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An open letter to Mrs Wong and LJ Design. - Wemyss's Appalling Hobby:
From the Party Guilty of Committing 'Gate of Ivory, Gate of Horn'
An open letter to Mrs Wong and LJ Design.

Right, then.  My initial reaction (see above, long since, on page 7) was the simple, pained reaction of a man suddenly confronted with something hideously ugly.


My opinion of the ‘proposed’ change – ‘proposed’ in rather the sense that Tony Blair and his gang ‘suggest’ things that immediately become mandatory, and sod what the electorate actually choose – has only declined, since.


Now, I don’t know whether these changes do or don’t tend to make Live Journal look more like certain other websites.  I don’t know that, because I don’t use or visit those other websites.  That’s rather the bloody point, damn it: I don’t care to use other sites if, indeed, they’ve the sort of shockingly ugly, inane, and useless layout you propose.


When I go to the information page on a user, I expect, curiously enough, to find information about that user.  Salient information, not whether she went to Roedean or he went to Slough Grammar or they both went to some comprehensive somewhere.  I don’t even care if the user had been up at Fenland Poly, I try to be accepting of others’s misfortunes.  IN FACT, THE SCHOOLS INFORMATION IS PARTICULARLY USELESS IN THAT ANYONE CAN CLAIM TO HAVE BEEN AT ANY SCHOOL, REGARDLESS OF TRUTH.  (I don’t list school and university because of just that, and because we who are mere pseudonyms have no business claiming such connexions.  The point remains that I could easily, if in no very convincing accents, profess to be a product of the Ecole Normale Superiéur, the Sorbonne, Heidelberg for a DPhil, and Patrice Lumumba University on a KGB bursary, with no one to say me nay and no barrier to my doing so.)  I’m not interested in the user’s user number, seniority, or how often she posts twee little comments.


What I want to know is precisely what is set forth clearly on the current page: Who the bugger is, where his other website and thus his writings are, what his email address is, and what, in his own words, he says of himself in his biographical information.  Next, I want to see, at a glance, what interests and what friends she has, and what of those we’ve in common – in bold print.  Only then might I conceivably be interested – in fact, I never am – in such pointless minutiae as account type, date created, number of comments, and posting access.


And I, like not a few of your customers – I want to emphasise that word: CUSTOMERS – over the age of forty, object particularly strenuously to columns and boxes and other damned things that still further reduce text size and visibility.  If you wanted to work on something to improve the site, you should have begun with text sizes.  There’s a reason why it is that I use 14-point to post things.  I understand from other posts that those who suffer rather more visual problems than do I, and who use a ‘reader’ for this sort of thing, are peculiarly badly affected by this bollocks of a ‘proposed’ ‘improvement’: I had been under the impression that both the oh-so-bien-pensant Californian ethos AND positive US law required making things accessible to the disabled?


And I now return to that word, CUSTOMERS.  Patrons of your little shop.  Some of us, at least, are paid accounts.  Some of us, in fact, are permanent accounts, duly paid for – and, apparently, we are ‘stuck’ with a bad bargain.  Now, sub specie aeternitatis, the amount of specie one splashed out for a permanent account is not great; on the other hand, eighty-one quid is a steepish price for a dubious privilege and a mere diversion, a hobby-horse.  But permanent account holders will, in the main, have paid their pounds over in reliance on the assurances – which appear increasingly to have been false, not to say fraudulent – that the change in ownership would not lead to the wholesale wrecking of the damned site.


We would appear to have been cheated.


This idea wants to be taken to the bottom of the garden and humanely killed.  It is only through a considerable exercise of Christian charity that I do not suggest that the same be done with those whose idea it was.


I do note that, on your sample page, the scrap of biography that appears lists you as ‘working at Six Apart … until they kick me out in disgrace’: I’d urge you not to propose a vote of confidence in this thread, as it seems manifestly evident that most of us would say that that time has long since arrived.


18 comments or Leave a comment
aillil From: aillil Date: June 17th, 2006 04:08 pm (UTC) (Link)

Enlighten me?

