How LiveJournal is sticky
Given the recent commotion over some of LiveJournal's business decisions and people's unhappyness with LiveJournal as a result, I've been thinking about the various ways that LiveJournal makes itself sticky (and thus hard to leave, and so on). I think that there are three general levels of LiveJournal stickyness, in ascending order:
- the simplicity and ease of use for individual users.
- the network effects: the more that people that you want to read use
LiveJournal, the more attractive it is to be there and read them in
(At least in the beginning this combined strongly with the ease of use issue and I think that it continues to some degree even today, despite things like Google Reader.)
- what I will call social stickiness, which are all of the LiveJournal
features that enable communities to spring up; these are things
like comments with attached user identities and private (locked)
(Actual LiveJournal communities are useful, but I think not as important as the core social-enabling features that let you associate with identifiable people.)
I think that a lot of discussion about how people can (or can't) just migrate away from LiveJournal miss the incredible stickiness of the last level. Given that people are social, enabling that sociability is a very serious attraction.
These days, blogs can be user friendly (and there have always been places that let you easily create a blog of your own) and syndication feed readers and aggregators can lower the network effect, but I don't think that there's anything that can substitute for the third level. It's hard to see how there could be in the near future, because there are a horde of hard problems to be solved (starting with automatic cross-site identities that work through your syndication feed reader).
(Communities form even without these enabling features; I would be remiss if I didn't mention the anime blogging community as one example. But I think that the social features that LiveJournal has make it much easier to have communities form and stay, and to make it so that new people can more easily get pulled into them.)