denise: Image: Me, facing away from camera, on top of the Castel Sant'Angelo in Rome (Default)
Denise ([staff profile] denise) wrote in [site community profile] dw_news2011-04-06 03:48 am

Weekly Update: 6 April

Hello, Dreamwidth! I'd like to start this update by wishing my wife [personal profile] sarah a belated happy birthday (putting her on the spot in front of tens of thousands of people) -- her birthday was Saturday, and she had a very good one.

Anyway, we've got a full update this week, so on we go!

Behind the cut:

* Development
* Technical Debt
* Biz Update
* Seed Accounts
* Styles Class
* Invite Codes
* Antispam
* Our Support for LiveJournal
* Our Farewell to Inksome
* Sad News



Development



Since last we spoke, we've had one code tour:

March 17, 2011 - March 31, 2011, done by [personal profile] poulpette

This code tour includes (hopeful) fixes for the problems people were having with their comment import from LiveJournal timing out, an update and overhaul of the Presentation section in the Customize Journal page, and some major, massive, epic work to modernize our JavaScript sitewide. Which brings me to:


Technical Debt



I've seen a few people lamenting the lack of new user-facing features lately, or wondering why it's taking us so long to release features we said we were going to release. This absolutely isn't a sign that DW development is slowing down, or that we're working less hard or accomplishing fewer awesome things. The reason it seems like we haven't had any major feature releases lately is because we've been working hard on things that, if we do them right, you won't ever see -- backend improvements that are critical for us to do before we can do all the new feature work.

Basically, we are working on paying down our technical debt. For those of you who don't know, technical debt is a metaphor used in the software development world for the maintenance and improvements you delay for a future time in order to get code or software shipped now. Because we forked from LiveJournal, we inherited a decade's worth of delayed maintenance that we need to make good on in order to continue forward. We could keep delaying it, but we've reached the point where it's more work to continue working around the problems than it is to fix it.

We've spent the last six months aggressively working on modernizing the code and improving the backend, which is putting us in a much better position to go forward. The project's not completely done yet, but we're getting there! Most of the fixes and improvements are things you guys won't ever see, because there aren't any user-facing changes. But once we're finished, we'll be in a much better position to do feature development much more rapidly.

That's the short explanation -- if you'd like a longer one, I wrote an entry that gets into a lot more detail. You can read that here: Technical debt and the making of payments on it.


Biz Update



So, tax time is upon us, and that means that we've finalized the 2010 books and the results are in. We're cautiously pleased with how things wound up: in 2010, we very nearly broke even for the year, in terms of "money earned vs money spent", and we would have broken even or had a slight profit if it weren't for the three months of being unable to accept payments.

(For those of you who are just tuning in: in January of 2010, PayPal decided that they would no longer do business with us unless we agreed to censor the content our users posted to remove material that did not violate our Terms of Service, but bothered them. We declined, and in the end, we had nearly three months of downtime in which we couldn't accept online payments until we could implement our alternate solution.)

I've posted the 2010 Year End Update in [site community profile] dw_biz, in which I go into some more detail about our expenses, our results, and some of the various factors that meant we didn't actually see all the money we took in this year. If you're interested in the "behind the scenes" aspect of where your payments go and how we handle the business end of things, head on over.


Seed Accounts



We've had multiple people ask us about seed accounts (permanent accounts) lately, and whether or not we ever plan to offer them again. When we started Dreamwidth, the plan was to sell them once -- at the site launch -- and never again unless something major happened; this was to prevent seed account sales from cannibalizing future revenue.

Well, something major happened -- the three months where we were unable to accept payments did eat a lot into our operating fund, and various other factors since then have been nibbling at the reserve. (See the [site community profile] dw_biz post I linked in the previous section for more information there!) In order to replenish that reserve, and make sure that we have the resources to continue to expand through the rest of 2011 instead of just stagnating, we will be putting a limited number of seed accounts on sale next month.

I know that no matter what I say, people are going to worry, but rest assured: we are not in financial trouble. Right now, we are on track to break even or make a modest profit in 2011. (Which is good -- our plan for when we started DW was that we wouldn't actually start seeing a significant profit until 2013 or so!) Rather, this move is to make sure that we have a reasonable reserve in the event of (God forbid) future disaster -- it was that reserve that let us stay on the air last year when we had our payments crisis, and the reserve never quite recovered from that depletion. Having that reserve back in place will let us sleep a lot more soundly at night.

