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dreamwidth and you, extended
On Being a Dreamwidth Optimist and on Commenting by 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.

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.


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.


Dreamwidth Wiki - all you ever wanted to know as of now.

Your post is awesome :) I'm over there with OpenID and marvelling at what they've created.

So far, I love it. It's fantastic. And a lot of my love, to be honest, is watching it grow and change by the day.

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.

Heh. That sounds far more comforting. (I'm at the stage where I'm sneaking in time from work and study to check LJ, so I won't have time to explore a new set-up until after the exam -- on the 30th of April -- so waiting until there's a more public release will be bright and useful for me.)

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.

Hee. There is the fact that while fandom may not like change -- and may bitch and whinge and remember back "in the good old days, when fans were polite and when they weren't, flaming wars lasted for months!" -- but we'll also happily sit down in fron tof our TVs and watch 11 episodes straight of this new show that "has a talking dragon and pretty boys and swords" just because everyone else seems to be doing it and having fun.

It's kind of weird to be sitting and waiting for DW to start, but it feels a little like getting onto LJ. New, not quite the mailing list I was used to, and look at how fantastic the experience here has been. Hence, cautious optimism.

*g* Yes, this. It's like we all felt with LJ, and before that with mailing lists. It's a new place. We must colonize! *g*

Thank you for being more eloquent that me. :)

I linked and quoted you here: http://cold-poet.livejournal.com/267114.html

*glee* This is so exciting, isn't it?

I really should write a post about how internet time is totally fucking everyone's perspective on a possible migration. Also the walled-garden effect of LJ but internet time is still playing a part even there.

(Very simple version: in internet time we totally have been on LJ foreeeeeeever. This is huge! And scary! In real life time and, you know, actual perspective, wtf ever we've been through zines to usenet to MLs which then went through THREE different infrastructures to LJ and always had eighty billion personal and fandom archives scattered throughout the net besides.)

Oh yes. So many media fen came in after LJ that it's all they know. But we have been here before! And we will again. It's time for change, I think.

(no subject) (Anonymous) Expand
There are many arguments which can be made for a new site, but, and I say this with due respect for the rest of the post, "be a lemming" is not one of them. The connotations of that one are hilariously bad.

*bites lip hard* Retrospectively, yes, perhaps the lemming might have implications I didn't consider fully?

But lemmings are cute! And I really need to change the icon on this one to my lemming one.

It's an invite-meme.

Ha, I think that sums up perfectly what I don't like about it. I don't think it's elitist; it's a bloody meme that's taking over my flist. *g*

(Srsly. I can't wait for things to settle down. The most annoying part of a migration is that everyone constantly wants to talk about it, and sometimes it seems no one's talking about anything else.)

That? Is how I felt about Merlin for the longest time.

Thank you for this post. In the spirit of full disclosure, I must admit that I do not often agree with you in spite of the fact that I have been stalking you anonymously since your SGA days (I love the freedom of posting anon comments - I must be repressing 4chan tendencies!) Your opinions are just entertaining to read... and fun to agree or disagree with, as the case may be.

Anyway, the point that I wanted to make is that personally I do resent synecdochic for what she said during the Strikethrough debacle, but that it doesn't matter.

I do nto resent her for what she DID, because I understand that one cannot speak publicly against one's employer, or reveal confidential information one possesses as a result of one's job and people cannot be held responsible for their employer's corporate decisions, no matter how asinine. Even if said person participated in said decisions, which I do not believe is true.

Unless one was sitting right next to her, there is absolutely no way of knowing how responsible she was in the decision-making process and the LJ abuse team was completely innocent of the Strikethrough mess as far as I can see.

I blame Strikethrough completely on the top management who just did not understand their own user base. As opposed to the LJ abuse team, who regardless of their failures before and after said mess, did at least have their fingers on the pulse of the LJ community.

No: my resentment of her is personal because I had friended her initially because of her fanfic and had come to apprecite and respect her opinions and technical knowledge, because she is clearly a very intelligent and articulate person, whose concerns and reflections were thoroughly interesting. In a word, I respected her, which is why I felt personally hurt by what she did.

I always -and still do- assume she was blameless in the instigation of the disaster and that she was just in a very bad position to reply to the deluge of comments on her personal LJ asking for answers she couldn't give.

Not answering people who harrassed her and took her to task in her LJ did not make her a guilty party, in my opinion: no, what did was the post in which she specifically said to stop panicking and 100% confirmed the LJ official story, a story which was later thoroughly debunked.

She did not have to say that: she had previously stated she COULDN'T comment on the current mess and I understood that completely. But then she posted this 'official version' which truly came out of left field for me.

