aroceu: (△ lok | asami | awash)
exclamation points! ([personal profile] aroceu) wrote in [community profile] byaro2017-04-07 03:56 pm

Making the best of Dreamwidth

Well, since this shitshow which has been pretty widely shared, there's been some talk tossed around about avid LJ-ers to finally, fully move to Dreamwidth (despite LiveJournal's failings in the past, but I'm getting ahead of myself.) I'm in full support of this, mostly because I've been pretty enthusiastic about Dreamwidth since like 2010?

Of course, like any other social networking site, it's not perfect. But it has a similar and safer functionality than LiveJournal - rather reminiscent of that pre-2011 USI - while having its own merits. And it maintains that nuanced, easy communication feature that Tumblr lacks, because let's be real: Tumblr is not exactly the most functional site in the world when it comes to having conversations. Dreamwidth I think is a viable alternative, despite how low-key it is outside of its roleplaying community.

A lot of people have made tutorials for Dreamwidth in the past, so I don't want to get too redundant. I'll be writing this with the assumption that the reader knows how either LiveJournal or Tumblr works. This tutorial is specifically about why and how you can use Dreamwidth for a full and effective fannish (and sometimes personal) experience. I do my best to cover as much as I can big picture wise to ~appeal~ to the reader, but I have also included a myriad of links in nearly every section if I have appealed to you well enough and you are willing to click for further reading/learning!

ETA: I made a Dreamwidth Starter Kit of links if you want to learn how to do stuff instead of my pure functional How To Do Stuff. It has nearly all the links I linked here and more (save for the comms I listed at the bottom here.) This post is a general tutorial of why and how; but if you immediately want to get to the fun stuff and start doing things, the starter kit may be of more use to you.


Here are the similarities it has to LJ/Tumblr:
  • Posting/updates, of course; you can also edit multiple entries at once
  • Like an entry on Dreamwidth on someone else's journal/community? Think it's cool? Instead of reblogging/liking on Tumblr, Dreamwidth (like LJ) allows you to add posts to your memories. You can also make them public/private, in case you just need it as reference point for yourself. Other people's memories can be viewed in their profile; for example, here are mine.
  • Dreamwidth also has the "?format=light" function that LJ has.
  • You can keep up with your friends or communities you watch newsfeed-style on your reading page, which for LJ users is your "flist", or for Tumblr users your "dashboard." Following/adding is done by adding the journal/community to your subscriptions. (You can also filter, much like LJ!)
  • There is also a tracking option, in which you get direct/email notifications for new posts or comments instead of you viewing them in your reading page, which can be accessed with the following link:
Here are the differences - or rather, what Dreamwidth does better:
  • You can import essentially an entire journal from LJ or IJ onto Dreamwidth - posts and comments and tags and all. There is also an option to/from Tumblr and Dreamwidth!
  • Tags are utilized to be individual in your journal, rather than site-wide searchable; it's different to LiveJournal in that implementing colons : in your tag allows parent-child type tags (how?) Due to this, you can create your own tagging system and manage them as you see fit. Viewers can also browse posts that share more than one tag in common (more)
  • You can make multiple Dreamwidth accounts all with the same email, which is also part of the reason why many avid DW members are RPers.
  • Dreamwidth's entry character limit is almost five times larger than LJ's. Its character limit for comments is almost four times larger than LJ's. Dreamwidth's username limit is also longer than LJ's, 25 to LJ's being 15.
  • [personal profile] aphelant wrote a post (back in '11) comparing DW and LJ and promoting many of DW's strengths in great detail, over here.
Functions that have been debated if effective or not, but relatively accessible:


