and there are incomprehensible daemons running providing critical portions of the language runtime, but it works and is less annoying than any of the alternatives. The logs are mostly useful for debugging connection problems (about 5 times in the last 12 months has decided to intermittently fail to deliver messages, either with or without returning 5xx errors) and it's neither fucking java nor C++. It never needs to be restarted, it doesn't crash or leak memory, and it's reasonably easy to configure (so long as you just follow the recipes in the config file comments).

      So I guess that's an endorsement of some kind.

  4. robm42 says:

    At work, we use Openfire (the free version). This is running on a CentOS 5.3 host. It peers just fine with LJ and GTalk.

    • poly_scott says:

      We also use OpenFire now (switched from djabberd) but on Debian rather than CentOS/RHEL. So far, it's much much better and far more stable for us.

      • bluknight says:

        I'll second Openfire -- we're moving to that at work from jabberd2 and I've been running Openfire at home for some projects for a while -- considering moving my 'public' stuff to it.

      • malokai says:

        I third this. OpenFire was stupidly easy to run, and stable.

    • disconn3ct says:

      Just adding a "me too" to openfire - running it at several companies and I've got a personal server. (Even have one tied into windows auth using a slapd relay.)

      It really is stupid easy, and incredibly stable.

    • I've been using Openfire also, pretty nice. It uses a bit of memory, but you can screw with the settings to reduce that, especially if you know there will only be one user on it. So yeah, I'd recommend it as well.

    • giantlaser says:

      I (counting ...) seventh that. We run Openfire as well. It integrated with our LDAP backend and distributes contact lists and conference rooms too. Although you probably won't use that.

  5. lilmissnever says:

    (I imagine the lack of reliability that seems to be Livejournal's new way of doing things -- plus the fact that the site feels like a ghost town now -- will eventually cause me to move this blog to somewhere else. I'm not sure where, though. All the options are bad. Run it on your own site: get no comments but lots of spam. Just use Facebook: effectively limited to friends-only posts. Bleh.)

    I have a similar problem. I don't know where the cool kids do their blogging these days. I suspect the answer is that they are too busy filling out Facebook quizzes to blog about anything.

    • solarbird says:

      Yeah, I've seen a lot of people go from posting semi-regularly to LJ to shorter Facebook bullshittery, or worse, tweeting. (I have several FL zombies which are just Twitterdumps, and y'know what? Fuck that.)

      • pdx6 says:

        I'm surprised that LJ would let their services run down hill, they're pretty popular in Russia and I figured the SUP owners would want to get their money's worth. It seems like LJ is making a last-ditch effort to make cash with self-service ads, but I know first hand that self-service ad networks tend to cost more than they make (though Google got it right).

        When all the cool kids find the internet hotspot, let me know so I can join in, making it mainstream.

        • alierak says:

          I use Dreamwidth. Disclaimer: Dreamwidth employee.

          • I've moved to DW and been happy with the offerings and stability, and the seamless LJ porting. I am admittedly lazy that way (why learn a new service?) but I'm pleased with DW's tech improvements, abuse handling, and so forth.

        • sethg_prime says:

          "Many eyeballs ⇒ many dollars" is the fallacy that seems to have gotten LJ into trouble since approximately five minutes after the Six Apart acquisition, no?

    • baconmonkey says:

      blogging? but that takes more than 140 characters! who has the time for that?

      • node says:

        As a joke, I grabbed jaikuengine, grepped for "140" in the source and changed it to 1024, and created tl2tweet. I think it took less than fifteen minutes to download, read the docs, modify, and set up the site; longer to change a few colors and add some missing images.

        • illyich says:

          This is a charming idea, but if you want people to use it you're going to have to allow (and clean up) anonymous posting for at least a little while.

    • wyndebreaker says:

      At least you can hide the chronic quiz takers.
      There were a lot of people in LJ communities whose posts I was sick of seeing, but there is no way to filter them out.

      I do still like LJ because of the freedom you have in making your posts, not the brief status updates of Facebook or even more brief Tweets. LJ is best for people who don't update much, like me, and want to convey a lot of stuff in bulk, while still reaching an audience that other blogging sites don't seem to get, at least as far as I see.

      • jwz says:

        If by "hide" you mean "un-friend". There's no way to say "never show me a god damned quiz" since each quiz is a separate app.

        However! It turns out that output of apps doesn't make it into the Facebook RSS feeds. This is certainly something you'd consider a bug if you intended RSS feeds to be, you know, true. But it works out ok. If you only read RSS, you never see comments on peoples' status updates, though, so that's like using LJ and never reading a comments page.

