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More on the Changes...

This has taken me two days to write mainly because I want to allow sufficient time for my experiment results to get back to me. What I set out to do is a follow up on the recent LJ changes I talked about in a previous post.

Since I made that entry, I got over my initial whine that people at LiveJournal, Inc. are too well versed in messing with us. Really, why would the company spend its money and resources implementing code changes for services that are not needed, or even worse, harmful to its users? Are these people that dumb or evil? I could hardly believe that when I thought about it more rationally.

The world of internet is a precarious place, I've learned. More often than not, all it took was an accusing finger and a catch-phrase for a chorus of voices to join in. Protection of privacy is a serious issue. Like many others, I easily get antsy and riled up when I think my right is in danger of being violated. But do I really know what's going on here? Or am I echoing other people's opinion without knowing the facts? When I thought in that term, I realized I had only a cursory idea on how crosspost and pingback works. The good thing is, it's not hard to find out. Since I have two separate LJ user accounts and a sporadically used FB account, with a little time and effort, I can see for myself how these two services work by conducting a series of experiments.

To help make the more important findings stand out, I used green text to describe what I find satisfactory, and red text for those I think we should tread with caution.

Experiment #1: crosspost an entry on FB

Good news, when I linked my LJ to my FB, I can not select to crosspost a flocked or private entry to my FB. The "Repost to" checkbox is now only enabled if the entry I'm posting at LJ is set to Public. I even test-selected the "Publish my entries to Facebook by default" checkbox at the Account setting, the flocked entry DID NOT get publish on my FB.

So then I logged on my "secret" double identity kr8zykat to further investigate. Once again, I connected that LJ with my FB.

Here's a caveat: when I clicked the Facebook Login button as kr8zykat, since I've already logged on my FB in the same web browser, even though I closed the FB page, I never logged off; thus my kr8zykat LJ was right away connected to that FB account, which in this case happened to be mine. However imagine if you share a computer, say with your spouse or child, and one of them logged on their FB, but forgot to log off before closing the page. You would be connected to that FB instead of yours as intended. So, take a moment to make sure which FB you are connected to. The name of the linked FB account is listed under the Facebook Connection section of the Account setting.

Here I am, connected kr8zykat to my FB. My intent is to crosspost a public entry. But wait, my kr8zykat was set to FO by default. Previously, I could manually change the security setting on the fly if I want to make a public entry. Now, that option is no longer available. To post a public entry on the FO journal, I had to temporarily change the privacy setting of the journal to "Public" first. Very annoying. Anyway, I changed "Show this entry to" to Public, and selected the "Repost to Facebook" option. I named the entry "Where in the World is Waldo"; typed up some text, even thrown in an LJ cut and put three pictures under the cut; hit the Post button. Viola!

I opened my FB; lo and behold, there's a new post on my Wall:

I crossed out my FB name in the above picture. Yes, the FB name is now being used here instead of the LJ username. The title of the entry shows up as a link to the LJ. The LJ cut was ignored, and a segment of the text showed up, along with the thumbnail of the first picture I posted. I went back to kr8zykat LJ and reset the entry to FO. That ensured only self and flist members have access to the entry when the title link is clicked. Trust me, when I'm not logged in as either xwacky or kr8zykat, the link took me to Frank the Goat instead telling me he denies me access.

Experiment #2: crosspost a comment to an entry on FB

To test this, I linked my journal here with my FB again, and went to make a comment on my doppelganger kr8zykat's entry. I went back to the "Where in the World is Waldo" post, but wait, that entry is now flocked. I found out that I cannot select the "Repost to Facebook" option when the entry I'm commenting on is flocked. AWESOME!

Still I want to find out how a comment from LJ would appear on FB, so I switched identity and changed the security setting of kr8zykat's entry to public once again. A side-note here: when I edit an entry, even though my journal privacy default is set to FO, I can still change the entry to have it shown to Public -- thus making editing an entry behave differently from posting an entry as I mentioned earlier.

I logged back in as xwacky, and left a comment at kr8zykat's now public entry. Pulled up my FB page, and this is what's been added to my wall:

Once again, it's my FB name instead of the LJ username (xwacky) being used here, and I crossed it out in the picture. Since I did not give the comment a title, the comment itself is shown as a link back to the comment thread. The thumbnail picture shown here is the icon I used posting the comment. No text from the entry I'm commenting on appeared on FB wall; however, click on the link here takes me back to kr8zykat's entry. Later on, I changed the entry's security setting to Private. Then the link only works if I'm logged in LJ as kr8zykat, or else I'm greeted by Frank again.