I have no idea what everybody is talking about. Where is the changed user info page? Mine looks the same as always (I have a paid account), as do the various info pages of people on my f'list.
The customisation page looks different now, yes, but the user page is the same. Or am I just blind?
wemyss From: wemyss Date: June 17th, 2006 04:18 pm (UTC) (Link)


Over at lj_design, there is a proposed new template. So far, there are 40 pages or so of customer outrage, and rightly.
aillil From: aillil Date: June 17th, 2006 04:40 pm (UTC) (Link)


... I understand. Thank you. And yes, it looks hideous. I shudder to think what would become of my info page layout as it is.
thewhiteowl From: thewhiteowl Date: June 17th, 2006 05:57 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Ah.

Now it's 42.

If they must have this crap 2-column layout, they should do this. Not that I'm optimistic...
wemyss From: wemyss Date: June 17th, 2006 06:21 pm (UTC) (Link)


And as our mutual friend, the ursine catarrh-sufferer, says - which, when I saw our number of mutual interests and friends, prompted me to add you, as I've been remiss in not having done before - Happy Birthday.
thewhiteowl From: thewhiteowl Date: June 17th, 2006 08:55 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Agreed.

Happy Birthday.

Thank you!

I took a look at your info (while I can still bear to do so) and have friended you in return.
wemyss From: wemyss Date: June 17th, 2006 09:05 pm (UTC) (Link)

Delighted to have you here.

Welcome to Bedlam.
coughingbear From: coughingbear Date: June 17th, 2006 11:18 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Agreed.

This made me smile, because I have horrible hayfever today and have indeed been a coughing, or at any rate sneezing, bear.

Agree with your letter, but am not optimistic about its success; I looked at the original lj_support post on 20 April asking for comments from the Support volunteers on the new layout, and the comments there raised lots of the same issues, especially about putting the bio nearer the top. Yet nothing seems to have changed yet.
wemyss From: wemyss Date: June 18th, 2006 01:59 pm (UTC) (Link)

Well, presumably money will talk?

Here's hoping you feel better.
From: tree_and_leaf Date: June 17th, 2006 10:41 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh dear. How vile.

If I wanted to be on facebook, I'd be on facebook.
wemyss From: wemyss Date: June 18th, 2006 01:59 pm (UTC) (Link)


Well, as if I've the faintest what facebook is.
g_shadowslayer From: g_shadowslayer Date: June 18th, 2006 12:22 am (UTC) (Link)
I was linked to your post from a friend of mine -- we're all similarly appalled by the proposed change, and I wanted to let you know your post is brilliant! I hadn't even thought of the problems those with visual difficulties might have with this new design, and yes, you are correct about the law over here in the States. Although I'm sure they will claim that their "opt out" will cover them there.

Except that they, as usual, will bury it in some obscure place that no one will know to look for.

My biggest concern so far has been for communities which have specific rules and/or content warnings in the userinfo -- in the important part of it. I am a maintainer on a comm that has specific instructions for joining that comm, and even now we get people clicking on the "join this community" link instead of following the directions. If it's buried underneath everything else? No one's ever going to follow them!

Ugh. Anyway, long story short, I wanted to let you know I loved this post and agree wholeheartedly!
anjak_j From: anjak_j Date: June 18th, 2006 12:57 am (UTC) (Link)
Accessibility is also law in the UK, and probably all of the EU countries as well, though as you say, I'm sure that TPTB will find a way around that.

I'm glad someone brought accessibility up - it isn't something I had thought of, though the minute you made the comm comment, I groaned. I hadn't given that a bean of thought in my complaining about the hideousness of the proposed changes...

*Also agrees with the author of the rant*
wemyss From: wemyss Date: June 18th, 2006 02:05 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thank you.

Presumably the law of their domicile wd apply?

In any case, it wants fixing, badly. Thank you for yr kind support.
wemyss From: wemyss Date: June 18th, 2006 02:04 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thank you very much.

Let's hope they listen.

Again, though, thank you for yr kind words in support.
tiferet From: tiferet Date: June 18th, 2006 07:52 am (UTC) (Link)
It's horrid.
wemyss From: wemyss Date: June 18th, 2006 01:58 pm (UTC) (Link)


Silly moo. Really, who comes UP with this rubbish?
(Deleted comment)
wemyss From: wemyss Date: June 19th, 2006 06:12 pm (UTC) (Link)

TRUE? To their WORD?

Well, no harm in hoping, I suppose.

Hullo, love. Nice to see you again in yet another guise.
18 comments or Leave a comment