Questions & Answers

Question 1 (link)

dormando: My question would be: "What inspired you to do this?" :P

bradfitz: Beats answering the same questions repeatedly in the future.

This way everybody get the info at once. And if a new user asks a similar question in some forum in the future, maybe an old user could point them at the answer, or remember the answer on their own.

Plus it's just kinda fun to see what everybody's interested in.

Question 2 (link)

purpleprimate: How profitable has LiveJournal been?

bsujohn: How much money is LiveJournal worth (i.e. how much have you spent), with servers, software, blah blah? Minus manpower hours, if you want, cause I'm sure that's worth a ton!

bradfitz: It took us months to save up enough money for our first couple servers. Now we pretty much just buy things whenever we need to, without worrying much about getting the money. So we're doing a lot better than we used to, and that's pretty cool.

I sighed in disappointment the other day when I read that somebody read the stats page and deduced that I was making over $600,000/year personally off of LiveJournal. As-if. Revenue is quite different from profit. That person was forgetting a few little details like employees, insurance, taxes, tons of servers, co-location, an insane amount of bandwidth, voicemail service, etc, etc...

Just for bandwidth we're paying over $10,000 per month!

I make a pathetic salary compared to what I hear I could be making at a "real job". But the job's pretty fun and has good hours, so I don't really care.

Question 3 (link)

lroberson: And what is the official snack food of the Livejournal staff? ;)

bradfitz: Iced tea. It's Red Rose or something... with the little porcelain endangered animal thingies inside. Good stuff. Highly recommend it. I hate all that Nestea/Snapple Iced Tea/etc sugary crap.

sherm: hmmmmm... lately: sour patch kids and vanilla coke. addicted to both.


jproulx: Cheddar and Sour Cream Ruffles & Cherry IBC Soda

avva: Good espresso, lots of it. Failing that, coffee. Failing that, water.


evan: I'm most fond of water, actually, though I'd eat sushi all the time if I had access to good sushi.

Question 4 (link)

lroberson: When do we get to see the new iteration of the styles system!

spicy_mustard: When will S2 make its triumphant debut? Hopefully the great amount of stabilization work that's been completed will finally pave the way for this much anticipated change.

I go through cycles working on that. I'd say it's over 80% done at this point .... it just takes a lot of dedication. Everytime I get really into it for awhile, some server problem crops up and I become sysadmin for awhile and stop programming. But luckily mart is helping me out with it a bunch.

And yes, the stabilization work (and architecture changes) will make it easier. In particular, UTF-8 support is nice to have done. That's going to make a ton of S2 stuff easier and cleaner.

Question 5 (link)

jeni: Will S2 allow us to change the comment and user info pages as well?

Yup. In S2, everything inherits from different templates you make, so all your pages look the same by default, and then you can tweak each page/view if you want.

Question 6 (link)

grahams: Any word as to when Birthday emails will return?

Oh yeah... forgot about those. I turned them off because it was designed poorly. It worked back when there were 1000 users or so but didn't scale to nearly 600,000 users or whatever we're at now. I'll re-write it one of these days.

In the meantime, the portal page has a cool friends' birthday box. (but note that the portal page is only about 90% done, like so many LJ features)

Question 7 (link)

willedit: Is there a way to organize a friends list chronologically? That way you could figure out who has been on your list the longest or when you added someone.

We don't keep track of the date friends were added, but I've wanted that myself at times. The main reason I never added it was because I never heard any interest in it before this comment here. Next time we need to change that table for something else, I'll add this in.

Question 8 (link)

sam42: How many site hits do you get per day?

14.5 million, lately, not counting images.

Question 9 (link)

rahaeli: Here's one that comes up in support all the time: when are invite codes going away? ;)

Invite codes were originally there to slow growth and limit abuse. Now growth doesn't matter (since the architecture rocks now), but abuse is still a problem.

So, we were going to do the whole trust metric system, but everybody got in an uproar about it so I decided it wasn't worth dealing with and trying to push a trust system onto a unwilling userbase.

So the new plan is to just offer screened comments and moderated communities. avva just sent me a patch for the start of that a couple minutes ago.