Plans haven't been 100% finalized yet -- stay tuned for more announcements -- but right now, the tentative plan is to place 400 Seed Accounts on sale in four batches over a 24-hour period on April 30 - May 1, our two-year anniversary to launching our open beta. We'll be doing it in batches to make sure that our users in every time zone -- whether geographical or personal -- have at least one opportunity for a sale time that isn't in the middle of their night. Accounts will remain on sale for as long as it takes for the 100 accounts in each batch to sell out, whether it happens immediately or over time, and each new batch will be added to the previous. (So, if there are still 50 accounts left for sale from the first batch when the time for the second batch comes due, the 100 from the second batch will be added to the 50 left from the first batch.)

As with last time, seed accounts will cost $200 (the equivalent of four years of premium paid service). You'll be able to buy them for yourself or for a friend. (We chose that number because it's what we felt was the right balance between replenishing the reserve and not hurting future sales too badly.)

We'll give you more updates on when accounts will go on sale as we get closer to the end of the month.

(Edit: And someone in the comments made me realize I hadn't mentioned: a Seed Account is functionally equivalent to a Premium Paid account, and receives the same benefits. It just won't ever expire. Also, if you have existing paid time when you buy a Seed Account, you can contact us to either transfer the paid time to another account, or have it converted back to Dreamwidth Points.)


Styles Class



Have you been wanting to learn how to customize your style more than the wizard will let you do, but haven't quite gotten around to figuring out how? Or do you have the image of the perfect style in your head and haven't been able to make it a reality?

[personal profile] foxfirefey is starting up a course on the DW style system and how to work it in [community profile] style_system. You can view the proposed syllabus to see if it's something you might benefit from. It's a low-pressure, no-commitment-necessary way to learn how to play around with making things pretty.


Invite Codes



As many people no doubt noticed, we released another batch of invite codes earlier this week. This time we distributed 1 invite code each to all personal accounts that had been active in the last 30 days. You don't need to save the email you got -- you can always view all your invite codes at the Invite Someone page, linked on all site-skinned pages.

Invite codes don't expire; you can save them for personal use or invite a friend. Or, if all of your friends have already joined you on Dreamwidth, you can share them in [site community profile] dw_codesharing.


Antispam



We've seen a small uptick in the amount of spam being posted to the service, and the "no invite codes" week does seem to have had a small "logged-in spammer" result. (I'm guessing it took time for the result to become apparent, since much spam software will create an account and then let it lie dormant for a bit before posting.)

Our antispam team has been smacking down the spammers as fast as they rise, but this is a good time for yet another reminder! If you receive spam -- whether in comments or in posts to your community -- be sure to pick the "mark as spam" option while you're deleting it. That will put the comment or post into the antispam system, where our antispam team will leap upon it so fast that it's often dealt with within minutes. (No, really. They have an irc bot to alert them to new spam and everything. It's kind of frightening sometimes.)


Our Support for LiveJournal



I'd also like to take a few minutes to publicly offer support to LiveJournal, where the team has been doing an incredible job in responding to and mitigating a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack. If you haven't been able to reach LJ in the past few days, this is why; the current theory in the press is that the DDoS is a political statement being made against Russian-language bloggers using LJ as their platform. We wish the LJ team luck, perserverence, and a bottle of really good top-shelf liquor in trying to combat the problem.

We've seen increases in the number of people using the content importer to back up their content from LJ over the past few days, and with LiveJournal inaccessible during periods of heavy DDoS traffic, this can cause a problem with imports timing out or not otherwise succeeding. We'd like to ask you to consider holding off on starting a new import for a few days, until the problem can clear up a bit. Our importer is smart enough to retry an import a few times if the process times out before giving up completely, but minimizing the traffic that LJ needs to cope with can only help them out.


Our Farewell to Inksome



This week also will see the closing of Inksome, another site based on the LiveJournal code. Kit and Shell, the owners and operators of Inksome, have been awesome to us throughout, and they've been great to share ideas with over the years. We'll miss you guys, and we wish you luck.


