Is LiveJournal taking aim at Blogger?
January 12, 2001 12:41 PM   Subscribe

Is LiveJournal taking aim at Blogger? I use both Blogger and LiveJournal myself, one for my weblog and one for more of a web journal I write things in occasionally. I think both web apps have different strengths and purposes, but there are certainly marked similarities, especially in light of the successful server fund raising drives both services have recently completed.
posted by Axodys (40 comments total)
wow, that's really paranoid and contentious...

posted by palegirl at 1:01 PM on January 12, 2001

And this insomnia guy has the creepiest damn picture.
posted by solistrato at 1:05 PM on January 12, 2001

Oh no someone dared to critique pyra!! Hurry!! Call them creepy and paranoid!

They aren't as cute as Megnut! Zoooom!!!
posted by littlesolty at 1:10 PM on January 12, 2001

I don't get it, why does the original poster ask every livejournal user to link back to it?

Pyra would sue them? WTF? If Blogger was bought for "millions of dollars" (right, in this market? :) livejournal would become "irrelevant and obsolete?" How does that work?

Pyra will sue them for intellectual copyright violation? We're a professional dotcom?

Oh man, does this person have Pyra all wrong.
posted by mathowie at 1:30 PM on January 12, 2001

I am certainly not above critiquing Blogger. And I also sent them $10. But, boy does insomnia sound like he is bitter for not getting the media coverage that Blogger does. Maybe he needs to work on his personal skills and try doing a little PR of his own.
posted by terrapin at 1:38 PM on January 12, 2001

Hm....he takes potshots at Pyra for having some venture capital backing, but apparently feels it is perfectly fine to ask people to volunteer to work for his product. Nothing like free labour to keep your product costs down.

"Well, if they keep getting all the attention, they will be the website that everyone thinks of when it comes to online journaling. They will get all the support, all the attention, and all of the money."

The true test of popularity, I think, is not how many people adore you, but how many people envy and despise you. Apparently Blogger is now the web's Homecoming Queen.

What a load of sour grapes this little rant is.....tearing your competition down isn't the way to build your product up. This pretty much confirmed that I will never use LiveJournal on my site.

posted by kristin at 1:51 PM on January 12, 2001

What's with his math too, if they raised 20k and pyra rasised 11k, why would that mean his users cared 4 times as much? There are so many holes in this I can't even get over it, I mean come on: "We've created a site that is now volunteer run and member supported. That's pretty unique for the Internet." - haha WHAT? For someone who is makign cracks at Microsoft, this is essentially the kind of FUD (I hate that term, but it fits here), that people like this guy say MS spread like crazy.

Besides, if Blogger did get acquired (and if this guy thinks the climate right now is ripe for multi-million $ acquisitions, he's nuts), that would only boost the category as a whole, and wouldn't be that bad for them.

Blogger may have the market covered on media, but this site seems to be doing quite well in paranoid rantings.
posted by beefula at 1:54 PM on January 12, 2001

I don't understand why he didn't even mention Diaryland, which is very, very close to livejournal and I bet has 5x as many users.
posted by mathowie at 1:57 PM on January 12, 2001

I second that other comment, those pictures look very, very creepy.
posted by tiaka at 2:13 PM on January 12, 2001

That was something I was going to mention: Going after Blogger is stupid, because they do not appeal to the same users, and they do different things. The guy is obviously just angry over not getting media attention. All he's really doing is showing Blogger to all his users, which is just stupid. Sure some of them might get really excited, like the guy who volunteered to draw original cartoons to help the site, but I bet a lot of them will look at Blogger and go "hey, I can actually control how my page looks? I should try this out".

