Trying to firm up the habit of crossposting.

On Being a Dreamwidth Optimist and on Commenting by [personal profile] the_shoshanna, mirrored on LJ here, is an essay regarding Dreamwidth, Denise and Mark (the owners), and why as former LJ Abuse members they should be trusted after all the problems with LJ abuse. If you are wary about Dreamwidth or the owners, or wondering what the fuss is about, I'd recommend reading it and the comments.

I'm going to stop here and say, her essay is better, clearer, extremely informative, and objective as hell. I am objective one hour out of every week, and it is not that hour. If htere's one post you read about Dreamwidth, read hers.

That said, I never miss an opportunity to write at length about something if I have a laptop and free time and tea, and look at that, I have all three.



[personal profile] the_shoshanna, like many of the commenters, has a long ongoing and personal relationship with Denise, or at least a long-running awareness, which I have had far less, and so with far less historical precedent, I do trust her, but my reasons are sometimes a little different.

[They also have nothing to do with the utterly incredible massage at con.txt. I mean, none.]

LJ Abuse

Most of you who read here knwo I was a welfare caseworker a few years ago. It wasn't a thankless job--sometimes, your supervisor remembered to take her estrogen shots and you got to go home and not take a really big dose of Ambien--but you know, sometimes it wasn't great.

No matter my feelings on LJ policy, or abuse, I never made the mistake of assuming the most public face had any control over what was always decided, just as I had to explain to my clients over and over I was not in charge of food stamp policy, that was the legislature and congress; my job was a very, very narrow kind of interpretation with very little room for flexibility.

To uphold a policy you don't agree with but do your best to make reasonable, to interpret as broadly as you can, to work in whatever way you can, isn't easy. And it's harder the stricter, the more ridiculous it is. I have no expectation that anyone will quit a job because they can't stand the policy if they feel that they can find ways to make that policy palatable. Most especially if that job is also part of more than their work life, and even more so if they feel they can make it better in ways that someone else couldn't. It's the reason I stayed a caseworker. I do believe Denise did her absolute best until she couldn't anymore. And to me, Dreamwidth is the culmination of all the years she spent watching LJ go through it's growing pains, all the mistakes made, and all the problems that exploded.

So for me, at least, the fact she was LJ Abuse, that she was able to work under so many different owners, that she was there to see everything that could go wrong as much as right, and from possibly the most thankless job there is--I mean, that's the highest recommendation that can be made. She knows what she's doing. She know exactly how explosively bad this could go. She knows the tech because she helped write it; she knows the userbase becuse she's been a user as well as an employee; she's as much one of us in her interaction with LJ as she was one of LJ's employees.

She's made herself the visible face as well as the buck stops here of an entire networking site. People tend not to conflate their online presence with their personal presence, much less be an active user of it; this is a statement, and in some ways, it's a challenge. She thinks she can do better. I'm going to say, she could not do worse. And I believe, honestly, she will do brilliantly.

The Personal

In a community, especially in livejournal, especially in fandom, there are a lot of ways to establish credibility, and only one of those is one on one interaction. In my entire time on LJ, which is coming on eight years, no one whose judgment I trusted and whose counsel I would ask for has ever had less than respect, trust, and admiration for her. I say this about a group of people who occasionally don't even like me consistently. And some who actually actively dislike me. In a very, you know, friendly way. I don't take lightly that kind of recommendation.

So I'm going to bring up Strikethough, since that is probably for a lot of people the biggest tipping point for users, especially in fandom.

I did a lot of public posts on it, but I also did several flocked posts. One of them, at the time, was questioning Denise's role in it. There were comments in the entry that were equally mystified; all of us in general are willing to give the benefit of the doubt to one of our own, but even that could be shaken a little. I don't think, though I'd have to look, anyone condemned her, but there was uncertainty on what exactly had happened and how much blame could be apportioned. Denise is, at least for a lot of media fandom, the public face of LJ and she knew it. She knew it. And if the users couldn't get a quick response, well, some of them (a lot of them) went straight for her.

A few hours after I posted, I received a private email from a mutual friend. Apparently, the lurkers support in email is not an urban legend--and it wasn't the last I'd get.

