|Denise (denise) wrote in dw_news,|
@ 2010-09-15 11:44 pm UTC
|Entry tags:||weekly announcements|
The weekly update may move around a bit for the next few weeks -- even more so than usual, I mean -- but for now, let's go to the videotape.
This week's code tour, done by zarhooie, describes the week in development. Special welcome goes to murklins, who had a first patch committed -- welcome to DW dev!
This week's tour is a mixture of backend and frontend stuff, including new themes, new FAQs, assorted bugfixes, a "random icon" option for comments (in addition to entries), and some performance enhancements. As always, they won't be active on the live site until the next code push. (Which we don't currently have scheduled -- finding time when everyone's awake and working is tough when the parties in question span four time zones and half the globe -- but we hope to get one in soon.)
And speaking of performance, people have probably noticed the cases where sometimes the site will seem to hang while you're commenting, and then either time out (and post the comment multiple times) or eventually go through (and post the comment multiple times). As far as we can tell due to our investigative work, this is due to some inefficiencies in the code. We've been working on profiling the common use paths and figuring out where the bottlenecks are, and have been doing work to improve the slow bits.
We've pressed an additional server into service as a webserver to help handle the traffic, but it's looking like we're going to have to temporarily disable the userpic rename feature until we can rewrite it to be more efficient, since that seems to be the majority of the bottleneck. (This is the feature that allows you to rename a particular userpic, updating all the past uses of the former keyword to use the new keyword.) We'll be sure to bring it back as quickly as we can.
In the meantime, if you get hit with the slowdown while commenting, it's a good idea to copy the text that you were trying to comment, then go back and refresh the page you were commenting on (not the page that you got the timeout on) to see if your comment posted before hitting refresh. We're really sorry about the inconvenience -- it's definitely a pain in the neck and it's annoying us about as much (if not more) as it's annoying you, and we're concentrating on fixing the bottlenecks as quickly as we can.
You may have also noticed an increase in spam this week -- spam traffic has been trending upwards over the past few weeks. Our antispam team is pretty quick on the ball to block spammers from accessing the site, but as always, they rely on you: be sure to mark a comment as spam when you're deleting it, so they can be notified of the problem. This week we've seen our first cases of registered-user spam in addition to anonymous and OpenID spam, so it seems we've gotten into some spammer database somewhere. We've done what we could to block the source of the spam, but there's only so much you can do, so be on the lookout.
Which is a perfect time to announce that dw_antispam is looking for more people to wear the spamfighting hat! If you've got a few hours a week to contribute to the cause of truth, justice, and the Dreamwidth way, protecting everyone on the site from being told their tool isn't long enough, Rolex watches are on sale, or someone's long-lost cousin has $15 million dollars US in hock somewhere that needs your help to smuggle it out of the country, check out the dw_antispam recruiting post. It's a low-commitment way to help keep DW free of scum.
And speaking of low-commitment ways to help DW, the Support team needs you, too. You don't have to be a DW expert -- all you need to do is check the unanswered support requests every now and then and see if you can find something you know the answer to.
Our Support Triumvirate is chemicallace, domtheknight, and zarhooie, and the community you'll want to follow for useful information is dw_support_training. You can comment to request basic 'privs', or privileges, that let you make internal comments and see other unapproved answers that have been made to the open requests (which can be useful in deciding whether or not you need to take your time answering). For an overview of how the Support process works, check out the Support guide.
We've seen a bunch of people making mention of the styles we have available, and there are a few points of confusion I'd like to clear up:
* Most, if not all, of our styles support the option for multiple column options (so you can choose 1-column, 2-column left, 2-colum right, or 3-column), and nearly all styles support all features. (The exception to both is Zesty, which was added early on in DW's life, before we standardized; some other styles didn't quite lend themselves to things like header images or reading page colors.) This means that you don't have to choose a style based on the features it supports; if you find one that you like the look of, you can be reasonably assured that it will support all the features available.
* All of our base layouts are 100% controllable and styleable using CSS. You can see the S2 guide and S2 CSS Guide for an overview of which CSS properties will affect what. This means that if you've got a style that's almost-there, but not exactly to your taste, you can get it the last 10% by doing direct, hands-on tweaking. If you're not sure how to accomplish this, there are a lot of friendly and helpful people out there who can give you a hand. Some common ways to get CSS help is to post to style_system, make a post to your journal using the tag 'dreamwidth' so it shows up on the Latest Things page, or if all else fails, open a support request. (The support team may not be able to help you 100% with custom CSS, but a lot of them are friendly and helpful people who will do their best!)
* All users can create at least one custom style, even free users. This means that if you can't find something that's even 90% of the way there, you can import a S2 style from another LiveJournal-based site and customize it from there. Just be sure that if you do, you select "S2 core1" when creating it, not "S2 core2". You won't get all the benefits of all the improvements we've made to the backend S2 code, but you'll be able to use your style here. (You'll need to make one change first, though -- it's described in this tutorial. We tried to keep core1 as backwards-compatable as possible, but that change was unavoidable.)
* We are always on the lookout for more system styles. (Especially since most of our team is great with CSS and the like, but not always possessed of the ability to make graphics from scratch.) If you're an artist or a photographer who'd like to offer up your work to Dreamwidth for possible inclusion in a new system style, you can leave your contact information and a link to your portfolio in the Calling All Artists post. (Offering your work to DW does not mean you lose the rights to your work. It just means that you're licensing DW to use and re-distribute your work under an open source license. (And, if you're a style designer looking for art, that post is your place to look!)
