Over 30 pages of LJ users saying "NO" to corporate sponsored accounts and features. Largely. Some comments (maybe one every two-three pages) are positive, some are neutral. Mine is somewhere on page 7 or 8, and it's cautiously neutral. I'm a permanent account holder and my LJ will have paid for itself pretty soon, and I don't give them anything beyond the occasional userinfo giftie or some paid time/icon space for a friend. So my voice is kind of on par with the free users, ironically, since I'm not a source of revenue. I can understand that user contribs are not enough to keep the site running. I can understand the need for ads to continue LJ's growth. I thought that with the Plus+ accounts becoming the default, they would take care of that. Apparently not. Apparently now, what LJ needs is viral marketing and "sponsored" accounts, and unnecessary features paid for by corporate sponsors in exchange for "unobtrusive" advertisements to anyone who uses those features. With -- suspiciously -- no word on how aggressively these sponsored communities and features will be marketed to the rest of the LJ community.
Honestly? I'm not surprised. Hell, I'm not even outraged. I think I'm too cynical to feel any anger at the ever-increasing encroachment by corporations on my personal space. I'm too cynical to be overly bothered by the condescending tone of the admin-type people -- both the person who made the post ("free stuff!! cool stuff!! you guys!!! check it out!!") and the person in comments who deals with the ads ("oh come on people can't you read"). I'm disgusted, and I admit that I've thought about slowly migrating the journal to a blog on my own site. Not seriously at this point, just in an idle "hmm, I wonder how much of a PITA it would be" way. But I'm not really angry or outraged, and not because I "saw this coming" -- it's more of a general expectation that no good thing can last very long without big business trying to make money off it.
There are a number of valid issues unconnected to advertising that are brought up in the comments -- namely, corporate sponsors might get their back up about unauthorised icon making, fan fiction, fan art -- just to name a few. Communities like customers_suck and bad_service suddenly face the possible risk of being shut down by an irate sponsor. The ad guy from Six Apart pooh-poohed these concerns, but I think we've learned that just because LJ staff says something, it doesn't mean that they're not going to say the opposite six years down the line.
The thing is, they're going to do it anyway. It's been a while since I had any faith in the power of public opinion; not since after the results of the 2000 U.S. presidential elections were announced. I can hope for a miraculous awakening and a realisation that "hey, we could've really pissed them off this time, maybe we should reconsider". But considering that LJ users will bitch and moan every time LJ announces anything? I don't think TPTB are listening as closely to those overwhelmingly negative comments as they probably should be.
I'm kind of torn between cynicism and exasperation and a nostalgia for the days when there was no online advertising. :\