        • wyndebreaker says:

          "If by "hide" you mean "un-friend"."

          I'm talking about posts in LJ communities from people who aren't your friend to begin with.

          Like, say, frequent posts from ugly people here. (yeah, there are just some faces there I don't ever want to see again and some that I do)

          I usually just adblock their hosting site, but that doesn't always work if they use one that I can't block an entire directory for.
          Or people who give lousy advice in other communities and you just don't want to ever see anything they post. They aren't your friend and you just want to block their existence when you browse a community or group.

          That's probably asking too much though.

          • jwz says:

            I was talking about FB, not LJ.

            • davesmith42 says:

              On Facebook, if you just make "Status Updates" instead of "News Feed" your default, that cuts out about 95% of the junk. (On the home page, just drag "Status Updates" above "News Feed," and it'll default to that in the future.)

          • ammonoid says:

            One thing that has irritated me about LJ from day one is the lack of kill-filing. You can't filter out people you don't want to see on communities or comments on friends pages. But meh, people seem to be moving away from lJ and towards twitter.

        • packetslave says:

          Facebook became about 900% less annoying for me when I installed the FB Purity userscript for Greasemonkey. Bye bye to any and all applications, with an option to un-hide them if you so desire. It's sometimes a bit of a pain, because the userscript has to be updated whenever FB changes their HTML, but it's better than the alternative.

        • giantlaser says:

          I find a policy of "Block Application" for ALL applications works well. If any one user causes me to block an application more than twice, I "Ignore all applications from this user". I see only the standard Facebook features and nothing else.

          That might not be tenable if you have a large, frequently changing friends list.

    • pikuorguk says:

      Running your own WordPress installation is quite easy and also removes all the 'social networking' crap that wastes time.

      Perhaps there's too many emo kids on LJ that the system itself is trying to commit suicide, but failing ;)

      Today's reCaptcha words: rino flapping

      • trs80 says:

        Running your own WordPress installation adds "having to keep up with every WordPress release so you don't get hacked because it's a piece of shit PHP" crap that wastes time.

  6. dormando says:

    Sorry to hear :/ I might've still been a teenager when you found LJ.

    I installed djabberd once and it wasn't too bad, but yeah awful for docs. If you ping the mailing list and ask for someone to write you a config to do blah blah and explain it a bit, someone might respond. Should, since they don't have an RTFM excuse.

    Typically people just try each jabber server until they figure one out. I hear a lot of people end up on ejabberd... Don't beat me up for suggesting an erlang daemon though.

  7. jope says:

    Blogging is so this-decade. Move it to Google Wave; that's where the cool kids are all migrating.

    No, wait! That was a joke! Aaaaa...! *vaporizes*

    • mrarlyn says:

      I tend to agree. I like LJ as much as anyone but have been drifting further away over the last year. I still love it for the fine grained security but get frustrated because it doesn't play well with RSS readers.

  8. fo0bar says:

    I'd recommend ejabberd. It's full-featured and well-documented; that is to say, you'll spend a day getting it working, but you won't feel like you had to hack at it.

  9. I've bumped everything LJ-related to Dreamwidth, who have been pretty solid and look to be improving rapidly.

    I suppose it would've been smarter to swap my billion news feeds to an aggregator, but I'm lazy, and Dreamwidth works just like LJ does, so I don't have to learn a new skillset. I'll check out NetNewsWire though.

    For now, I still read and comment on LJ, and set Dreamwidth to crosspost my content here, but I'd like to see more stuff move off of the unreliable LJ platform.

    Facebook is useless for content longer than half a paragraph, IMO, but I'm really only there to play timewaster games.

  10. insomnia says:

    LiveJournal is dying, with nothing suitable to replace it. This is definitely the case for individual users, and doubly so for all the niche communities that LJ served.

    The people at DreamWidth are doing their best to offer a service that is better than LJ... but the problem is, what made LJ great was largely because so many people within most given subcultures were actively using the site.

    The simple fact is, no LJ clone could be what LJ was. DW only gets about 11K people updating per month... about 1/50th of its userbase. LJ is old and dying, but it still gets about 1/20th of its users updating every month.

    This isn't because DW isn't a good implementation that's well-run. It's because LJ had a choice a long, long time ago to move towards a decentralized structure of LJ code sites that allowed true cross-site functionality, but chose not to do so because it was easier and more profitable in the short-term to be balkanized.

