"I talk about the gods, I am an atheist. But I am an artist too, and therefore a liar. Distrust everything I say. I am telling the truth."

--Ursula K. Leguin

November 2009



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Demystifying Dreamwidth some more

Since I've seen a number of odd notions running around lately, I figured I'd post some quick explanations.

DW is not a clone. It is a fork, like a fork in the road you know? It means starting from the same code but then changing it. In the case of DW, this means both cool new features (which may well also pop up on LJ given the extent of cross-site brainstorming already taking place) but also a lot of major re-writing of the code that won't be visible to most users but will allow more cool new things to be done in the future.

DW is not elite. No, seriously. What DW currently is is broken. It is under construction. That's why registration is not open yet and invites have gone out only to those known to have a reasonably strong interest in the project (who hopefully therefore know about the unfinished parts and won't mind helping test them, sometimes catastrophically). If a hypothetical reader wishes to convince me that being unable to flush the virtual toilet yet is elite... I'm sorry, but no. Pull the other one, it's got bells on. In about two weeks the major construction should be finished and anyone who wants to risk the virtual breaker tripping when you turn on the virtual microwave or virtually sitting on wet paint will be able to venture in.

Users will not, once the site is actually open, ever need an invite to create an account.

Users will need an invite to create a free account. This is because DW does not use ads to support the service (which costs money, after all) and therefore must have a way to make sure that there are only as many unpaid users as the paid users can support. Corollary to this...

DW is not expensive, at least not to the average user. Someone without a code can make an account for as little as $3. If you want to let it lapse back to free after that payment expires, the account will still be there, in all it's free-account-level glory.

The Seed accounts, basically permanent accounts, which are two hundred dollars, will go on sale for one time only, to raise money for the first year of operation. There are only four hundred of them being sold because the site really doesn't want many people to buy one; it will be far better for both the economic health of the site and the flexibility of the user if pretty much everyone who wants paid account perks buys regular paid accounts.

DW will not force you to reveal who you read any more than the LJ friends list does. Reading filters are (or will be in a few weeks) available, including the ever-popular Default View filter. If you wish to subscribe to someone and not include them in your Default View, this will be just as invisible a decision as it is on LJ when you friend someone and leave them out of Default View. The subscribe/access split of the friends list can be used in exactly the same manner as you have used the friends list if that is what you wish to do.

DW is not by or for fans. One of the owners is involved in fandom. That's about it. DW is by users for users--any kind of users. There are going to be features that fandom, among other parties, may find quite useful, but if anyone is suggesting that DW is a fandom project, they are mistaken.

DW has nothing to do with OTW. I suspect this one is the source of the above misconception, in some cases. OTW is a non-profit fan-run fandom organization which is working on an archive, a wiki, a journal and some other projects. DW is a LLC which is producing a social media site and software based on a fork of the LJ Open Source code.

Both are Open Source projects; this means that the various software involved is freely available for other parties to use and alter without paying licensing fees to the originators. Open Source is a philosophy, not any kind of organization to which the projects in question belong. LJ is partially Open Source itself--the early development, at any rate. Most additions after the sale to 6A are proprietary and may not be used by other parties, which is why DW is having to completely re-write a few things, using volunteers who have never looked at the LJ version. Fun times.

DW does not want to sink LJ. LJ will get wherever its going on its own without help from anyone. While many users who wish to move to DW will undoubtedly encourage (beg, bribe, etc.) their friends to come along, the goal of DW is simply to be as good as possible at being what it is: a small, sustainable social media site, committed to providing its users a good place for personal and creative expression of all kinds.

Indeed, there are LJ volunteers currently involved in DW, and some DW concepts have already been integrated back into LJ.

DW does not need a ton of users, though it is built to accommodate them if they show up. It needs, rather, to have a good ratio--to always have enough paid users to subsidize the unpaid users, regardless of total numbers, and that is what the invite system is there to ensure.


As for any personal accusations against the owners, based on Denise's time working on the LJ Abuse team, I suggest anyone who has genuine concerns read the diversity statement, the guiding principles, the FAQ and the business FAQ. It's best to get things from the horse's mouth and make up your own mind.


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