◦the original kat: since 2003。 (negakat) wrote,
◦the original kat: since 2003。

Let me start from the top and help you figure out what's happening.

For starters, your userbase is angry. So angry!

I wonder why? Well, let's think about that!

Now, I've been around LJ for a while. I joined in 2003, on the last run of invite codes before the staff made LiveJournal completely open to new users. So I've watched different companies do different things with the site and its ins-and-outs. And something that has always been repeated, no matter what, is the failure of public relations.

Public relations is how a company treats its general public consumers. If they keep good relations, then they are likely to keep their business thriving through their consumers. If they deteriorate into bad relations, they're more likely to lose business.

So Russian LiveJournal staff, you've got this great idea for a redesign of the site! Cool! And you are just so, so excited about this design that you want to implement it as fast as you can! Well, gosh. That's great and all except. Maybe slow down a little!

One very large, important detail to note about LiveJournal's majority userbase is we're a bit entitled. Not in a bad way! Just in a way that, because we've been a part of the site for so long (or not so long for others), we like things to stay respectfully the same as we're used to.

If you want to make changes to a site with a large, long-term using userbase, it's best to make those changes in small increments with a lot of advanced notice. This was kind of a mistake! Let's take a closer look at what actually happened:

Here, we have your most recent news post. You've outlined what this update includes, why this update is happening, and listed some of the bugs users using this new style have encountered.

This seems well and good except. See the date?

That's three days after the site change was put into effect.

Realistically, this news post should have been the first post we saw of this v.88 update. What the date should have been....

Giving us a month and a half's worth of notice of upcoming changes would have made a world of difference to your userbase, as well as giving them detailed information about what the changes are and how it will affect them!

After that, there should have been international beta testing for at least a month while you worked out some of the bugs before making the design live for all users.

But okay! Okay, you didn't. Do that. It would have been the more polite, calm way to do things, but okay.

We can still fix this PR nightmare, LiveJournal! I believe in you and your staff!

If you have been reading comments left by your users (which I assume you have as you've been taking note of problems we've spoken about. Though that could just be your staff going solely by the support tickets. Hm.) you may have noticed some of our complains about the dismissive staff in general.

Silence from the entirety of the LJ staff, save from behind a faceless "staff" username, has become the norm for LiveJournal. If we have a support problem, we email to a faceless "lj_support" email and get a faceless response. If we have an abuse problem, we email to the "lj_abuse" email and get a faceless response. But all in all, the only thing the users receive after hours and days and sometimes even weeks of reporting problems or responding to news and lj_release posts with problems they have about new releases is .... well, silence!

And silence while waiting for a response they are likely not to get makes people anxious. If it continues long enough, especially in the wake of legitimate problems they're voicing, people will often get very angry! For users, not hearing acknowledgement and being forced to wait and see if they've been heard puts the image in their mind that the staff is just sticking their fingers in their ears and singing really loudly.

Yesterday, a singular, solitary staff member responded directly to a user's question in the comments of the lj_releases community. A lot of users gathered round this comment because: it was the first face-to-face acknowledgment users had that they were being heard at all. You'd be surprised how far a single straightforward response can go!

Of course, then there are the sorts of responses that igrick gives us. Let's... Talk about that.

Igrick at this time is part of the LJ's site design team as well as the head of the Russian branch of LJ. Which is a very big position to be in. This means he showed ambition, creativity, and the ability to conduct himself in a professional manner around not only his staff but also to support and customers.

Normally, I would respect someone in this position. I would respect that, as a working man, he probably worked very hard to attain that status. I do not, however, have respect for someone who conducts himself like this towards his userbase:

(Thank you, Abi, for providing these screenshots!)

They may be rough translations, but they do get the message across. He has no respect for his users, either in Russia or in English first language speaking countries. There's also to take into account his more passive aggressive twitter conversations that I don't have screenshots of.

In case you were wondering, LiveJournal staff:

It's rude to your users, shows that you're rude towards your customers to your investors, and tends to scare away any new business (not just on this site, but with any partnership deals you may be looking at!). I personally ask myself if igrick treats his own staff with the insulting attitude he treats his userbase with.

When a staff member of any company responds to their customers with such a strong, negative attitude, the customer is likely to take offense and strike out against it. Sometimes furiously. Most often en masse. If the staff member's attitude didn't drive away possible business, the hordes of angry users will. No company wants a part of something that is full of angry customers! That's just simple business. LiveJournal makes the majority of its revenue through ads for its business partnerships. So while users threaten to take their paid accounts elsewhere, it may not make much difference. But if the business partners see the way a company handles its business and customers, sees the head of an entire country's branch treat them rudely, thus causing a virtual riot, no company will want to partner with them.

But, LiveJournal staff, it is okay!

I will show you how to fix this mess you've created.

Look closely, you may notice a change in wording here:

*Forgiving the typos of "will roll" on that last line. Curse you, photoshop's zoom out preview being too small!

If you look closely, I've rewritten your closing statement of this news post. In this way, you have acknolwedged your userbase's main concerns: the subject line 95% of complaints have mentioned concern over, your staff's treatment of this situation as well as its userbase, and an idea of what will be happening in the short-term future. In this way, you've handled damage control to an extent far greater than you have been without making any long-term promises you may not be able to keep.

I hope this has been informative for all of you and that you'll use some of this advice in the future. Thank you!
Tags: !public, lj and you
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