    This is why I've essentially moved to Facebook. It's the least bad alternative... unless you want to do a separate blog, aggregate your comments to every single service out there, and hope people drop by to be a part of the conversation.

    Despite Facebook being "friends only", the big problem I find with it is that you're still stuck writing to everyone and your grandmother, which is oftentimes less effective than being more focused... and the rate-of-response is much lower than LJ.

    Things are bad. Really. Google Wave would actually be a substantial improvement... if everyone you wanted to communicate with used it.

    • lionsphil says:

      Congratulations. "LJ chose to be closed, and that's bad" immediately followed by "I've moved to Facebook" gave me a headache.

      • insomnia says:

        Did I say that Facebook was a good choice? Hardly. I said it was the least bad.

        What it is, unfortunately, is ubiquitous. I can read about more of my friends, even if they don't post as often.

        Is that something I should overlook entirely in favor of the site who most closely embraces my own ideals?

        The site that did that was LiveJournal... nine years ago, when I helped run it. Things change.

        There are still sites out there with good ideals, but ideals alone do not deliver the kind of openness that I would prefer... nor do they make the other sites which most of my friends are on embrace such features so as to prevent balkanization.

        From a user perspective, there's little more balkanized than a good site with impeccable standards for openness... which nobody uses.

    • dr_memory says:

      Not that I actually disagree with the majority of the sentiment, but are you sure that "Livejournal would be doing better if only it were more like Usenet" is your final answer?

      Facebook beat LJ on features, Twitter beat it on convenience, and Blogger/Wordpress/everybody-else-and-their-dog beat it on not only making it into the news in the contexts of "massive drama with child porn writers" and/or "bought by series of increasingly dodgy companies." Centralization's got fuck-all to do with it.

      • insomnia says:

        I never said "more like Usenet"... but there existed a window of time when LJ was more truly open source, and when it could've done far more to break down the barriers between sites... which are ultimately barriers of commenting, syndicating, and authenticating.

        It's great that Brad has done important work on development regarding all these ideas, but unfortunately, he came to the party too late.

        Around Jan. 2001, Blogger didn't even have robust commenting -- it was only possible through 3rd party plug-ins. Same with syndication. And site-to-site authentication was useless.

        I suggested around this time that LJ should consider an actual plan for its open source development, that would greatly increase its openness.

        Some of the steps I argued for were:
        - Adopting RSS ASAP.
        - Exporting our commenting system as a 3rd-party app for all the blog software out there, essentially setting an open source standard.
        - Allowing full, transparent functionality between the various LJ code sites. (This could also have been accessed by non-LJ sites through an API.)

        Unfortunately, Brad thought that it would be helping out our competition. He didn't see the long-term advantage to doing so, or the need to move aggressively while the window was open. (I made it clear that I thought LJ would face significant competitive problems down the road, once blog apps became commercially funded dotcoms.

        As I said then "(Blogger) might very well be purchased by a big dotcom for millions of dollars, at which point, we're in serious trouble. Sure, we can exist as we do right now with slow growth [ note: due to invite codes, which I opposed as being very damaging in the longterm ] and no real recognition, but if we do that, we will be outdone by a bunch of dotcom professionals who will use their growth and their money to expand, develop, and make us either irrelevant or obsolete... We . . . have an obligation to society. We've created a site that is now volunteer run and member supported. That's pretty unique for the Internet. . . We can be a model to other web sites... an example that the web can be human and doesn't have to be turned into one big advertisement. But in order to be an example to others, we must succeed."

        I knew that the dotcom'ization of blogging / social media sites was a growing threat that left us about three years to really establish dominance... which would mean growth, and attracting more open source development. But really, getting others to see the problem and act was a bit like pushing a rope.

        It didn't help that Brad was bored on one hand, and yet not inclusive enough of outside code / help on the other. Indeed, a lot of his efforts back then went into things like studying German, traveling, and working for many months on creating LJ's image hosting features, which I felt was largely a waste of time, replicating work better left handled by 3rd party sites that had already achieved dominance in their field.

        So, while Brad & Co. did a huge amount of very important things, and LJ definitely influenced where other sites went, we didn't do enough, soon enough. It was about a year-and-a-half later when LJ finally went live with RSS... something that Brad coded the initial version of in under a week, if I remember right. Even then, it was very early to the party and probably doubled the # of RSS feeds in existence... but it would've been hugely influential to go in that direction considerably earlier, as it could've helped wrest away a lot of the - tightly held - power that Dave Winer had over the dominant RSS syndication. As an open source site, we would've had a lot more acceptability from him, I suspect, to help move syndication into the modern age and widen its support base. Instead, people tried rebuilding *THAT* wheel too.

