Why did you decide to run for LiveJournal User-Representative?
My decision to run for LiveJournal User Representative was based on the fact that I am passionate about this community. I firmly support the ideals this community was based on. I also understand that to be sustainable communities have to be able to grow and evolve with their users and the world around them. Also, in order for users to be heard they need to be properly represented. I want to be that person that allows those who have made homes here the ability to be noticed, to be heard, and most importantly to be understood.
In which way do you think you are qualified for the position?
I am qualified for this position not only because of the length of time I've been a member, the fact that I'm a community moderator, or a long time paid member - but also because of my unique position as someone who studies online communities from the users perspective.
To better explain, my academic and work focus is on online communities - their participants, their purpose, their design, their user's needs and their ability to fulfill them, what it is about them that makes them successful and what can be done to make them better from the user perspective. This includes content, features, accessibility, usability, user experience, rights, privacy issues, and more.
I've focused my grad school studies, my external studies, and my job on this. I am entirely dedicated to using these skills in what ever way I can to help LiveJournal focus on the reason why it exists - the people who use it.
What are your expectations for the LiveJournal User-Representative election?
My expectations are that while the most qualified people may not be elected, those that are elected will rise to the challenge set before them as they wouldn't have come this far if they were not passionate about some aspect of the community at large. It is my hope that the people elected recognize that they represent a large body of constituents from all over the world, all walks of life, and with very different voices all needing to be heard.
It is my expectation that those who are elected will make an effort to engage the community in their decision making process and won't forget that the reason why they are where they are is because other people believed in them to make a difference. That they will be our voice, and that we want to not only be heard but also be understood - and only a User Representative can truly do that.
What is your current strategy?
My current strategy is simply to see that whomever gets elected has the backing of the community and is willing to do what is necessary to properly represent the rest of us.
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?
My hopes for the Advisory Board are that they put out an effort to be involved in every decision concerning the community at large. That they do it for the benefit of the community members, and that they collaborate with each other, the community, and LiveJournal's parent company in an open and engaging way.
I think being a User Representative and being on the Advisory Board entails representing the LiveJournal community to the best of my ability. To truly listen to the community, to stand up for them, and to be their voice. It will entail making hard decisions on things such as terms of service, censorship, abuse, account status, community improvements, accessibility, features and more.
I always strive to have sound backing for any decision I make based on research both on community members and on best practices / standards, however I seek out new and innovative ways to approach any problem. No community can remain stagnant and continue to be sustainable - it is a living breathing being that needs continual nourishment and attentiveness or else it will disperse to find homes elsewhere. We wouldn't be here if it wasn't for the rest of the people who are here as well. It should be the Advisory Boards goal to see that the LiveJournal community receives the nourishment and attentiveness necessary to continue to grow and evolve.
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?
At first I was very upset about this event. Not only does this effect new users, but it also effects all current users in various ways. From my personal point of view, I've used LiveJournal for so long it is a major point of contact for me and allows me to keep up with a great deal of real life friends. It is because of this I have continuously brought many people into the LiveJournal fold. I did this not only because I value them, but also because I value this community and have always seen it as having a great deal of worth for those who use it.
With the inability to create new basic accounts, people I value as friends will be less likely to want to be a part of a community I hold very dear to me. This means that not only will there be fewer people coming to join the community, potentially becoming paying members, but also that paying members will be less likely to stay if their growth is limited due to the inability for their personal communities to grow and evolve.
A second point of view is from that of a community maintainer. I help moderate a very large community based on a game that has over 9 million users. We have new people join LiveJournal every day so that they can be a part of this community. Where for any good community this should serve as an entry point that then allows these new users to experience what it is like to be a part of not only this specific community on LiveJournal but also the LiveJournal community at large - users are now less likely to use LiveJournal for anything else thus truly diminishing the context of the community they are a part of and their ability to be able to participate in it in the same way long times users will. This in turn can have a downward spiral effect on the community making it less valuable to all who participate. When the value is gone, the community is gone too.
