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Dreamwidth: A New Blog Site

Updated on May 1, 2009

Dreamwidth Studios is an blog site and social network that offers free hosted blogs to its members.

Dreamwidth is based on the same software that runs the popular blogging service LiveJournal and it was founded by two former employees of LiveJournal.

The basic structure of the site will remain similar. Users will have personal online journals at an address such as myname.dreamwidth.org. They can read their friends' journals on their "friends list" and can also start communities based around certain interests, or join communities started by other people. This is the community building structure that has made LiveJournal such a successful social network and blogging platform.

Despite this, Dreamwidth is not a LiveJournal clone. There will be a number of differences in features and services.

Dreamwidth Features

One of the differences most exciting to me is the ability to more easily control who has access to personal posts, by dividing the "friends list" (here called a "reading list") into "watch" and "trust" categories from the start. In this way, Dreamwidth allows you to easily subscribe to people's journals without granting them access to your personal posts, while LiveJournal currently relies on a somewhat complicated system of filters to perform the same function.

Dreamwidth has also raised character limits on usernames, posts, and comments, as well as the number of comments possible on a post before it is locked.

Dreamwidth's other features include:

  • revamped styles, with improved standardization of options and CSS markup to make it easier to customize journal layouts with CSS
  • the ability to import your journal in full, including comments, from other LJ-based services (future plans for the same feature include Wordpress, Typepad, Blogger, and more)
  • the ability to crosspost to other services from within Dreamwidth (currently only LJ-based services, but with plans to expand to others)
  • the ability to use Google Analytics for Paid and Premium users
  • no ads, ever!
  • and more

Personally, I also appreciate the open source and inclusive philosophy of the site and its owners and administrators.

Dreamwidth and Internet Marketing

LiveJournal has a long history of being unfriendly to commercial uses. Though this has changed somewhat in recent years with the introduction of "sponsored" accounts and communities, Dreamwidth clearly plans to continue the original tradition. Among other things, it has pledged to remain advertising free, and plans to make up the difference with higher fees. As on LiveJournal, community moderators will have significant oversight to delete posts deemed inappropriate or spammy.

The most successful commercially-minded journals on LiveJournal have tended to be in the creative arts. For example, one of LiveJournal's power users is Ursula Vernon, a successful comic artist who uses her journal, ursulav, to share her latest creations, releases, and appearances, as well as discussing her interests in gardening, birding, and more. I anticipate Dreamwidth will be similar in this regard.

Setting Up a Dreamwidth Account

Dreamwidth is currently in open beta.

For the time being, free account creation is limited to those with invite codes in order to allow the site to grow at a manageable rate. If you want a free account but don't know anyone with invite codes, you can request one at dw_codesharing.

You also have the option of purchasing a paid or premium account. Paid accounts start at $3/month. If you want, you can buy one month and let it lapse back to a free account after that (you will lose some features, but not your journal or its name) or you can support the site by purchasing a longer term account.

If you want to "try before you buy", you can begin exploring the site and its features with an OpenID. OpenID accounts can upload up to six user avatars, have a profile and reading list, and comment on others' posts. They cannot post in their own journal (since they do not, technically, have one) or create communities.

For a full description of the different account levels, visit the Account Levels page on the Dreamwidth Wiki.

Join HubPages

If you are interested in Dreamwidth, you might also be interested in HubPages! HubPages is a site where you can post articles, essays, and other writing to share information, express opinions, or promote your blog or other website.

Sign up here!

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    • profile image

      pgrundy 8 years ago

      Wow, this is good info Kerry. I'm going to check it out. Are you interested? I mean, do you think you will try to get an account there?

    • kerryg profile image
      Author

      kerryg 8 years ago from USA

      Pam, I'm definitely planning to get an account at Dreamwidth! I've had a LiveJournal for six years that I use to keep in touch with some college friends and fandom acquaintances. I've been pretty pleased with it overall, but I really like some of the changes Mark and Denise have made or planned for DW, as well as their general philosophy.

      Whether I switch to DW or stick with LJ in the end depends in part on what my friends decide to do, but if I can't get my hands on an invite code I'm going to  shell out at least the $3 for one month of a paid account so I can be sure to get the name I want.

    • JYOTI KOTHARI profile image

      Jyoti Kothari 8 years ago from Jaipur

      Hi kerryg,

      Nice post about a new blogger and social networking site. How does it diifer from Google blogger?

