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_news2010-09-08 10:08 pm

Weekly Update: 8 September

My goodness, it's been a busy week! For those of you who are just joining us, I'm [staff profile] denise, and I'm half the ownership team around here. Welcome to our new users, and I hope you're getting settled ...

With that, let's go to the videotape go through this week's update, since we have a whole darn lot to cover ...


This week in development we resolved 25 bugs. You can see the overview of what we did in this week's code tour, compiled by [personal profile] cesy. This week's work was primarily backend (invisible stuff that makes the site run better) or work on styles (either CSS fixes to existing styles, or new styles/themes entirely). However, this week also sees the commit of some of the first of our Google Summer of Code projects: the revamp of the poll system, done by [personal profile] jportela. Not all of his work has been committed yet, but three things have:

* "AJAX"-ifying of polls, which will mean that polls can be submitted (and the results shown) without having to load a new page or reload the page you're on.

* Anonymous polls: a setting you can choose, when creating a poll, to make the results truly anonymous, even to you-the-poster. The aggregate results will still display, but clicking to show individual results will only show the answers as having come from (sequential) numbers, not usernames. (It will still be possible for a really determined person to figure out who answered what if you answer, then comment immediately, or if there are few responses and you comment after you reply. But still.)

* "Tick # boxes" poll question type: you'll be able to create a poll question where you can specify a maximum number of questions for an answer, so you'll be able to tell people to pick (for instance) up to 3 items out of a list of 20.

There are some other poll system improvements still in the review queue, including the ability to label the top and bottom points of scale poll questions (to remind people which is highest and which is lowest) and the ability to show results by person, not by question (so you can see how each person answered the questions, more like a survey). Still, we think this is a completely awesome start. Look for more of our Summer of Code projects to appear over the next few weeks as we finish code review and final tidying.

As always, improvements that are listed in the code tour are not live on the actual site yet. You won't be able to use them on itself until after our next code push, which will be listed in [site community profile] dw_maintenance and on our offsite Twitter status page when it's ready.

Invite Codes

As many of you noticed, we released more invite codes into the wild earlier this week! This time, we sent them to people who had no unused invite codes. We did notice, after we sent them out, that a bunch of people had their email addresses bounce as undeliverable, so please do take a minute to check that Dreamwidth has the most recent email address for you on file. If your email address isn't accurate, not only can we not contact you, but if you ever lose access to your account you won't be able to get back into it.

If you're out of invite codes, there'll be a message displayed for you on your Invite Someone page that will let you request more -- we try to hit up those requests once a week or so. If you've got more invite codes than you know what to do with, consider dropping them into the pool at [site community profile] dw_codesharing for people to use. And if you're looking to move over a community of people, or start a roleplaying game, you can contact us at or by opening a Support request in the Account Payments category -- we can create a "bulk" or "promo" invite code that will allow multiple accounts to be created with one code, and we're happy to give them out to anyone who needs them. We've done them in the past for roleplaying games, communities, conventions, conferences -- any time you're going to be talking up Dreamwidth to a lot of people, either in person or online, and don't want to make people type in those huge long strings of letters and numbers to join.


Speaking of promo codes, Six Apart has recently announced that their Vox service is closing doors as of September 31 30. If you or a friend would like to move your Vox blog to somewhere that has the fine-tuned privacy controls that other options such as TypePad or Wordpress doesn't have, Dreamwidth would be a perfect fit! You can use the account creation code "VOX" to create an account.

Our account importing tool doesn't currently work to import Vox blogs, but we're going to be doing our best to add it in before the 30 September deadline.

(Anti-) Spam

The [site community profile] dw_antispam team reports this week that instances of spam comments is up, so they'd like me to remind you that if you get a spam comment -- identified by the presence of someone trying to sell you something, a bunch of links to sites that look like they're trying to tell you something, or the presence of text that looks like your cat walked over the keyboard -- you should delete it and mark it as spam. To mark a comment as spam, check the option that appears in the popup when you select the delete button to delete the comment.

On other sites it can be tempting to let it go when you get a spam comment, but on Dreamwidth, a single report may be all it takes to get the offending account deleted or the offender's IP address blocked. It also gives us a much better idea of how much spam is hitting the service, so we can identify what other steps we need to take to make sure the spammers are locked in an airtight container, sealed with concrete, and dropped into the bottom of a very large trench in the ocean. Even if you've seen that particular spam text before, it might be coming from a different account or IP address, so be sure to choose the "mark as spam" option each time you delete spam!


