Spreading the word about Dreamwidth is a fabulous way to help the project as we get closer and closer to open beta! We'll have explanations of the project's philosophy and ideology on the site by the time we launch in open beta, but in the meantime, here are some guidelines for those who are looking to be part of the Dreamwidth "street team":
When people ask you what Dreamwidth is and what the project's about, here are some basic talking points about our ideology. You can pick and choose what you emphasize based on what you find most interesting about the project and based on what your friend or listener might find most compelling.
The simple question that we get asked most often: who is Dreamwidth for?
We're building Dreamwidth for people who make things. It doesn't matter whether "what you make" is art, fiction, poetry, photography, handcrafts, essays, link compilations, or a record of your life. We are building Dreamwidth as a place where creative people can come to share their creations, and where people can come to find interesting, energetic, vibrant voices speaking person-to-person and human-to-human.
You can read our Diversity Statement to find out more about our philosophy of whom we welcome. The short answer is: whoever you are, Dreamwidth welcomes you.
Dreamwidth's three key points (and the closest thing we have to a slogan at the moment, though that will certainly change as we continue to build our identity) are: Open Source, Open Operations, Open Expression.
- Dreamwidth is a code fork of the LiveJournal project, not a LiveJournal clone. While all of the other currently-active LiveJournal clone sites have some level of customization for their users, Dreamwidth is the only site originally based on the LiveJournal codebase that's taking the code and actively making sweeping, radical changes to improve the site's usability, to add new and commonly-requested features, and to change behavior that doesn't make sense to us.
- Dreamwidth will have active, ongoing development. Once we're open for users, we will continue adding frequently-requested features (as well as some that we want ourselves) and continuing to improve the site's usability. We already have a rich Open Source community of volunteer programmers contributing improvements to the site, and we expect this to continue as we work to make the contribution process even more painless. Dreamwidth will not be a static installation; we'll be adding more tools and more toys on a regular basis.
- Dreamwidth developers and staff are all active and passionate users themselves. We make the decisions about what should be added to the site based, not on mysterious numbers or what Everyone Else is Doing, but on how people are actually using the site. Our feature development is guided by what users ask for (or have asked for) and how we observe people using the functionality we've built into the site. We have years of experience in the sociology of online community under our belts, and we are incredibly aware of the necessity to thoroughly understand what people are doing with our site before we make changes to it.
- Dreamwidth is committed to community-centric development. While we're in the pre-beta phase, anyone can provide input on any one of our open tickets, which are both bugfixes and feature enhancements. Anyone can do Design, both UI design and functional design. Anyone can step up and say, "hey, here's how this feature should work"; anyone can step up and say "this is what I want my online home to be able to do". The project runs entirely on the premise that anyone can contribute, and while we will make certain overall decisions for the good of the business, we'll work to integrate community feedback at every possible opportunity.
- We are committed to an exhaustive level of financial transparency in site operations. We'll tell you what we're spending, why we're spending it, what our costs are, how much we're taking in, and how our company operates.
- We will let our community decide what to do with a portion of our profits every year. You can read the Operating Agreement that the company functions under to see what we're bound to do with our profits, and you can read our explanation of why we set things up like that in our business FAQs.
- We promise we will speak to you as real people, with real voices. You'll always know who's a Dreamwidth staff member; we're making a change that will identify all staff accounts as staff accounts, and we'll only use those accounts when we're functioning as staff, so you'll never have to wonder if someone's speaking "officially" or not. You'll be able to get to know us as people and understand why we make the decisions we make.
- We will involve you in the site's operations as much as possible. We'll always tell you what choices we're making and why, along with what problems we're trying to solve with the decision or change, and if someone else has a better solution, we're happy to implement it instead of our original idea. We believe in the power of collective intelligence; when we see a problem, we'll tell you what it is and what we plan on doing to fix it, in case someone can think of a better solution than we can.
- We are firmly and adamantly anti-advertising in all forms. Not only is it not profitable for a site in the long run, it creates an unpleasant environment of profiteering, where a site sells its users' creative expression to third parties in order to make a profit. We are not in the business of selling your content or access to your content to anyone. We are interested in you as people, not eyeballs.
- Dreamwidth has no outside investors, venture capitalists, or advertisers to please. We are a project of the community, by the community, and for the community, and we will never place any outside group's interests over the community's interests in any way, at any time.
- We are committed to providing the maximum amount of free expression allowable by United States law. We will never place limitations on your free expression just because it makes someone uncomfortable. We will never act as "parents" or restrict expression for someone's "own good".
- Likewise, we recognize that everyone has different limits of comfort and safety online, and we're committed to handling instances of harassment and unpleasant behavior through technological changes rather than heavy-handed enforcement: we will provide you with as many tools as possible to control your experience on our site. We're committed to making anti-abuse tools with teeth and then putting the use of those tools into your hands, so that you can tailor your site experience as you see fit, rather than dictating how you should use those tools. We won't be able to get to everything we want to do by site launch, but as particular patterns of abusive tactics crop up, we will address them as quickly as possible with anti-abuse solutions.
- We are committed to upholding our Diversity Statement at all times. We know that we aren't going to get it right all the time, but our number one goal is to treat people as people, respectfully and with openness, and to facilitate your voices being heard.
- We want to build tools to make your chosen forms of expression easy and natural. We have a series of features we plan to add to make content management simple and painless, and we are committed to making it easy for you to easily integrate your other areas of online presence into your Dreamwidth presence as much or as little as you'd like to do.
