how to launch paid features really, really quietly

I’m guessing that the reason paid features were sneaked in by means of a new unannounced menu option* and a passing comment in the news blog (rather than, you know, an actual post) is so that the big announcement could be made at WordCamp. Which sort of makes sense, because they had to have some sort of news to generate the right kind of triumphalist atmosphere, and ‘we’re stealing LJ’s friends-only feature’ might not have been enough all by itself, what with the plebs having been told about it too.

At first I was thinking $15 compared pretty well with livejournal, but then I remembered all the other stuff I get for $25 over there. Usericons, phoneposts, unlimited customisation, mood themes, polls… granted, I don’t use most of this stuff, which is why I no longer think $25 is worth it and am reverting to free. Having been paying for hosting since 2002, I’m not target market for either of these hosts. The a-la-carte credit system, so that you’re only paying for the extra features you need rather than an entire package, is definitely a good idea. Livejournal users have been wanting that for years. I don’t know whether it will prove less lucrative than pressuring people into fixed-tariff subscriptions, or whether some kind of ‘pile your virtual trolley high with cheap add-ons’ mentality will kick in. The latter, probably.

And at first I thought Six Apart might be slightly worried by the introduction of friends-only, but actually no, because privacy is only half of the rationale behind LJ friends (the other half is friends page aggregation), and having extra blogs rather than filters, while useful for inflating the total number of blogs, is significantly more awkward for end users. It’s more like password-protection on diaryland or the late lamented diary-x than what LJ or Vox are doing, and none the worse for that. After all, if I need LJ’s privacy features, I’m going to be on LJ.

I like the idea of Sandbox (I haven’t looked at the structure yet, but I’m assuming it’ll be reasonably sound), though when I mooted a very basic theme in the forum I was thinking more of controlling selected features through the options menu. It doesn’t sound as if it has that, so until the community gets around to coding copy-and-paste stylesheets, this is really only useful to those who are already comfortable with CSS.

Question: is this the same Minimalist Sandbox as on Scott’s site, or are there wordpress.com-specific changes?

* which appears, by the way, to have replaced import/export, now squirrelled away under ‘manage’. I am so looking forward to dealing with the confusion arising from this in the forums while the staff party.

5 Comments »

  1. adam said

    last scott said, it was version 0.5 of the minimalist sandbox.
    import/export has been under manage for a while (for similarity to WP2.1)
    the thing that’s odd about the ‘friends-only’ thing, is that you’re only allowed 5 friends. (maybe you can buy more eventually?)

    a friends aggregator would be a really decent addition to wp.com, especially since they’re already able to tell whether a blog is on your blogroll or not.

    hell, you could set one up with CG-feedreader if you had the time.

  2. Scott said

    For the next day or two, the Minimalist Sandbox will still be on my site. It’s not terribly semantic and is just a half-hearted theme, honestly. I released it some time ago and Andy and I started talking, and we’ve produced the Sandbox, which is basically a completely re-worked version.

    The Sandbox theme that is on wp.com isn’t available just quite yet for download, as I need to thoroughly proof all the files since tiddly things were changed for wp.com.

    Just give a couple days and it’ll be there for download. The readme file will also be available very shortly, which’ll outline the mass of semantic classes available for use with the—gulp—custom CSS on wp.com.

  3. adam said

    if you’re looking for basic optionable colors, you should probably take a gander at theundersigned’s ‘striped plus‘, it has a nifty point and click color switcher (which is far and away better than the one implemented for picking header text color, but you know matt’s penchant for writing his own version of things).

  4. The Sandbox code is very nice underneath. You could put in CSS to make posts published on December 25th red and green because each post is tagged with day, month and year. You can make different views (author view, month view, home view, single view) look totally different. I’m sure people are going to come up with some clever stuff.

  5. Andrea said

    The MU community has come up with a few things. Striped Plus, as mentioned above, is very handy. There’s a few other themes out there with heavy options panels. I think the biggest hurdle at the moment, is that Ohz’s popular Theme Toolkit doesn’t work under MU. So some of us are left coding our own.
    Then again, someone’s already writting a “user themes” plugin for MU, so people can edit their own version of a theme… There will be more stuff available at wpmudev.org in the near future.

RSS feed for comments on this post · TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s