March 25th, 2004

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changing syndication

This entry is a request for discussion.


We've been thinking of changing the way syndication points work.

Our new idea is: give everyone many syndication points, so that free users will be able to friend many syndicated accounts, even not-very-popular ones. At the same time, restrict the ability to create new syndicated accounts to paid/permanent users only, regardless of points.

Detailed Explanation

Currently the ability to add a syndicated account to your friends list, and the ability to create a new syndicated account, both depend on the same thing: your syndication quota. In practice, free users can't add new feeds, because their quota is too low. They can add some feeds to their friends list, but not too many, because their quota runs out.

We want to increase free users' ability to add feeds to their friends list. But if we just increase quota for free users, that'll let them create many new feeds too. Creating new feeds is costly for LiveJournal; on the other hand, once a feed is created, letting many people subscribe to it is cheap. Therefore we want to restrict the ability to create new feeds to paid users (perhaps with some limits — that's still unclear). Creation of a feed won't depend on quota at all, but won't be possible for free users. At the same time, we raise quotas for everyone to a large value, so that even free users can read many, many feeds in their friend view. If a free user wants to create a new syndicated account, they'll have to ask some paid user to help them out.


Now that we check feeds for correctness before creating them, spurious feeds are much rarer than before and don't take up many resources like they used to. Our script for downloading feeds has also been greatly improved. We like the current explosion of RSS feeds everywhere, as well as feeds in the new Atom format, and want LJ users to be able to take advantage of them. In short, we like syndication, we want more syndication and better syndication for everyone.

Another reason: sometimes, free users who can't add many feeds to their friend lists (because of quotas) try to get around that fact by using tools/services outside LJ that read RSS feeds and stream them into regular LJ accounts created just for that purpose. We really don't like that. It creates a large duplication of syndicated text in our databases, it bypasses all our mechanisms for tracking and improving syndicated accounts, and it will likely cause a stream of complaints from irate site owners whose content is being "syndicated" in this way. We don't want to chase after the users who attempt to do so; rather than wasting our time doing that, we want to improve syndication for everyone, so that there'll be no real need to bypass LJ syndication in favor of external solutions.


Nothing has been decided so far. The above is one way that seems promising to us. Let us know what you think of it, its advantages and shortcomings. If you think a slight variation of this plan would be better, spell it out together with your argument; if you think a totally different plan to reform syndication would be better, also let us know.
(me) tired

(no subject)

I've been spending a lot of time on TextAmerica (the web's foremost MoBlog site) and they have a daily news page. I created a feed for it. You can pick it up at:


You know you want to add it, it's costing me a whole point.