      There are so many blog sites in the net now. Google blogger provide full freedom to its account holders. What are the benefits of this new site over Google?

      Thanks,

      Jyoti Kothari

    • kerryg profile image
      Author

      kerryg 8 years ago from USA

      Jyoti, Dreamwidth, like LiveJournal, focuses more on the social networking aspect of blogging than the pure act. As someone who has used both LJ and Blogger (and now Dreamwidth), I found it more convenient to follow friends and other like-minded folks on LJ/DW, as well is participate in extended discussions.

      However, Dreamwidth is not as well suited to commercial blogging. It is not convenient (possibly not even possible) to add Adsense, and the focus generally is more on community interaction and creative expression than commercial gain. It could be used for a professional blog for networking or to promote creative works - there are many, many authors, musicians, and artists on LJ, and I expect some of them will migrate to DW - but probably not as successfully for internet marketing type activities.

      Like Blogger, DW provides full control to its users over their own content. You can read more about their policies here:

      http://www.dreamwidth.org/legal/tos.bml

      http://www.dreamwidth.org/legal/principles.bml

      http://www.dreamwidth.org/legal/diversity.bml

    • Research Analyst profile image

      Research Analyst 8 years ago

      Thanks for sharing this information, because I am always looking for a place to share my tutorials on hairstyles.

    • profile image

      a teacher 8 years ago

      Ah, but it's not free, and they don't make it very easy for newcomers to get in... in fact newcomers are pretty much stuck having to sign up for a paid account--a system which drives new and younger writers away. If you like an elitist system, Dreamwidth is great

    • kerryg profile image
      Author

      kerryg 8 years ago from USA

      a teacher, it's not currently free, no, but it will be in the future. Right now they're using the invite/paid system to allow the site to grow at a more manageable rate.

      Users can check out this community if they're looking for codes: http://dw-codesharing.dreamwidth.org/

      You can also shell out $3 for one month of paid service and then let it lapse back into a free account. I don't think $3 is too horrible an amount.

    • negacrowbar profile image

      negacrowbar 8 years ago from Inglewood, California

      Maybe down the line i'll check this site out. for now i'll just bookmark your post for later reading.. thanks for the information

    • Ashley Joy profile image

      Ashley Joy 8 years ago

      I will check it out, but I have never been a huge fan of livejournal. Wordpress based blogs have always been more versatile and easier to use.

    • Dana Chadwick profile image

      Dana Chadwick 8 years ago

      I have to check out this Dreamwidth thing. Nice hub Kerry.

    • jimcassa profile image

      jimcassa 8 years ago from Melbourne Australia

      Dreamwidth is doing some good things, and thanks for writing about them and sharing the information.

      However, I still believe the best way to go with blogging is to use Wordpress and get your own domian name,

      sincerely,

      Jim.

    • profile image

      Jer 7 years ago

      jimcassa> Again, that is true, if you are looking for a blog. As has been said (repeatedly) above, the strength of LJ (and presumably Dreamwidth) is the ease of social networking and community building that goes with the blogs.

      The right tool for the right job.

    • kre8iv4u profile image

      kre8iv4u 7 years ago from Florida beaches

      Thanks for the info. I am pretty new to blogging, blogging sites, article writing and basically sharing any of myself on the internet. I am finding it interesting though. I do have a small business making candles, no website or any of that as of yet, but do have pics up on my FB and Myspace pages. Would it be a good idea to write about my candles on either of these sites you mention and add pics?? What do you think??

      Thanks again for the info

      dawn

    • kerryg profile image
      Author

      kerryg 7 years ago from USA

      kre8iv4u, I have seen artisans such as yourself do well on LiveJournal and Dreamwidth. For example:

      http://electradesigns.livejournal.com/ (corset maker)

      http://ursulav.livejournal.com/ (artist)

    • EWealthGuide profile image

      EWealthGuide 7 years ago from Vancouver

      Seems interesting, I'm going to check it out, thanks!

    • Singular Investor profile image

      Singular Investor 7 years ago from Oxford

      Thanks for the info - I'll check it out

    • Cheeky Girl profile image

      Cassandra Mantis 7 years ago from UK and Nerujenia

      Very interesting - will check it out! Cheers!

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