exbentley: (DREAMWIDTH)
[personal profile] exbentley
I've had a LiveJournal for almost eight years now. I've given them hundreds of dollars, made thousands of posts and tens of thousands of comments, helped out in Support, brought in new users, created alternate journals and multiple communities, and generally made it my home on the internet, the base from which all my other online activities extend.

So why the hell am I moving to Dreamwidth?


In two words? It's better. Want more? How about five reasons.

01. Because the people behind Dreamwidth are dissatisfied with LiveJournal for the same moral reasons I am. The project kicked off after that Strikethrough debacle, and gained more interest when a handful of important employees were laid off. Dreamwidth believes in the things LiveJournal used to stand for. No advertisements, for one. Creating features users want. Freedom of expression. Community. Their policy is about valuing the users, wherever they may come from or however they may use the site, and it's been a long time since I've believed LiveJournal values its users for anything other than their revenue. [livejournal.com profile] gerg, a guy who has spent far more time and support on LiveJournal than I have, has made an excellent post about why Dreamwidth is a better choice than LiveJournal in this regard. I dare you to read the Guiding Principles and not feel moved.

I don't want to spend too much time talking about why LiveJournal sucks; that's not what this post is about. That's not what Dreamwidth is solely about, either. But it's one of the reasons I'm making this a complete move. I believe that while LiveJournal is functional, DreamWidth is better because it shows us that we don't have to settle. We don't have to put up with site-wide changes that make us feel screwed over by a big company, whether it's the introduction of Plus Accounts, the "FaceBook"-izing of the profile page, the introduction of Adult Content filters, or the creation of an Advisory Board which is completely ignored. There's are many other posts which get outraged at LJ on behalf of a particular userbase; suffice to say I feel my money, my trust, and my hobby are safer in the hands Dreamwidth.


02. Because it's not just another LiveJournal clone. The Dreamwidth people have taken the source code for the site and improved it — to the point where Kit (of Inksome) and Squeaky (of InsaneJournal) are both in talks to eventually switch the base code of their entire site over to the adaptations Dreamwidth has made. They have fixed so many minor bugs that LiveJournal never got around to, and are implementing features that are creative and useful. It's because its creators have been LiveJournal users forever too; they know what irritates them in their day-to-day use of it.

For example, one of the level bosses, Denise, mentions in this post that there are plans to fix that piece of code which means when you make an error in your comment or are on the wrong journal or whatever, you are taken to an error notice which you have to click "back" from (and hope your comment is still intact in the textbox.) Instead, there are plans for you to get an error message and be able to edit your comment while still on the page.

My personal favourite new feature is that DW have removed the comment word limit. Interests, too - no more & nbsp;-ing! You can make more than 5000 comments per post! I enjoy too that they no longer use the word "friend" - your flist becomes your "circle", your friends are "readers" and "watchers" — everything is a lot more neutral, to encompass the many different ways in which people use these social networks. In the spirit of neutrality, they've also made the code for lj-cuts just <cut text="text!"> (though the old <lj-cut text="text!"> will still work, for those of you who hate change.) <lj user="username"> becomes <user name="username">! Icon pages with hundreds of icons will load on separate pages (and of course they're going to offer more icons than LJ does, that's a selling point for thousands of users.) These are just a few really blatant examples of the hundreds of minor ways Dreamwidth is deviating from the original LiveJournal code in innovative and practical ways.


03. Because they involve everyone. I understand what's going on. I'm not an accountant, or a coder, or a designer, but Dreamwidth explains what they're doing in terms I can understand and, more importantly, encourages me to get involved. A lot of the bug-fixes (patches) are done by first-timers; they have a guide to getting involved with that on their wiki. A lot of the site schemes, moodthemes and layouts being implemented were created by talented amateurs who showed an interest. They have regular updates with changes they're making to the site, they make their business decisions transparent, and they encourage user feedback; there's an entire community just for people to suggest cool new features that someone with more experience (in coding, design, whatever) can work out how to implement.