        (When you're in a Grand Prix race, you can't spend time wondering what color the wheels should be and expect to win.)

        • sherm says:

          How are eight-year-old arguments that you lost at all relevant? LJ grew massively and relatively successfully after all of that.

          A couple of things happened:

          - Six Apart tried to monetize the site (and badly). If get rich from LJ schemes (yours and others) were each worth $1, Brad would have 100 times whatever money he got from 6A. Obviously nobody ever stumbled upon one that works.

          - The world moved on. Most of the user base grew up, got laid, and stopped hurling juvenile cries for attention onto the Internet. That might not be the way you use LiveJournal, but it was certainly a huge component of the community. The next crop of juvenile crap went somewhere new, as it always does. What's left is incredibly insular subcultures that aren't going grow anything beyond what's already there.

          • insomnia says:

            Obviously, there's nothing that can be done anymore, but it is relevant to how LJ, by making some poor strategic decisions, basically lost their chance to be relevant into the future.

            "LJ grew massively and relatively successfully after all of that."

            Of course it did. That said, invite codes greatly restricted growth during the time period where growth was the most important -- when it could've established leadership through growth and attracted open soruce / 3rd party developers. itself as a leader.

            Once LJ got rid of invite codes in Dec. '04 -- which I opposed once it was clear that it wasn't a temporary thing, as initially claimed -- only then did growth skyrocket. Too late, though, to help LJ establish itself in all sorts of different ways.

            For example, "free and open" with complete control over their content and a large built-in community appealed greatly to labels such as Warner Music, who wanted to bring their bands over to LJ, but decided against it, even though they didn't initially like MySpace, who they viewed as profiting off their music. The invite codes and MySpace's relative success driven by unrestricted growth ultimately were the major deciding factor.

            The fact is, the growth curve during 2001-2002 prior to invite codes were far superior. Basically, invite codes allowed LJ to delay effective action on infrastructure.

            "A couple of things happened . . . Six Apart tried to monetize the site (and badly)."

            True, but not before LJ broke several of its fundamental promises to users:
            - It changed its open source, member supported, volunteer-run, culture to a dotcom with greatly reduced emphasis on outside open source development, with users paying for an office and salaries.

            - Invite codes, which were sold to the users as a temporary measure, instead became something that LJ's staff constantly spun as a positive thing... even though they held the site back from growth, increased development, and increased profitability.

            - I felt that LiveJournal had an obligation to the people who helped fund it to be a lean, mean, competitive company. Money saved meant the potential for more development, better infrastructure, and increased growth. Instead, it was already starting to hire excessively, even before SixApart. Take a look at Craigslist, in comparison. Big, hugely more profitable, independently owned company... and yet, in mid 2004, it only had ten employees, and only has about 30 or so today.

            - under Brad was quite aware that the "promises" to its users were going to be undermined, as part of the sale to Six Apart. This is obvious, as the new "principles" were already in the can, released days after the announcement. Brad and the rest of LJ's staff knew that they were opening the site to ads and undermining previous promises. Ultimately, it was Brad's and its staff that sold out to SixApart. Your naivete about the nature of V.C.-funded dotcoms reminds me of the fable of the scorpion and the frog. What I don't hear from you is that LiveJournal's staff was ever responsible for any of the decisions that put them on the scorpion's back.

            "If get rich from LJ schemes (yours and others) were each worth $1, Brad would have 100 times whatever money he got from 6A. Obviously nobody ever stumbled upon one that works.

            I never had a "get rich scheme". In fact, when I started helping LJ, one of the first pieces of advice I gave Brad was to not sell LJ to the same people he "sold" to, and to not seek out venture capital funding, as he didn't have a profitable site and would end up giving away control of the site on the cheap. Instead, I urged him to do what LJ did... to reach out and create a member-supported, member-run open source site.

          • insomnia says:

            My primary advice on how to "get rich" was to grow -- and keep restrictions on growth very low -- and to be very generous as far as its development oriented towards interconnectivity and site-to-site communication. This wasn't a matter of simply being benevolent... I was very serious about LJ becoming the dominant player, and of an open source site playing the "embrace and extend" card on the dotcoms for a change.

            All of this reminds me of several excellent lessons I learned from jwz' writings, back in the day:

            "We put the Internet in the hands of normal people. We kick-started a new communications medium. We changed the world. . . But we did that in 1994 and 1995. What we did from 1996 through 1999 was coast along, riding the wave caused by what we did before. Why? Because the company stopped innovating. The company got big, and big companies just aren't creative. . . Netscape's engineering department had lost the single-minded focus we once had, on shipping something useful and doing it fast. That was no longer happening. Netscape was shipping garbage, and shipping it late."