So I watched her for a while, as the emails were persuasive and also, people I trusted absolutely. And friended last year after we met at con.txt. Over the last year, there's been nothing in her behavior, public, private, or IM that was inconsistent. She also narrated dreamwidth to me in a way that had me dreaming about the damn thing.

DW Rollout

Being a program tester (and who knew this job would end up being this insanely useful for some practical understanding of how programs work?) and watching how she's worked on Dreamwidth, both before the Closed Beta began and after, was, at least to me, precisely the way testing a new system should be done. I don't know if she uses the same methodology I do at work during testing, but the way the site is being introduced, starting with a firm base and growing from there, adding functionality, users, and bells gradually, slowly, and warily, with every step double checked and immediate posting to the users what has been done so we know what's changed, what to look for, what to test--it's fantastic.

This isn't a site thrown up in a few minutes as an LJ clone--this is a fork, with the same baseline but choosing a different road, and carefully building exactly what they want that road to be, and making sure they can do X before moving onto Y (but think of x and y as many related variables instead of single variables). There are going to be mistakes and problems and doubtless outages, because that's how it happens. The thing is, the precedent they're setting in how they deal with it, the methodical, careful, and above all else, practical way they are dealing with smaller things shows that when the big things hit, they'll have a system in place from habit to deal with it. The big breakdowns are inevitable, but the important thing to know is that when they do--and they will--the same care, the same method will be consistently applied to fix it and fix it correctly so that particular problem doesn't happen again.

Consistency, a clear policy, a very clear and transparent methodology are all--well, kind of unprecedented, to be honest.

Elitism

Let me point out, I just got my code this week, so it's not like I had any particular investment before that.

I admit it--the second my friend started insta!migrating without me, I was totally (not objectively) cranky and feeling very much ill-used with wee hurt feelings and possibly a theme song on my emo pain and whatnot. Objectively, I was perfectly well aware that a.) they were inviting slowly for a reason and b.) I sort of stared at the posts saying to comment if you want an invite and not doing so. This is my issue with this huge body of weirdness about how I didn't want anyone to think I thought I was entitled, and also because I'm functionally unable to ask for things bigger than an icon or a beta, and it's like, a twenty minute argument with myself for either of those. Let's say fandom wank did a very good job at grounding in that kind of lesson with their examples.

Is it elitist? Not exactly--it's communal. The idea behind it--to test slowly, to bring people in slowly--also relates to those people bringing their people. It's an invite-meme. They bring people they know and trust over, and those people bring people they know and trust, and everyone is slowly and carefully seduced with things like "explanations of s2 layers" and "oh, look, it's shiny!" and "jenn, I'm sending you a code, stop sulking for the love of God, you could have asked".

And in my opinion, and this is completely just from watching migration patterns (I, well, do that kind of thing to entertain myself), it also works to get people who not only want to be there, but are invested in wanting it to work and be active in making it work.

It will get people who are already familiar with it and what it is and will be, because the person who invited them has been going on about it forever and a day. They know it's in progress, they know they are coming in on something that's going to be extraordinary, even if the previous button is in the middle of the list of posts on the reading list right now. So for the newly-invited user, it won't be a shock; there will be familiarity already. And as it grows, slowly, more and more people will already have that familiarity, and know what Dreamwidth is and what it isn't. And they'll come in with friends who have been around from the very wee gleam in Denise's eye all the way to the chick who came yesterday. For those who come later, it will be easier than those who came during Closed Beta, and even easier than those testing before it; there will be a huge wealth of experience to draw on from fellow users, and per capita, enough people to share that experience without breaking down the reporting system asking questions that aren't, to them, obvious.

No one is going to be left behind; just some people will get to take later flights, where the plane won't squeak as much, and the seats are bigger and more comfortable, and the pilot and stewardesses all know what they're doing and can make your experience that much better. Maybe in-house movies? Better wine, definitely.



And finally, for the fannish people on my flist.

There were zines, and usenet, and mailing lists, and messageboards, and diaryland, and then livejournal. We're not static; we're bad at standing still. I've been in fandom ten years this summer, and seven years in LJ as of last November. We've been here for a while, and it's been--great, and terrible, and fascinating. We've never been afraid to try everything once, and sometimes everything a few times. It's kind of what we do. We like things that are new.

