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03 July 2008 @ 04:39 pm
LiveJournal India - community update  

Hello from all of us here at LiveJournal.

The LiveJournal team returned to Moscow in early May just as the summer heat which knocked us sideways in Delhi was moving north to greet us in Moscow (yes, it gets hot in Moscow, hotter than you think.) In the two months that have passed we have learnt a lot about the role which LiveJournal currently plays in India and what it might be able to achieve in the future.
 
Let us make a few things very clear.  We know that LiveJournal is in desperate needs of upgrades and investment. When our company (SUP) bought LiveJournal last December, we were very upfront about this. Indeed we posted our development plans for LiveJournal worldwide back in March, you can read them here.
 
Since that post in the spring we have recruited more than a dozen new people to work on LiveJournal in our US office and they have been integrated with the team that has been working on LiveJournal in Russia (over 100 people in total). We are on target to meet the goals which we set ourselves in terms of speed, usability, design, functionality and new features. These will deliver benefits to LiveJournal across the globe and you will see more changes in India pretty soon. For instance, since the beginning of the year we have fixed more than 300 bugs (phew) and improved site delivery by average of 40% globally. 

As you might know LiveJournal has a significant presence in Russia, where SUP is based, and America, where LiveJournal was founded. Thanks to the ingenuity of LiveJournal users, and the wonderful flexibility of the web, it has spread like a benevolent virus across the globe. Our figures suggest that there are over 100,000 unique monthly visitors to LiveJournal in India and more than a 1,000 regular contributors (don’t forget on LiveJournal many more people read than write and we hope that you will help change that in favour of those who write and also read
 
For LiveJournal to build, grow, and prosper it needs to be extend its global footprint in markets where it is already reasonably strong, like Singapore, and ones where it is relatively unknown beyond its core audience, like India.
 
We have chosen India as the first stop on our global roadshow because we believe that social media in India is at a tipping point, with users looking for a new range of services AND platforms now in a position to offer them.
 
So, what are we going to do in India?
 
It is clear to us that we need to focus out energy in three clear areas
 
  • Localization – we want LiveJournal to be something which anyone online in India is able to use- , that means proper translations and multilingual interfaces. Apart from the obvious linguistic issues, please let us know about other areas which you think we need to focus on.
  •  Socialization - LiveJournal is not just another social network, it is a platform for words and pictures which can be shared and discussed with ease. To turn our warm words into action we need to kick start this process and in the next few weeks we will be unveiling a campaign which we hope will bring more people into the community and boost the content which they have access to. Watch this space for more updates.
  • Integration – we want LiveJournal to be accessible through any number of platforms, in Russia we work with many publishers to extend the reach of LiveJournal, in the US LiveJournal it is integrated into many sites which offer “Blog this” functionality – this is something which we will do in India too. Tell us which sites you think we should be working with.
 
There will be more to say soon. We do not want to run before we can walk, nor do we want to raise expectations too high. But we are determined to make progress with this and we will soon, needless to say, with your help.
 
Keep writing, 
The team @ LiveJournal India
 
 
 
 
Angirasa Acharya (aka Jim....): Over Standangiasaa on July 5th, 2008 08:47 am (UTC)
Hi Ben, so far it all sounds good up there! :)

With regard to localization and language translations.. India is a country where no matter who you are or where you're from, If you're using the Internet, then English is the preferred language. Yes, some websites do provide regional language translations. Those websites proved to have an initially good number of hits. Lots of new user sign-ups. But after trying the services for a few days, users either deleted their accounts, or just stopped logging in.

A good idea would be to see how 'popular' or 'in use' the Hindi/Regional versions of various Microsoft products have had in India, as well as with globally located Indians. Less than 2% of Indian Windows users have even tried the localized interface. Out of that 2%, less than 4% continue to use it.

As I see it, Typing in regional tongues on a daily basis is not easy. Especially considering the fact that the de facto in India is to use QWERTY En-US Keyboards. It's a niche market and probably not worth tapping into in a big way. At least not initially anyway.