From what I've seen in the past, LJ is very big on self-hype, and that may help them out a bit, but they offer the same thing as most other diary-tools, with some trade-offs here and there. If you look at the internal discussions of any web community, the exact same quotes will come up: "I LOVE (sitename), it totally kicks the others's asses! I tried (competitor) but stopped cause IT SUCKED! I've told all my friends about it!".
posted by beefula at 2:16 PM on January 12, 2001

Considering how paranoid this guy is about Blogger, wait until he hears about Organizine's unexpected demise ...
posted by rcade at 2:18 PM on January 12, 2001

i think that it's interesting that nobody is mentioning the incestuous nature of all of the press that Pyra has been receiving. every one of the major media outlets that has written them up has been owned by CondeNast which is also, not surprisingly, an investor in Pyra. so, CondeNast cares enough about their investment to strong arm the NYT into writing a fluff piece about them, but can't front them $10k for a new server? it wouldn't have anything to do with the sort of feel-good articles that having a successful 'grassroots' movement provides? no way, they're too cool for that.
posted by jpancake at 2:25 PM on January 12, 2001

there's some irony in the fact that, the first time i tried to read this article about LiveJournal's attempts to double their size, I got a too-busy server error...
posted by Sapphireblue at 2:31 PM on January 12, 2001


Part of the math is that LJ has half as many users as Blogger does.

So LJ raised twice as much money as blogger.

LJ has half as many users.

Therefore, the average LJ user raised 4 times as much money as the average Blogger user did.

Therefore, the average LJ user caress 4 times as much as the average Blogger user.

The assumption, of course, is that money represents care. :-)

Want to know a really, really good way to raise awareness? Find the company that does something similar to what you do - it's best if they're direct competition - and is highest on the public radar. Publically flame them.

*BOOMPF* anyone who knows about the first company and follows the media adventures of it knows about you now. You're the underdog, people like the underdog, and you've got publicity.

It's interesting. A few months back, Dave Winer lambasted O'Reilly & Associates for investing in Pyra, and it became big [1] news. Now almost everyone when talking about blogging software is sure to include Userland, or Manilla, or Pitas whenever talking about web log software in the generic sense.

Who knows, maybe in two or three months LJ will get tacked onto that list. It's a reasonably clever marketing strategy. The enemy's been named, now it's up to the army to crush them.

It's certainly FUD, but what's really unfortunate is that the FUDs pointed at the wrong people. Zannah (I'm assuming it's Zannah of /usr/bin/girl, but it could be another) made an excellent point in the comments of that post.

We're all members of a community. We're web publishers, we're people that want to share some aspect of ourself, be it a diaristic/journaller aspect, or just what we find cool, it's something of ourselves that we share with the public.

By bashing the LJ people (especially their pictures, fuck how petty is that?) we're just as bad as we want to think they are. They aren't bad people, they're a community, a subset of the same community we're members of, that are rallying around something that's important to them.

Honest confusion about their perception of Pyra makes sense - I don't think any of the people have read anything by Pyra staff but then, I haven't read anything by LJ staff that I'm aware of. But insulting them just invites flame wars, which never (and I speak from recent personal experience here :-) solve anything.

They will find this thread, of that I guarantee you. Rather then prooving that we want LJ to succeed just as much as Blogger - which most of us do, hell we love nifty web apps that encourage original content - most of the comments here just proove their point.

[1] Big, of course, being relative to our community.

posted by cCranium at 2:31 PM on January 12, 2001

jpancake (anonymous eh, you've got a lot of courage kid!) wrote:

all of the press that Pyra has been receiving

not all the press that Pyra gets is from condenast pubs.

every one of the major media outlets

The biggest press we've gotten was the Wall Street Journal and New York Times, both non-condenast ventures. Pyra is mentioned very recently in a rash of UK and Italian newspapers. None are condenast owned.

condenast's publishing wing has nothing to do with their internet or their investment wings. There is no foul play.

Is this conspiracy all because of a blurb in Wired magazine and the New Yorker thing? Those are the only two condenast things I can think of. Do they own USNews too? If they do, that makes three things. Three things about of 40-50 articles written about us to date.