After that's tested and live, we could then remove invite codes and see how abuse goes, and it affect paid account numbers at all. If either or both change a lot, we'd put them back, at least until we had a new solution.

A lot of people like invite codes, actually. Every time we talk of removing them, a bunch of people complain that they should stay.

Question 10 (link)

compwiz: Is there a way to stop people from compulsively reloading their friends page every 5 seconds? That has got to be the #1 reason for LJ servers being loaded, no?

Go look at cgi-bin/ljviews.pl .... we check the If-Modified-Since header the browser sends and give back a HTTP 304 Not Modified response if the time is the same as the current time mod the refresh interval for that user's class.

So people can reload as often as they like, thinking they're actually reloading, but they're not, and we won't even touch the database if they're reloading too fast. (well, 'cept to lookup their user data, but that's nothing)

I forget what the refresh intervals are set to right now.

Question 11 (link)

calliste: Can I see that sex chart that Evan made?

Um, no.

Question 12 (link)

electrcspacegrl when will you have another permanent account sale? i missed the last one by a month.

We have no schedule for them.

We used to do them to raise money, but now we generally have the money we need for things (see Question 2). The last one we did just because so many people were asking for them, and we did it without a stated cause, and it still brought in a ton of money .... so maybe we do need to do them regularly. Not sure.

We don't sell them all the time because we recognize they're a status symbol of sorts (we've given them out to people who have helped a bunch) and we don't want to devalue the existing ones by letting everybody get one.

I'm sure we'll have another sale in the future, though. As long as the percentage of permanent accounts stays roughly level over time, that's good.

Some people have suggested raising the price above $100, but I don't want to do that.

Question 13 (link)

roy: how much caffeine do you ingest daily? do you sleep?

I drink iced tea constantly. (see Question 3)

I don't sleep as much as I'd like.

They might be related.

Question 14 (link)

mnbettyboop: Hi! I wish there was a way to completely block another LJ'er from reading my journal, without making it a friends only entry.........Have you ever thought of this? Thanks!

Then they make a new account and can read it. No security is worse than a false sense of security. And this would definitely be a false sense.

Question 15 (link)

parenthetical: Will there ever be another way to pay for paid accounts with Credit Card besides PAYPAL? I hate using them ;)

We take checks, money orders, cash, etc, etc....

Online, though? Hopefully, yes. sherm's working on getting us a new online payment system.

Question 16 (link)

jerronimo: What kind of shampoo do you use?

American Crew.

Question 17 (link)

mnbettyboop: I was wondering when you thought you might have counters and statistics for LJ?

erratic0101: Is there ever going to be stat tracking for a user (or at least a paid account). Im always curious who might be reading my LJ and im too lazy to put in my own stat tracking thingy.

That's another one of the 80% done features. It'll be live soon, I hope.

Question 18 (link)

anath47: when is S2?
what more has to be done till the portal is finalized?
whats the state of MyLivejournal?
whats up your sleeve?

S2... see Question 4

Portal... I forget what needs to be done. More boxes & options. And the different journal view boxes need to work with the clustering schema/API. That should be easy. I'd largely forgot about the portal. Yet another 80%-complete feature.

I always write the first 80% of things, come to the 20% boring clean-up stuff, and hope somebody will take it over, but people seldom do, so we're left with 80% complete features because I'm too lazy to do the boring 20%.

MyLiveJournal is just a set of tools for people to sync their journal data correctly to their own server and show it and manipulate it. The syncitems protocol mode is complete .... nobody has written any good syncitems clients yet, though. Yet I keep seeing people write these god-awful sync clients that do it the wrong way, fetching one's entire journal everytime, even if 95% of it is unchanged.

I'm going to start a "LJ projects page" soon here where we list all projects LJ needs and some will have dollar amounts, so upon completion, we pay the developer. Hopefully that'll cause more of these projects to get polished and in use.

Question 19 (link)

kassidynet: Might have been asked in the past... but I'm curious... (a couple of questions, if you don't mind, squire)

- How did the idea of LiveJournal come about?

- What was the original motivation behind this idea?