Experiment #3: crosspost a comment to another comment on FB

I know I cannot crosspost a comment to a flocked entry on FB, but can I crosspost a comment to another comment left in a flocked entry on FB? To test this, I logged in LJ as kr8zykat again, and tried to reply the comment I left there as xwacky earlier. Sure enough, I found out I could select the "Repost to Facebook" option when replying another comment left in a flocked entry. I left a comment, this time gave it a title as "Wave to Self". This is what I see on FB:

I'm relieved that only partial text from my comment (~195 letters with space), and nothing from the parent threads showed up on the FB wall. Of course, clicking the title link there redirects me to the LJ comment, but unless I'm logged in as kr8zykat, Frank would show up again denying my access.

My conclusion on crossposting:

Based on these tests, I'm inclined to think crossposting is not as invasive as many believed it to be. It may even be useful to someone whose journal contents are not homogeneously about fandom(s). What I've discovered from these testings showed that a user can only crosspost contents that are his/her own and no one else's. I'm more than satisfied that what I post on LJ would not show up on my FB unless I wanted it to be. I'm reasonably convinced that if my public and/or flocked entries are somehow linked at someone else's FB, unless that person and any of his/her FB friends are also on my flist here, they would neither know who I am in RL, nor be able to access my flocked entries. By the way, here's a side note in regard to FB: I know all too well of wanting to limit what gets published over there, because OMG! my boss and some coworkers are on there too, and I couldn't deny their Friends Requests. Thank goodness these days, I'm able to set my FB account privacy to exclude anybody I choose from seeing my updates by default. After I did that, I felt much less intimidating publishing stuff on FB.

One last thing I want to say about crossposting here: in the past days, I've seen people searching different ways to get rid of the options all together. By far, the most widely suggested method I encountered is adding the following CSS code at the layout customization section of the account setting (only paid member has that option):

.b-repost-item {display:none}

I ought to point out that this is not a perfect solution. I noticed it worked on most journals, but not all. Some journals use very unique CSS stylesheets for their layout that the above code simply has no effect. Even for those journals that it does work, all the code does is not displaying the "Repost to" checkboxes when the customized stylesheet is loaded. Great, you drop the code in your setting, you are making sure whoever commenting on your journal cannot crosspost the comment on his/her FB. However consider this: what if that person chooses to view your journal in his/her own style? Yap, those checkboxes would still be there if his/her layout style does not hide the repost options.

Experiment #4: Pingback Service

Now, let's test the pingback service LJ re-implemented at the same time they integrated the crossposting. To start off, I set both my LJ's to enable the service. Then I made a public post at kr8zykat's journal that contains a link to xwacky's public entry. Within 5 minutes I got a screened comment from pingback_bot notifying me my entry is linked. When I unscreened the comment (I don't have to, but I did so to complete the experiment), this was added to the entry's comment page:

Notice the comment here shows a part of kr8zykat's post up to where the link text appears (i.e. "[...]See here[...]"). So far so good. But what if the link is made in flocked entries? I tested that, and 24 hours later, I'm reasonably sure that if the entry that contains the link is flocked, no notification is sent.

Now, what if the link is made in comments instead? I left comments containing the same link in public, flocked, and private entries at kr8zykat. Twenty-four hours later, I never got any pingback notifications from links appeared in comments--public, flocked, or private.

Next, I want to see if kr8zykat disabled the pingback service, would xwacky still get pingback notification when kr8zykat links a public entry. I found out that in this case, xwacky received notifications when the link occurred in kr8zykat's the public entry (see here), but not the flocked one. Phew!

Lastly, what happens when a flocked entry is linked? To test this, I made a public entry at xwacky this time that contains a link to a flocked post at kr8zykat. Again, 24 hours later, I still haven't received a notification of the flocked entry being linked. Eventually I changed the testing public entry at xwacky to private so I don't spam my flist.

Pingback in a nutshell:

I think the service is quite useful, and it's doing what it claimes to do, which is: Pingback helps LiveJournal users know who is linking to their public entries... Please note that pingbacks only work for public entries. Friends-Only or Private entries cannot receive pingbacks. Based on my testings here, I'm not convinced there's any rights to privacy being compromised at this point. If there were flocked content being displayed in pingback notifications before, it seemed the people at LJ fixed it yesterday. I'm not in a position to suggest what an individual user should do, but I went ahead and re-enabled the pingback service for myself (by default it was turned on unless you specifically disabled it in your Account setting as I did 2 days ago).