            Sound familiar?!

            By embracing invite codes, LJ threw away the impetus of chaos. Chaos compels you to sink or swim. LJ succeeded brilliantly at first, because it was focused, because money was tight, and because it had to ride the wave of chaos. Unfortunately, LJ put training wheels on, got comfortable with them... and soon found itself hopelessly behind, unable to keep up with change.

            This was a state that already existed before SixApart ever came on the scene. Frankly, a VC-funded dotcom is usually a VC-funded dotcom... in almost every circumstance, the investors and their short-sighted desire for short-term profit is what controls the company. It's best not to be naively hopeful about any VC dotcom being different, unless its founders have such a hot commodity on their hands that they can negotiate with investors from a position of strength, on their terms. Given that 6A wasn't profitable, this clearly wasn't the case... so stop blaming them for LJ hopping on the scorpion's back, or for the inevitable clusterfsck that occurred. Certainly, some of us saw it coming.

            You once said:
            "One would assume there will be an IPO, or at least major outside investment. When you have a fiduciary responsibility like that, it means that profit becomes the one and only motivation that counts. That's fine. Capitalism is great....but it's not what people have come to expect from LiveJournal. I'm an evil capitalist business student at heart, so I personally don't care much about Social Contracts and Open Source and stuff, but you can't deny that it's a big part of why LJ is like it is."

            So, you tell me... was it *really* fine? Was it the right decision for LiveJournal to make?

            I like capitalism too... but arguably in a way that many dotcoms have forgotten -- building something of actual value. The fact is, short-sighted greed isn't fine when you're running a service like LiveJournal. It's not only a violation of what the community is about, and a violation of the trust of those who support it... it also undermines its potential for success.

            Yes... the world did move on. Too bad LJ didn't do a better job keeping up with it.

            • jwz says:

              Yup. Still here not caring.

            • jwz says:

              Also, that thing that LJ did, that made you post your insanely long comment in two parts?

              That was LJ telling you "take it to your own journal."

              LJ was trying to help you. And me.

      • insomnia says:

        (No, this isn't intended to be a "Bash Brad" post. It's just the way things are. He's accomplished plenty to be proud of, but he is also more than adult enough to have his own regrets on how things went down. I'm just sorry that so many others have had to live with the outcome of those mistakes.)

        As for "massive drama", LJ was getting accused of that even before I got there, with news and talk show stories about camgirls... most of whom had their first blogs on LJ, even when there were only a few thousand blogs hosted. In fact, before I took over the marketing aspects of the site, one LJer who was the defacto promotion person played this up on a camgirl-focused talkshow that promoted LJ. Needless to say, I tried downplaying all that, emphasizing the software as a serious blogging tool, while pushing for our first Webby Awards, where we topped Blogger for the People's Choice.

        The whole "child porn" issue only came about long after I was gone, and was frankly mishandled. LJ's management should've pushed back with facts to defend its user's free speech, much like Craig Newmark did so effectively recently.

        Really, LJ was "open source", but it's a shame we didn't run our business as wisely as Craig, who, by not selling out, has created something both dominant, and of lasting value to the public.

      • insomnia says:

        "Centralization's got fuck-all to do with it."

        Oh, and I would also point out that a lot of Facebook's success is attributable to centralization, in the sense that it's very much a hub for aggregated content from other sources.

        People can and do dump all sorts of content from all sorts of sites into Facebook. (Good luck getting it out again, though.)

        "One site to rule them all, and in the API bind them"

    • discogravy says:

      Google Wave would actually be a substantial improvement... if everyone you wanted to communicate with used it.

      Which, since jwz has privacy concerns w/r/t google, won't be jwz.

      • lionsphil says:

        I thought it wasn't the nebulous issue of "privacy" per se, so much as wanting to keep e-mail somewhere he can drop into a shredder on short notice.

        • insomnia says:

          Note... this isn't a ringing endorsement of Google Wave, though it does have some features I certainly appreciate. It's really just an acknowledgment that we'd all be better off to have a strong, ubiquitous community again. I just don't see it happening on LJ anymore, for the obvious reasons.

          Facebook is ubiquitous... but a community? That's kind of pushing it. Shame, really.

