January 14th, 2006

marcus 2013

Problems with the Livejournal "Nudge" feature

A friend just made a post about the new (I assume) "nudge" feature in livejournal, which strikes me as a serious problem for some users. The idea is that it looks at your friends list, sees who hasn't posted in a week or more, and if you like sends them an email to remind them to post. Of course the idea that this might cause problems for some users can never have crossed their tiny minds.

I've just sent this to the LJ abuse team, let's see how they respond. Hopefully they give some feedback to Livejournal's upper echelons:

I regard the nudge feature livejournal now incorporates as an invasion of user's privacy. I don't feel that I have any inherent right to know why someone else isn't posting, or vice versa.

Some users may not wish others with access to their email to know that they have livejournal accounts. They may now receive unanted "nudges" from you. This situation could easily arise if someone was using a livejournal anonymously to obtain advice on an abusive parent with access to their email account, or to discuss matters which a spouse or employer might object to.

Since it doesn't work properly anyway (when I looked at it today I saw that it was reporting at least one person who has commented on my journal today as a non-poster) I would strongly urge that it should be scrapped.
marcus 2013

Nudge again

Here's the reply I've received from Livejournal abuse. Looks like I'm not the only person complaining...

First, let me say that I understand your concerns, and appreciate your desire for privacy.

The nudge feature is not intended to be any form of invasion of privacy. The only information that it provides to the person using it -- the lack of the other person's recent updates and the mutual friend status between the two -- is information that is publicly available on the other person's userinfo page. The email address is not released for the nudge process; also, it is only possible to nudge someone who is a mutual friend, and it is not possible to nudge someone just based on email address.

The primary purpose of the nudge feature is to remind someone that they have a LiveJournal account and that someone would want to read their updates. It isn't intended as a way of inquiring why someone hasn't been updating, and there is no obligation involved with the nudge.

LiveJournal administrators are aware of some of the concerns that people have with the nudge feature. There will at some point in the future be a way to "opt out" of nudging, so that people who do not wish to be nudged in this way can disable it. This opt-out will be provided as soon as possible, though there is no way to know when that will be.

Also, please note that the nudge feature judges activity only by the last time the person wrote an entry in their journal. Commenting on another journal does not make someone "active" from the nudge feature's perspective. Even if someone commented recently in your journal, if they haven't updated in over a week, they will be eligible to be nudged by any mutual friend.

The reply I've posted:

I realise that this only applies to friends, but friends may not always realise the problems they can cause by using this feature.

One of the points I was trying to make is that by doing this you are sending an email to someone who may have concealed their email address on Livejournal, or may have put a different contact address on their personal info page, rather than the one they used to join Livejournal. You may be causing big problems for them by revealing the existence of a journal to a third party.

Why have "opt in" as the default, since it's something that vulnerable users probably won't realise can cause problems for them until it's too late?

Later Added another comment:

Also, why have a week as the period after which you can nudge someone? It's a ridiculously short time if someone is travelling or ill, or simply doesn't feel the need to post very often.

Anyone else wanting to comment, it's http://www.livejournal.com/support/see_request.bml?id=541646&
marcus 2013

Selling some stuff

Forgot to say I'm selling some odds and ends on eBay UK:

Mini graphics tablet - works but PC compatible only (heliograph was right), and a bit small for my needs.

USB Microscope camera - it works but it's PC only, used it at work a bit but for home use it's a pain not being able to use it with the laptop, I'm going to get one that has Mac support too.

Composite/SVHS video module thingy for iBook G4 - thought this would be useful, it works but everything I wanted to use it with now has VGA or firewire input. PAL or NTSC output.

Don't all rush at once...