What about the mishandled tags?

Here's an update on the "/" tags: I tested it yesterday morning, instead of Frank the Goat telling me he couldn't handle the slashes, LJ pulled up all the entries tagged with the tag I requested that contains "/". Yay! The tags are working properly once again! To respect others' privacy, I'm not gonna provide an example here because I don't have any slashed tags at my journal; but if you are like me, and involved in at least one fandom, I'm sure you can find a ship somewhere on LJ where people tagged it with a slash. *g*



( 16 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
Sep. 5th, 2010 02:15 am (UTC)
Eeeeeeeeee! ES - you are back!  How was your vacation? Quite a shock to see these new implementations after you got back, eh?

When I first saw these buttons/checkboxes, I went omg!WTF?! But after I did a little experimentation, I'm now thinking they are not as dangerous as I first thought. Sorry I got so wordy here, I tried to record everything I did so that I can keep track. Bottom line -- if you don't want to crosspost, don't connect your LJ to FB. They are not connected by default. As long as your LJ and your FB are not connected, nothing from your LJ would ever get crossposted on your FB wall.

However, suppose hypothetically speaking, I saw you published a Photoshop tutorial on LJ, I may want to comment on your post with "Wow! Thank you so much for the tip! This is just what I need to make colorsplash in Photoshop!", and crosspost it on  my FB wall.  In this case, only the text from my comment, and nothing from your tutorial would appear on my FB. But my FB friends would know I left the comment on evening_spirit's LJ, and the link would redirect to the post you made.  Why do i want to do that? Because I know some of my FB friends would love to know how to make pretty colorsplash pictures as well, and if they see this, they may follow the link and learn too.

So I think crosspost can be useful. I certainly can image posting rl stuffs that would be fun to crosspost on FB, i.e. that beautiful seascape I just saw, an exotic food I just ate, my indignant/happy reaction to a piece of news, etc.  But remember this: you can only crosspost your public entries. To post a flocked entry, you have to take two steps--post the entry public first (with the "Repost to FB" checkbox selected); and go back immediately to edit the security setting of the entry to Friends Only. The ramification of crosspost a flocked entry on FB is this--only those FB friends who happens belonging to your flist here would have the access to the entry you crossposted. And you are right, while your friends can't access the flocked material on your journal, they certainly can poke around the public entries. So now, in my opinion, the issue isn't crossposting, it's how to manage your contents instead. Here is what I suggest:

Like me, you have two journals. Now is a good time to utilize both of them! Make one of them (ES) your writing journal, and have your fics and fanarts there stay public, but make a flocked entry there letting your flist know your other secret identity. Post nothing you would mind your loved ones, friends, neighbors, and co-workers to see at your secret LJ, thus you can safely crosspost from there. When you make a post at your secret LJ, you may even make a flocked entry at your writing journal (ES), and provide a fake cut providing the link to the entry on your other journal. Make sure you never refer to your writing journal (ES) at your secret journal, you can be sure nobody close to you would know anything about evening_spirit (btw it's still the awesomest username I've ever encountered anywhere)!

*facepalm* I hope my wordiness makes sense to you. This is why I fail big time as a writer!

Edited at 2010-09-05 02:16 am (UTC)
(Deleted comment)
(Deleted comment)
Sep. 8th, 2010 05:46 am (UTC)
Whoooo, ammonite7 is on FB now too? Yeah, I know, we have old friends kinda scattered around different social networks nowadays. Which of course is the for-argument in support of crossposting. But I agree with you about the extra works involved in maintaining two accounts. Just by conducting this experiment, I had to login/off and switching between the accounts constantly. But I have to say, after awhile, I kinda got used to it.

Ever consider of creating a community to put all your fics? You can set it up so that only you have the posting privilege at the community while others can comment on your entries. I've seen people do this for their fics, and/or fanarts. This way, you don't need to log off your account when you post something to your community. Just a thought...
(Deleted comment)
Sep. 8th, 2010 06:10 pm (UTC)
I'm with you on not linking FB with LJ. If by chance I want to crosspost, I can do that on the fly and afterward disconnect right away so that I don't unintentionally crosspost by accident.