Sad News



It's with regret that I announce the loss of [personal profile] padme_kenobi, a member of the Dreamwidth community. She suffered from Epidermolysis Bullosa, an incredibly rare genetic disorder. Her friends remember her as an incredibly positive force in the world; we are made lesser by her passing.

*

That's it from us for now! 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 in two weeks for our next update.
markmanching: (Default)

[personal profile] markmanching 2011-04-06 08:56 am (UTC)(link)
Condolences to the Family of late [personal profile] padme_kenobi *sends virtual flowers*

and also.. Poor LJ for their DDoS Attacks

[identity profile] eternal-moonie.livejournal.com 2011-04-06 09:02 am (UTC)(link)
Oh noes! My condolences too!

Yeah, I'm seriously thinking of moving all my LJ stories to DW... question is how many comments I'll get.

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thenest: (Default)

[personal profile] thenest 2011-04-06 09:16 am (UTC)(link)
Erf, that sucks to hear about a member dying. e.e Sympathy to the friends and family! I hope she's in a better place now.

Thanks for the updates. :]
trialia: River Song (Alex Kingston) drinking a cup of coffee. (Default)

[personal profile] trialia 2011-04-07 07:18 pm (UTC)(link)
Thank you. So do we. She's very much missed.
marilla_pm67: (Remember Me - Snuggled)

[personal profile] marilla_pm67 2011-04-06 09:47 am (UTC)(link)
All my condolences to [personal profile] padme_kenobi's family ...


And the DDOS attack, I can only say this ... LJ has a lot of fake users, all mostly in Russia - you know the phantom users who are spamming all the comms with spams... They should separate the users ... Russian users on one server and the others on another...

=> that's me being angry - sorry.

I'm sure they are doing what they can, but it's been 4 days now ... I'm Mod/Co-mod and maintainer/co-maintainer in a few comms and I can't access can't respond, and it's driving me nuts....

I'm happy DW do NOT have financial problems... but I'm still preoccupied... most of my friends are over there and I still haven't figure out how to be there and here at the same time... frustrating.

Anyway can't wait for the permanent accounts...

Sam

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The Saga of Six Apart

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rydra_wong: Dreamsheep holding a hammer; "Dreamwidth Antispam". (dreamwidth -- spamsheep)

[personal profile] rydra_wong 2011-04-06 09:55 am (UTC)(link)
this is a good time for yet another reminder! If you receive spam -- whether in comments or in posts to your community -- be sure to pick the "mark as spam" option while you're deleting it.

This also helps provide soothing repetitive clicky-work for people whose brains are comforted by soothing repetitive clicky-work -- e.g. me -- and is thus extra-worthwhile.

Donate any spam you have lying around to the anti-spam team! It's a charitable act!

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highlyeccentric: Angel Coulby's feet in red boots (angel's feet)

[personal profile] highlyeccentric 2011-04-06 10:03 am (UTC)(link)
Fascinating, as always. Thank you :)
highlyeccentric: A woman in a tuxedo, looking determined (tux - dressed and ready)

[personal profile] highlyeccentric 2011-04-06 10:06 am (UTC)(link)
Can I also add that it pleases and reassures me to see DW standing up for LJ in this case?

<3

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archangelbeth: An anthropomorphic feline face, with feathered wing ears, and glasses, in shades of gray. (Default)

[personal profile] archangelbeth 2011-04-06 10:33 am (UTC)(link)
*plots to buy a permanent account for her second account that she uses only rarely, thus far*
*plot plot plot plot plot*

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mrs_tribble: (Default)

[personal profile] mrs_tribble 2011-04-06 10:34 am (UTC)(link)
Happy birthday to [personal profile] sarah and I'm so sorry to hear the sad news of your colleague's passing.

I was going to ask when image hosting was going to be made available without copy/pasting from LJ - especially now that LJ is suffering from these DDOS attacks, but it seems kind of irellevant now!

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posner: (Star Trek-Bones/Jim)

[personal profile] posner 2011-04-06 10:54 am (UTC)(link)
Yay for possible seed accounts. I just wanted to check that if I was one of the successful purchasers would I get to keep my current number of icons. That would be the most important factor to me in making my decision.

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ilyena_sylph: picture of Labyrinth!faerie with 'careful, i bite' as text (Default)

[personal profile] ilyena_sylph 2011-04-06 12:01 pm (UTC)(link)
Thank you so much for the update.

