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_news2012-12-08 11:30 pm

Dreamwidth News: 8 December

Hello, Dreamwidth! It is I, here to bring you the usual veritable rainbow of interesting news, exciting developments, and stupid-ass jokes that prove I should not be trusted with posting access to the journal that sends out newsletter notifications to tens of thousands of people. (With great power comes great ... oh, you know the saying.)

Behind the cut:

* December Shop Promotion
* Holiday Giving
* Development
* Styles Stuff
* Content Importing
* Misc. Other Maintenance Notes

December Shop Promotion

We are once again running our annual December promotional giveaway. For the entire month of December, all orders (made by a logged-in account) for paid time or Dreamwidth Points will receive a 10% points bonus, saveable and spendable for Dreamwidth services in the future.

To take advantage of the promotion, visit the Dreamwidth Shop and buy paid time or Dreamwidth Points, for yourself or for a friend. (If you buy paid time or points for a friend, the points will be delivered to you, not them: the points to the account that placed the order.) For instance, if you buy a 12-month paid account (350 points), we'll give you 35 points to spend later, once you complete your order.

This is our way of saying "thank you" to the people who make it possible for us to keep Dreamwidth running. We rely entirely on user payments for 100% of our operating budget: we don't display advertising, we haven't taken venture capital, and we don't have any outside investors. This allows us to make decisions entirely based on what's best for you, the people who are actually using the site, instead of decisions made to keep the advertisers and the investors and the venture capitalists happy.

2012 has been a banner year for us so far in terms of income, and having that money in the bank has allowed us to invest back in the site considerably: from the computer-resources (new servers, better tools) to the people-resources (everything from buying books and reference materials for our volunteer developers to sending a bunch of our senior contributors to OSCON, O'Reilly's annual open source conference).

Our current income is definitely enough for us to run the site itself on with a pretty comfortable margin, but when we started Dreamwidth, we had a dream (no pun intended!) of building it into a sustainable company with a small team of dedicated employees. This year has shown us it's not as much of a pie-in-the-sky dream as we worried it might be -- not that we were ever worried about keeping the servers on, but there have definitely been a bunch of fiscal ups and downs in our three and a half years so far (oh my God, where does the time go?) That dream of being able to someday pay a small team of people a living wage to make awesome things is starting to look less and less like an impossibility, and it's all thanks to you.

So, if you've ever thought about buying paid time (for yourself, a friend, or through our random gifts link), please consider it. The more paid time you buy, the closer we get to being able to make that dream a reality.

Holiday Giving

It might seem odd to announce this hard on the heels of an appeal to help us fund further expansion, but even as far back as when [staff profile] mark and I were still wondering if we'd taken leave of our senses to even consider doing this, we knew we wanted to build "giving back" into our operations from the ground up. Part of that is making sure we put our money where our mouths are: supporting open source projects that build the tools we use, sponsoring organizations and events that work to improve the open source and technology ecosystem, and donating to charities that are doing good work in the tech sphere and beyond.

Last year, we donated 10% of our proceeds for the month of December to the Ada Initiative, a nonprofit dedicated to improving the experiences of women in open technology and culture. (Disclaimer: I volunteer my time on the board of directors of the Ada Initiative, because it's something I feel passionately about!) This year, we're bringing back the December charitable giving, with a twist:

* 5% of our gross income for the month of December will once again be donated to the Ada Initiative.

* 5% of our gross income for the month of December will be donated to several other nonprofits doing awesome work.

Here's the trick, though: you guys will get to direct the money. In January, we'll post a poll with our choices of a few different charities. You'll vote for one of the charities. After the poll closes, we'll use the percentages of votes as a guide for what percentage of the "donation pot" goes to each charity.

For instance, let's say that 5% of our December income is $1000, the Electronic Frontier Foundation is one of the charities, and it receives 40% of the vote. We'd donate $400 of the $1000 to them. And so on, and so forth.

We'll announce the list of charities -- and the amount of money to be distributed -- in January!


Last week's code push brought a collection of new and awesome things. For details about what went live last week, see the code tour and supplemental code tour in [site community profile] dw_dev.

In addition to new styles, new themes, and a slew of bugfixes for the current beta tests that are running, the big improvements this time around include:

* You can now set your reading filters to be public, which will allow other people to filter your reading page to those filters. So, if you have a filter for "members of my writing group" called "writing", you'll be able to set it to public, and other people will be able to view only entries from people in that filter. Existing reading filters have all defaulted to private, so if you want to make them public, you'll need to go edit them to make them public.

* When customizing your journal, you can now specify an embedded webfont if you'd like to use a font stylesheet such as Google Webfonts.

* If you have paid time on an account that you're not using anymore, you can refund it to points. Because of how the payment system works, this can only be done in 30-day blocks, and if you have fewer than 30 days of paid time left, you won't be able to convert any of it: for instance, if you have 40 days of paid time left on an account, you can convert 30 days of it back to points, leaving 10 days of paid time left on the account.

And, of course, the usual slew of bugfixes, backend improvements, and other tiny shiny things like better wording, display fixes, workflow improvements, and many more.

