1st incarnation of "Audioscrobbler":
1)Charts were central in the page
2)Neighbour system seemed to update more and there were little things that i liked like being able to see "reverse neighbours" [people who had you as their neighbour). and a percentage or some number of how "close" each neighbour was to you.
3)-Groups were better because they each time a member of a group played something it got counted in the group charts. So if someone played something obsessively in a good group it was a tip that maybe it was worth checking out.
4)Top fans for small artists were much better because they were based on 6 month or yearly listens rather than weekly, so you got people who really liked the band rather than people who happened to listen to it 5 times last week.
5)There was a feeling that Audioscrobbler was centered on charts and music discovery although it was connected to last.fm for people who wanted that
6)We had a library editor.
1)The charts and neighbours were updated very sporadically.
2)The site was kind of primitive looking. I'm very much a function over form person so this didn't bother me but the people who are currently kvetching about fonts and color shades and stuff would have hated the old site. To be honest the old AS was kind of ugly.
3)There were not a lot of pretty pictures all over the pages.
Phase 2:"The Merger" was done around 2005-2006 and the site changed a lot:
1) Artists quilts and pictures introduced.
2) Charts and neighbours updated weekly and pretty reliably.
3) I guess the site did look better. Certainly more "professional"
4) Weekly neighbours were introduced and were a good feature.
5) Recommended reading was kind of cool even if it didn't work very well
6) Various improvements to WIKIS made them more useful.
1) No more reverse neighbours and no more seeing numerically how close your neighbours were to you.
2) Tags were introduced and i generally dislike tags. They just encourage people to stereotype music into genres rather than reading the whole band description and broadening their horizons. i always saw the old AS as a replacement for traditional genres so think tags were a step backward, even if they do have some uses.
3) -We lost our profile editor.
4)Group charts now were based on number of people in the group who played a band rather than total number of plays. This made all but the smallest group charts all look the same with popular artists like Radiohead and The Beatles always rising to the top. I don't think anyone joins, say, the shoegaze group to "discover" those bands.
5) "top fans" were based on weekly plays which really screwed small artists and made "top fans" pretty useless for them.
6) Automated recommendations remained next to useless
7) -The ability to link many artists of questionable relevance to journals was a boon to trolls and meme writers and a major annoyance to everyone else.
THE 2008 REMAKE
1) We got library and profile editor back
2 ) Charts update in real time
3) The automated rec system works a lot better
1) Oh my god! they killed weekly neighbours! (those bastards!)
2)Journals are now a lot harder to find
3)You have to click a link to see your neighbours
4)You still can't see reverse neighbours or numerical representation of how close your neighbours are to you.
5)The activity feed is pretty useless as far as I can tell and takes up prime real estate. Ditto for the flash player on every single page.
6)Top fans for small artists are still pretty useless because they are based on weekly listens.
7) There is an over-all feeling that the site is now about the radio rather than charts and music discovery and has really changed priorities from the old Audioscrobbler days
I guess my point here is that last.fm didn't go from perfect to "suck!" over night. Many of the changes have been positive but hopefully they will continue to improve things and reverse some of the negative changes while keeping the positive ones.