Or hey, I'll say this:

Be a lemming. Jump blind over the cliff because your friends are doing it. Sure, the jump is scary, and you can't work out why the hell they thought this was a good idea, but the rush is unbelievable. You'll love what you find on the other side.

Open beta starts April 30th. Try it.

...and to point out, I started writing this an hour ago and just realized I've written shorter fic. Jesus.

References

Dreamwidth Wiki - all you ever wanted to know as of now.
gchick: Small furry animal wearing a tin-foil hat (Default)

2009-04-16 01:29 am (UTC)
This is an awesome post made of awesome. Even if I weren't in love with the place already.
ext_2541: (Default)

2009-04-16 01:45 am (UTC)
Yay!

(no subject)

[identity profile] transtempts.livejournal.com - 2009-04-16 03:57 am (UTC) - expand
pixel: Dean with a coffee cup, "Coffee <3" (Supernatural) (supernatural: dean <3coffee)

2009-04-16 03:13 am (UTC)
If I didn't already love your brain a little bit, I would now.

I'm glad you're here, for the record.
shina: (Default)

2009-04-16 03:21 am (UTC)
This post is awesome. ♥
mecurtin: Doctor Science (Default)

2009-04-16 03:34 am (UTC)
What are you using for x-posting?

(no subject)

[personal profile] fairestcat - 2009-04-17 02:32 pm (UTC) - expand

(*butting in*)

[identity profile] ai-hua.livejournal.com - 2009-04-17 02:58 pm (UTC) - expand

Re: (*butting in*)

[identity profile] ai-hua.livejournal.com - 2009-04-17 03:04 pm (UTC) - expand

Re: (*butting in*)

[identity profile] ai-hua.livejournal.com - 2009-04-17 03:05 pm (UTC) - expand
tea: Barbara Gordon/Oracle, pushing her hair back. (Default)

[personal profile] tea
2009-04-16 03:36 am (UTC)
Funny, I had someone throw "elitism" at me for the first time yesterday, and I sort of had to scratch my head. The context was that the people from our fandom he saw going over were the people he respected more, which is just sort of odd if you think about it, but he definitely seemed to think that there was a "nah nah better than you" attitude among the group of people first on the bandwagon.

Which was funny, because half of them were moving because I had been talking about it for a few months! And he's just as much a part of that group. But reading your section on it really confirmed for me that uh, no, invite system != elitist, and that really, the people you want there initially are the not-so-casual users, the invested, the productive. The larger userbase should and will follow when the beta is a little less beta.
azurelunatic: A glittery black pin badge with a blue holographic star in the middle. (Default)

2009-04-16 04:16 am (UTC)
Hee, you got memed out in IRC a bit!

I think part of the "elitist" perception is that people, in giving out codes, will gravitate towards first their nearest and dearest, and then the people they consider elite, the ones they can't do without. Then the people who are neither closest nor most influential get invited.

But that's really not the fault of Dreamwidth; it's very inherently human, and once invite codes are not so scarce on the ground, there will be less in the way of power-politics.
edited at 2009-04-16 04:17 am (UTC)
foxfirefey: Fox stealing an egg. (Default)

2009-04-16 06:43 am (UTC)
I also think it was a really good idea for Dreamwidth to give out invite codes to random validated OpenID users. It's a very convenient thing to point to when people start talking about elitism.

(no subject)

[personal profile] ladyvyola - 2009-04-16 02:51 pm (UTC) - expand
justabi: Classic b&w Wonder Woman logo inscribed with Princess Abi in red (Default)

2009-04-16 06:47 am (UTC)
a) Liar. You have never written shorter fic. It only seems that way because you go to write a freaking novel every time! (Which I am in no way complaining about, just to be clear.)

b) Yes, totally, absolutely. I am all about seducing *my* people, who would not otherwise even like ... notice. Because I want all my people! Even my people who are afeared of change!

c) Way to make me feel like a lemming! This is just like SGA, man. I didn't even like that show and it ATE MY LIFE. Thank god I actually like Merlin and SPN and Dreamwidth.
ladyvyola: an orange pansy against a bright blue background (radiant pansy)

2009-04-16 02:46 pm (UTC)
I started writing this an hour ago and just realized I've written shorter fic.