This week we bid a fond goodbye to [personal profile] rho, who is stepping down as our documentation team lead. She did a fabulous job in getting all of our FAQs and site text together during our closed beta phase, and has been babysitting the FAQs since, but she's been bitten by a horrible attack of Real Life. We'll miss you, rho!

This means, of course, that we could use your help in continuing to improve our FAQs for everybody! If you're interested, check out the [site community profile] dw_docs, and particularly So you want to write docs? and Bugzilla: How to enter, find and work on docs bugs. Our documentation manual of style contains all the important information you'll need to know.

Anyone can work on documentation -- you don't need any special knowledge other than how you in particular use Dreamwidth, and all you need is to be able to write clear, coherent English prose. We're particularly interested in hearing from people who have just started to use Dreamwidth, and how they find things and what they're looking for in the way of instructions, since we've been working on things for so long that it seems like second nature to us -- so if there's something that took you forever to figure out, why not write it up and share? If you were confused, it's likely that someone else was, too!

Dreamwidth 101

Welcome again to those of you who are new. We're really glad to see you here, and I hope that you're settling in nicely!

Here are some useful things that we think you might find helpful to know:

* Who we are: I'm [staff profile] denise, obviously, and I'm the Suit: business manager, project manager, person-wrangler, and Coordinator of Stuff. My co-owner is [staff profile] mark, who's the Geek, aka the technical manager: previously he was working on Dreamwidth full-time, which was a lot of help during a critical part of our development, but recently he's switched to taking a more hands-off role due to outside life pressures. He's passed off most of his tasks to Afuna, aka [personal profile] fu, who is Dreamwidth Employee #1, aka the Minion. She handles code review and deployment, as well as doing a bunch of coding of her own -- she's the person who's spearheading the revamp of the Update Journal page that was mentioned in last week's news post, among many other things. You may also see my wife [personal profile] sarah here and there, mostly having to do with payment-related things, since she handles bank errands and other administrivia. (You'll notice that some communities and users have different 'user heads' -- if you see staff profile it means the journal is a full staff member, and [site community profile] means the community is an official site community.)

* How we work: Dreamwidth is 100% user-supported, paid for by people just like you. We don't accept or display any advertising, and we haven't accepted any venture capital or outside investment. So, keeping you happy is our #1 priority, because you are our only source of funding.

You can read over our business discussions in [site community profile] dw_biz. In particular, you might want to look over our Business FAQs, which were written at the beginning of our open beta phase and are still applicable today. We've seen a lot of people wondering how they can know that we're a real, legitimate business that'll be around for a while and won't just disappear with your money and your data, and the answers are there for your perusal!

We've seen a few people asking whether or not we accept PayPal for account payments. Unfortunately, we don't; PayPal closed our account with them at the beginning of the year after we refused to censor our users' perfectly legal content at their demand. We thought that your free expression was important enough to us to stick to our guns. Alas, but this means we can't take PayPal. We do accept credit cards (VISA, Mastercard, Discover, and American Express), and checks and money orders in US funds. We know this can be difficult for our users without credit cards and users from outside the US -- if you're having trouble making a payment, you can a) buy a VISA gift card, which will work the same as a VISA card; b) get a friend with a credit card to make a payment for you in exchange for you sending money to them via PayPal; c) send us American Express traveler's checks (or cash in US funds) in the mail. (If you choose C, do be aware that it is a risk -- the money may get lost in the mail, and while traveler's checks can be replaced, cash can't.) You can buy a bunch of Dreamwidth Points and use them as you need.

* How to get answers to your questions: If you're stuck on something, our team of support volunteers is happy (okay, eager) to help you out -- whether you want to report a bug or just get help on how to do something. You can always open a Support request, and the team will do their level best to get you an answer in half an hour or less or your pizza's free. (Okay, okay, it might take a little longer and there's no pizza involved. Maybe I'm showing my age again.) There's also the Dreamwidth FAQs, and if all else fails, you can ask the community [community profile] getting_started if you don't want to open a Support request. (But really, you can open a support request! They don't bite! The support team is comprised of users just like you.)

