The news post assures us that nothing substantial will change, but I have my doubts. Moveable Type is a proprietary, commercial project, not open source like the Livejournal code is, and my impression is that Six Apart is a lot more profit-driven than Danga, the company that started and up to now now owned LJ.
Within a few days we'll all be required to agree to the new terms of service in order to log in or post, and while they say the new TOS is not significantly different, and that it's not going to be a replay of what happened when Yahoo bought GeoCities. I don't know, maybe it won't be. But I can't say I'm not worried. I can't think of any case in Internet history where a bigger, more profit-driven company has bought out a smaller, more community-focussed one and things haven't gone completely to shit inside of a year.
At the very least, I'm guessing we can expect free journals to start sporting ads sometime soon. Livejournal has always said they reserved the right to eventually do that if finances required it, but thus far they've held off. But I can't expect a bigger, more aggressively profit-driven company to want to host a bunch of free journals they receive no financial benefit from. They're not running a charity; they're going to want something back. It's understandable from a business perspective, but sucks from an end-user perspective.
Not that I mind, in principle, shelling out for a paid account to keep ads away. I've been doing it for a fair bit of the time I've been with LJ, just as a sort of preventive insurance. I don't have a paid account right now, but that's only because money's been tight since my last paid one lapsed. I was intending to renew again once I could. Now, I'm not so sure. I guess I'll wait a while and see how things go.
If they do axe the free accounts or plaster ads all over them, I could always stay with a paid one, but I worry about the impact on the overall sense of community here. I mean, if I just wanted to keep my own online journal and nothing else, I could do it on my own domain. Ironically enough, I just installed WordPress, a PHP-based, open source weblog program. Not to replace this journal, but to track site updates and post interesting news items from time to time. But if I wanted to I could run my own journal there. There are even third party tools out there to import Livejournals into WordPress.
But what I would be missing is all the community interaction. People would be able to come to my site and comment on my journal, and if some of my friends set up their own journals on their sites, using WordPress or Nucleus or Moveable Type or any of the other options, I could do the same, but having my friends' journals scattered all across the internet on many different sites doesn't exactly encourage easy and frequent visiting the way having them all on one page here does. And then there's all the community journals...
I know, there are other journalling sites out there like Deadjournal and GreatestJournal and what not that use the same basic structure and in many cases the same code as LJ, but if LJ does go downhill, it's not likely that everyone will go to the same place. Individuals and small groups will be able to keep on journalling in many different places, but the cohesive community we have here will cease to exist.
But of course, it hasn't happened yet, so this is all probably a bit premature. Maybe Six Apart won't fuck things up too badly. I don't know. Past experience with similar buyouts has led me to expect the worst so I won't be disappointed, but there's no point in panicking now. I guess we all just have to wait and see what happens...