Speaking of Integration, It may be a good idea to provide connectivity between users LJ accounts and the users themselves in different ways. For example, one could make use of the LIVE services on cellular phone services to allow users to connect to their account. Payment through Cell Phone and GPRS assisted uploads would be very convenient.

A lot of Indian users have an innate fear of paying online via credit-card, while some don't even hold credit cards. If a user could walk into a booth or kiosk and make a payment toward their account, it would greatly reduce the inconvenience to users with such concerns and/or constraints.

100,000 Unique visitors to LJ from India? Wow! I sort of figured the figure would actually be a lot smaller, but my heart's looking up now. :)

You're right about the contributors part too.. To few writers - many readers.. We need to devise ways to turn those readers into writers. Blog-this! would be a clever tactic. Especially on Indian Newspaper portals as well as entertainment portals. In fact, I think every independent CMS should have it built-in out-of-the-box. Not just for India, but globally. :)

Great news so far, and I'm hopeful for the future!


P.S.: Words such as "Blog", "Online", "LJ", etc should not show up as "Incorrectly spelled" words while using the spell-check feature. Does not compute. :)

Edited at 2008-07-05 08:48 am (UTC)
Azure Jane Lunaticazurelunatic on April 27th, 2009 08:30 pm (UTC)
There are a few things in the suggestions community for that very spell-check problem:

http://community.livejournal.com/suggestions/897328.html
http://community.livejournal.com/suggestions/932256.html

(Basically, the spell-check system is almost impossible to add words to.)
Angirasa Acharya (aka Jim....)angiasaa on April 28th, 2009 07:04 am (UTC)
Hmmm.. I've been through those suggestion pages before, but it is'nt really all that difficult.

http://www.greatestjournal.com (before it closed down) had solved the spell-check issue, as also http://lj.rossia.org and http://www.deadjournal.com and http://www.asks.jp.

Since they're all using LJ's codebase, I can't imagine why we're finding it so terribly difficult.
(Deleted comment)
Wegg-Blogwpbenjamin on February 5th, 2009 11:15 am (UTC)
Hi Cheeni – thanks for your note – I have seen many worse rants on LJ and have a thick skin :)...

First, on the multiple postings, your points are well made and valid – the lj_india community is where these sort of messages should be highlighted which is exactly why we are trying to raise its profile (and encourage a user out there to do a new custom design which we can then use in the community).

Our approach in India is simple, we would like more people to use LJ because we think it’s a great service and has the opportunity to become a place for smart discussion and engagement in India.

Equally, the last thing that we want to do is to drive existing users away, we’d love them to help us grow the site (you after all, as you say, were using LJ long before we decided that we wanted to expand a little).

Now, as for the ideas, we have had some good ones, especially from angiasaa, and we have been in touch with him and others (both face to face and online) over the past six months. You will also have seen the stuff which we have done on writing, travel, politics and more.

As with all web services which have a loyal following there is a fine line between ensuring the early adoptors have the freedom and space to continue as they wish whilst also seeding future growth which will allow to us to invest in the years to come – I like to think that we have stayed on the right side of that line, you don’t and we hear what you have said.

So, what are we to do? The points which we have made in previous posts and which we have highlighted in discussions with users are in hand, we will for example soon have the opportunity to highlight content or themes from India on the LJ homepage (imagine an Indian version of “Spotlight”) and we are also building a new tool which will allow us to get in touch with users, who wish to be contacted, based on their geography. We’ll also be extending a bunch of services that we have already developed in Russia – like user statistics and ratings.

For our part we will continue to make careful steps in India, roll out new features when we can and engage with those who want to hear from us. As for you, well the ball is in your court, I’d love you to help us grow LJ, without losing its charm or exclusivity, but helping us to get where we want to, as a smart, sassy and cool community (not commodity) blogging platform.

What do you think?

Best,

Ben