What I cannot forgive -at the time I posted a locked entry in my own LJ, I was that furious- is the deliberate lying: not lying by omission, but lying by commission. I stopped reading her LJ entirely and stopped crediting anything she said since, even after I heard from a friend that she had left LJ, which was quite soon after, confirming my assumption that she probably did not agree with LJ's actions and did what she did only to keep her job until she found another one. I forgive everything and I do not even THINK she needs to justify herself for trying to keep her job and anything she did while working at LJ, EXCEPT the deliberate lying which she cannot say LJ required of her, not on her own personal LJ.

They could require her not to speak up, they could require her to keep confidential information confidential even years later, but they could not require her to speak up in their defense. It just doesn't work that way, and I know this first hand, speaking as someone who HAS signed confidentiality agreements and been in this type of situation in the past.

But your post is useful because this was what... nearly a year ago? We need to move on. Because ultimately, my distrust and personal contempt of synecdochic don't matter, because a transition from LJ to DW should be for fandom, not her. Whether she sticks to her promises or not doesn't really matter either: if she doesn't, we'll just migrate elsewhere later. We need to keep this topic in perspective and in the grand scheme of things she is insignificant. (continued)

For what it's worth, and I recognize that may not be very much at all, at the time I made the post you're referencing, I believed it to be the whole and complete truth. I privatized it at the point at which it became clear that was no longer the case.

(I not only can't talk about this because of confidentiality etc, I can't talk about it because even nearly two years later, it will send me into frothing fits of rage.)

(no subject) (Anonymous) Expand
(no subject) (Anonymous) Expand
(continued from above)

We -by which I mean I, of course- should try to think about this logically and impersonally: if fandom does migrate -I am not sure why we SHOULD, by the way- but if it does happen, then I'll see about getting a DW account. When you consider the fact that the only thing I know about Open ID is that normal human beings cannot be expected to understand how to set one up, it may take a while... but I'll get there at some point. If necessary. I guess.

In conclusion: people need to stop trying to convince us that synecdochic is a saint when we just do not care and instead explain -possibly with step by step colored pictures- how to go about creating an OpenID. Go slowly as if speaking to a 5 year old, because most of us are a bit slow... The last article I read about it was written by a technical guru who admitted it had not taken off because it was just too complex for mostr people. Not reassuring.


Hmm. I was thinking on that too, at least as far as using it between services that offer it. The explanations are, yes, confusing. It took, for me, using it to realize what it meant.

Though keeping in mind, I learn by doing anyway, so hmm.

(Deleted comment)
And it would be nice to be able to be relatively secure on a site, rather than feeling like the fate of your community was in the hands of...uncaring gods.

This. It's the main reason I'm in favor of a migration.

User waldorph referenced to your post from Dreamwidth? saying: [...] the rest of you there yet? Um, okay, I won't post, but I'll linkspam you. + Dreamwidth wiki ' argument for Dreamwidth. 's argument for Dreamwidth. Dreamwidth website [...]

I'm wondering, it is ok if I defriend you here and read you at dw, since you seem to be crossposting? Trying to cut down on all the daily scrolling... :P

Ssure, go right ahead!

There was a piece in Gawker yesterday about the righteous outrage that things like #amazonfail create in us, and how that righteous anger is really really hard to let go of, even when we realize something was just a simple mistake. I kind of see shades of that here.

Denise as Evil Mastermind who's out to seduce and destroy fandom, (SHE IS LJ ABUSE!!!) I can't get behind. Maybe I'm one of those naive good faith people, but she has always seemed on the level, and I never presumed she was so high up on the eljay chain of command to make policy decisions. Meeting her at con.txt definitely helped with that. Dreamwidth seems pretty cool, and if it proves viable (and as soon as I can get a new layout! :D) I'll be over there. I was very impressed with how easy it was to import my journal, which was (honestly) my biggest concern.

(Strikethrough was- Ugh. I was probably as concerned with the reaction to it as I was with the damn thing itself. The idea that fandom should have no limits kind of disturbs me.)

Maybe it's that I haven't been around in these parts that long, or more likely because I am just the niave at times (it's been proven before), but it never really occured to me that dreamwidth was anything but a good faith effort.

That's not say that I don't understand (and respect) why folks are wary, just that i am a lemming, and i'll jump both blindly and happily :)

Because there can never be too many posts about Dreamwidth.

User bethbethbeth referenced to your post from Because there can never be too many posts about Dreamwidth. saying: [...] sitting. "On Being a Dreamwidth Optimist and on Commenting" by and a follow-up post by called "dreamwidth and you, extended". Also some comments from which discusses, in part, the invite system. On a personal level, one of the ... [...]

I'm getting old with all of these changes. I was pulled into LJ after some screaming because I did so love mailing lists. Then I went off with a WP blog and a IJ blog after strikethrough. Gah!

DW is a lovely sight.

Fangirls never grow old. *G* And yes, I remember mailing list to LJ transition. That was--kind of like this.