- Likewise, we have a series of improvements we want to make in order to facilitate finding new and interesting content on the site. We're in the business of making it easy for people to talk to each other, and we're going to improve site search and discovery as much as we can, while at the same time still respecting your privacy choices at all times.
Code of Conduct
Dreamwidth depends so heavily on community feedback, volunteerism, and community activism, and the voices of our community will be, in many ways, the voice of Dreamwidth. The staff page lists the "official" Dreamwidth staff, but as we grow as a community and as a project, we want our passionate users to feel comfortable jumping into the project and working to further our community's goals.
Because of this, and as you work to spread the news about Dreamwidth and the Dreamwidth project, we ask that you keep a basic "code of conduct" in mind as you advocate the project to others. Remember, to your friends and the people you talk to, you represent Dreamwidth. Because Dreamwidth is a community-driven project, the community's voices will be given weight in the minds of others.
As you advocate for the Dreamwidth project, please keep these basic tenets in mind:
- Always be respectful of people's choices. Dreamwidth is not the answer for everyone, and we're okay with that. Telling your friends about all the reasons that Dreamwidth is awesome is okay, but if it doesn't sound like their cup of tea to them, don't keep pushing or be insulting; we want people to be just as comfortable not choosing Dreamwidth as they are choosing Dreamwidth.
- Remember that Dreamwidth is not going to raise the dead and usher in world peace! We're tremendously excited about the project, but we, too, have to keep reminding ourselves to be realistic. Managing others' expectations is a key role of any new online community; we have a lot of work done already, but we have a lot of work ahead of us, and things are going to be bumpy as we get through our initial growth phase. It's important for everyone to convey that Dreamwidth is (and forever will be) a work in progress, taking step after step to get closer to the ideals we have in mind. Making sure that everyone understands that the service may be slow or unresponsive at times, that some of our features are not yet finished, and that the site itself is in the process of iterative improvement is key to making sure that people come to our table with a contextual understanding of the project and what we're offering.
- Be sure to steer people to the channels to get authoritative information! Until we can have one centralized repository of communication -- ie, the site itself -- we're working hard to organize all of our responses and philosophies where people can find them easily. If there's anything you see people being confused about, send them to this Wiki or to our mailing lists, and then let us know about what we're failing to communicate clearly and effectively so we can organize ourselves and our information presentation better.
- If you're ever at all in doubt about something -- a policy, a planned feature, a change, a philosophy, anything -- please ask us before repeating the information to someone else. We're happy to clarify (and will leap at the chance to do so where others can see, since if one person is confused, it's probable that others are as well) and would much rather take the time to clarify up front than wait until misinformation gets spread.
- We know that many people are dissatisfied with LiveJournal right now, for a number of reasons. But please avoid the temptation to dichotomize. "LJ" and "Dreamwidth" is not an either/or option; people can certainly participate in both places, and we want to be very, very clear that we welcome people participating on Dreamwidth for any reason at all. If we position Dreamwidth as "that place that isn't LiveJournal" from the very beginning, it will stifle the growth of Dreamwidth's own unique culture and identity. We'd like to be very clear that the creation of Dreamwidth is not a reaction to any particular LiveJournal decision. We're building Dreamwidth out of idealism, not out of dissatisfaction or disgruntlement.
- Likewise, please be respectful of LiveJournal, those who have worked on it, and those who continue to use it. Between us, Dreamwidth's owners worked on LiveJournal for over a collective decade, and that experience is part of what we hope will make Dreamwidth a success. We don't agree with every decision that LiveJournal management made over the years -- but we don't disagree with every decision LJ management made over the years, either. Many of our friends and former colleagues still work on the project, and we hope to continue that cordial working relationship, to both sites' benefit. We are striving for a philosophy of peaceful coexistence, and we'd like to encourage everyone who advocates for Dreamwidth to do the same. We think it's possible to disagree with some of LiveJournal's decisions while still respecting the considerable effort and innovation that they have provided and inspired over the years. Dreamwidth is only possible because of the base LiveJournal provided us, and we hope that everyone will continue to recognize that fact.
- Our Diversity Statement and our Guiding Principles cover our corporate philsophy. We hope they'll come to cover, not just our operating philosophy, but our community's operating philsophy. Allow yourself to be guided by those principles while you work to encourage adoption of Dreamwidth: be open, be inclusive, be respectful, be honest, and assume (and display) good faith at all times.
So, what should you be talking about?
Anything! Everything! Tell people what the philosophies of the project are; tell people what we plan on doing; tell people how we operate and what our beliefs are; tell people what kind of features and changes we're making; tell people what kind of community we want to create.
Here are some things you can do even before the site launches:
- Tell people why Dreamwidth excites you. We're keeping a list of Why Dreamwidth? posts that people have made; write your own, and add a link to it there, so that everyone can see why you care about the community we're working to build. (When we launch the site, we'll have a place where you can go to tell everyone why you use Dreamwidth and what the community means to you, and where you can read what everyone else has to say.)
- Adopt one of the icons or banners that people have made, to proclaim your support of Dreamwidth!
- Add your name to Volunteers In Waiting if you're willing to help out, so that project leaders can recruit you for projects that match your skills and interests.
- Help with the Wiki Tasklist, to make finding more information easier.
- Catch up with the Notable Dreamwidth Reading.
- Browse the Wishlists and add your thoughts -- and encourage others to do the same.
- Stay excited!