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_news2011-08-12 03:29 pm

Dreamwidth Update: 11 August 2011

Hello, Dreamwidth! It's been an ... eventful few weeks, hasn't it? Welcome to those who are just joining us, from Google Plus and LiveJournal -- we hope you find Dreamwidth an excellent home. (This week we passed 100,000 personal accounts on the service, and over one million accounts total, which is very exciting news indeed.)

Behind the cut:

* Development
* Update on site problems
* Welcome to Dreamwidth!
* Paid Accounts
* Anonymous spam
* [site community profile] dw_codesharing
* Non-native-English celebration fest
* Request for brainstorming


This weeks' code tours are brought to us by [personal profile] pauamma and [personal profile] ursamajor:

13 July - 2 August
3 August - 10 August

These fixes, improvements, and additions include a number of minor bugfixes involving display of text on the site, improvements to certain messages and FAQs on the site, the addition of new FAQs involving community management, transfering communities, and account and community deletion; the addition of Etsy to the <user name=foo> linking module (so you'll be able to do <user name=foo>), improvements to YouTube video embedding, updating the Google Analytics snippet that paid users can insert into their journals to the most recent version of the code, adding an icon so that people bookmarking the site onto the desktop under iOS (iPhone/iPad/Mac OS 10.7) get a pretty custom DW icon instead of the default icon, adding checkboxes to the Manage Circle page to better allow you to join/leave communities, adding the ability to click through to view your filtered reading page after creating a custom subscription filter, and the ability to hide and show the detailed poll answers as though they were cuts, so you can "roll" the answers back up once you're done with them.

There's also a screaming whackton (that's a technical term!) of new themes (all gorgeous!), two entirely new styles, and a few small improvements to the customization system.

None of these improvements are live or usable on the Dreamwidth site itself yet. We're hoping to do a code push to update the site itself to the most recent development version sometime in the next week. Watch [site community profile] dw_maintenance for details.

Update on site problems

Last week, we were having some slowdown and general responsiveness issues, chronicled in [site community profile] dw_maintenance. We're pretty sure we've tracked the problem down to a combination of two things: a bug in perl (the language DW is written in) that's manifesting with some of our code, causing memory leaks (which make our webservers run out of memory and lock up) and needing to put some extra RAM in a few of our servers.

We've got a ticket open with our hosting company to upgrade the servers, and we're starting to work on testing the new version of perl we'd like to upgrade to (the one that doesn't have the bug) to make sure that it doesn't have any unforseen issues. The testing process might take a bit, but we want to make sure we aren't going to have issues with the fix we're putting in to fix our issues!

As many people have noticed, the site search function is currently disabled -- the reason for this is we've borrowed the machine that powers the search feature to serve as a temporary webserver. This allows us to change the settings on all the webservers to keep things zippy for everyone. Since the search machine is one of the ones we're putting more RAM into, the current plan is to take it out of the webserver pool, give it some spring cleaning, and turn it back into the search machine as soon as our hosting provider can do the upgrades. We're not sure exactly when that will be, but we're hoping it will be within a few days.

If you're ever having trouble with the site, the first place you should look is the Twitter offsite status feed, and, if you can reach the site, [site community profile] dw_maintenance. We always try to update those within 10-15 minutes of becoming aware of a problem (if the problem isn't fixable within that time frame). Then, as the situation develops, we'll either edit the [site community profile] dw_maintenance entry or continue to post to the Twitter status feed as more information becomes available. Sometimes we get behind, or we're too busy trying to fix the problem to post about the problem, but we do our best to keep you updated!

Welcome to Dreamwidth!

As I mentioned in my intro, we've seen an influx of users over the past two weeks. Welcome to Dreamwidth! We're glad to have you here, and we hope you enjoy yourselves.

There's a lot of awesome things about Dreamwidth -- well, I'm totally biased, and I admit that, but I still think we've done a great job in making an awesome site to hang out on. For those who are totally new, check out the Welcome to Dreamwidth guide. If you're coming to us from LiveJournal, we have a Guide to Dreamwidth for LiveJournal Users, explaining many of the differences between the two sites. You can also read our Guiding Principles and Diversity Statement for some more information about our core values and how we make decisions, and our Business FAQs for an older look "behind the curtain". (Those were written in early 2009 when we were just beginning the Dreamwidth project, so many of them are written as looking towards the future, but they're mostly still applicable.)