Whooo, I didn't know you had a community already! I can imagine the work involved in reposting everything, but instead of reposting old fics, maybe you can change the security setting on those to FO and post a blurb at your community announcing they should friend you in order to read your old fic, however any of your future fic stays public at the community. Actually, the more I thought about it, it probably is worth the time to organize contents. You know I'm not a fanfiction writer (not for the lack of trying), but if I ever going to write one again, I'd setup a myfic community to do that for sure.
Sep. 5th, 2010 05:34 am (UTC)
Oh my goodness, dear. You're a real geek. :D
Sep. 8th, 2010 05:39 am (UTC)
Heh, guilty as charged.
Sep. 6th, 2010 06:53 am (UTC)
Thanks a lot, Jane! Now that's a relief to hear. Ever think about becoming one of the LJstaff? :D

Thanks again, you're a STAR!!
Sep. 8th, 2010 05:37 am (UTC)
Oh hon, I'm such a dork.
Sep. 7th, 2010 04:59 pm (UTC)
Thanks very much for this post! Very educational. I'm not going to crosspost ANYTHING, since my LJ is FO and so are many of my pals.

What I'm wondering though -- do you think what you've tested above for personal LJ accounts also applies to posts/comments in F-locked communities as well? There's a lot of communities having conversations they most certainly do not want to be public, etc.
Sep. 8th, 2010 05:35 am (UTC)
Hee, you are welcome! :)

I didn't test communities because I don't own one, and I don't want to do experimentation on something that is not mine. With that being said, I'd venture to guess communities are similar to personal journal in such a way that if the entry is FO, one should not be able to crosspost when posting it to the community. But if the entry is public, I think the poster would have the option of crosspost on FB.

Also I'd imagine that when commenting directly to a flocked entry in a community, one cannot crosspost it on FB. With that being said, one is still able to crosspost a comment to another comment, even if the entry they are commenting on is flocked -- but bear in mind, the only thing that would appear on the crosspost person's FB is his/her own words, nothing from the upstream (or downstream) would be visible.

I tried to figure out why this is the case, and all I can come up with is I think comments by natural differ from an entry in that comments do not have security settings while an entry does. There is no such thing as a flocked comment, only a screened/unscreened which doesn't say anything about the security setting. If a comment is made to a flocked entry, that comment is still "public" to those who can see the entry.

If a community is carrying on a conversation among themselves, and one of them decides to let his/her FB friend know what he/she says, his/her FB friends would only be able to see his/her comment, and they wouldn't be able to see what others are saying if they are not a member of the community, I believe.

I'm still on the fence about whether I would crosspost my entry. I know I definitely wouldn't crosspost any comment I make, but if say, I write about a place I visited, I might want to drop a blurb on my FB just so my friends would know where I've been.
Sep. 8th, 2010 01:02 pm (UTC)
I can totally understand why LJ decided to make this change, since it opens LJ up into the two major forces in the social networking scene right now. Certainly comm's that are very open and love new members, open discussion, etc, will make great use of this feature. As will folks writing here on LJ who are not doing stuff that's considered private.

Also I'd imagine that when commenting directly to a flocked entry in a community, one cannot crosspost it on FB. With that being said, one is still able to crosspost a comment to another comment, even if the entry they are commenting on is flocked -- but bear in mind, the only thing that would appear on the crosspost person's FB is his/her own words, nothing from the upstream (or downstream) would be visible.

I may try some tests over on trueblood_tv. We don't have anything to hide, but we can figure out what is up and then we will know for sure. I am also hoping what you're saying above is true -- but, what about the subject line of the f-locked post? Doesn't that show up on FB, if nothing else? Sometimes even that is TOO MUCH, know what I mean?
Sep. 8th, 2010 06:58 pm (UTC)
Based on my experiments here, when a comment is crossposted on FB, the original entry's title does not appear anywhere on the FB. See this capture here:

When the comment is lacking a subject line, the first line of the comment is turned into a link. When the comment does contain a subject line, the title is then turned into a link, as seen in this capture:

Also notice in the second capture here (it's a comment from kr8zykat to xwacky's comment), the FB post doesn't mention xwacky's username, only shows the username of the journal where the comment resides.

If you do any testing on a comm, I'd very much like to know the outcome too!
Jan. 30th, 2011 11:10 am (UTC)
This article was extremely interesting, especially since I was searching for thoughts on this subject last Thursday..
( 16 comments — Leave a comment )

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