December 4th, 2007

xkcd LiveJournal

Kremlins 2: The New Batch Processing

As many of you surely know, LiveJournal was just sold to a Russian company called SUP (pronounced "soup"). Predictably, wank ensued. Props to this Appa macro, but this was my favorite comment.

Anyway, the next day, they announced in news that they were having a party in San Francisco to celebrate. Predictably, wank ensued, but the very best part of it all was this completely hilarious Portal-inspired thread that got me featured on metaquotes. If there's one thing I like, it's making references.

Now, cofax7 had already given me the heads up about the party before I'd even found out the news, and I figured it was my sworn duty to go simply because I could. Besides, brad promised "Free booze and a goat," and I was going to hold him to his word about the goat. I didn't care so much about the booze.

I got to 111 Minna Gallery about twenty minutes early because that's the way the BART train crumbles. I told the bouncer I was there for "the LiveJournal thing" and showed him my ID. Once inside, a guy asked me to sign in with my name, company, and e-mail address (and title if I wanted), which was odd, but, hey, maybe they'll send me special LJ coupons or something.

There were about five people inside. I was a little wary. I slounged, not sure what else to do. An Indian man addressed me in Hindi, and I didn't know what he was saying, so he asked if I spoke Hindi, which I didn't; I mostly knew Gujarati. He asked me what was going on in Gujarati, and I said nothing much. And then for the next twenty minutes or so he decided that because we were both Indian, he should talk to me for about twenty minutes about how Indians rose in prominence in the job market at the turn of millennium, how common the name "Patel" is, how I liked Texas, and any number of things I had no interest in talking about. Okay, maybe it was only ten, but it felt like twenty. I didn't think he was there for the LJ party; I think he was a normal customer.

They unveiled the catered food, and I got some cucumber-and-avocado sushi, a goat cheese-and-mushroom samosa, and a chicken skewer. My new Indian friend motioned for me to sit with him, but I motioned to the bar, as I needed to get some water. When I got to the bar, I saw that I was out of his eyeline, so I, um, hid from him and ate my food peacefully, watching the people enter.

Eventually, people wearing shirts came in, and at first, I thought they were just really big fans, but as I paid more attention, I realized they were staff. And for about ten minutes, I remembered that I was totally not equipped to bring back any useful intel because that would require talking to people I didn't know, which is not my strong point except when it is. See, my technique is to just stand around while other people talked in the hopes that at some point I would be noticed and perhaps implicitly added to the conversation. And this is how I met coffeechica, ferrell, and arie, three-quarters of the Support/Abuse team. (That's right. There are four people handling all of those requests. This is why volunteers are helpful.)

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All in all, I'm really glad I went. It was great to see theljstaff as real people with their own lives and opinions. I think the most revelatory thing was that they really are just like us. They really can and do see our point of view, and it's tough to find a balance between what you ideally want and what you need to do to survive as a business. They're not perfect, and they know it, but they also understand how we'll react because they've been in our shoes before. They actually do read those thousands of comments, and they are listening. Take my opinion with a grain of salt if you wish, since I was biased toward them and am generally a nice person to begin with, but that's the feeling I came away with. Thankfully (or perhaps uninterestingly), there were no real-life wanksters holding up posters of cat macros and launching into tirades about how incredibly wronged they've been.

Plus, I got a free lj_2008 T-shirt and the opportunity to pet a goat. Win-win-win!