Social network's advisory-board election sparks talk of death threats

An election to put a LiveJournal user on the company's advisory board ends today at 9 p.m. Pacific, and it looks like a user who goes by the handle legomymalfoy will walk away with the win. But in just a week since polls opened, the election has been mired by accusations of ballot stuffing, conflicts of interest, and multiple death threats.

Six Apart, the previous owner of LiveJournal before selling it to Russian Internet startup Sup, looks wiser by the day for abdicating the company's iron-fisted rule over what sounds to a non-LiveJournal user like the democratic turmoil in some post-Soviet Central Asian country. Except with more homoerotic Harry Potter fan fiction.

Founder Brad Fitzpatrick, who returned to the advisory board in December after leaving the company in the wake of another user-generated fracas last year, has to be regretting the decision. Not to leave the company, that is, but to agree to rejoin it on the advisory board, which was recently proved toothless by a ham-handed change to LiveJournal's account types. (Users, unbelievably, complained about the elimination of an option for completely advertising-free, unpaid accounts; only in the bizarro financial world of LiveJournal users does this option make economic sense.)

While the affair amounts to bad publicity for LiveJournal — even the developer who wrote the poll code managing the election has called into question voting practices — it's got to be great for pageviews.

Which makes us wonder: Why just let one LiveJournal user onto the advisory board? Sup execs should just turn the asylum over to the inmates, sign an ad-network contract, and step away. Far, far away. Moscow has never been so conveniently distant.