* If you want to submit a style for consideration as a system style, check out dreamscapes. Any style or theme that's accepted to the site will earn you 60 Dreamwidth Points ($6 USD), the equivalent of 2 months of paid time.
* If you'd like to browser through some unofficial user-made layouts, check out dreamwidthlayouts. (And if you know of any other good layout comms, give a holler!)
* Two users have posted (unofficial) posts asking what people think is still missing from styles: zvi's A question the answer to which I would like to know and charmian's Preferences in Blog Styles and Layouts. If there's something you'd really like to see in styles, but isn't mentioned in the comments to either of those two posts, please leave a comment here. (And who knows, maybe it's already possible, and one of our Styles crew will let you know how to do it!)
Paid Users/Paid Communities
I realize it's been a while since I've done this, so I just wanted to take a second in this update to thank everyone who's been supporting DW with their cold hard cash. When we did our initial numbers, way back at the dawn of DW time, we figured we could keep the place running with 5% of active users having paid accounts, and combining both paid and premium paid, we're running at closer to 10% now -- which is a big help. We're still small enough that every paid user counts: our month-to-month financials tend to hover right on the line between slightly in the red/slightly in the black, and the three months of being unable to accept online payments ate into a lot of our "safety net" cushion.
This isn't to say that we're massively hurting for cash-on-hand -- far from it. We've got enough in the bank that if worst came to worst, we could cut back severely on our monthly expenses, which we spend on in order to facilitate future growth, and be able to operate comfortably for quite some time. We've also seen a really great spike in payments this month, in addition to our spike in new user signups, which we're really grateful for! Still, to be sure that we can continue to fund future growth, your support is critical. Dreamwidth doesn't accept advertising and we don't accept outside funding or venture capital; we are 100% user-funded, and if it weren't for you guys, we couldn't exist.
This week I added a What extra services can communities benefit from? in addition to the What are the extra services available? FAQ, to help maintainers of a community easily see what paid features are applicable to communities compared to personal journals. Also remember -- if you've got a community that you'd like to make paid, to have access to the paid community benefits (full-text journal search! all members can easily subscribe to all comments!) you-the-admin don't have to bear the full burden of the cost; community members can donate small amounts of Dreamwidth Points to the comm admin, which can then be used to pay for the community.
I debated adding this point, because I know some people will take it as a sign that things are dire no matter how much I tell you that they aren't. (We'd tell you if we needed a concentrated push to raise more money, like we told you back in March with a followup in May -- we've cut back on expenses since then, and part of Mark stepping back from full-time DW work and going back to work outside of DW was in order to save DW money, so the monthly expenses are lower now.) I also know that no matter what I say, some people will be nervous -- that's the bad part about being so transparent with the finances. We do our best to keep six months of operating expenses as cash-on-hand at all times, and we've almost gotten back up to that point from the payment blackout earlier in the year.
Still, tax time is coming, and we've got a lot of things planned that will help a lot if we have the ability to add more servers on a permanent basis, not just when traffic is high. I know times are tough for a lot of people, but if you've been considering supporting Dreamwidth with a paid account, please give us your support. DW depends on you.
(And, to pre-emptively answer the question: yes, renames will be available with the next code push! A rename token will cost $15, and you'll also be able to rename communities you're the admin of. Down the road, we also plan to implement an easy way to swap two usernames with only two tokens (instead of three, and a complicated juggle.) There are just a few more improvements we'd like to make before we push the code and enable the feature. We've also got v-gifts in the works -- and before you ask, yes, you'll be able to disable the ability for others to send them to you. *g*)
Other Open Source Awesomeness
Some other open source awesomeness we'd like to acknowledge:
* Diaspora, the open-source, privacy-aware attempt to scratch all the same itches Facebook does without falling into the same traps of evil Facebook pulls off, has today released their source code. They've done an awesome amount of work in a really short time; our hats are off to them. (And yes, we'll be implementing Diaspora crossposting -- we have bugs open to add a lot more sites to our crosspost option, including Facebook, Wordpress, Movable Type/TypePad, Posterous, Tumblr, and a bunch of other, non-LJ-code sites -- and, just like the existing crosspost option, it will be totally under your control and your choice whether to crosspost anything from your journal.)
* An Archive Of Our Own, also known as the AO3, which is a production of the Organization for Transformative Works, has just passed both their first birthday and the milestone of 100,000 works uploaded. Congrats, guys! We know a lot of our users are also AO3 users (in fact, a bunch of our development team also work on the AO3), and y'all have done a grand job.
DW in person
I'm happy to announce that we've had a tutorial accepted to the 2011 linux.conf.au -- we had such a blast last time that I'm really happy they've decided to invite us back for a second appearance. This year LCA will be in Brisbane, Australia, and DW's contribution will be a short-form tutorial called "Beyond Alt Text: Web Accessibility for the 21st Century".
Last year's LCA was an awesome conference, and I'm sure 2011 will be just as awesome. If you're in the area, you should totally consider attending. If you're a DW user, I'll buy you a beer. :)
That's it for us for another week! (Now that I've been writing this update for, oh, about five hours...) As always, if you're having problems with Dreamwidth, Support can help you; for notices of site problems and downtime, check the Twitter status page; if you've got an idea to make the site better, you can make a suggestion.
We'll see you next week for our next update, by which point I will hopefully have remembered the difference between fingerspelling A, E, S, and T. (And gotten the Final Fantasy X battle music out of my head. What the heck, brain ...)