1. Why did you decide to run for LiveJournal User-Representative?
Entry into a campaign like this should never be done on a whim and I sometime wonder why I would expose myself to the harassment, ridicule and frustrations involved in this 'election.' Over the past 4 years I've been a paid member of Live Journal, I've seen a steady evolution in the community. I've always believed in social responsibility and that the only way a community can grow and change for the best is to get involved in it directly. In the last year, I've seen changes to LJ that worry me and indicate that the service may be moving towards some forms of censorship, increased commercialization and in being less responsible to the members that make up its diverse communities.
2. In which way do you think you are qualified for the position?
I have qualifications for the position based on my education. I have a BS in Computer Science (Information Systems specialty). This educational background positions me to know what is possible and what isn't realistic to expect in the management and development of Live Journal. Any representative to the Advisory Board should have a good working knowledge of how the system works. I'm qualified for the Advisory Board based on my career experience also. As a former US Air Force officer, I've had both extensive functional experiences in the operations of a large organization; and I'd gained substantial experience adapting to the needs and concerns of diverse cultures from around the world. Lastly, my experiences here on LJ as a moderator of a number of local and international communities, I understand that when a decision is made, it should be made with fairness, firm resolve and reason. You aren't going to please everyone all the time, so you have to be able to absorb criticism with either grace or exceedingly thick skin.
3. What are your expectations for the LiveJournal User-Representative election?
At this point, my expectations are guarded both due to the previous history at Live Journal and with regard to how some of the candidates have behaved.
As noted in my platform post, this election could be nothing but eye-wash for the regulatory authorities, or a joke. Live Journal's parent company has had advisory councils in the past and has chosen to not consult them or ignored their advice when it ran counter to the interests of the company. In this case, the only way to know that the election and advisory board isn't a farce is to actively seek a position. Perhaps if I can help to influence, nudge, nag or cajole the organization into taking actions that with benefit the membership of the greater LJ community and to keep that community informed to the greatest extent possible.
For the election itself, I have been lowering my expectations. In a number of cases, I've heard allegations of phony (sock puppet) accounts being used to rig voting. I seen other candidates having their friends and supporters to enter communities to bash or flame the opinions of other candidates. I've noted conflicts of interest where at least one candidate actually works for LJ as a member of its dispute resolution team.
Despite all the negatives, I'm hoping that the users of LJ will do two very basic things in voting. I hope the members of LJ who vote will select a candidate that is taking this election seriously and who are conflicted about who they will be representing – the membership. Secondly, I genuinely hope that the voters and the ownership of SUP will realize that there is room to improve LJ in a number of ways that don't compromise profitability or user content. The trick is maintaining balance. I believe I can do that is given the chance.
4. What is your current strategy?
My current strategy is to continue inform people of my candidacy and associated platform. Many folks see the entire election process as obtrusive and interrupting their little corners of LJ. There's a fine line between annoying and informing, and it blurs every step of the way.
I'm resolved to keep my campaign and the activities of my supporters clean honest and overboard. The goal is to stay above the name calling, mud slinging and try to remain respectable to my fellow candidates and to the voters.
5. If elected, what are your hopes for the position and for the Advisory Board? What do you think being a LiveJournal User-Representative and on an Advisory Board entails?
As noted in my platform, I have clearly defined goals should I be voted in. Those are:
If elected, I will work to keep the new owners of LJ from heavily commercializing the community and maintain the character that LJ has attained.
I'll try to suggest ways to improve the friending system so that dead accounts or abusive accounts can be removed from your friends list.
I'll suggest improvements in which moderators can manage their communities better including ways to edit or hide posts.
I'll suggest improvements and means to report abusive or absentee moderators in communities.
I'll suggest improvements to Live Journal Gallery system which has so much potential and has been neglected as a mere afterthought.
6. When LiveJournal announced the discontinuation of Basic accounts - no new Basic account can be created - they were criticized by LiveJournal users for not consulting the current members of the Advisory Board. What do you think of this event? And did it affect how you view the Advisory Board and the LiveJournal User-Representative positions?
Over the last year, the owners of LJ have been nothing less than heavy handed in how they've approached the users of the service. Notice the choice of words? Live Journal is owned by a company and we are user of a service. At some point LJ stopped being a community and became a business. The question is now whether the ownership of the business we use can be convinced to listen to the customers – us! I feel the owners should have consulted with the users and the existing advisors more directly than they did. It would have provided them with a bit more understanding of concerns and sensitivities. Conversely, communications go both ways and decisions such as the account changes aren't made in a vacuum. As an Advisory Board member, I would make it my business to keep abreast of program and system changes. If they aren't offering the info I plan to be asking – often!
7. What are your thoughts on privacy and security on the Internet?
As a freelance photographer and writer, I am always concerned with the censorship and internet privacy. I have already had to deal with issues of cyber stalking directed at me by an obsessed acquaintance and had the content of my journal used as grounds to terminate an employment.
I genuinely believe that the membership should have a reasonable expectation that their content of all types should be free of censorship. I believe that should a member decide they need to take their journal private, they should be assured a way to switch all their entries to a friends only mode in one easy action. Personal information should NOT be subject to marketing and data mining by LJ or any entities it elects to share the info with for commercial purposes.
8. What are some new features you would like to see LiveJournal developing - and – 9. What are some improvements you would like to see LiveJournal have?
As mentioned above, there are a number of improvements that are available in various other systems that should be expected here in LJ. A user should be able to change their entire blog to a private setting with the flick of a switch. The LJ Gallery system is cumbersome and very user unfriendly. Community users should be able to have a means to address abusive situations in large (civic) communities especially when and if the abuse is coming from the moderator in the form of an arbitration/dispute team that can take action. I'd like to also see better management tools for community moderators such as Java enabled controls to remove dead accounts, and to know when a member joined the community.
10. And lastly, can you tell me a little bit about yourself?
Wow aside from what I've noted already I don't know what more there is. I'm a single parent with two wonderful kids. I've been a security cop, insurance salesman, Air Force officer, flight test engineer, writer and freelance professional photographer. I'm published both as a writer and photographer so the issue of censorship and freedom of expression means a lot to me. I play in a worldwide historical group dedicated to studying the Middle Ages and Renaissance, so chivalry, courtesy and personal honor mean quite a bit to me as well. History is one of the things that also drives me as an abandoned site (Urbex) explorer.
You can read jj_maccrimmon's original platform here.
Notes: ljvotes encourages readers to comment with questions and/or endorsements for jj_maccrimmon and for the candidate to comment with their responses in kind. However, please do not leave any disparaging remarks toward any candidates or endorsements for other candidates in the comments.