NEEDS MOAR PR0N.

dw/lj frenemy sex?

But yes, being at con.txt played a part in my decision to opt for Dreamwidth, but not all. It was another piece of the whole, allowing me to link personal impressions with on-line behavior with other people's opinions with stated intentions with actual service with.... You know, the whole gamut of things to consider before making up one's mind.

(no subject)

[personal profile] skripka - 2009-04-17 07:53 am (UTC) - expand
indeliblesasha: Bright highlighter-pink tulips with yellow tulips in the background surrounded by bright green foliage (Default)

2009-04-16 06:29 pm (UTC)
So I've run into my very first migration dilemma. On LJ I have access to your flocked stuff. Which I love. Sometimes? I even get filtered in on, like, new fic. Which I also love.

But I do not have access *here* - so I'm trying to decide if I'm supposed to pester you about getting added, or...assume you're culling? And not take it personally because its not like I'm adding everyone back either?

There's not etiquette written for this part yet! I do not know what to do. *frets* I don't want to be presumptuous! *hands*

This is hard, yo.

(no subject)

[personal profile] indeliblesasha - 2009-04-16 06:40 pm (UTC) - expand
meri_oddities: NCIS Abby (01N NCIS Abby 1 - nightsunshine)

2009-04-17 01:04 am (UTC)
You make some interesting points along the way. I like it when it's articulated in a way that makes sense. Not that I needed to be sold. I like the idea that the closed beta is communal rather than anything else.
valentinite: riffraff from the Catillac Cats cartoon (Default)

(here from lj-metafandom)

2009-04-17 01:23 am (UTC)
Another thing to point out: the bugs are still RAMPANT. They're not live yet because it's not ready for prime-time, and an open beta is a big deal in terms of first impressions. Those of us here now are willing to test, and poke, and make the time commitment to file bug reports, etc. (I'm not migrating; not yet, probably never will turn the lights out on the LJ even if fandom does jump ship en masse. I haven't even had time to set up shop over here on DW properly. But I probably will put some significant content here on DW and crosslink.)

For example (already buglisted) -- I can't set up colors for my friendslist easily yet -- the defaults don't appear and the color-picker is broken in the only browser I tried it in. The only way that's even decently useful to do it right now is viewing the page in a text browser and picking hex codes by hand. I like the idea of the color picker; but it's broken right now.

ETA: and when I went to try to post this, I got that "login cookie" bug and had to copy it into a buffer, log in again, and try again. I've lost several comments completely due to this one. If LJ started doing that I'd be livid. Serious bugs are serious, and that's what a closed beta is for. Letting a manageable group of users stumble on all the problems.
ext_9605: A lungfish with the caption "Where are my eggs benedict?" -- because animals asking for strange food is funny! (Default)

2009-04-17 01:55 am (UTC)
Be a lemming. Jump blind over the cliff because your friends are doing it. Sure, the jump is scary, and you can't work out why the hell they thought this was a good idea, but the rush is unbelievable. You'll love what you find on the other side.

Except that, as far as I know, my friends aren't doing it. And no, at this time I don't really want to jump blind all by myself -- particularly since not knowing anybody at DW means I would likely have to buy an account or beg for a code. I'd rather not buy an account since three bucks for something that sits inactive seems silly. Begging for a code I might do, but it depends on whether or not DW attracts any of the fandoms I'm interested in.
torachan: (Default)

2009-04-17 09:10 am (UTC)
They are giving out 50-70 codes at random to OpenID users every day and when the site goes into open beta on the 30th, everyone with an OpenID registered will get a code.

No begging. No paying. All anyone has to do is create an OpenID account and confirm their email address.

(no subject)

[identity profile] dunmurderin.livejournal.com - 2009-04-17 11:12 am (UTC) - expand
wildroot: (Default)

2009-04-17 03:21 am (UTC)
Awesome post. :)
ext_79167: (Default)

2009-04-17 05:28 am (UTC)
There are people like me who are by nature lurkers, whom people don't really know. I understand the reasons for account creation on Dreamwidth being the way it is. I'm also aware of them giving out random invite codes to confirmed OpenID accounts. But the fact remains that the main way of getting a journal here is having friends. You need to have known people over here from before Dreamwidth was created. It feels a bit sad and lonely for those of us who don't share that past, who want to start from here. Getting pre-formed communities of people who have known each other for years might be a good policy for the site overall, but it makes trying to become part of that circle a lot more intimidating than it is over at LJ or IJ.