Styles Stuff

A collection of styles-related news and announcements:

* In addition to the dozens of new themes for existing styles, the code push also included two new base styles: Fantasie and Summertime, both by [personal profile] ninetydegrees. Check them out and see if one of them is the style or theme you've been waiting for.

* Thanks to the hard work of our contributors, we now have over 1200 themes available for you to choose from! That's a lot of (awesome) themes to choose from. It's getting harder for people to find That Perfect Theme, though, so we're starting to think of better ways to sort and present them. If you have a few minutes, stop off at the Brainstorming/Request for Feedback: Style Categories post and give us your thoughts.

* Found that one style that's almost perfect, but not exactly? It's easy to tweak most things at the Customize Style page, but if you're looking to customize things more extensively, we've also made it really easy to tweak just about any part of a style through the use of CSS (Cascading Style Sheets). [personal profile] momijizukamori (who's been rocking the styles lately!) has a draft guide for layout CSS structure as the beginning of a layout-making tutorial that you might find useful there, and the friendly people in [community profile] style_system are generally happy to help give you a hand with figuring out how to achieve a particular effect.

* There is one thing we'd like to remind people, though: we can't officially support layouts that originated on LiveJournal. Many people are following instructions to bring over their LiveJournal styles such as Flexible Squares and Expressive using "core1", the first iteration of the S2 compiler. (S2 is the custom templating language that is used for journal customization.) "core1" is the version that's very similar to the version LJ is running; "core2" is the Dreamwidth-native version, the one that we've standardized, extended, and improved.

We do try to keep core1 as backwards-compatable with LiveJournal's version as possible so people can install their favorite layouts if they really want to, but core1 will never have access to the full range of features and customizations, and it's a "use at your own risk" type thing. We definitely recommend using a core2 layout instead (and then using either the customization wizard to tweak it slightly, or use CSS to style it more fully).

"Tabula Rasa" is the style designed to allow people to customize it any way they want -- it has very minimal styling on its own, but it has a ridiculous number of CSS classes to target with your custom stylesheet. We really, really encourage people to start using that instead of jumping through hoops to figure out how to make an imported core1 version of Flexible Squares or Expressive work. It is generally much, much easier to do what you want to do with Tabula Rasa, and it means you'll have access to all the full range of features.

* And finally, a reminder: if you come up with something you really love, we'd love to add it as a system style for everyone else to use, too. We accept submissions of styles and color themes at [site community profile] dreamscapes -- check out the posting guidelines and then go wild. Both new styles and new color themes for existing styles receive a "bounty" of Dreamwidth points when they're added to the site, so it can be a fun way to pick up points for future spending.

Content Importing

It seems like every news post lately includes something about the importer being touchy!

If you were one of the people whose entries were importing but the comments weren't, go ahead and try re-importing your journal now. We're pretty sure we've fixed the underlying cause (a change in the way LiveJournal was providing data for some accounts).

Likewise, we fixed the problem that was resulting in duplicate entries and comments (another change in the way LJ was providing data for some accounts). If you imported your journal and wound up with duplicates of entries or comments, [staff profile] mark has written a cleanup tool that will let you remove all imported content from your account and then try again. Instructions on how to use the tool, plus a few important cautions about what it will and won't do, can be found in the dw-maintenance post announcing the tool.

We're pretty confident that we've fixed the problem for like 99.9% of the cases, but there's a chance we've missed something: the importer's a very complex system that's dependent on a lot of very small fiddly bits, many of which we don't have direct control over such as how LJ provides the data feed of your account. There's also a chance for bugs that only manifest under certain circumstances, like if your account contains some kind of data that we weren't expecting. So, if you try again and you still have problems, please report them to Support, instead of reporting them here. Any problems that are still remaining will require some very complex troubleshooting, and Support is the best place to go for that.

Misc. Other Maintenance Notes

Two quick notes:

* For those who don't watch [site community profile] dw_maintenance (and you really should be!): Site search is going to be a bit touchy for the next little while. (We're very close to outgrowing the existing setup. Which is a very exciting problem to have!) If you try searching for something and it doesn't work, or it doesn't pick up recently-posted entries, we're really sorry -- we're trying our best to keep it lurching along until we can get a chance to implement the plan.

* On the bright side, you may have noticed the site itself being much faster this week! This is thanks to two new webservers that we added to the webserver pool, in order to better handle the traffic. Once again, "stuff needs to be fixed because y'all are using it so much" is a very exciting problem. :)

* As part of that, though, we're working on an issue with OpenID logins and commenting on the two new webservers. More information about the problem is once more available in [site community profile] dw_maintenance.

* Also, Support has asked us to let you know that Twitter is in the process of phasing out support for RSS feeds (as part of their new restrictions on API use and interaction with Twitter), so anyone who is using a feed to keep up with somebody from Twitter on Dreamwidth may note some weirdness, or notice them not working at all. Sadly, this isn't something we can fix; it's entirely due to Twitter's choices in how to offer data.


And there we have it for another update! (I'm positive there were some other things I was supposed to talk about, but I'm sure that if I missed anything, it'll turn up in comments.) 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 soon for our next update!

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