You can find interesting things to read on the Latest Things page, which is a feed of public entries made to the site, and at the top of the Latest Things page are "tag feeds" for the most popularly used tags on the site. (There's a weird bug where some of the tags aren't taken off the popular list after they're no longer being used, so one or two of the tag feeds might be blank -- we're still trying to figure that one out!) If you're looking for people who share your interests, check out the interests search. And there's always the Random Active Journal and Random Active Community links! If you're looking for specific communities, previously we've done something we call the "giant community rec-o-matic" in [site community profile] dw_news posts, where people post about what they're interested in and others recommend communities for them to join. We'll probably run another round of that pretty soon, but in the meantime, check out the "community rec-o-matic" tag, and read the comments to those old news posts, for lists of communities that are awesome.

Meanwhile, for those who are old hands at this Dreamwidth thing -- why not take a moment and leave a comment with which of the features Dreamwidth has added is your favorite? Me, my absolute favorite thing we've done -- and something I miss on every other site out there -- is the in-line expandable cut tags (and especially, the fact you can roll them back up when you're done with them). It's so little, and I never thought I'd use it, and once I saw it, I couldn't figure out how I'd lived without it.

If you've got a favorite thing that DW has added -- big or little -- sound off in the comments, and introduce the new folks to the things you love about DW.

And, if you're new and have questions, the Support team -- all Dreamwidth users just like yourself -- are standing by to help you. Or, you can ask in the comments to this post, and somebody will get you an answer. (I'm so, so incredibly proud of the helpful and friendly community we've built here.)

Paid Accounts

I wanted to take a minute -- it's been a while! -- and specifically thank the people who have chosen to support Dreamwidth by buying a paid account. Your subscriptions are our only source of revenue: we don't accept advertising, and we don't take any money from venture capitalists or outside investors. This means that our only source of income is you: you are our customers, our supporters, and our backers, and you're the only people we have to make happy in order to stay afloat. On Dreamwidth, you aren't eyeballs, clicks, or content generators. You're our users, and you're our only priority.

(Well, okay, you and my cats. My cats would be upset with me if I didn't put them on the priority list somewhere.)

So, thank you to everyone who's supported us, everything from tossing us a few bucks here and there to maintaining multiple paid accounts all at once. You make this possible!

If you've been thinking about buying a paid account, for yourself or for a friend, we accept Visa/Mastercard/Discover/American Express, as well as checks and money orders in US dollars. (We'll also take cash in US dollars, and American Express travelers' checks, but we can't guarantee that they'll get to us and we can't replace any payments that get lost in the mail, so save that for a last resort!) We can't, unfortunately, take PayPal for payments, as PayPal closed our account with them last year after they demanded we censor our users' content and we refused. If PayPal is your only option, we suggest that you ask a friend with a credit card to make a payment on your behalf, then transfer the money to them privately. (And, in the comments, [personal profile] optasia reminds me: Visa prepaid gift cards also work just fine!)

All purchases on DW are made for Dreamwidth Points, whether directly for paid services or indirectly to have the points to hold in your account and use later (or to transfer to friends as a gift, as a 'tip' for writing things you enjoy, or as prizes for contests held in a community... the possibilities are endless!) Buying and storing DW points can also be used as a method to pre-pay your account: if your account isn't going to be expiring for a while, but you want to make sure you'll have the money to renew once it does, you can buy small amounts of points throughout the year whenever you have a few dollars to spare, and then use those points to pay for your renewal when it comes up.

Thank you again to everyone who's chosen to support us. We quite literally couldn't be doing any of the awesome stuff we've been doing without you.

Anonymous Spam

The [site community profile] dw_antispam team would like to let everyone know that there's a particularly determined anonymous spam campaign going on right now. It takes the form of anonymous comments left to your entries (particularly older entries), with a subject line that looks like the cat walked over your keyboard and a random, vague compliment that's supposed to look like it applies to the entry containing at least one misspelled word. (Things like "Sueropir thinking demonstrated above. Thanks!" and "Created the graetest articles, you have.")

These comments are a form of "testing" -- by including the keysmash subject line and the sentence containing at least one misspelled word, it gives the human behind the spammer network a unique combination to search for. They'll leave the comments, then check back in a little while through searching Google for that unique combination. This lets them check two things: how well Google "sees" that particular site and how fast the site gets indexed, and whether the site's admins are quick to dispose of spam.