- Did you ever imagine that this idea would become so wide-spread and popular that now thousands of internet users around the globe have an account with LiveJournal?

I made it for me, then my roommate wanted it. I gave him a copy. Then another friend wanted it ... maintaining 3 copies would suck, so I rewrote it to be generic. Then a bunch of people started using it.

At a certain point I couldn't run it off my own server, so I made LJ into a company and did the whole paid account thing to buy new servers.

Question 20 (link)

gconnor: Inquiring sysadmins everywhere (well, at least here) want to know:

What challenges were there in getting web servers to run without local disk? Did you have to invent anything new, or was it all off the shelf?

Are the servers hosted off-site (as in, away from the sysadmins)? How do you reboot them when they go down? What do you recommend to sysadmins to make their servers more manageable?

What database product do you use for the back ends? How do you get it to scale? How do you handle redundancy/fault tolerance?

How many total servers are there? Any other thoughts about making a large group of related servers work well together?

Diskless stuff was pretty easy with Debian, but maybe I'm only saying that because dormando went out and did all the research and sent me a cheat sheet.

All the servers are off-site (at Internap, downtown Seattle). The servers don't really crash. (Well, we did have two crappy servers from this one totally lame company that did, but we got rid of one, and fixed the other. )

More often we'll reboot one with a new kernel and/or network driver and forget to do something and lose SSH access on reboot. But then I call sherm and he drives to the NOC to fix it.

Or, we can call InterNAP at any hour and have them reboot stuff too, but I've only done that once, when I halted a server instead of my personal machine before going to bed one night. (now I have all my xterms with different background colors so I don't get confused)

As far as making things manageable ... I'd say use Debian. It's really nice.

Database is MySQL. We have 11 database servers, all doing MySQL replication in a tree. Replicating different subsets on each link. Each database serves different roles, with different weights. The application code just requests a db handle of a certain role ... it doesn't connect to a certain machine. Then, we have a custom db management system that monitors everything, reweights things when servers go offline, lets us adjust weights, take machines out for maintenance, etc. All that code is open source also, and pretty abstract from the rest of the code, if you want to steal it for your own project.

We have around 30 servers now. 15 web, 11 db, 4 misc. All services run on at least two machines for redudancy. Most fail-overs are automatic... a few are tricky and we'd have to do by hand, but would be easy.

I wish I had some good advice for you ... I've just been learning as I go. I've never done anything this big before.

Question 21 (link)

esoterictrinity: Is there a way to pull your name off someone else's friend listing? If I remove someone from my friends listing and want to take mine off theirs without being an extreme prick?

We could do that, but I'm not sure I want to. I mean, they can read your stuff anyway. The friends view is just a convenience thing. More often, people want the opposite: they want to add a friend but not make it show up to the other person. That'd be harder, and I'm also not sure that'd be a good thing.

Question 22 (link)

hapgood: Is there a way I can look at posts I make to a community (just my posts)?

We have an index in the database for that, but no tool yet to show it. So it could happen, but somebody just has to make it.

Question 23 (link)

hapgood: Is there a way I can look at all my polls at once?

Again, it's possible, but nobody's worked on it.

Question 24 (link)

bjennings76: When will we be able to use a style with the individual journal entries? It's part of a whole LJ style makeover, right? I keep hearing it's coming, but have no idea when.

Yes, S2 makes that easy. (See Question 4)

Question 25 (link)

kyrielle: Will it ever be possible to have a security level "visible only to LiveJournal Users" on a post?

Perhaps. We have a reserved security bit that we could use for that, and I've wanted that security level myself at times. It'll probably happen.

Question 26 (link)

kyrielle: Will custom security levels ever be permitted on memories?

Probably not. Unless somebody does it and sends me a clean patch.

Question 27 (link)

kyrielle: What's the snack food of choice during those frantic attempts to fix weird server-things? :)

See Question 3.

Question 28 (link)

kyrielle: What one code feature that isn't even started toward implementation would you most like to see on LiveJournal? (And how likely is it to actually happen some day?)

The event/subscription/notification system is about 5% done, so that's about the closest thing to no implementation we have, and I really want to see that live. It'll happen.