  1. Create an account - once upon a time, invite codes were needed. Not anymore! I think that stopped during subjectlinegate in December 2011.
  2. Import your LJ - if you're coming over from LJ, this is definitely of interest to you. If you're just a tumblr user, you can import your tumblr if you want, but I personally don't find blogs and microblogs compatible in a cross-posting realm.
  3. Claim your OpenID (faq) - this is underrated, but important. Especially since now many other people will be importing their journals too; when importing from LJ to DW, if you left comments in say another person's journal while on LJ, and if the other user is importing said comments, your comments will be moved, too, under your LJ OpenID account. When you claim your OpenID, that changes any post or comment site-wide that was posted by your LJ account to be attached to your Dreamwidth account. It's very useful in redirecting/attaching your former LJ to now your Dreamwidth journal.
  4. Get comfortable! Customize your journal (more), browse around (more), take a look at the diversity statement. Dreamwidth is full of just as much interesting people with varied interests as anywhere else. It's so flexible that it might take a bit to get used to at first; but it becomes nice and easy to use in the long run.



So, what and how exactly do you use Dreamwidth? I'm sure you can click around and figure out most of the functionalities, but I'll give a brief rundown of most of the most basic and essential options, so you get a general idea of where to do what and how to begin.

Communities function almost the exact same way as individual journals, save for several exceptions (see below.) My following explanations will pertain to both journal and community managing for the most part; portions that are not the same for communities will be mentioned down below, in the communities explanation.

