August 1st, 2009

dw lj otp

How Dreamwidth is helping save LiveJournal

Disclosures: I volunteer for both LiveJournal and Dreamwidth; I keep my journal on both LiveJournal and Dreamwidth, largely mirrored, with occasional posts to InsaneJournal. I condense the ephemera of my impressions into generalizations; if I am lucky, I can remember where I was to have gotten that impression.

I think Dreamwidth has helped save LiveJournal.

No, really; I think that LiveJournal is in a much better place right now than it was six months ago. It may even be in a better place than it was a year ago. I'm feeling more general enthusiasm and hope than I was then, and most especially, I'm no longer experiencing the quickly-repressed desire to pack up my journal and flee into the night (with the exception of my Suggestions duties, as I wouldn't leave Carrie in the lurch like that, as my shoes would be hard to fill).

I haven't been paying steady or close attention to news comments for a while, not since the level of animosity against SUP, LiveJournal in general, and some actual personal friends reached full shriek. I had better things to do, like kiss a facehugger. I have checked back intermittently, and I have noticed a change in the last two months. It seems to me that the people who had been speaking out with the most anger and betrayal about LiveJournal's decisions have finished migrating off the service.

I just didn't see that same level of pain and outrage the last time I looked. Annoyance? Oh, yes, plenty. A la carte userpics were promised, but there hasn't been much of an update on the progress there. "My Guests"? Oh, yes, that's getting the classic debate, where people who will opt out and never use it complain about its very existence, and people wonder who would use it and why it was even implemented (it's a frequent request in suggestions, for the record). But the anguish has dramatically lowered.

The launch of Dreamwidth has played a role in that drop-off in a way that no other alternate journal service has. I did not see the same level of drop-off in user anguish with the large migrations to GreatestJournal and InsaneJournal -- indeed, if anything, there was just an additional element to some of the complaints.

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And no longer embattled with the same factions of the userbase, LiveJournal responds, with further attention to detail in new feature rollouts, and a high level of responsiveness to beta feedback. LiveJournal is changing. LiveJournal is up and running and starting to actively develop instead of just treading water. I can taste the way the development team is providing output as a fully operational team once more when I look at lj_releases. Stuff from suggestions is bubbling through. Releases seem to be happening more smoothly. Promising new volunteers are starting to pop back in. Code patches shuffle back and forth, today Dreamwidth picking up a new feature from LiveJournal, tomorrow LiveJournal snagging a bug fix from Dreamwidth.

The project rolls on, and the userbases of all LiveJournal-based sites are the more secure for having more talent devoted to the project, and another viable option.

Cross-site chatter: Dreamwidth, LiveJournal

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