Question 29 (link)

drenchedinme: is the complete directory service ever going to be open to free users as well? or am i gonna have to actually get a job to see how many other people in alaska use livejournal?

Yes, get a job. :)

Question 30 (link)

growf: How many accounts have no entries and no friends listed (ie, are completely without content)?

I know of a number of accounts without posts which are used solely for collating friends' entries - but accounts that don't even list friends effectively just remove account names from the namespace (ie, 'bruce' - which was the username I'd really have liked).

I suppose it's best to exclude new accounts (created in, say, the last month) - but it'd be interesting to see how many names have been 'lost'.

Don't forget comments and friend-ofs. There are lots of different types of users.

Part of the reason we haven't been too quick with deleting/purging accounts is because there are so many isuses like this.

Question 31 (link)

bopm: Some idea about email notify. Why don't notify about answers in thread that you begin in some journal. If post lays after yours in thread you get notify by mail. M.b. stupid but simply way to control some old threads.

Yes, that's part of the ESN system. See Question 28.

Question 32 (link)

sillyape: Did you ever hump the servers as much as I did during the Spkz Colo era?

I tried not to. ;)

Question 33 (link)

katyism: Would you ever considering giving away old server parts, snack wrappers, empty cola cans, or anything else the LJ staff has ever laid hands on, so we fans can own a piece of history?

We're going to be selling the first two LJ servers pretty soon here. They're still bad-ass servers and work fine, but they're taking up too much space in the cabinets.

Question 34 (link)

jezebelz: Whatever happened with the idea of changing usernames for existing accounts? I remember hearing something about than months ago, but nothing since...

avva's working on that.

Question 35 (link)

littlewashu: Can you search through someone's journal for something? I know you can use Google with the site: thingy, but that works for some people's journals, but not others. Will there be a LiveJournal search in the future?

Not yet. Might be a paid-user feature one day.

Question 36 (link)

kai_ta_loipa: Any new mood themes on the horizon?

I guess evan has dozens and dozens of sets that have been submitted, but we're kinda lazy about getting them up, for a number of reasons:

1) tons of them all look the same.... you'll have 80 moods but 3 pictures.

2) just more bandwidth for us to host them.

3) we're busy.

4) evan has to do a bunch of crap by hand still, and we keep talking about writing a script to automate it, but neither of us ever get around to it. see #3.

Question 37 (link)

come_undone: 1. is there/will there ever be any plans for allowing scripting on LJs? (a.k.a. is there a secure scripting language out there?)

Doubt it. Ignoring security and annoyance issues, scripting's has little point in a journal.

Question 38 (link)

come_undone: will LJ ever start hosting images? perhaps with an option with subscription (i.e. add on a feww bucks for a certain amount of space)

We were really excited about it but then realized it'd cost a ton and be full of legal problems. As far as the "costing a ton" part... consider: most users don't get the difference between "disk space" and "bandwidth usage". They know only disk space, not bandwidth, which is what really matters. So we'd have to cut people off half-way through the month and stuff, or daily if they exceeded their daily rate for that day plus left-overs from previous days.

Or something. I'll keep thinking about it, but it's a big can of worms.

Question 39 (link)

come_undone: 3. what is the deal with the windows clients? i've tried to follow the drama, but i am absolutely lost....

It was dumb.

The reason we didn't make a big deal of it at the time was because we were still working with Visions on the issue privately, and we didn't want the LJ cheering squad rooting us on without knowing all the details of the situation, and sharing the details would've made the situation worse.

I'd like to forget all about it.

Question 40 (link)

come_undone: 4. is it possible to use an external CSS? (i'm a fledgling when it comes to web design)

as long as it's not a Cross Site Scripting security risk. if we discover that it's possible to load privileged JavaScript through a remote CSS reference in any browser, we'll strip it.

Question 41 (link)

come_undone: 5. where do you see LJ heading in the next 5-10 years? kinda broad, but i'm curious....

No clue. Hopefully I can find somebody cool to run it.

Question 42 (link)

come_undone: 6. is there a way to set up email notifications from comments to break out of Hotmail frames?