More importantly, they don't want to isolate themselves from the rest of the online social network. You can update your LiveJournal, Inksome, and eventually (if I'm understanding correctly) your blog from their update page. You can follow your friends on other sites, and people who aren't DW users can use OpenId to comment on posts with their LiveJournal (or other site) identity. You can add your Twitter and Facebook to your Profile in addition to your screen-names. My absolute favourite part of this is that by using <user name="bentley" site="livejournal.com"> (for example) you can create a little [livejournal.com profile] bentley which will link to the username on LiveJournal instead of Dreamwidth. So basically, they've cut out the major issue everyone has with moving to a new site; the eternal worry that even if 99% of your friends and communities replicate themselves, there will always be that 1% left behind.


04. Because they're fandom-friendly! Not exclusively — they're kinda everyone-friendly, if you check out their Diversity Statement — but a lot of the Dreamwidth team are geeks and fandomers. They did a little all-fandoms comment kink meme as a reward for the hard work the coders put in. Denise made a D&D reference in one of her news posts. In a world where (as I was recently harshly reminded) fandom values and internet nerds are considered abnormal and "wrong", it's really refreshing to see people in charge of a social networking site who get along with fandoms and understand pop-culture. It helps me believe that my needs for the site are going to be met in the future, and it reinforces the idea that the site is put together by real people, not faceless mindless drones who only have the bottom line in mind.

Their terms of service are very clear about the fact that they are fine with fandom expression, that users are both responsible for and the ultimate possessors of their content, and that the Adult Content filters are there only for those who want to use them — though now that you can mark something as either "14+" or "18+" and include a reason why (such as "for porn" or "excessive swearing" I think I am far more likely to use them.) They don't discriminate based on race, colour, sex, sexuality, gender, age, beliefs, values, professions, interests or hobbies. Dreamwidth makes it very clear that it wants to be a playground everyone can play in together. (Except the spambots. No-one wants them in the sandbox.)


05. Because it's time for a change. This one is entirely personal. Eight years of history on LiveJournal is also eight years of baggage, of embarrassing entries I made when I was sixteen, people associating my username with something stupid I said when I was in the HP fandom, of endless tags and defunct filters, of "coming out" as an underage porn-writer and starting a shitstorm. This is a place to cut the dead weight from my flist, get new icons and a new identity. Inksome has shown me how freeing a fresh start can be, and I think Dreamwidth is going to give me a place where I can grow and change without being limited by my not-entirely-fresh start. I've grown increasingly fragmented around the internet, with separate journals for separate things and different social circles and ... different identities, almost. I plan to consolidate all of that in one journal, to use tags properly, to filter things so I can keep all my content in one place without ever feeling uncomfortable, and to generally organize my internet life, safe in the knowledge that Dreamwidth is happy to help provide the tools I need to do that with ease.

I should note that it doesn't have to be a fresh start; Dreamwidth provides the ability to port over your entire LiveJournal or InsaneJournal, including tags, comments, icons, private and flocked posts, etc. Like I said, this is the most subjective of all my reasons, but it's also the one which is most important to me.


When I actually get a journal there, I'll post a guide to how you can follow and comment on my posts without having to create your own Dreamwidth identity. The site is in Closed Beta at the moment, and when it moves to Open Beta accounts will only available with an invite code or through buying a Paid Account (minimum US$3.) I plan on doing the latter. I'll be prioritizing close friends and people I want to see on the site for invite codes when they're scarce, but later I'll be posting again here offering a code for anyone who wants one, regardless of whether or not I know you (as I did for Inksome.)

So that's why I'm moving to Dreamwidth! And why I'm so incredibly excited about it (this entry doesn't have nearly as many caps and exclamation points as it deserves). Despite the fact that me moving and you staying wouldn't make any difference to our interactions, I hope you choose to follow me in creating and using an account there, for whatever reason.
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May 2011

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