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Dreamwidth - Mostly, it is...

Mar. 27th, 2009

10:03 am - Dreamwidth

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Dreamwidth is a fork of LiveJournal that I've mentioned to a few of you before. There are a number of things about it I like better than LiveJournal. Open Beta just got announced as starting on the 30th April 2009.

Before I get into Dreamwidth, a couple of unrelated things. Two of the businesses that were linked to at the left no longer exist, so I've removed the entries. In their place, the aforementioned Dreamwidth, and Digger, a fantastic webcomic by Ursula Vernon (ursulav) with several years of archives that have just come out from behind a subscription wall.

A note about After Ellen and After Elton. Though I check them every now and then, I don't read them anymore because the last bunch of times I looked at their terms of service, there was a line to the effect of "if you aren't in the USA, do not use this site". They may still be great resources, but until their policies change, I'll have to get my information on queer representation in media elsewhere.

Why Dreamwidth?

This is not going to be an exhaustive list, and I'm not trying to make this one that speaks to everyone. This about why I like it. There's lots of stuff other people have written. Some of the ones that I liked that aren't on that list, I'll link to when I've got more time.

LiveJournal is a good platform, but there have been repeated issues relating to trust, policies, management-user relations and business model that I would like not to have to be worried about in future. A few LJ clones have come before. Some of them haven't survived, some of them were specific to a group or groups which I felt to be too narrowly focused for what I was looking for.

Dreamwidth is owned and run by former long time LiveJournal staff. They know the code, they know the history. They have a business model which looks sustainable and doesn't involve trying to create a cash cow. They explain decisions clearly. When answering questions about decisions, they actually answer the question that was asked.

From a usage perspective, while similar to LJ, there are a number of important differences. The most significant of which to me is the fact that the functions of the Friends list are getting split into watch and trust. They've also fixed a number of issues around the "Adult Concepts" notification. For one thing it lets the poster say what kind of issue is being discussed/shown in any given post, so that readers aren't faced with a blind binary decision. They're planning to add 'expand all comments on page' for paid users. They've got an "other" option in the gender field. <3

Changeover issues: Biggest thing that they're trying that hasn't been there in the others: Really good content importing, includingcomments. More details here. Basically, if you can preserve the usage control rights that the original commenter has over the comment (by letting them login with their LJ OpenID and delete the comment should they wish), and keep the content intact (by getting the text from the originating service (e.g.: LJ, but potentially Wordpress etc... in future) rather than having the user upload an export file that they could have edited to change comment text or attribution), the liability and copyright issues may be manageable.

It isn't perfect. There are some things that elsejournal was looking to do that I'd still be happy to see but probably won't.

If I had to give a digest version, I'd say that this group feels right. The team has a plan, technical competence, good ideas and guiding principles, a realistic sense of what is achievable and what they need to do it, and not only knows what userbase they're going for, but understands that userbase.

Fortunately for me, that userbase includes me.

Useful collection of links.

Sidenote: I'm going to be at Ad Astra for most of the weekend, so I probably won't be getting back to people until after Monday. I do intend to reply to both of you eventually vcmw and aedifica.

Current Location: bed
Current Mood: excitedexcited
Current Music: Jem - Finally Woken