I know nothing about Hotmail.

Question 43 (link)

come_undone: 7. How are members of the official LJ Commitees chosen (i.e. LJ Abuse)? also, is there any indication of LJ solidifying its business structure (i.e. incorporating)

Hard-working & reliable volunteers "move up" in the ranks, I guess. We have no formal system for it, really.

Business structure... LiveJournal's a legal Oregon S-Corporation.

Question 44 (link)

pastorofmuppets: User pic capacity - Is it going to stay 3/10/15 for free/paid/permanent accounts, or is there a potential for even a modest increase in capacity?

No plans for it to change. The 3 for free users might go down to 2, actually. A ton of our bandwidth is userpics. Before I change it I'll have to see how much of it is from free users, and how many distinct users, to see if it's worth it to bring it down to 2.

Or, get a higher percentage of people getting paid accounts, and not worry about it.

Question 45 (link)

kaugomu: ~I was wondering about live journal userpics. Could there be a way to get more, like buy more or something, cuz well 10 just isn't enugh, and I always end up deleating some to add others then wishing a few days later I haden't deleated that one or whatever.

Buying more might be an option one day.

Question 46 (link)

kaugomu: ~Also, 150 user interests isn't nearly enugh, could you bump the limit up to 175 or 200 or even better, not have a limit.

Having no limit breaks the "find users with similar interests" algorithm.

Question 47 (link)

kaugomu: ~When is the community serch engine coming back. Because I really want to find some communities for things that are obviously popular because when you click on them in the interest lists too many people have them listed so a list isn't shown.

Oh yeah. I need to fix that.

Question 48 (link)

kaugomu: ~Could we work out some kind of way to warn other LJ users, like you can on AIM, becuase there really are a lot of jerks out there.

Interesting. You could just ban them from your journal, though. In that sense, we already have a good jerk heuristic... we just look at the people that are banned the most but still have an un-suspended account.

Question 49 (link)

kaugomu: ~How long has LJ been around, like when did you all create it?

I made it in March of 1999.

Question 50 (link)

kaugomu: ~Do you get sick of getting all the replies to your posts?


Question 51 (link)

kaugomu: ~Where do you find the time to do all this stuff?

This is just about all I do. Pathetic, huh?

Question 52 (link)

anastasiamalfoy: What is LJ's deepest and darkest secret?

There are two fun things in htdocs/index.bml. 1) Frank can pee, and 2) We try to hide the ability to create new journals from a certain subset of the Internet population. You can find details by reading the code. ;)

Question 53 (link)

phill99: What has been the most rewarding thing to come out of your experience with Livejournal? I mean rewarding personally, rather than as "a company".

It's nice meeting a lot of really cool people.

Question 54 (link)

phill99: Would you ever consider trying to float LJ on NASDAQ or something daft like that?


Question 55 (link)

phill99: Now that you're finished school, what next? :)

No clue. I'll just keep workin' on LJ.

Question 56 (link)

kramerino: Brad, when you're in public, do a lot of people go, "hey! You're the guy who created livejournal!"?

I think once. It was kinda annoying.

Question 57 (link)

taral: There are a lot of accounts with nice popular names which were created years ago and never used. Will there come a time when these accounts are recycled? Perhaps they can be auctioned off or something... (Exponentially decaying initial bids come to mind...)

They'll be recycled for free sometime here.... been busy with other stuff.

Question 58 (link)

lizard: What is the highest number of comments a single post has recieved?

Not sure.

Question 59 (link)

shadoh: Is there a way to make a friends view in reverse chronological order from a specific date? i.e., instead of going through my friends page from most recent entry to the oldest, I'd like to say "I haven't checked my friends page since Sunday, 1 PM. Show me all my friends posts from sunday, 1PM, and let me click next, next, next to get through them all instead of having to go previous, previous, previous, etc until I reach sunday, and read them backward".

Unfortunately, the database indexes and the friends view algorithm wouldn't like that. It'd be too slow. The way it's done now is incredibly efficient.

Question 60 (link)

yunicorner: why was the sale of lj shirts stopped?