Someone call Oliver Stone...
posted by mathowie at 2:37 PM on January 12, 2001

Blogger was a phenomenon to many people on the Web before the press figured out about it. Did Conde Nast strong arm us too?
posted by rcade at 2:38 PM on January 12, 2001

cC is also right is assuming that competition is good. It certainly is. Pyra, Userland, and everyone else I know of in this business loves competition. It drives us all to make better products, we don't see it as something to squelch or undermine.
posted by mathowie at 2:46 PM on January 12, 2001

What I think is disturbing here is that someone dares to say anything about Pyra and people here start making fun of how the person looks, starts calling them creepy, paranoid, etc.

I think many of his comments are off target, but really - being proud that your volunteer based service raised $20k is just fine. I think he may be looking at a company, like Pyra, who was invested in to be a real company asking for donations and getting a lot of press while LiveJournal runs off of volunteers and has recieved even more donations but no press. It was just a reaction of "why?"

posted by littlesolty at 2:50 PM on January 12, 2001

Ah ok, I get the math now, gotcha. But yeah, I am all for not making fun of the people's pictures or whatever, but I think a lot of this discussion is taking aim at the retarded call to arms, which is fair ground. To make it sound like Pyra are right on the verge of suing them is just ridiculous and irresponsible.

The Conde Nast conspiracist I think argued against their own point pretty well: If CN won't fork over 5k for a new server, why do you think they're busy making covert deals with their publications?
posted by beefula at 2:52 PM on January 12, 2001

The fear that Pyra is going to sue LiveJournal out of business using patent claims seems pretty paranoid to me, LittleSolty.

I don't know much about LiveJournal, but I think there's something smarmy about how it claims to be a volunteer effort as opposed to the work of those evil "dotcom professionals."

Here's a quote from the site's terms of service:

"You agree to indemnify and hold, and its subsidiaries, affiliates, officers, agents, co-branders or other partners, and employees, harmless from any claim or demand, including reasonable attorneys’ fees, made by any third party due to or arising out of your Content, your use of the Service, your connection to the Service, your violation of the TOS, or your violation of any rights of another."

Does that sound like a personal, not-for-profit, volunteer-run enterprise to you? I didn't see any language on LiveJournal that would require it to be non-commercial in any way.

I don't like how some Web efforts straddle the line like this (especially when they bash companies for trying to make money in the same field). I hated how IMDB was built by the community and ended up going commercial to the sole benefit of the administrators.

To be honest, that's one of the reasons I didn't donate to Blogger's server fund -- I think charging customers a subscription is infinitely preferable to soliciting donations as if it were a non-profit charity. The day Pyra starts selling subscriptions to a pay-only server, I'm signing up.

(The other reason I didn't donate was, of course, sloth.)
posted by rcade at 3:17 PM on January 12, 2001

LiveJournal is run by a "dotcom professional":

"Make checks out to ', inc.' --- that is the official company that my web projects are a part of."

I guess we're supposed to view it as an altruistic, volunteer effort because Brad's woefully understaffed.

posted by rcade at 3:21 PM on January 12, 2001

As though one ever further needed proof that The System fucks with your head and turns the best of intentions into questionable actions, watching the blogging explosion supplies it aplenty. There was some point in the last decade at which anything other than astronomical growth rates became failure. There was something horrendous bound to happen when startups -- small, labor-of-love, personality-driven shops -- started to mean serious business -- large, corporate, market-driven shops -- without a tension-releiving transition period. There is something truly unholy in the the popularity-driven economics of these markets, the way that companies are ruthlessly pitted against each other against their own wishes.

Is this screed bitter and a little over the top? Sure. Is the anger properly directed at Pyra? Probably not. But that doesn't make the frustration illegitimate. Everyone here is caught up in a situation that mixes the worst elements of popularity-basedsocial interactions and money-based economic ones (with few of the best elements of either). There are no villains here, just the (cliched but nonetheless genuine) octopoid corrosion of The System in all its anonymous horror.
posted by grimmelm at 3:33 PM on January 12, 2001

i so don't get this guy's whining about "not being included in the search engines." it's not a difficult task. i took one afternoon to submit my personal site to search engines, and i still get hits from different ones almost every day. and i haven't updated my site in months.
posted by sugarfish at 3:37 PM on January 12, 2001

