Why Does LiveJournal Need a Comeback? It Never Left

The blogging service that once catered to emo-teenagers is poising itself for a comeback, LiveJournal general manager Anjelika Petrochenko told FastCompany's Neil Ungerleader, but it turns out the site has done pretty well since many of us deactivated our profiles. 

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The blogging service that once catered to emo-teenagers is poising itself for a comeback, LiveJournal general manager Anjelika Petrochenko told FastCompany's Neil Ungerleader, but it turns out the site has done pretty well since many of us deactivated our profiles. Livejournal has lost cultural significance (because it was embarrassing and ugly), but the site still draws 10 million American monthly unique visitors, as well as 30 million monthly visitors and 170 million page views. Those are the kind of unique visitors that New York magazine's website gets. And that's just in the U.S. It's the most popular site in Russia and has a big presence in Singapore, with 1.2 million monthly users. What's going on over there that has so many people interested?

At least one thing hasn't changed in the 5-10 years since we last logged on to LiveJournal: it is still very ugly. Take Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin's popular site, Not A Blog (pictured above). It looks like 2003, with its clip-art and centered blog roll that scrolls as the right and left margins stay-put. But, contrary to its retro appearance, the most recent post went up today. The most popular American site Oh No They Didn't (right), with its psuedo professional logo, looks more like a late-2000 era blog, a little more sophisticated than traditional LiveJournal, but still not very modern or attractive.

On the content side, LiveJournal caters to nerdy niche communities. There are lots of fan fiction sites, gamer communities, and heinous Disney blogs. Unlike the borderline suicide notes that kids used to post to their Journals, these operate more like standard blogs. Oh No They Didn't is like any celebrity gossip blog, writing about things like Madonna and Lady Gaga spats. It just happens to be hosted on an Internet relic. As a part of its US expansion plans, LiveJournal plans on taking these sites and making them more professional, with metric tracking and analysis systems.

As for Russia, LiveJournal functions as a platform for major bloggers, like Artemy Lebedev, whose page -- a general interest blog from what Google Translate tells us -- gets 200,000 visits a day, reported Wired last February.  "In Russia, LiveJournal's primary function has shifted from social networking to mass media,"  Anton Nossik, a Russian entrepreneur told Wired's Alexey Kovalev. Just another blogging platform, with a very embarrassing past.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.