Goodbye, my LiveJournal friends, for-EVAR!

Yes, this post’s title invokes and evokes rule 1 of the Blogdonts that [info]substitute posted years ago:

1. [Do not] announce your departure or hiatus to the world. “Goodbye my Internet Friends Forever” is always a mistake. If you want to leave or go on a break, just do so. When you announce it, people feel that you’re begging for compliments. Also, if you don’t absolutely mean it, you look like a total idiot when you come back the next day and post that “What Pokemon are you” quiz. And if you’re trying to avoid evil stalkers, you just gave them free information; don’t ever do that!

The reality of things is that I have not looked at my LiveJournal friends page since October 5th. This is not through conscious decision (“goodbye, my LJ friends forever!”), but mainly due to convenience, workflow, and waning interest. That’s not to say that I am disinterested in what folks have to say over there — I just do not always think about it and when I do, it almost doesn’t seem worth the effort of logging in, navigating around, and reading the large backlog of missed posts. I am not giving up on LiveJournal; I just find that it is less and less relevant to my interests.

I started writing about my life in this thing called “a blog,” short for “web log,” back in August of 2001 after being introduced to the concept by [info]burningskyz. It caught on like wildfire in my social group. We all joined LiveJournal and wrote about all variety of things. As RSS became more mature, I started using my journal’s friend list as a way of reading other blogs. Eventually, I got myself a proper RSS reader and migrated those feeds out of LiveJournal — splitting my reading time between reader and journal. These days, my online reading time is mainly split between Google Reader and Twitter, with a touch of Facebook on the side. After toying with LiveJournal’s poorly thought out OpenID implementation (flawed in that I could read protected entries but not comment on them), my online writing moved completely to my site (syndicated to LJ via [info]brianenigma_rss).  LJ reading and writing simply dropped by the wayside.

I have subscribed to a few people’s journals with Google Reader, which is nice but not a complete replacement for reading LiveJournal. One of the features that is unique to LJ — and used by many of my friends — is the ability to post things as friend-locked entries. Obviously, these do not appear in the RSS feed, and so I never see them in Google Reader. I know of no easy way around this. A couple of months ago, someone posted a squirrely little Perl script to JWZ’s journal that gets an RSS feed of all of your friends (not the default group or other sub-groups, but everything). The output of that script would then have to be a public-ish RSS feed for Google Reader to ingest, and that completely subverts the concept of posts being friend-locked by making them public enough for Google to see. Given the choice of turning people’s friend-locked entries to public (in a hidden feed somewhere, but still technically public) and simply not reading LJ via Reader, I am choosing the latter.

So that is my long-winded way of saying LiveJournal has gotten old and while I have not completely given up on it yet, the reality is that is has been a month and a half since I looked at it. Goodbye, my LiveJournal friends for another month and a half. See you in the new year.

✻ ✼ ✻

P.S. If someone really does know how to get LJ friend groups, including protected entries, into Google Reader, then you are an amazing person and must share this information post-haste! Mainly, I am looking for a solution with the following features:

  • Allows me to view protected entries within Google Reader, preferably with an indicator that the post is public versus protected
  • Doesn’t require me to divulge a password in plaintext (for instance, within a URL parameter that can be seen in proxy logs, in OPML exports, or handed over to a 3rd party server/service)
  • Understands LiveJournal groups. I have groups defined on LJ for California, PDX, ARGs, and whatnot. As I discover and add new people on LJ, I really do not want to have to manually add them to the right groups on both LJ and Google Reader. I know myself and know I’ll forget an update.  They will quickly get out of sync.

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Brian Enigma

Brian Enigma is a Portlander, manipulator of atoms & bits, minor-league blogger, and all-around great guy. He typically writes about the interesting “maker” projects he's working on, but sometimes veers off into puzzles, software, games, local news, and current events.

8 thoughts on “Goodbye, my LiveJournal friends, for-EVAR!”

  1. I can’t speak for anyone else, but if you stop reading my LJ via some method or other, you’re really not to hear what I have to say. Seems a shame to drop actual social connections because you don’t like a website.

