LiveJournal is an online journal hosting site. LJ's English-language content tends to be more diary-like than other blogging sites, and as such it has a reputation for being frequented by whiny teenagers. Its format is user-friendly and highly customizable, offering multiple user pics, mood settings, and journal layouts.
The site is also greatly used by fanfiction writers, possibly due to the comments section, which makes each entry something like a miniature forum. As such, LJ is home to many communities, which discuss everything from knitting to politics. Mainly, though, it's fanfiction. A lot of fanfiction. LiveJournal seems to specialize in writing communities, of which it has hundreds, most of them fanfiction. Roleplaying communities were also popular (most have since moved to a spinoff, Dreamwidth), all of them basically fanfiction.
LJ's popularity has dwindled through the early 2010's, with the advent of first MySpace, then Facebook, and then Tumblr, which attracted a lot of the slash fangirls who previously used LiveJournal. It also garnered a reputation for banning journals because of "objectionable content" (particularly Strikethrough '07) which violates the Terms of Service; this is called TOS'ing. LiveJournal has TOS'd some of its most popular journals, like Fandom_Wank and scans_daily. They're real TOSsers. Major changes to the site interface in December '11 drove many fandom users, particularly roleplayers, off the site as well.
LJ's journal system is open source, so a lot of clones have sprung up over the years, and (in some cases) subsequently perished; survivors include InsaneJournal, DeadJournal, JournalFen and Dreamwidth. Since its founding, JournalFen has been a haven for Fandom_Wank, which exists largely to point out LiveJournal drama. Scans_daily has moved to InsaneJournal and has also moved to Dreamwidth.
LJ is also, for unclear reasons, the most popular host for Russian-language bloggers, to the point where the Russian term for blogging is derived from the Russian name of LiveJournal. A Russian company now owns the site, a number of high-profile Russian politicians maintain LJs, Russian authors used LJ to publish excerpts or teasers for their new books, and it's even been theorized that the DDoS attacks on the site in April 2011 were caused by the Russian government in order to silence a critical blogger. The Russian content on LJ is a lot more like the rest of the English language blogosphere, and rarely interacts with the English-speaking side of LJ (aside from the occasional Russian spam comment on an English-language journal.)
As of early May 2017, LiveJournal has announced that its servers have been moved from California to Russia, and as such, it is now subject to Russian law. Every journal is required to accept the new TOS in accordance with Russian law— however, it has been noted on the site that the English TOS may be incomplete and not a perfect translation of the Russian TOS. The biggest change was the obligation to provide real name and phone number. This has prompted another mass exodus of both English- and Russian-speakers to clone websites such as Dreamwidth and more modern social networks, such as Facebook and VK.
Also, if you have any concerns as to how much longer LiveJournal is going to survive and as to whether or not information in it that you find important will be lost, remember, Archive Team is your friend.
LiveJournal provides examples of:
- Bowdlerize: LiveJournal has a strict policy (and a bad reputation) of banning posts that are deemed to contain "objectionable content". This is also only expected to get worse, as the site has moved to Russia and is now subjected to Russian law.
- Can't Catch Up: As noted above, LiveJournal used to be one of the largest fanfiction and blogging platforms in The Oughts, it then proceeded be completely overshadowed by Facebook, Tumblr, and even MySpace (which in and on itself was already in decline) during The New '10s.
- Fan Fiction: The site used to be famous for, among other things, being a large repository of fanfics.
- G.I.F.T.: During the site's hayday, instances of this were dubbed across the Internet as "LiveJournal Drama" and inspired the creation of, among other things, Encyclopedia Dramatica itself (though it later expanded its interests to other forms of internet drama, not just LJ)
- Journal Roleplay: Trope Namer and Codifier.
- The Purge: The infamous Strikethrough '07 incident, which was when the site's administration, after being pressured by an anonymous group of Moral Guardians, started deleting anything they remotely thought contained inappropriate content, even if it did not actually contain inappropriate content at all. This led to, among other things, the creation of Archive of Our Own.