CREATE - Elements of interest
  • Post Entry - Check out [personal profile] anghraine's anatomy of a Dreamwidth post as a good guide to posting.
  • Edit Entries - Gives you a list of the five most recent entries for the journal in question, to pick and choose to edit. You can also view a larger amount at a time, view certain entries on a certain date, and/or view entries from a community you maintain to edit, instead
  • Edit Profile - edit your /profile section. This is where you can change your:
    • display name
    • default icon
    • gender
    • birthday (and viewability)
    • location
    • website
    • email (and viewability)
    • other sites for networking
    • profile mini bio
    • interests
    • circle display options - if the public can see who you are mutuals with, whose circles you're a part of, and what communities you maintain
  • Upload Images - similar to LJ's scrapbook or any other image hosting site. Currently the storage quota is at 500MB. You can also manage who is capable of seeing the images - whether anyone, anyone on your access list, or only you.
  • Upload Icons
  • Create a Community (see below)
  • Manage Account (of interest; you can click to see the many other options, but these I think are the most relevant to initially know)
    • Account » Status - To deactivate (delete)
    • Display » Image Placeholders - For slow connections/accessibility
    • Display » Video Placeholders - For slow connections/accessibility
    • Display » Entry Editor Default - The default editor for "Post Entry" - HTML or Rich Text. There is also the option for "Last Used;" that is, if your most recent interaction with the "Post Entry" page was HTML then the next time you'll go it'll be HTML, or Rich Text if you most recently used Rich Text
    • Display » Entry Page Default - Similar to modifying the custom comment page viewing on LJ; unchecking displays all your entries individually in the site skin. This entry itself is an example. Checking displays your entries with custom comment pages; that is, the same layout style as the rest of your journal. There are benefits both ways.
    • Display » Adult Content - Warn for your journal as a whole to have potential adult content. If you make it 18+, it blocks out any logged-in user under the age of 18; Viewer Discretion only gives all users (registered or not) a warning with an option to proceed
    • Display » Adult Content Reason - Allows you to add a note to explain how/what/why your journal may have adult content
    • Display » URLs or IDs of Sticky Entries - Allows your journal to have 2 (or 5, if paid/premium) sticky entries, which are entries at the top of your journal regardless of date. Overrides the "make post sticky" option on individual entries.
    • Display » Mobile View - Customizes your mobile view if you are logged in from a smaller screen/phone/tablet.
    • Notifications - Very self-explanatory options (My Account, People and Communities, Notification Tracking), but you can customize here if you get notified just via Dreamwidth inbox or also receive an email notification
    • Privacy » Contact Info - who can view your email and other social networking sites that you added in "Edit Profile"
    • Privacy » DW Private Messages - allows you to receive or not receive in-site PMs from other registered users. Can also be customized to be access list only, or mutually trusted only, or none.
    • Privacy » Minimum Entry Security - Useful if you intend your journal to be locked for the most part but don't always remember or can't rely on yourself (or others, for a community) to always select that option whenever posting a new entry.
    • Privacy » Enable Comments - "Everybody" includes anons (people who don't have or are not logged into Dreamwidth accounts); "Registered Accounts" are DW users only; "Access List"; "Nobody"
    • Privacy » Comment Screening - Screening means to make the comment viewable only to you and the commenter (if applicable) prior to or even without publicly posting it. Options here are: Don't screen; Screen only anon comments; Screen comments from people not on access list; Screen all comments
    • Privacy » Anti-Spam - CAPTCHA to avoid spam. Advisable if anon comments are on.
    • Privacy » Ban/Unban - Essentially blocking. Only pertains to commenting for the individual journal.
    • History » Claim OpenID Account (see What to do when you move)
  • Manage Circle - Manage who you're subscribed to, who you grant access, and view the general relationship between you and journals/comms in your circle here
  • Manage Filters - Manage your subscription filters; that is, put the journals/comms you're watching into particular groups so you can view different types of journals/comms/entries on your reading page ( at a time. For example, if I'm subscribed to many theme makers but also writing comms, I can make a "Writing Comm" filter and a "Theme Maker" filter so they don't get all cluttered up against each other when I'm scrolling down my reading page.
  • Manage Tags - Organize and maintain the tags on a journal. You can also get to tags on a comm you maintain through here. (Work as [dropdown] instead of [user.])
    • Tags are able to be renamed, deleted, merged with other tags, show entries for a tag, sorted alphabetically or by usage, and added here.
    • You can also modify who is able to edit tags on entries as well as who is able to create new tags in general, here.
  • Manage Communities - All the comms you maintain, as well as editing (for the individual comms). See Communities for elements of interest.
    • Profile
    • Style (Customization/Layout)
    • Settings
    • Tags
    • Tracking
    • Invitations
    • Members
  • Manage Images - View the images you have already uploaded; there is also a link to upload more images here.
  • Import Content - See What to do when you move
  • Select Style
    • 1. Edit Titles - Edit the title, subtitle, reading page, and reading page subtitle of your journal
    • 2. Select a New Theme - Use one of the many default Dreamwidth styles as your journal theme
    • 3. Choose a Page Setup
    • Current Theme (right box on the side)
      • Displays a preview of your default current theme
      • Advanced Customization - if you are a developer, you can create your own layers for Dreamwidth and build your own theme from scratch instead of using a default Dreamwidth style. (This is programming, not just HTML/CSS)
      • Customize Your Theme... see below
  • Customize Style - If you're not using custom CSS, get settled and make sure you have a lot of time so you can go through everything to make your journal look the way you want it to look. Like the above, I've only listed what I think is of your best interest here, but there are many other options if you click around.
    • ALL of the colors, fonts, and general sizes in your default Dreamwidth theme can be edited here without CSS. Some positioning can also be modified here; see Presentation, Colors, Fonts, and Images
    • Display » Basic Options » Number of journal entries to show on the Recent Entries page
    • Display » Additional Options » Type of tags display on the tags page - I recommend multilevel if you want to have tags nestled into others. Nestling can be done by using colons : in your tags)
    • Display » Additional Options » User interaction links (the bottom three options) - I recommend text-only if you don't want Dreamwidth's default icons to be shown up as interactive links on your journal
    • Modules - Make certain modules on your journal visible or not; can also modify the position (main/secondary/header), and also position order. There are additional options for things like the profile, calendar, and tags.
    • Text » Module - Modify the headings and text of individual modules, most pertinently the "Custom Text" content text if you have that module activated.
    • Text » Navigation - Modify the text for your navigation links (recent entries, archive, etc.) Making this empty will allow the link to disappear from the navigation.
    • Text » Entry - All of these are pretty self-explanatory, but as I know some people really like their custom text for comments, here is where you can modify that.
    • Links List - Allows you to provide links that will show up on your journal in addition to (or replacing, or whatever) the navigation links. For comms, this can have things like links to guidelines and rules; this can also be separate networking links if DW's profile network options don't have the external sites you use.
    • Custom CSS - Overrides Presentation/Colors/Fonts/Images. For, well, custom CSS, such as codes you can find on [community profile] dreamwidthlayouts.
Memories can be found and edited by going to, and in the top bit you'll see something like this:

  • Click on Memories and you'll come to a page of all your memory Keywords.
  • Click on the individual Keyword to see the entries in the filter, and beside each link there will be an [Edit] link.
  • Going to [Edit] will take you to a page where you can edit a memmed entry's Description, Keyword, and Security (of people being able to see that you saved this link to your Memories.)
  • You can put a link under multiple Keywords by putting a comma between each keyword, or by holding down the CTRL (or Command) button while selecting the second/third/etc. keywords from the dropdown of your existing keywords.
Most of the above pertains to both JOURNALS and COMMUNITIES, except for Notifications, History, Manage Circles, Manage Filters, and Upload Images (images are to the account, not to the journal).


If you have never been on LJ before, you can see [community profile] inkstains, [community profile] sportsanime, and [community profile] crowdfunding as some examples of communities. This right here ([community profile] byaro) is also a community, where I specifically post things I make. As you can tell, communities can be for many purposes and for any number of people, even just yourself.

This is what the topbar looks like at when you are operating as a community user.

This can also be accessed by going to Organize » Manage Communities » Settings (on the individual community.

Account and Display essentially function the same as a journal. But pertaining with the other two tabs as visible in the first image - and, as usual, these are things I think are of MOST IMPORTANT interest:
  • Community » Membership - manage who is able to join the community. There is open (anyone/immediate acceptance), moderated (anyone can REQUEST, administrators must approve), and invitation only (closed to anyone requesting/joining, but administrators can add members as they see fit.)
  • Community » Posting Access - options are: Anyone including non-members, All (only) members, and Select members which can be modified in the "Members" tab (see later)
  • Community » Entry Moderation - require for all posts to be passed through the administrators for approval (viewing the full content of pending posts) before officially posting to the community. This gets passed through the admins' inboxes/emails
  • Community » Links After Join - Give new members who have just joined (or been approved for joining) an immediate link to posting to the community
  • Community » Posting Guidelines - If you have a link to posting guidelines for your community, you can select here where this post is - in the profile, in an entry, or nowhere
  • Community » Posting Guidelines Entry - If you have an individual entry for posting guidelines, you can provide the link here
  • Privacy » Minimum Entry Security - particularly relevant if your community is completely locked but all (or multiple members) can post; this defaults every entry posted by any member to have a minimum security; that is, if you were to select 'Members' in this option, then all members have a minimum security of making a post viewed by members only and are unable to make present or future posts public unless an admin changes this option
  • Privacy » Enable Comments - see the journal explanation
  • Privacy » Comment Screening - see the journal explanation

Other community options are viewable if you are working as the community user and in one of the pages for settings. This is the other community settings navigation:

The Profile and Style section function essentially the same as journals, i.e. as explained above. We just covered Account Settings, so here is an explanation for Invitations, Members, and Queue:
  • Invitations - Send invitations out to other Dreamwidth users to be a member of your community. You can also invite them as an admin as well, not just a member, if you are co-modding.
  • Members - View present members, maintaining who is a member, has posting access, and is an admin. The "Find Member" option is particularly useful if your community is large and you wanted to find a member in particular to modify.
  • Queue - If your community has Entry Moderation, this is where the queue of not-yet-approved entries will go


LiveJournal also had this thing where you could reference another user within LJ-specific code, by typing <lj user="kingdra"> and coming up with [ profile] kingdra. Dreamwidth does this similar, and even better.
  • The code on Dreamwidth is <user name="aroceu"> to create [personal profile] aroceu - but it doesn't stop at just DW journals.
  • You can also make [ profile] aroceu or [ profile] aroceu or [ profile] aroceu (see all options here) by typing something like:
  • <user name="aroceu" site="">, or
  • <user name="aroceu" site=""> or
  • <user name="aroceu" site="">, and on. You get the drift.
  • This code also works in the profile bio section.
Dreamwidth also has a function similar to (or basically exactly) the LJ cut, or Tumblr readmores.
  • Type <cut> to start a cut, and </cut> to end a cut.
  • Readmore text can also be customized to say something other than Read More with: <cut text="whatever you want this to say instead of Read More">
  • All of these options are also available via clickable icons in the Rich Text/WYSIWYG editor.