          So, where does that leave us? Screwed, for now, with a nasty combination of big, cold, corporate, less-than-open sites that dominate the field, along with a plethora of small, occasionally more open and amenable sites, sometimes balkanized, and generally shut out by the Big Boys.

          Maybe the best answer for community isn't really the web, as it's a very noisy place. (When it comes to community, having too many choices can sometimes be a real weakness. Other than LJ, the most satisfying community experiences I have had were TREX -- an early local BBS -- the early days of Burning Man, and hanging out with the freaks in front of a small town pizza parlor. All held unique niches that weren't easily replaced.)

          Maybe the best answer is a desktop app... a kind of p2p weblog / community software, chat client... perhaps a browser plug-in. Maybe it's something that would run on your desktop whenever you start your computer.

          All I know is, we don't have it yet... and if we did have a good solution, the public at large might very well overlook it.

          • discogravy says:

            well in the case of google, for some people (including jwz), ubiquity is not a bonus; although nothing forces users to import their address books or recieve mail by having a google account, folks who worry about having someone else subpoenaed for their records understandably want something that Just Works and doesn't need to know everything about you and your communications. Running your own server really is the only way to avoid that worry, though.

            I do agree that there is no perfect solution and that it might well be overlooked by a public happy with "good enough". cf the influx of non-tech savvy folks that dove into myspace, facebook, et al headfirst.

    • bpt says:

      You are badly misinterpreting DW's statistics -- the "total users" number includes OpenID accounts and feed accounts. Most of DW's OpenID accounts were automatically created for LJ users who left comments on an imported LJ journal.

      If instead you use the number of users who have ever posted an entry as the number of possibly active users, then about 30% of DW's userbase has updated in the past month, versus 10% for LJ.

      • insomnia says:

        "the "total users" number includes OpenID accounts and feed accounts. Most of DW's OpenID accounts were automatically created for LJ users who left comments on an imported LJ journal."

        Perhaps, but is that all that different than how LJ accounts for its total users? Isn't the code the same for reaching those figures?

        You are right though that the two sites aren't directly comparable, but that cuts both ways, really. For instance, when you say "If instead you use the number of users who have ever posted an entry as the number of possibly active users, then about 30% of DW's userbase has updated in the past month, versus 10% for LJ."

        Well, that's not exactly fair either, as LJ's users have been around in some cases for close to a decade.... you'd expect active users to have an average lifespan of activity with any site, so LJ's stats reflect a couple waves of users who have come and gone. DW hasn't had the time to see that happen as much. Likewise, you'd expect early adopters of any site to be statistically more likely to use the site than users who came later, largely because a higher ratio would create accoounts just to see what others are posting.

        As such, I suspect it's a bit of a draw, really. One thing that DW *would* tend to inherit from LJ would be an older userbase than LJ would've first had when it started. (This is pretty easy to see from the age distribution graphs.) This is good in some ways, certainly... but it doesn't tend to drive site growth.

        So, while I respect the DW project, I don't see it as a valid alternative for the future. Instead, I see it as kind of a parallel to the Russian userbase of LJ, which is a few years behind the growth curve/death spiral of LJ's English-based offerings.

        The great majority of LJ's growth comes from the Cyrillic community, but the thing is, online communities have their own "lifespan", driven by demographics, how the way and frequency of people using the site changes over time, their appeal to new -- ideally young -- users, the necessity of using the site in question, and basically how the site is run. If anything, LJ is more necessary in Russia than it ever was in the US, because it plays an important and dominant role in how they get their news. As such, I would expect to see it viable in a meaningful way in Russia for considerably longer than in the US.

        When I say DW is a bit like that, I mean that basically they gave pretty much the same functionality a new start, which is good... but they inherit a lot of LJish userbase and use characteristics, and are further along the life/death curve than a truly "new" site would be. They are also only really strongly appealing to a subset of internet users -- primarily disenchanted LJers. DW also can't afford to shed as many users as LJ, or even have as many users be less active posters. They are more vulnerable to people moving on, or merely shifting focus a bit.

        So, while I appreciate what they are trying to do, and think they're doing a fairly good job of it, I'm almost certain that they're riding out a dying wave. They'll continue to pick a percentage of meat off the bones of LJ's dying carcass for awhile, while most likely seeing their own activity/retention rates decline over time, but that's not much of a future.

  11. jayp39 says:

    Whatever you do, please don't move to Facebook. As much as LJ blows lately, Facebook is much worse, but in very different ways. Facebook doesn't seem to understand that I don't want to know if someone I went to college with smiled at a cow, or gave herpes to a vegetable patch, or "won" a "race" that was decided by rand()%2. I can't make facebook only show me crap I care about without unfriending everyone on it. If there ever is anything useful or interesting posted/shared/whatever on facebook, good fucking luck finding it.

