opusculus: Black hole (Default)
[personal profile] opusculus
Okay, I admit it. I find the whole RP mass migration over to DW absolutely fascinating to watch and want to tl;dr about it to work out my own thoughts on it. Mostly to get it out of my head! I like business shit and mass social changes, okay. This is kind of the other side of my earlier tl;dr, as it's focusing on RP rather than LJ.

What immediately caught my attention about it is - okay, DW's been around for a couple years now. For most that time, the rhetoric about moving has been about the morality of it. LJ sucks, DW is the promised land of fannishness run by fans yadda yadda. It's been entirely about a theoretical ethical thing, and that's...pretty easy to ignore if LJ hasn't actually done anything that significantly inconvenienced you, and also all your friends don't really want to move and yadda yadda yadda. LJ has the advantage of the incumbent, and frankly, even with basically the entire RP community moving off it it's still got a lot more fucking up to do if it's going to lose that.

But why the RP segment was the first non-moral group to mass emigrate is pretty obvious, I think? I mean, DW seems to have historically disproportionately attracted the loud people, the social justice people, the people who like the room to be really private, etc. And none of that's a bad thing, but it's a very narrow segment that basically reflects the people most likely to have loudly hated LJ enough that they felt morally obligated to put their money where their mouth was. RPers, on the other hand, haven't really historically been about that, and are emigrating to DW for different reasons.

  1. Most RPers no longer use their personal journals - most OOC communication is done via plurk, with a side of Tumblr/Twitter. It's been a massive cultural shift over the last couple years that can probably be traced back to the fact that in general, short-form communication is easier for most people to maintain, and Plurk's the one short form communication that has talking with people built into its concept. Maintaining a journal's a lot more effort, and for a lot of people that's just not what they want.

    I think the ideal system for RPers would be something like plurk that threw out the karma system, accommodated slightly longer posts while still being set up around really short ones, and generally had better usability and more ability to organize who you plurk to. Because I like plurk for what it is, but the timeline thing is STUPID. But that's a digression from my point, which is to say that for most RPers, LJ was no longer their internet home. It was their playground. That's a really significant change, IMO.

  2. RPers are a large community of power users who all use similar features for the same goals, basically. I used features that I'd've never bothered with on my own - mostly custom filters for CFUW, but also subject lines and giant icon sets and scrapbook (oh god fuck scrapbook). It's the difference between a bunch of people all doing what they feel like, and being part of a goal-oriented community where tips for how to make it easiest are shared. If LJ had removed features that only some members of a community used, that would get a very different reception than removing features that everyone in a community uses. Communities balance out attitudes towards a norm, and a community where only a few people are really upset is going to have a very different response than a community where everyone's upset over generally the same issues.

  3. RPers are not only paying customers, but they're well-aware that they're paying massively more than even most paying customers. I have entirely different standards towards plurk, where I'm a free user, than I do with something that I am a well-paying customer. If I'm giving substantial sums of money, I expect to be getting service out of it that's worth that money. I was getting the icons I was paying LJ for. I was getting nothing else whatsoever out of LJ that made me otherwise happy to pay. My impression is that RPers in general were fairly disenchanted with LJ, but willing to keep paying as long as their games were there just because that was what they were on LJ for. Give people like that a chance for a better experience, and they'll jump ship with glee

  4. In a sense, RPer's RP journals belong to a community much more closely than a personal journal generally does? Obviously, they belong to their players first and foremost, but... RP communities have much more power to decide "okay, we're moving" and enforce it on the people who might not particularly want to move than other communities, because people's RP journals were frequently created just for that community. You're not telling people you've moved homes and they should too, you're telling people that everyone else has decided that this playground isn't being well-maintained enough, so everyone's agreed to move to this other playground.

  5. I think the straw that ensured this would be almost a universal move is turning on automatic payments. Because adding actual financial threats to general dissatisfaction and people not being able to get on and a buggy release is a really bad idea. I think if automatic payments hadn't been found to have turned on for some people at around the same time, there still would have been a move but it wouldn't have reached the same kind of critical mass of basically every moderately large game moving.

  6. DW doesn't have all the features that LJ does (mostly Scrapbook seems to be what people miss?), but it's also added really subtly useful features (thread from start is something I've long regretted the hell out of not having on LJ in order to refresh my memory on the thread's mood before responding), and in general it's been adding features that are actively useful for RP at the same time that LJ's been adding features that are completely irrelevant to harmful for RP. When patterns like that are brought up, they make people think.

  7. Which leads into: DW's been around long enough now that it doesn't feel like a risky startup to most people, and people have been RPing on it long enough that conversations generally had a couple people with experience with it speaking up. I mean, there were still plenty of people who thought that DW was too risky, but in general people found that silly? I mean, the type of money that CFUD alone brings to the table is enough to support a fifth of DW's entire maintenance costs, which really only leaves DW being incompetent. And that I think is where the whole transparent business model really came to the fore, because anyone who's been paying attention to DW at all doesn't think that it's incompetent.

So I don't think this is something that's going to be replicated anywhere else on LJ? There's a lot of factors that made it particularly easy for RPers to get up and move, and inclined to do so when given reasons to that don't apply to the rest of LJ. But I find it an interesting case study in what can lead to a mass movement to switch services.
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opusculus: Black hole (Default)

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