* Suggestions: If there's something you want to suggest to make Dreamwidth a better place, you can make a suggestion. Filling out this form will create a post in the moderation queue for [site community profile] dw_suggestions. I'll review the post, and if it's a duplicate of something that was already suggested or something that we've already got planned, I'll bounce the suggestion back to you with an explanation. Otherwise, it gets posted into the [site community profile] dw_suggestions community for people to think over, discuss, and vote on.

Positive votes and positive comments to the [site community profile] dw_suggestions post doesn't necessarily mean that something will be implemented, and negative comments and votes doesn't necessarily mean it won't, but we use the discussion and the votes as part of what we consider when we're deciding which suggestions to accept for implementation. Once every few months or so, we go through the suggestions and move the ones that we're going to accept into Bugzilla, our bug-tracking database. From there, our developers can pick up the projects and work on them, and sooner or later everything that's accepted will get added to the site.

* How to find things: There's lots of stuff going on on Dreamwidth, if you know where to look! The first place to check out is the Latest Things page, which is a feed of all public posts made to Dreamwidth (by people who have not opted out of the Latest Things feed). I will not lie to you, every time I load the Latest Things page, I lose another half-hour of my life. (It just happened right now while I was writing this!) You'll also notice that there's a tag cloud on the top of that page; that's DW's own version of the "trending topics" list, and it consists of the 100 most-used tags on the site at that particular time, with links to read all the posts with that tag in one place, too. (And, as a side note, you can see the current emotional weather of Dreamwidth, which is a nifty toy that gathers up all the moods that are being used on the Latest Things page and works out whether Dreamwidth is happy or sad that day.)

Next, if you're looking for some specific content instead of just browsing around to see what's out there, have the Site Search page! Any user, paid or free, can search the entire site and see results of the full-text search of public entries (made by people who haven't opted out of being included in search results). If you're a paid user, or if the account you're viewing is a paid account, you can also search the full text of a single account (again, if that account hasn't opted out of search). You'll see the search link in the interactions menu of the account's profile -- for instance, check out the dw-suggestions profile, and you'll see "Search for entries" right under "Track" in the interactions menu.

Finally, you can search by interests, to find people and communities listing specific interests, or the community search. If you'd like to browse a list of communities to find ones you might be interested in, check out [site community profile] dw_community_promo, and the same for syndicated feeds: [site community profile] dw_feed_promo. If there's a community you want, but you don't want to create it yourself, check [community profile] create_my_comm.

For finding people, [personal profile] zarhooie is hosting a "Friending Frenzy", and [community profile] lj_refugees is hosting a "Friending Meme". A while back, [personal profile] liv hosted a "Giant non-fandom friending meme" that's still somewhat active. Some people also do "Follow Friday", or listings of journals and communities they think people might be interested in.

And if all else fails, there's always the random journal and random community options!

* Styles and other journal prettiness: If you're looking to make your journal pretty, the first place you want to check is the Select Style page. You've probably already noticed that Dreamwidth doesn't support LJ's S1 style system -- this is because we wanted to standardize on one particular system, in order to make sure there was the most range of support. That page has all the system styles we've created so far, though, with thumbnails for you to review and pick.

We've done a lot of work to make sure that our version of S2, LJ's customization language, is fully customizable by you-the-end-user without you needing to know how to program anything. Our base layouts are 100% controllable by adding custom CSS. If you're looking for more information on the style system, you can check [community profile] style_system for tips, tricks, and tutorials, the S2 Guide and S2 CSS Guide on our Wiki, or the official community [site community profile] dw_styles. User-submitted layouts that are in the process of being turned into system styles are in the [site community profile] dreamscapes community, and unofficial user layouts can be found in [community profile] dreamwidthlayouts.

If you're importing a layout from LiveJournal or InsaneJournal, there are a few little tweaks you'll have to do to make it work on Dreamwidth -- we tried to keep the "old version" of S2 as compatable as we could, but there were a few changes we absolutely had to make. When you're creating the style, you'll want to make sure to use "S2 core1" (not S2 core2). (You can see a user-created tutorial on creating styles.) Once you've brought over the style, you'll also need to make this fix. (I think there might be one other fix that needs to be made, but I am so not a styles person, so if someone hollers it out in the comments, I'll edit this post.)

