Decisions and tradeoffs
This documents some of the service and code decisions that have been made in the Dreamwidth project over the years. Some of these are tradeoffs, where in an ideal world Dreamwidth would like to have something happen, but it's proved impractical; some would involve an unacceptable compromise of the site's core principles; and some are items that were deliberate decisions but do get asked about from time to time.
- A lot of references to LJ in the code have been removed. The variable for the master home directory remains $LJHOME instead of $DWHOME or $HOME or anything like that because the codebase is so big and old and we're afraid of what might break if anything involved in changing it goes wrong. http://qdb.dreamwidth.net/dw/530
- Will Dreamwidth seek advertisers as a source of revenue? NO.
- Automatic links in anonymous/unverified comments
- Logged-in users (regular or OpenID) who have verified an email address can leave links in comments. Logged out/anonymous users and OpenID who have not verified an email address will have any links left in comments remain as plain text, or be converted to plain text. This is because spammers. Freaking spammers.
- Embedded media from other sites that's more than a simple img tag and involves fun and cute scripty-bits is automatically blocked and must be allow-listed.
- There were some historical Terrible Things that compromised people's journals and spread spam, so we can't have nice things.
- Twitter's embed script in particular requires too much trust of Twitter to be safe to allow-list.
- The choices for gender in the site statistics are Female, Male, Other, and Rather not say. "Other" is a small but important category for those who do not fit neatly into a binary view of gender, and was included from the time of site launch (2009). As of 2020, the inclusive best practices include language like "prefer to self-identify" and a write-in field; there hasn't been a discussion of the technical trade-offs of changing this within the past few years.
- Images/embeds in comments
- Due to some naughty nonnies leaving huge, page-breaking images in comments, we can't have nice things anymore.
- PayPal & other popular payment providers
- Dreamwidth originally included PayPal as a payment provider. However, when PayPal was pointed to certain user-submitted content in a Dreamwidth journal, PayPal demanded that Dreamwidth remove this content from public view. Dreamwidth declined to remove the legal, non-spam content, and PayPal is not a payment provider for Dreamwidth anymore. http://dw-news.dreamwidth.org/16590.html
- The fact that Dreamwidth allows user-submitted sexually explicit content means that many payment providers must classify it as a pornography business, even though sexually explicit content is incidental to Dreamwidth's business model. Pornography sales is a high-risk financial category, due to the large number of chargebacks, and not all payment providers are willing to assume that risk, regardless of Dreamwidth's actual chargeback history. Due to previous experiences where a provider disallowed sexually explicit or pornographic content, but unofficially said "sure it's cool", until suddenly it wasn't cool anymore, Dreamwidth will not consider payment providers that disallow sexually explicit content.
- LJ connects the current music with the scrobbling service Last.fm. However, the provider terms of service for Last.fm were unacceptable to Dreamwidth. So Dreamwidth doesn't use that.
See also: Explanations