Check back in time (cached Google lj-biz entry) for Mark Kraft's "competitive analysis" of

"I thought it would be a good idea to examine other online diary services, in the hope that we could discover a few good ideas and features of these other sites...and ideally design strategies to outperform them in every possible way. ;)"
posted by tomalak at 3:38 PM on January 12, 2001

I have yet to even be able to look at this article. Is there a cached version out there? (It's crashed both my work and home computers now attempting to look at it. I'm beginning to think I'm crazy.)
posted by norm at 3:42 PM on January 12, 2001

Diaryland is still the best, anyway. Plus it uses lots more resources (every site is hosted by DL), has more users than LJ or Pyra (I think) and hasn't asked for a dime, and is completely free. However Blogger is pretty sweet, the right click feature rocks.
posted by cell divide at 4:07 PM on January 12, 2001

> They aren't as cute as Megnut

No one's as cute as Megnut! No one! Oh wait, I'm sorry, I'm all flustered right now, after all my secret meetings at CondeNast HQ and marathon sessions with the lawyers, etc. I better head home to my dot-com pad filled with riches now. I wonder what the chef's cooked up for dinner? I hope it's not cavier again. Bleck.
posted by megnut at 5:05 PM on January 12, 2001

Echoing Tomalak, The tone of the above-linked rant seems to suggest that recruiting the largest user-base is the goal of even a non-commercial web service, let alone of something like Blogger. Livejournal fears that it's not popular enough. And it argues that Blogger doesn't deserve the attention. I will not speculate on's future goals, but it seems that this "insomniac" suffers from a version of A-list envy. Couched in business language, it reads like the scribblings of someone who hates the Heathers.

Pyra, for its part, deserves all of its press, including the press written by people working for their investors. The staff writes weblogs about their business, hence promoting the business, and their business philosophy, in a novel and attractive way. That's new, and I think authors of articles on Pyra find it as interesting as I did when first stumbling onto,, (...and the rest). Yes they do overshadow others now, but there's never been anything disingenuous about their self-presentation, which is the implication of recent criticisms of the business. Critics imply that Blogger is intentionally spreading the idea that they were the first and only to do what they do. Not so, they have only said they were the best -- and that's what the web log era is all about, baby! Attitude!
posted by rschram at 5:23 PM on January 12, 2001

To be fair Diaryland actually did ask for money in December, but it was after people asked about donating quite a few times. Someone upstairs in the thread mentioned Dave Winer and made it sound like had something to do with him, it doesn't.
posted by beefula at 5:26 PM on January 12, 2001

What grimmelm said a minute ago was more eloquent that me...
posted by rschram at 5:28 PM on January 12, 2001

"What I think is disturbing here is that someone dares to say anything about Pyra and people here start making fun of how the person looks, starts calling them creepy, paranoid, etc."

Fair comment. I'm not sure it is exactly what these people had in mind, i.e. just to "make fun of how people look." Perhaps to express surprise at the idea of having a picture up on every message that is posted to the front page, or at worst to express surprise at how people choose to portray themselves. That was my initial thought as well, and I am choosing honesty over discretion.

Honest feedback is surely one of the intended purposes of this drive, or should be.

Perhaps LJ should look within their own organization rather than without to identify the source of their relative lack of success. Start by re-assessing the idea of placing ego pics on every message (that practice alone puts me off wanting to investigate what they have to offer) The ones that don't use a photo or portrait shot seem to have sourced out old 70's paintings from their parent’s beach house, which would seem a fair compromise I suppose.

I’ve never heard of LJ before, so this rallying call has been a real success in that it has created attention for their site. But they have to be ready to deal with the attention in a positive and useful way. Otherwise, it's just a waste of time. A good rule of thumb is to try not frightening your prospective users away before they even have a chance to become interested in your site, software, and ideas.

posted by lucien at 5:35 PM on January 12, 2001

Of course, the only real way to handle this is for both groups to meet, at the basketball court, at 3:00 and rumble.