    1. As I mentioned above, not reading LiveJournal was not so much a conscious decision, but one of convenience and the migration of my attention to other venues. This post was mainly to bring that background behavior to the foreground. It is certainly not personal, and I don’t even see it as dropping social connections. Taking you as an example, I still read everything you write on Twitter and Facebook as well as your Flickr stream and Delicious links, I just miss out on some of the friend-locked LJ posts. My web history shows that I just seem to have lost interested in LiveJournal as a whole. Although I can make a few guesses, I cannot completely explain why. It is certainly nothing against individual users. As I live more of my online life in Twitter and Google Reader (and to some extent, the iPhone Facebook client), I find I have less time and interest in LiveJournal (and Digg and Unfiction — both of which I have not visited in longer than LJ, but this post wasn’t about either of those services). I last hit LiveJournal a month and a half ago. Previous to that, my mean-time-between-access had been between 2 and 4 weeks. That’s been the trend, whether I like it or not, and even despite my attempts to improve the frequency of my access a few months ago.

      If I can safely get friend-protected posts into Google Reader, this whole post may just become a moot point.

  2. As a parallel issue, what blogging services (if any) are you aware of that allow one to post protected friends-locked entries that are readable in Google Reader? I mean, I’ve got not particular affection for LJ; however, I was never able to get it to import properly to my webserver’s WordPress implementation. And I don’t see how I could have friends-locked WordPress entries anyway.

    Anyway. just some random musings.

    1. I have only found two services that let you get friend-protected entries into Google Reader:

      FeedProxy seems to promise an open-source solution (i.e. run it on your own server so that you do not have to share your password with a 3rd party). I cannot actually find the code, though. Also, based on the blog, it seems very on-again, off-again, with service outages measured in weeks as they get blocked by LJ and then re-added.

      FeedProxy, as best as I can tell from the blog is not permanently down and suggests using FreeMyFeed. They seem to be closed-source and you just have to trust that they’re not going to divulge your password. The quote “…the password is encrypted in the URL using a rotating algorithm. Only the lead developer of the application even has full access to the encryption methods…” doesn’t make me feel safe and secure. Security through obscurity and “it’s so secure I can’t even break it myself” are big red flags all throughout Bruce Schneier’s writings.

      With regard to importing LJ to WordPress, I recall that I was able to import everything successfully back when I did it. I remember having to do an XML export at LJ, then importing those files into WordPress. I don’t know if it’s been streamlined since then or if they removed friend-locked posts for some reason. You’re correct in WP not having much by way of friend-locked entries. Technically, you can make posts password-protected or only visible if the user is logged in to your WordPress installation, but neither of those methods are terribly practical. I’ve pretty much come to the conclusion that nothing on the internet is truly private, including friend-locked posts, and that the best way to keep something private is not to post it. If I keep private information to conversations with friends over beer then everything else can be posted publicly.

    2. Oops, I re=read your comment and realized you were asking about alternative blogging services, not services that proxy LiveJournal. So far, I haven’t found any that have the ease of LiveJournal. The people running the LJ codebase (DeadJournal, etc.) have the same limitations. As I mentioned above, you can protect stuff in WordPress, but it’s a pain to end-users to read and not very RSS-able. You can do protected stuff on Facebook (via “Notes” that have their privacy tied to specific friend groups), but I think that’s even worse than LJ on the RSS front. Beyond that, I’ve seen nothing. Most of the blogs I read that belong to individuals are WordPress (either hosted at WordPress.com or with copy of WordPress.org’s software running on their own site) or Blogger, and simply don’t post private information. LiveJournal appears to be one of the few (along with MySpace and Facebook) with friends-only blog posts — and none have an easy way of getting them outside of the walled garden.

    1. I’m trying this out. I’m pretty excited. It seems to be working. I only had to change one line:

      -FoafURI = “http://#{Username}.livejournal.com/data/foaf”
      +FoafURI = “http://#{Username}.livejournal.com/data/foaf”.gsub(‘_’, ‘-‘)

      I’d like to make it 1 RSS feed for each person, including public and protected entries (maybe with a little icon or tag to qualify each entry as public or private) and it would put a link to the number of comments at the bottom of each entry too.

      I’ll see if I can manage it. 😛 git branch ahoy.

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