{ thinking out loud about the things i care about }

Archive for March, 2008

Leaky Picks A Side

Monday, March 24th, 2008

Steve Vander Ark gave an interview recently to BlogHogwarts (in spanish, the original English was passed along to TLC and can be found here) which prompted this post by Melissa on behalf of the Leaky staff.

An excerpt for people not interested in reading the entire summary and are just interested in the sound-bite point:

“The interview quoted above contains a number of assessments about J.K. Rowling’s intentions and what the Lexicon case means for fandom as a whole. The comments sat uneasily with many of us as soon as we learned about them, and prompted a discussion among our entire staff about Leaky’s association with the Harry Potter Lexicon, in which it became overwhelmingly clear that Steve’s thoughts on this matter and ours differ so greatly as to be polar opposites; we do not think a win for J.K. Rowling means tighter controls on fan creativity at all, and are concerned for the opposite, as well as the attempt to misportray the issues of the case as stated in sworn affadavits. So, after a few days of careful and many-sided discussion, we, as a full staff, decided that people who have such a fundamental disconnect in beliefs cannot and should not be partners in name or spirit, and two days ago informed the Lexicon that we are severing our association.”

The post by Melissa continues on to describe the Leaky staffs’ position and reasoning a little more, and to discuss the dismantling of the Floo Network, though they plan to continue to be affiliated with Accio Quote.

I would assume there will be a comment made or some discussion of this on the next episode of Pottercast. Possibly not the one due to be released tomorrow (depending on when the decision was made vs. when they taped the episode) but probably at some point it will come up. Melissa has also added:

“There have been many asking, since November, whether Steve would return to PotterCast: That answer is now no.”

Which is a loss for Pottercast, as Steve’s thoughts in the popular segment of Canon Conundrums were always interesting, and his personality complimented the Pottercast trio well in my opinion.

At this posting, the Floo Network was still operational. Obviously something like that takes time to disband, and as the affiliation is incorporated into the current Leaky CSS it will probably take some time for it to disappear entirely, especially with their key web designer on leave for college-related reasons.

It will be interesting to see what the Lexicon’s post in regards to this will be.

As for me, I’m not sure where my ultimate support in this case lies anymore. I have always been a strong supporter for creative freedom and liberal interpretation of Fair Use laws, including support for groups like Creative Commons and the Organization for Transformative Works, and I don’t honestly see how the publication of a print version of the Lexicon will in any way endanger the sales of JKR’s Scottish Book.  At the same time, I’m not sure I would qualify the Lexicon as a scholarly or transformative work, based on the current guidelines — it’s really in that blurry gray area for me.

I continue to be unusually riveted by this series of events.  Apologies to those who don’t give a damn.

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To Boycott or Not To Boycott…

Thursday, March 20th, 2008

…that is the question.

There are a lot of fandom LJ users out there talking about the most recent PR fumble by SUP, and it has come to my attention (actually came to my attention several days ago) that there is a planned Content Boycott tomorrow.

There are several reasons why I won’t be participating, and the only reason I’m commenting at all is a concern that my fancy to post or not post as I see fit might be misinterpreted tomorrow as something symbolic.

The first reason is that this boycott has been organized by people (well-meaning, good intentioned people, albeit) who appear to have very little to no understanding of the KPIs (key performance indicators) of a major internet business, as well as the normal traffic patterns for a site like this. 

As a general rule, internet traffic is at its weekly low during the weekends, and in my experience as an internet marketing professional and traffic analyst for a major Canadian website (my RL job, by the way), this valley proves to be even lower on extended holiday weekends that tend to be traditionally family based — weekends like Thanksgiving and Easter.

Also, the amount of new content generated on a daily basis is likely going to be a far less important KPI to a business than overall traffic — a number much more important to their advertisers, at least.  Further, a boycott for the period of one day (especially one day they will already expect to show lower than usual traffic) is more likely to be seen as a normal deviation than a show of force of any kind, and will likely not even be a point of interest except perhaps to a few curious deep-diving analysts (and even that I doubt).  Bookended on either side by Thursday’s traffic and Monday’s traffic, I guarantee whatever fingerprint this boycott might leave in SUP’s statistics will be smudged beyond all useful recognition.

A boycott like this should be longer (at least a week, ideally longer than that), should not take place on a holiday, and it should be a traffic boycott as well as a content boycott.  If this is a business that seeks to make money off advertisers, then I guarantee the number they care about is overall traffic (which they can sell as impressions), not the amount of new content generated daily.

And, in the end, I don’t think the small percentage of people who are actually participating are nearly enough to displace one day’s dot on a trending graph.  I don’t even think the small percentage of people who would participate in a broader traffic boycott for a longer period of time with much more notice would be enough to make a significant difference in the statistics either, if it comes to that.  The nature of the way Livejournal functions and the way fandom uses Livejournal makes running any sort of effective traffic or content boycott a monumentally difficult task.

The other reason is that I don’t disagree with this particular business move.  Nor do I particularly disagree with the way in which the announcement was made.  I don’t really like commercials when I watch television, but it’s the advertisers that pay for the content I watch so that I don’t have to.  I dislike flipping through pages and pages of ads in magazines, but the advertisers pay for the content of the magazine so that I don’t have to.  I use nearly all of Google’s services for free, and advertisers pay to advertise to me so that I don’t have to pay for the services. 

Hosting ads is a fair price to pay for free webspace and services in my opinion, and the marginal yearly fee I have chosen to pay so I won’t see ads anywhere on LJ when I’m logged in is also a fair price to pay, in my opinion.  People who are stubbornly unwilling to do neither then stomp their feet and proclaim how unfair life under SUP is should probably consider that it costs a LOT of money to operate, keep and support something as huge as Livejournal.  I’m talking millions and millions of dollars lots.  I have seen the monthly bills for websites only a fraction of the size of LJ that have boggled my mind.  There are sales people at SUP working very, very hard to sell advertising so that people can continue to use LJ for free, and it is by and large a thankless job.

So if you don’t see me on LJ tomorrow, it’s because I have a day off work and am spending that valuable time outside in the sunshine or with the new guy I’m seeing or with family.  If I’m here, I’m here.  If I’m not, I’m not.  Consider it an ordinary day.


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