There are two elements to a journal (or community) in terms of info/content display:
  • the journal itself (, and
  • the profile (
Custom codes for both/either can be found at AND submitted to by virtually anyone: Other style related resources:
  • [community profile] style_system (general discussion/help)
  • [site community profile] dw_styles (official announcements for general site style overview; outdated)
  • [site community profile] dreamscapes (to get your layout as an official option on DW)
  • [community profile] stylemakers (discussion for DW layout makers)
  • [community profile] the_style_kit (resources for you to make your DW layouts)


The journal is the main part, as you might've guessed. It's where all the posts that you make go; posts allow you to access the comments; etc. And so of course it's customizable and you can choose how it's displayed so everything looks pretty. If you were on LJ, you probably know about how all the Choose a Layout → Customize Layout stuff goes. If you weren't, or don't, here's a good guide on how to customize a Dreamwidth journal and make it look pretty.

And, of course: custom themes! Who doesn't like those? Below are a list of resources specifically for converting LiveJournal layouts into Dreamwidth layouts. Layout makers I like (this is very obviously not exhaustive; you can browse [community profile] dreamwidthlayouts or the default layouts to find one you like if we have different tastes):


The profile bit (/profile) is basically the static information. It can very easily be used as an "about" section, or for an about and links via intro information guide, attaching to a variety of other integral pages for a stranger to get to know the journal - basically, the Bio section of any other social networking site you're on, though of course you can customize its purpose to be for whatever else that is of static info and use to you.


I'm including this bit for the purposes of anyone who has never been on LJ before, so feel free to skip if you have.

If you're an ex-LJer, you know that on average, half of interacting on a journal-type networking site is reading an actual journal entry itself. The other half - or sometimes even more - are the discussions and stuff that goes down in the comments. Comments are where virtually anyone can contribute (unless you have very, very strict privacy and access): to share their thoughts, to give feedback to the entry.

And then there are things like kinkmemes and whatnot where the comments are the main content, to be hosted by the journal entry itself. But we're getting ahead of ourselves. The point is: you can make entries - that is, what you do as the owner of your journal or as a poster within a community the main focus. Or you can make it all about discussion and bring the spotlight over to the comments. Or the spotlight can go down in the comments anyway if people have a lot to say and time to read and multiple people discourse together. Conversation! Understanding! Sharing! Trying to reach an agreement! Wank! The comments is where it's all happening (if you want it to be.)



  • 7 Basic Bits About Dreamwidth - a quick rundown of how DW works (and by quick, I mean very quick!) Directed towards Tumblr users.
  • Dreamwidth 101 - covers some stuff I mentioned here in more detail, plus: HTML within posts/comments, icons, and your inbox. Some redundancy with my own post here, but this linked post is specifically about utilizing the variant options as they exist.
  • How To Use Dreamwidth ([community profile] sportsanime) - dummy guide for entry-level usage
  • Guide to Dreamwidth - covers many of the big basic things about using Dreamwidth with easy guides and explanations


Note: Many of these posts discuss having paid accounts and prices affiliated with different benefits. However, you do not need a paid account to enjoy and use Dreamwidth effectively. I have not paid a cent for account options since I first joined in 2010, and I have still enjoyed DW immensely. DW does depend and run on user payments for additional benefits like more icon space and whatnot, if you are capable and interested in paying and receiving these upgrades. I'm not trying to discourage either way - just pointing out that having a free account is perfectly fulfilling as well.




How do you meet new people on Dreamwidth? Well, [ profile] bisexualbaker wrote a very thorough explanation on how to find cool people on Dreamwidth in terms of how this site works - how to actually find friends may not news to old LJ users, I'd assume, and it's really just a matter of knowing where to start and what communities you can find to start that domino effect of finding friends of friends of friends and communities of members of communities.