    I've personally gone the self-hosted-wordpress-blog route which does get fewer comments, but it never ever gets spam that isn't automatically caught in the filter, which I also never have to check. If something better is out there, I'd love to know about it, but I know that thing is *not* google wave, either.

    • insomnia says:

      Actually, you can block those stupid apps by mousing over to the right of them and selecting to hide them... I hated the original LJ "What kind of _____ are you" apps too.

      But yeah. Facebook does blow, as its harder to really get to know other people. One of the most rewarding "net friendships" I have on Facebook is a former Reagan administration economist (reformed), for crissake, because at least he takes his FB seriously, uses his posts and comments to promote actual discussions, and doesn't spam his readers.

      That said, for what JWZ wants to accomplish, either a mirrored blog or Facebook might be best. At least until the next big thing comes along.

      • jwz says:

        No, you really can't block them that way. That's a never-ending game of whack-a-mole, since your one idiot friend who likes taking quizzes never takes the same quiz twice. Each quiz is a separate app, so you have to block every god damned one of them one at a time. The only solutions are to unfriend that person (that's what I do) or to run some dumb quiz-blocker thing that only works in Firefox (which I don't use).

        • insomnia says:

          True. My friends are mostly good about those sorts of things, so I find I can get rid of the majority of cruft they get into pretty rapidly, as most of it are about a dozen or so games.

          But when it comes to quizzes... still no good answer. Then again, that's not a problem exclusive to Facebook. I certainly defriended plenty of people in the past on LJ for the same reason.

        • disconn3ct says:

          There is a greasemonkey script (and greasekit for safari) called 'unf*ck facebook' that automatically fixes the layout, hides the apps, etc. (And it can be set to play whack-a-mole for you by blocking them w/ facebook instead of just hiding them from the view)

          Good stuff.

          • shandrew says:

            You may want to try which is a layout that sucks less: No applications, no screen eating windowsesque bottom chat/app bar, minimal ads. Best of all, it has a page-based interface rather than an ever-expanding "Older posts...", so it isn't as much of a pain to read older material (worst facebook "feature": I don't know if expanding comments will open a new page or expand the comments. when a new page is open, my "Older posts" are no longer expanded).

            I originally tried the lite layout when facebook was dropping 90% of people's status updates and putting the rest in a strange order.

  12. jered says:

    This is really heavyweight, but I switched to Zimbra for my mail (etc) infrastructure a few months ago, and it includes a Jabber server as well as an AJAX Jabber client (and mail, and calendaring, and address book, and spam filtering, and and and).

    The Open Source Edition is no more of a pain to install than any other open source software, and it continues to protect me from the scourge of Gmail or the horror of Cyrus (which is what I was running before). Full text search on 20 GB of email that returns in under 3 seconds? Done! There's actually very little I can complain about here.

  13. bitjuggler says:

    but for everything you mention _except_ xmpp, I've heard good things about Tonido ( though I have yet to try it.

    For xmpp, I've run jabberd and jabberd2 and have now been running ejabberd for a number of years (at least 4). It's very reliable, but a bit odd since it's erlang. OpenFire is much more plug-n-play, well packaged, etc - enough that I was comfortable having non-gurus admin it at the office.

  14. n0man says:

    And outsource your comments to these guys:

  15. bellacrow says:

    eh, I'm now jaded after all the "The Sky LJ is falling" reports.

    I have a Dreamwidth, a FB (two in fact), Myspace, twitter, blah, blah

    and I love LJ best. I've been here since 2001 and still have better functionality and social networking than the other services combined.

    I aint leaving

  16. wyndebreaker says:

    One more thing about LJ compared to FB is their methods for following threads. Unless it's your journal entry or a thread you started, there is no way of being notified if something you're interested is still going other than going back and looking again.

    On FB if someone you know with thousands of friends posts something like, "I think evolution is a lie," and you post, "It is not," you are then inundated with tons of subsequent comments you probably don't care to see. Other cases, when someone posts, "I think I may have cancer," then you might want to follow that one.

    I think Facebook needs an option to be notified of subsequent comments or not on a per-entry basis.

    • editer says:

      I believe that if you don't comment on the post a second time, FB stops sending you comments after a half-dozen or so. Saw it happen a while ago (but who can keep up with FB changes these days).

    • elusis says:

      Try clicking the thumbtack next to any thread you didn't start in LJ comments (in some layouts it is the text link "track this.")

