Why is it that I use Livejournal for this site? It’s got a rather bad reputation as the blogging tool of choice for 14-year-old girls who like to complain about their boyfriends and how their parents are assholes and how they’ve been cutting recently. And who write in txt spk and don’t know what full stops are. You’d think I’d be using something more sophisticated, right?
Livejournal is also notoriously unreliable, ask any LJ user. “LJ is teh suck” is a constant complaint. The database is always going down (if the blog column doesn’t turn up on the main page, that’s the reason).
Well. Actually, I do use Movable Type for my site (this is an MT entry) just to prove that I am capable of setting up my own system.
Another good reason is that, in a drunken spending spree, I paid out $100 for a lifetime’s membership. LJ has a strange pricing system. Most users are free, but not just anyone can join – they changed it so that you have to get a code from an existing user to start a journal. This was criticised when it was introduced but it’s actually a fairly good thing in practice; it’s slowed things down to “friend of a friend” enrolment for “I just want to type some stuff” users. Free users can’t modify the appearance of their LJ much. You can also pay $25 a year and be a Paid User, and modify pretty much what you want. Permanent accounts are only offered for sale occasionally, and in limited numbers.
LJ and Blogger (and MT) work in very different ways. Blogger is basically a website that allows you to FTP things to another site. You make entries which are stored on their server; you then “publish” them to a different site when you’re ready. This means that if you have a lot of entries your files can get very, very large. I dread to think how much space mine would take up. Movable Type sits on your own server and stores entries not only in its database but also publishes them in HTML form, so uses even more space. (The reliability advantage of MT of course is that you only have to rely on one server being up to edit and view entries. Blogger, their server has to be working to add new things, and yours has to be up for people to read the blog.)
LJ is dynamic. It stores all entries on its own database, you make a request if you want to view a page, and it generates and sends back the HTML to your computer. This puts a massive load on their system but it means, if I change a detail of the appearance, which I do often, it’s instantly reflected in every page. I don’t have to rebuild everything which is a tiresome, tiresome process, even with a relatively small number of entries.
There’s the LJ comments system. This is excellent. Leave a comment on an entry and I will be emailed it. It’s threaded, and can be used for discussion groups – there are a number of communities on LJ where people go to debate, discuss and have massive stupid dramas.
Finally, LJ has a friends system which allows me to (if I want) filter my entries so that only certain people can see them. I don’t use this very often but it’s useful if for some reason I need to vent, but I can’t let just anyone see. If you view the journal from my home page, you won’t see these entries. As well as that, the friends page lets me look at all my friends’ journal entries, plus the communities I’m a member of, plus – and this is fairly new and extremely cool – RSS feeds from news sources and even non-LJ blogs.
The major disadvantage of LJ is the reliability. It really is teh suck. It used to be appalling, got better, and has recently got worse again. That’s the thing that might make me change to using MT for all of my entries. I’d still keep the LJ account for friends viewing and communities. Right now, though, I’m happy enough to keep using LJ.