If you get one of these comments, hit the Delete icon to delete it. On the subsequent inline box or separate page (depending on whether you have JavaScript enabled in your browser or not), check the "Mark as spam" checkbox. This will not only delete the comment (and keep it from showing up in search results and attracting more spammers), but also sends it to the antispam team, where they'll take steps to block the spammer who left it from the site.

Because Dreamwidth is relatively small, and our spam volume is relatively low, one report can be all it takes to get a spammer whacked. So, please tick the "mark as spam" checkbox when you delete spam comments! It helps keep the service clean for everybody.

Meanwhile, if you're interested in spam cleanup, check the profile of [site community profile] dw_antispam for information on how to apply to the team. It's a low-impact, no-pressure way to help DW for everybody.

[site community profile] dw_codesharing

With the recent influx of users joining us from elsewhere, invite codes are going nearly as quickly as they get posted! If you have a few codes that you aren't using, consider posting them to [site community profile] dw_codesharing. (You don't need to be a member to post to the community, and you don't need to watch the community on your reading list -- it is awfully spammy.) You'll help someone else who wants to join Dreamwidth create their account and start experiencing the Dreamwidth awesomeness.

Non-native-English celebration fest

To help celebrate the diversity of Dreamwidth's userbase, and to help call attention to the international nature of Dreamwidth, [personal profile] yvi is planning an unofficial non-native-English-speakers' celebration posting fest. If English isn't your primary language, check out her entry and join in the planning.

Dreamwidth itself is only offered in English -- right now, and for the forseeable future -- for a lot of reasons. (Among others: the interface available for translating the site is incredibly difficult to use; it's difficult to recruit and retain translators; given the speed of our development, it would be hard to keep translations up-to-date, and out-of-date translations lead to people getting incorrect or outdated information; we don't have a lot of resources to supervise and manage multiple translation teams; we don't have the resources yet to offer technical support in multiple languages, and when someone sees the site speaking to them in their own language, they should be able to get technical support in their own language.) None of these problems are individually unsolveable, but all of them together means that we can't count on being able to offer Dreamwidth in other languages for a long time.

However, that doesn't mean that Dreamwidth isn't home to a lot of different language-speakers and people from multiple different countries and cultures. I love seeing that -- every time I load the Latest Things page and need two hands to count on my fingers the number of languages that I see, or need to load Google Translate to read what's being posted, it makes me smile. The more languages that are spoken on a site, the more diverse its userbase is; the more diverse a site's userbase is, the more chances it has to succeed. (Also, I've noticed a group of photobloggers who mostly post по-русски who have the most gorgeous photos -- thanks, guys; I love seeing a series of snapshots from the other side of the world!)

We've been brainstorming ways to make it easier for you to find people who belong to your language community on Dreamwidth. In the meantime, if English isn't your primary language, check out the planning and start thinking of ways you'd like to participate.

Request for brainstorming

The influx of new DW users has brought the perpetual question of "how do you find your friends?" back around for consideration. I've posted a brainstorming post in [site community profile] dw_biz:

Finding people you know on DW

The question of locating people you know on a new social network is a tough one, since it touches on all kinds of things: privacy, convenience, safety, and the fact that if you don't find people you know on a new social network, you aren't going to get much benefit out of that network (and therefore you will wander off and not use the site). As we begin to work on getting awareness of Dreamwidth into areas that haven't yet heard of us, this question is going to start becoming more of an issue, so we're looking to get everybody thinking together to solve problems and give us great ideas. (Many brains working together always turn out a more well-thought-out result!)


That's it from us for another edition of the DW news! 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.

Keep an eye on [site community profile] dw_maintenance for updates on site search, server upgrades, and the next code push, and I'll see you in a few weeks for our next update. (Meanwhile, I'll be on vacation at the end of August, and I'll be trying my best not to touch the laptop. I may even be truly daring and leave it at home ...)

Post a comment in response:

Anonymous( )Anonymous This account has disabled anonymous posting.
OpenID( )OpenID You can comment on this post while signed in with an account from many other sites, once you have confirmed your email address. Sign in using OpenID.
Account name:
If you don't have an account you can create one now.
HTML doesn't work in the subject.


If you are unable to use this captcha for any reason, please contact us by email at

Notice: This account is set to log the IP addresses of everyone who comments.
Links will be displayed as unclickable URLs to help prevent spam.