I'm glad to see that you're so on top of things!
fulminata: (drink - wine)

[personal profile] fulminata 2011-04-06 12:40 pm (UTC)(link)
/stashes money away for seed account sale

Happy belated to your wife. That's some happy after all the bad news of this weekend.

Thank you for the business transparency. I'm more than willing to shell out cash for DW because you're so forthcoming with information and are willing to take user input into making a better product.
chris: (kittens)

[personal profile] chris 2011-04-06 12:45 pm (UTC)(link)
I don't have a Seed account, but given how long you've spent arguing that offering permanent accounts regularly is a bad idea for users (see you in January 2009 and you in April 2009, for instance), offering them again at all seems... not true to your original intention. Yes, I see you have explained the reasons why, both in summary here and in your dw-biz post.

It would be easy to say "it doesn't feel cool" or "it doesn't feel Dreamwidth-y" - and that's how the announcement makes me feel about the situation - but that doesn't seem like a very constructive remark to me. More specifically, it feels like a triumph of pragmatism over idealism, and that's not what I hoped for from you.

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proving you right ;)

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Re: proving you right ;)

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jumpuphigh: Bare-chested, tattooed man, holding a woman draped across his back with their foreheads touching. (Dance)

[personal profile] jumpuphigh 2011-04-06 01:04 pm (UTC)(link)
*wiggling in my chair*

I'm so excited about the seed account sale. It's not a money thing for me as I'm sure I will continue to buy batches of points to give away to random users, people who say interesting things, and communities. Instead, it is a declaration of this being my home. When seed accounts were for sale the first time, I just did not know how important Dreamwidth would become in my life and I have somewhat regretted not having a crystal ball with which to predict that so that I could have purchased a seed account at that time.

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holyschist: Image of a medieval crocodile from Herodotus, eating a person, with the caption "om nom nom" (Default)

[personal profile] holyschist 2011-04-06 01:25 pm (UTC)(link)
I wish I could buy a Seed account, but alas, not this time around. I will continue throwing smaller amounts of money at DW< though, and maybe in the long run it will add up to more. :-)
yukinoomoni: I'm not this pretty in real life. (Default)

[personal profile] yukinoomoni 2011-04-06 01:29 pm (UTC)(link)
I'm very sorry for your loss.

I would love to see if I can snag a Seed Account. That sounds wonderful, and it would be great to have an excuse to use this account as my permanent one!
darkemeralds: Screencap of funeral scene from the movie Serenity (Funeral)

[personal profile] darkemeralds 2011-04-06 02:16 pm (UTC)(link)
I just...love you guys so much! Reading through this open, informative, clear announcement, knowing what's going on and being reminded of the sound basis for your approach to your business--especially the part about technical debt--I feel so glad to be part of the DW family.

Thank you!

My condolences to the family and friends of [personal profile] padme_kenobi.
kore: (Default)

[personal profile] kore 2011-04-06 06:25 pm (UTC)(link)
Exactly.

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[personal profile] trialia - 2011-04-07 19:20 (UTC) - Expand
stormy: βͺ ππŽπ“πˆπ‚π„ ❫ 𝑫𝑢 𝑡𝑢𝑻 𝑻𝑨𝑲𝑬 𝑴𝒀 𝑰π‘ͺ𝑢𝑡𝑺 ⊘ (β™Ÿ aquatic girl)

[personal profile] stormy 2011-04-06 02:33 pm (UTC)(link)
Oh, I was forced to pass up a Seed Account in the other sales due to lack of funds, but this is just a lucky third chance for me to try and scrounge together the money before they go on sale again. It's really only by disaster that Dreamwidth is ever forced to put them on sale, and while that's really unfortunate.. I'm over here cheering for the chance. I'm sure they'll vanish in a jiffy and Dreamwidth will have a nice solid cushion in case the fates decide to inject a little humor into the DW year.
terabient: Poorly drawn Noel Vermillion (Default)

[personal profile] terabient 2011-04-06 02:53 pm (UTC)(link)
Oh wow, I had no idea the LJ situation was so serious. :o
ekmisao: (Default)

[personal profile] ekmisao 2011-04-06 03:12 pm (UTC)(link)
BTW I'm glad you found the headlining thing really useful to your purposes, glad you're still using it. ^^v

All the best to the fund-raising!

