When LiveJournal first went into the business of selling Paid Accounts, the site lived based on the promise that it would carry no third-party advertising, ever. The dream was short-lived, as when SixApart purchased LiveJournal, it quickly acted as if this promise never existed and introduced Sponsored, later Plus, accounts, now promising that Free, Basic accounts would always exist and that Paid and Permanent members would never see ads. This promise soon evaporated also, when logged-out users of these tiers started seeing advertisements.LiveJournal's founder, brad, advised against today's decision some months ago in his capacity as a member of the new LiveJournal Advisory Board, which perhaps shows you just how much SUP values board members' opinions. "I at least expected them to be a little more up front about it."
Now, Basic accounts can no longer be created, and in order to create a new account a user will either have to put up or pony up. It was bad form to disguise this monumental change as a "streamlining process", as the decision represents a total shift in LiveJournal's ethos and its short-lived "social contract" - tellingly, LiveJournal's Guiding Principles make no mention of Free or Basic accounts in its "Honor Every Account" clause.
I can only surmise as a result of today's change that further regressions are inevitable, and that it is only a matter of time before the promise to existing Basic users is recklessly abandoned in favour of retiring Basic accounts completely; and that LiveJournal's need to support its service through advertising will soon spread to Early Adopter accounts, before the idea is finally mooted of opening up advertising to all users, for lack of a better business plan.
More as the aftershocks hit.