(no subject)

[personal profile] magpyr - 2009-05-01 02:20 pm (UTC) - expand
ext_3629: blue wallpaper, leafy pattern (misc- bluewallpaper)

2009-04-17 07:54 am (UTC)
I thought this was a loevly post for Dreamwidth :) I've been hanging around watching, I wanted to offer more help in the beginning cause this IS SO COOL. But then work kinda ate me up. Pity that. But it's awesome to see what happens and how many people are discussing this on my flist @ LJ and wondering whether to make the move permanent or just crosspost. I'm ready to make my move permanent because this is better designed to handle both friends still at LJ as well as make a home here. (I bought a perm account over at IJ in the beginning of that, but I spaced out out on it because of lack of comments and friends over there. No one hardly moved). And since I haven't paid money to LJ or given them advertising money as I'm still basic with barely any iconspaces since for a long time because of LJ screwups - - I'm so beyond ready to pay for a good service. And have icons. And play with layouts. And enjoy using a good journaling service.

=)
skripka: (Default)

2009-04-17 07:59 am (UTC)
Here via... um. Some link I followed somewhere? Awesome post--it articulates a lot of the reasons I like DW already. The invite code fuss is surprising me; wasn't there a time when LJ was basically invite-only? I know I got my code from [livejournal.com profile] taraljc. I see the slight difference, because people can't buy accounts yet, but that's just a short wait.

Maybe fandom is just impatient, or else we worry about social hierarchies more than we let on. :)
edited at 2009-04-17 08:00 am (UTC)

2009-04-17 09:28 am (UTC)
Great post, bookmarking.
I admit I still don't get why fandom should want to migrate in the first place, but what I've read about DW is really good. Right now I'm only using my OpenID account to leave comments, but I plan on learning more on how it works as soon as I have time.
I don't know why people are so impatient to get a code. Yeah, I want one too, but it's not like I'm left out of fandom in the meantime and it's just a matter of weeks.

(Anonymous)
2009-04-17 11:22 am (UTC)
Is it elitist? Not exactly--it's communal. The idea behind it--to test slowly, to bring people in slowly--also relates to those people bringing their people. It's an invite-meme.

What was that recent squabble about? Oh, yeah, that privileged people were unaware of the privilege that the social system gave them.

(no subject)

[personal profile] anatsuno - 2009-04-17 01:56 pm (UTC) - expand

(no subject)

[personal profile] tzikeh - 2009-04-17 02:47 pm (UTC) - expand

(no subject)

(Anonymous) - 2009-04-18 02:33 am (UTC) - expand

(Anonymous)
2009-04-17 05:26 pm (UTC)
Is it elitist? Not exactly--it's communal.
No one is going to be left behind; just some people will get to take later flights


I don't care much about people setting up journals in the beta stage. But I've always been uncomfortable with sites that are open to anyone but only select people get to join for free. Unless the information I've read is incorrect, that's how it's going to work once the site actually fully launches. Pay journals and invite codes. I do understand not wanting to overload servers with a bunch of journals that aren't providing any income. But I also wish people would stop saying that it's not going to be a select group of people at Dreamwidth (unless you have money or connections) while the rest of us lose friends and start over from scratch.

FoxRafer at LJ
ext_3117: (Default)

2009-04-17 11:01 pm (UTC)
While I'm happy people seem excited, I'm really not interested in moving house.

What I find grating is the whole "you aren't important" or "you aren't a real fan" inference if you aren't joining the lemming run. That, however isn't the DW staff's fault.

I wish them well but the only time I'll be on the service are times like this where metafandom puts me here.
ext_86153: (Default)

re: dreamwidth

2009-04-18 01:43 am (UTC)
You know, reading this, I have to say the feature I am the most excited for is the public circles (subscription and access), because so much drama has come out of not being able to trust that people on your Livejournal friends list are filtering you out, and this is just a clean, honest way to point and go "Oh, look. We all trust each other." I really look forward to that.

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