(Insert Sharks & Jets themesong here.)
posted by gsh at 6:12 PM on January 12, 2001

those pictures look very, very creepy.

Yeah, well I think Matt and Ev look pretty creepy too, but that may be from spending too much time with their lawyers plotting their "intellectual patent violation lawsuit."

I don't know all that much about LiveJournal, but it seems to me like it would be aimed at a different target market than Blogger. There's the obvious "I'm a journal, you're a blog" 3000+ word, um, discussion.

Then, there's the entry barrier. I didn't have to install any software to start using Blogger - I just signed up and did it. Nowadays, you don't even have to have a web host or any HTML skills what so ever. Sign up with Blogspot, pick a Blogger template, and BOOM! You're in. Is LiveJournal that easy to use? I somehow doubt it, which may be one reason Blogger has twice the user base - it's the AOL of web self-publishing. (send all flames here)

Anyway, the web is big enough for both to peacefully co-exist. I'll keep using Blogger, at least until the server problem hits critical mass in another year, and LiveJournal folks will keep using LJ. Both will grow tremendously, and everyone will hold hands, sing songs, and wear flowers in their hair.
posted by mikewas at 6:27 PM on January 12, 2001

Funny, I thought the reason LiveJournal didn't get more press was because the New World Order's black helicopters were using the Area 51-derived technology to "silence" any people who were trying to get word out.

This guy's novel blend of irrational paranoia, crushing insecurity, and raving jealousy is painful to watch. Try putting out a press release, you schmo, don't bitch because you didn't get to be in the newspaper. If your goal is to build a community, isn't your success that fact that a community now exists?

Or perhaps this fellow's being a little dishonest about his actual goals...

posted by anildash at 6:31 PM on January 12, 2001

'The most important thing is to be yourself'(sorry)

Everyone wants to be a rockstar, I guess you can blame him. Raising 20k and getting what looks like a lot of users seems success. I would love that, I guess some aren't meant to please. I'm so judging tonight. I'm probably wrong too. heh.
posted by tiaka at 6:49 PM on January 12, 2001

Still sticking with pitas and diaryland, thank you very much.
posted by Mr. skullhead at 6:59 PM on January 12, 2001

I have seen Live Journal but I only look at 2 regularly. Which 2? Why, the avant guard film makers Nick Zedd and Artvamp. Note: Artvamp in particular seems a little bit obsessed with sex.
posted by davidgentle at 7:07 PM on January 12, 2001

I used to use LiveJournal exclusively because of their ease-of-updating thingamajig... then Brad decided to tell everyone that he was going to have to take back some of LJ's capabilities unless you forked over some cash. That's when I took off, because it wasn't so much a "donate to LJ because you want to support this product and are a fan!" as much as it was a "give money or we'll take away the cool stuff you've been able to do with LJ." It's a valid request, but it didn't come across well at all. Anyway, IMHO they ought to just keep it simple to use and not fancy it up with all sorts of doohickeys; press is a good thing, but can certainly produce its own unforseen sets of problems. What's with the call-to-arms for a blogging tool war? Bitter much? Sometimes it's not such a bad thing to not be in first place.
posted by evixir at 10:53 PM on January 12, 2001

I wonder how this sort of thing is going to effect these web based tools in general. What with the sad demise of Organizine and LJ making these demands (and arguably the occasional slowness exhibited by Blogger) it seems web based publishing apps are inevitably going to meet with a backlash (assuming it isn't already happening)
posted by davidgentle at 11:02 PM on January 12, 2001

I don't think there's some inevitible backlash coming though, they are for the most part useful tools, which will always be used.

I think there's an awfully good chance that more people will start saying "Oh, you use Blogger, well, I update it all by hand, I'm ever-so-much more cooler than you." but considering the fact that unless they've written their own content management dealie it'll take them 5 minutes to update as opposed to my 5 seconds, I'll be quite content to stick with my tools. :-)
posted by cCranium at 6:20 AM on January 13, 2001

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