This very much affected the way I began to view the new parent company of LiveJournal. It seemed that in an attempt to monetize their user base they failed to realize how this decision would reverberate throughout the community affecting everyone in the long run. The lack of foresight to engage the current Advisory Board in a decision as important as this made me realize that they perhaps did not value the Advisory Board as much as they should.
As a user elected representative with with background and skills I can bring to the table I have the ability to add great value to the Board which I hope would make it hard for the parent company to overlook again. If they make proper use of the Advisory Board it can do nothing but good for them. I not only want to show them how important the Advisory Board is but also how to use it to best serve the community which in the end serves them as well.
What are your thoughts on privacy and security on the Internet?
Privacy and security should be the top most priorities of any site on the internet that deals in any personal information including content. LiveJournal is more than a collection of blogs. I would go so far as to say that a Journal on LiveJournal in all its essence is a lot more personal than the average blog you find online. Many of us have been here since before blogging was the 'in thing' to do. Many of us have Journals that are set to 'friends only' giving us a buffer between those who use this community and Internet users at large.
LiveJournal is our refuge, our family, our best friend, our shoulder to cry on, our sounding board, our rant space, our news outlet, our adviser, our entertainment, a place where we can be alone or choose to have an audience, - this is our home online. We should be able to close our windows, to shut our blinds and to lock our doors when necessary - or to let the breeze blow through, the sun shine in and to have a party when ever we want.
We need to feel safe and comfortable in our homes or else we will leave to find another. I would do what ever I could to help perpetuate these ideals into any decision being made on how LiveJournal approaches privacy and security.
What are some new features you would like to see LiveJournal developing?
As I stated in my initial bid to become a candidate I have a post dating back to 2003 of features I wanted to see incorporated into LiveJournal. (http://sollitaire.livejournal.com/159792.html) The amazing thing is a lot of this has come to pass! I think that some of the most important places to focus on in 2008 are making LiveJournal more accessible from wireless handheld devices.
The ability to access our journals from where ever we are within what ever situation we find ourselves in, and in what ever way is easiest for us to do so will only continue to add value to LiveJournal both for current and new users. We want to be able to take our world with us, fit it in our pockets and access it in any way we can.
I have tons and tons of ideas on how to incorporate new features that will help build, maintain, sustain, and grow our community. This is what I do, this is what I thrive for, this is what I love.
What are some improvements you would like to see LiveJournal have?
I think this relates a lot to the previous question as features are generally considered improvements as well. However, one improvement I would very much like to see is better communication between the community members and those who make decisions that affect them. Every uproar I have witnessed has been due to this lack of communication and consideration for LiveJournal members.
And lastly, can you tell me a little bit about yourself?
I am a 30 year old newly wed, step mother, graduate student in cyber anthropology who is employed as a usability and interface engineer for a global company who creates HR software. I love my family, my academic life, and my career. I'm a blogger, podcaster, gamer, photographer, and writer. I've been on LiveJournal since January of 2001, before which I posted my thoughts to my own site. I specifically came to LiveJournal for the community and it is the one reason why after 7 years I am still here.
I have been a system administrator, graphic artist, web developer and information architect in past careers. I am also an active proponent of net neutrality, and gamers rights. I'm an avid gamer both console and computer. I've played World of Warcraft since day one and I run the site for our guild of over 250 members. I'm a geek. I love gadgets. I was practically born into fandom. I'm very open minded and have a great sense of humor - especially in the fact that I don't take myself too seriously. However, I do take my commitments in life very seriously. I'm very passionate and my excitement can become infectious especially when it comes to things I study. I take pride in my work and never do things half assed. I love collaboration and debate with well informed people. Most of all - I love LiveJournal, everything it is and everything it can become.
Please feel free to ask me questions, or to comment on what I've said. I welcome any and all feedback.
In the end, I'm just excited to watch how all of this is unfolding - to see where LJ has come from and where it is headed. Being a part of the process is icing for me.
You can read sollitaire's original platform here.
Notes: ljvotes encourages readers to comment with questions and/or endorsements for sollitaire 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.