  17. kowh says:

    Unless things have changed a lot since I last poked at open source jabber servers (a few years ago), they will only aggravate you. They're exactly the type of it-works-for-me open source projects that have annoyed you to no end before.

    If you try to actually customize anything (in my case, it was LDAP integration), they tend to break randomly and without useful error messages and the documentation is pretty universally lacking.

    For reference, jabberd2 was the one I ended up using and I did get it working fine but it required a nanny perl script to automatically restart it when it died every other day or so for no discernable reason.

  18. robm42 says:

    There are still two replies, but my original post is gone.

    Was there some problem with my post, or am I banned for some reason?

  19. evan says:

    I have considered and tried migrating away once or twice, but I ran into the same problems you have (though I never would've considered Facebook; my friends must be too tech-embedded to use it). Brad and I have discussed imaginary protocols that would allow you to make friends-only posts on your own site but in reality it's hard and there's not a lot of payoff. So I guess leaves you with picking a company: too small and they go under on you, too big and they're megacorps.

    Whatever you do, just don't use wordpress. Who would have guessed software for a mostly-static website would need a continual parade of security fixes?

    (The last blog I started generates flat HTML files. It's kind of refreshing to not have comments.)

  20. krow says:

    "I'd like my Jabber ID to be """

    Google Apps for domains does this. My personal jabber account is just Google Apps. All I had to do to enable this was update some NS records and everything was good to go.

    • bos31337 says:

      On the one hand, GTalk usually Just Works (I've had through Google Talk for years, long before I had a Google Apps for Domains doodad). On the other, oh noes, The Man is watching, etc, etc. Insert handwringing here.

  21. aquarionical says:

    People have suggested Dreamwidth, it's a community run LJ install, they're actively developing it and accepting patches from outside core dev, and they appear not to to have done anything stupid yet. Also, it'll automatically import LJ archives and sync posts back over until LJ finally keels over and brad buys it back for tuppence.

    Other than that, there are things like tumblr or the centralized Whilst your popularity is likely to make spam a couple of OoM more of a problem than on my sites, I've found WordPress's Akismit spam protection thing to weed out almost all the crap.

  22. bwooce says:

    Check out which is running ejabberd - 10 free users, customisable domain, ejabberd and push notifications plus all the extras.

  23. luserspaz says:

    Are the Russian spammers on LJ's staff, or is that just the universe's way of showing you what irony is?

  24. taskboy3000 says: $7/month for a shared host. Lots of canned apps including word press and mysql. Not a bad linux environment either.

  25. mark242 says:

    Tumblr is actually fairly nice to use.

  26. jcurious says:

    Many hosting providers now provide jabber service...

    I currently use Dreamhost provides jabber with basic service... you can do SSL if you add a cert.

    BTW I had chosen them for their snapshot service, but apparently they are discontinuing that. So there is nothing overly special about dreamhost now.

  27. trs80 says:

    Djabberd is dead - even LJ is using ejabberd instead of it now.

  28. sas_spidey01 says:

    A quick Google for sites that can import from livejournal:

    Most seen oritend around wordpress & blogger FWIW but at least it seems doable. I'm sure a little perl munging can translate an LJ export (or forcefully archive things via web crawling) into a format that will work with whatever blog site you want, even if you had to automate the recreations using a custom web bot - it's just a matter of how much crap you must lose in the process, versus efforts to automate keeping it all.

    I've used LJ for several years and have never had a serious problem with it, although I don't really get 'involved' with the community aspect of it. My journal replaced an array of log files and notes littered across $HOME---so LJ continues to serve my purposes quite well, while the service survives anyway. To each there own I guess ;)

    Good luck to you, where ever your blog ends up.

  29. rodgerd says:

    All the options are bad. Run it on your own site: get no comments but lots of spam.

    I think you'd get comments regardless. The blessing/curse of Internet Celebrity.

    FWIW I've started using Serendipity to replace my rotting typo install , and I've been pleased with how much it doesn't suck, and how well the spamtrap facilities work.

    (Of course, I don't get any comments, but meh)

  30. quadhome says:

    I've been running DJabberd since April of 2008. In that time, I've ran the stock server with two patches pulled from svn to fix bugs. (Dialback and SSL timeouts)

    I don't mess with it. It doesn't mess with me.

    So, in the time honored tradition of sharing misery, take a look at this script if you want to try DJabberd.

    Then go setup some DNS records. Use this website to test them. Make 'em look like "" or "".

    Finally, give me an IM if it all works out.