The company went out of business or something. insomnia was the guy who made it happen at the time, but he hasn't found a new T-Shirt vendor since then.

Question 61 (link)

jgrafton: How is your network set up?

We have three 100 Mbit switches. One to the Internet, and two internal ones. The load balancers plug into both. The two internal ones are linked between our two cabinets with gigabit ethernet over fiber.

The switch going to the Internet has two separate 100 Mbit lines (HSRP), both lines of which go to different routers on different UPSes, both routers of which are connected to 11 different net backbones.

Question 62 (link)

splitseconds: Am I supossed to be getting popups all over livejournal? When did this go into effect? Could paid accounts somehow be exempt from this? (Or is this whole popup stuff just some freak thing that is only happening to me?)

LiveJournal has no advertising or pop-ups. You have some spyware/malware/etc on your computer. You could clean it with something like AdAware.

Question 63 (link)

danger03: [innocently] what does bml mean?

Block/Better/Brad/B Markup Language. The first letter has no real definition.

Question 64 (link)

amdewstow: Is there a way to c "who made who" as in a big chart of which lj acount was made wiht a code from what lj acount? It might end up looking like a pryamid scheme sept only person at the very top (you) gets any moneny. I think it'd be neet to c who got the msot people to startan lj acount. Who would the winner be?

We have a tool like that for internal use, but we can't make it public.

Question 65 (link)

edmcbride: wheres the perks to keep the paid users renewing their accounts when they expire?

Yeah, I know. :-/

The plan at this point is to start doing a lot of cool stuff now that the server situation is under control. In the past we always had to worry about servers. Now, our architecture lets us just add new servers incredibly easily whenever we need to.

Question 66 (link)

mart: What the hell does mart do all the time these days? I've not seen him mentioned in changelog for a long time, except Brad bitchin'.

Yeah, that slacker. I think he's going to school or something. He should work on LJ all day.

Question 67 (link)

cpm: Out of curiousity, what changes (other than documentation) do you invision for the TODO system before it can graduate from its current beta-like state?

Heh, oh yeah. Todo system. Another 80% done feature. I forget.

Question 68 (link)

lettucethink: ....

Please consider making moderated comments possible. I've had this idea for a long time, and I'm hoping some of you have too. I can safely assume there are many writers who would benefit. In a moderated entry, only the user or users I specify would be able to post comments, making person-specific interviews possible, without a bunch of unwanted chit-chat from other readers. Why is it unwanted? Because a good interview happens between the interviewer and the interviewee, and the others are audience only.


In progress. Should be live soon. avva's working on it.

Question 69 (link)

b3rnd: How many memories can a user have at most?

No limit, I don't think.

Question 70 (link)

b3rnd: Will there ever be something like the automatic Zip recognition system for other countries?

If somebody makes it.

Question 71 (link)

b3rnd: Will LJ ever become fully usable through the Protocol?

If somebody works on it.

Question 72 (link)

b3rnd: Will LJ be around in ...say... 50 years?

If I find somebody cool to take it over for me, and they find somebody cool to take it over, and so on and so on.

Question 73 (link)

moonilicious: Why isn't there a function that allows members to edit comments?

I think that's a wonderful idea!

Why isn't there a function that allows members to edit comments?
Why don't we all go and jump off a cliff??

I think that's a wonderful idea!

Question 74 (link)

timwi: Approximately what percentage of patches submitted to lj_dev do get approved?

100% that are good and tested.

Question 75 (link)

timwi: Approximately how many screened answers do support requests get before one of them gets approved, on average?

Never run that statistic, actually.

Question 76 (link)

timwi: Why is Hungarian not listed on setlang.bml, while others that have a lower percentage done, are?

@LJ::LANGS wasn't updated in ljconfig.pl. Just an oversight.

Question 77 (link)

quba: Since Birthdays are obviously in a database, could you make a "Find User with Your Birthday" feature?

That could be cool. Put it in suggestions and hopefully some programmer with some free time will do it. Shouldn't be hard at all.

Question 78 (link)

ogun: On a daily basis, how much of a timesuck is this place?

Pretty much the whole day.