I'll also note that all users can create one custom style (paid users can make more), so anyone can make a style! And if you come up with something you truly love, we'd love to have you submit it for consideration as a system style in [site community profile] dreamscapes. We're always on the lookout for new styles, and every style that gets added to the site will earn you 60 Dreamwidth Points ($6) towards paid services.

Meanwhile, if you'd like to change the look of system pages, you can do that at the "Site Skin" setting, under the Display tab of Account Settings.

And, if all of the above was a little bit tl;dr and you've tuned me out by now (I do tend to run on at the keyboard), you can get the short collection of stuff at either [personal profile] stepps's What to do with Dreamwidth: a list of tutorials and information, or [personal profile] kate's Collection of things to help people new to Dreamwidth.

Favorite New Things

So, in the past year and a half, we have done so many awesome things that it's easy to lose track. I figured it would be a good time to go over some of the changes for the people who might be new to Dreamwidth! If you're really curious, you can check over past code tours, or (for those of you with Bugzilla accounts) take a look at the 2026 bugs that have been RESOLVED/FIXED.

But, for those of you who don't have a spare day and a half to spare, let's make a list of our top 5 or 10 favorite Dreamwidth changes and improvements. There are the big ones, of course, like splitting 'friend' into "who has access to read my posts" vs "whose posts I subscribe to", the ability to import your journal from other services, and the ability to crosspost your entries to other services, but there are a lot of other things we've added that I just love! I'll start with my own personal list:

1. You can upload more than one icon at a time -- while you're on the Manage Userpics page, click the 'Add file' or 'Add URL' buttons to give you another upload slot.

2. We've changed the navigation strip that you can display on top of journals (pick your settings at the Display tab of Account Settings) to be much more useful in many contexts, including -- and this is the part that I adore -- adding a one-touch ?style=mine or ?style=light link -- so if one of your friends thinks that light grey text on a slightly-lighter-grey background is the best design idea ever, you can spare your eyes with one click.

3. You can filter your Inbox to only show you the notifications from a single entry, which makes it easier to keep it tidy and to know what comments you still need to reply to. (You can also see only unread items, which makes it easy to find that one unread item among your 2000 read items.)

4. Community admins can make posts to the community with "Admins Only" security, which are viewable (as one might imagine) to admins only. I've found this is a godsend for coordinating things in multiple-admin communities! Also, community admins can now subscribe to all comments made to all entries in their community. (And if the community is paid, all members can subscribe to all comments.)

5. You can merge two tags together (on the Manage Tags page), and choose to rename icon keywords when changing icon keywords (so that all old uses of the icon keyword change to the new icon keyword).

6. You can make an entry sticky, so it always appears on the top of your journal without having to mess around with complicated dating trickery.

7. Everybody can create reading filters, but paid users can use advanced reading filters, to filter entry by tag, security level, or adult content level.

8. When you edit a comment (a paid user feature), you can specify the reason for edit, which will then display at the bottom of the comment right after the edit date/time.

9. You can reply to screened comments without unscreening them, and the person you replied to can reply back, etc, so you can carry on entire conversations in screened comments without them ever becoming visible or sending out a notification. Likewise, if your entry is set to screen all comments, it means all comments -- even yours!

10. And, the best for last: EXPANDABLE CUT TAGS. I'd put it in blink tags if y'all wouldn't hate me. When you're viewing an entry on a journal or on your reading page, and the entry has a <cut> tag, you'll see a little triangle on the side of the cut. If you click the triangle, the entire cut will expand and show you the entire entry right there. No more opening things up in tabs for later! This is the feature I never knew I wanted until I had it.

What's your list of awesome things DW has done?

The Giant Community Rec-O-Matic

I know this week's entry is super long, and I've already given you lots and lots of things to comment about, but I thought that as a welcome to all our new users (and those who have been with us for a while and are branching out to find new things to read), we should try a Giant Community Rec-O-Matic.

How it works: Comment here with a list of some of your interests, and the kind of community you enjoy reading and participating in. Then, once you've commented, read through the other comments and see what things other people are listing. If you see someone you think would be a perfect match for a community you admin or participate in, comment back to them and point them at the community!

(Crowdsourcing at its very finest.)


WHEW. I've been writing this entry for nearly three hours now! (I could write it for another three hours. I'm not proud ... or tired ... okay, now I really am dating myself.) 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.

(Oh, and I totally forgot: l'shanah tovah to those for whom it's appropriate!)

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