Anyway, tl;dr, plus some of my own suggestions: Basically: look around, see if the event or the community is of your interests, see how/if you can participate, sign up if you need to, join/watch, start posting if you're allowed, leave comments, and see where everything takes you! And like any other social networking site, it becomes more fun the more members there are, so for your social experience to flourish you'd have to participate. And run/create your own events and comms if you'd like, to get more and more people together.

I won't be posting comms to specific and intensive events because then this list will get way too long; these suggestions are just a starting point. Anyone else is welcome to make a masterlist of events on Dreamwidth. If you do have a suggestion for a comm that you think belongs on this list, though, please comment and let me know :D

Feel free to leave questions (and whatever else) in the comments! If you also feel that another tutorial, guide, or anything else in helping newbies navigate Dreamwidth belongs on this post, please let me know and I'll happily add as I see fit.

BY THE WAY, I am very interested in compiling (or finding, or linking) an UP-TO-DATE list of certain types of comms/resources for people on Dreamwidth (e.g. masterlist of kinkmemes, RP resources, writing comms/challenges, specific fandom comms/journals, what have you) so if anyone has already compiled a masterlist of some sort that is currently getting continuously updated, please let me know! Alternatively if someone wants to assist (as I am only one person who despite my many interests is not interested in everything that exists), please feel free to contact me about this as well :D

I also think there should be a tutorial on how to run events/fests/exchanges on Dreamwidth with/and/or AO3? Throwing it out there in case anyone is interested in writing one since I'm not sure if I have the credentials to write that.
sinew: (tokyo babylon - allure)

[personal profile] sinew 2017-04-07 10:27 am (UTC)(link)
i'm a dumb and i'm can't figure out how to make the subtagging work? do custom journal styles make it not display properly possibly? :x i've been here for years and didn't even know that was a thing??? orz

masterlists of different kinds of comms sounds really cool too

thanks for writing this, it should be super helpful to new users!
a_shadow: (Default)

[personal profile] a_shadow 2017-04-07 04:33 pm (UTC)(link)
There's some discussion on the RP anon comms whether Bakerstreet and SWS are worth going to anymore, but either way, I'd add [personal profile] dwrpmasterlist and [community profile] 1prompt to the thing.
bizarra: Claudia smiling (Default)

[personal profile] bizarra 2017-04-20 12:54 am (UTC)(link)
I've been reading through your post, great tutorial, BTW and a couple things that I just can't find anywhere, and they might be so well known they folks don't think to mention them, but, I'm that idiot that doesn't know.. LOL

1. Does DW still use invite codes? This is a journal I created many moons ago, and now I have a ton of RP journals on LJ that I would love to create within a timely manner, rather than having to wait until invite codes are generated. ( and I have an idea for an RP challengecommunity that would not work with invite codes LOL

and 2 (andm this question is probably even dumber than the invite code question, but regarding commenting... what does (flat) (Top Level Comments) mean? I know the post comment and number of comments, but the other links in the comments throw me... :)

Edited 2017-04-20 00:54 (UTC)
bizarra: Claudia YAY (Claudia YAY)

[personal profile] bizarra 2017-04-20 01:46 am (UTC)(link)

1. Yay! that's what I thought, but i wasn't 100% sure. Some of the FAQs are older, so they're mentioned and I was starting to second guess myself. LOL

2. That makes sense, yes, thank you. That was confusing the heck out of me, but, it's super helpful knowing that, because that can make posts with a ton of comments so much more manageable... and basically works like LJs, "expand" and "thread".

Thank you somuch for the help!
old_man_of_hoy: (Default)

[personal profile] old_man_of_hoy 2017-04-22 11:49 am (UTC)(link)
Hello! I was pointed here because I maintain a Masterlist of Masterlists over here on my journal.
old_man_of_hoy: (Default)

[personal profile] old_man_of_hoy 2017-04-23 08:28 am (UTC)(link)
Needless to say, if you happen to stumble upon a new list or create one yourself, please let me know? *g*