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[personal profile] sophie - 2011-04-14 22:49 (UTC) - Expand
indi: (Lee glee (feel lighter))

[personal profile] indi 2011-04-06 03:28 pm (UTC)(link)
I am so delighted to see the Seed accounts will be offered again! I am online only intermittently right now, but love that I can 'invest' in DW as a place that is so upfront about what it does and has values in line with so many of my own. (and of course, I hope to be more active, once my offline world becomes more manageable! :))

I also think you've been clear that this (offering the Seed accounts) is not done lightly and that you are offering these for a limited time and with a very specific purpose... that, to me, is maintaining your integrity and I commend you for how you're handling this.

Finally, raising a glass along with you to the memory of Padme_kenobi. I knew of her only peripherally through my fandom, but she will be missed.
trialia: River Song (Alex Kingston) drinking a cup of coffee. (Default)

[personal profile] trialia 2011-04-07 07:20 pm (UTC)(link)
(A fellow BSG fandomer, I take it?)

*raises glass with you*

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[personal profile] indi - 2011-04-07 20:39 (UTC) - Expand

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[personal profile] trialia - 2011-04-07 20:42 (UTC) - Expand

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[personal profile] indi - 2011-04-07 23:05 (UTC) - Expand
dawntreader: (bunny tales)

[personal profile] dawntreader 2011-04-06 03:32 pm (UTC)(link)
i recently imported over from LJ due to the sporadic ups and downs and all the hassles of not being able to post when i want to post. plus this way i have backup! doubly happy.

so i am thrilled to have dual journalship at the moment with the crosspost feature. i love your business model and goals (AND you're in Baltimore!! i'm in Bel Air. so i also thought that was cool.)

i will be inviting friends as soon as fast as the invite codes come though. :D

sure, i suppose you grow a little faster with open-account creation, but you don't know who they belong to except a bunch of no-good spammers who aren't paying for the service anyway.
dawntreader: (hahaha bunnies)

[personal profile] dawntreader 2011-04-06 03:34 pm (UTC)(link)
I MISS NOT BEING ABLE TO EDIT MY COMMENTS THOUGH. duh. i may have to get a paid account just for that.

and so i can import all my icons. priorities, yanno. lol

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[personal profile] dawntreader - 2011-04-08 14:23 (UTC) - Expand
tyrande: (saber βΈ— [e] I'm pretty content)

[personal profile] tyrande 2011-04-06 03:35 pm (UTC)(link)
I'm one of the many who are excited to see seed accounts go on sale again. Before I was in an awful living condition and was unable to purchase one for myself despite my dedication to the site.

However, I am in a much more stable position *and* the sale lands on my birthday (May 1st). How can I say no to such a nice birthday gift? :)
babysprite: Scotland (Default)

Happy birthday, condolences and commendations

[personal profile] babysprite 2011-04-06 03:55 pm (UTC)(link)

Happy belated birthday to [personal profile] sarah.

Condolences to the family and friends of [personal profile] padme_kenobi.

Commendations to yourself and the other DW staff for showing support to LJ during this recent series of DDOS attack.

That's a very mature and unselfish thing to do.
/\__/\
(='.'=)
(")_(")
Robert.
firecat: red panda looking happy (Default)

Re: Happy birthday, condolences and commendations

[personal profile] firecat 2011-04-06 04:26 pm (UTC)(link)
Commendations to yourself and the other DW staff for showing support to LJ during this recent series of DDOS attack.

That's a very mature and unselfish thing to do.


This.
yvi: (Dreamwidth - Badass Dreamwidth dev)

[personal profile] yvi 2011-04-06 04:03 pm (UTC)(link)

[personal profile] halig_gewrit 2011-04-06 04:34 pm (UTC)(link)
We'd like to ask you to consider holding off on starting a new import for a few days, until the problem can clear up a bit.

I started an import from LJ yesterday before I knew about the DDoS problem. It imported my profile and tags etc. quickly, but the entries are still in the queue. Is there a way that I can stop the import/take it out of the queue now, and come back later to import the entries when things clear up?
exor674: Computer Science is my girlfriend (Default)

[personal profile] exor674 2011-04-06 07:12 pm (UTC)(link)
Not really, but it should give up eventually.

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