denise: Image: Me, facing away from camera, on top of the Castel Sant'Angelo in Rome (Default)
Denise ([staff profile] denise) wrote in [site community profile] dw_biz2010-05-04 10:46 pm

The state of the coffers

So, we've closed the books on April, and I'm really pleased to report that we had a fabulous month of sales. We're about 60% of the way to our goal of raising $50,000 to replenish the funds we spent during the months when we were unable to accept credit card/online payments (which is very, very reassuring!) Even more reassuring is that April was the first month we've been (well!) in the black since open beta launch: our income was greater than our regular expenses. This is fabulous news, especially since our predictions didn't expect this to happen until about six months from now. (It's more exciting because so far, May sales are on track for May to be another month in the black.)

I've seen a few people mentioning that the fact we're concentrating so much on raising money, especially so close to our initial launch, troubles them or makes them feel like the site's financial future is less secure, or people saying that the fact we're not reliably in the black yet month-to-month is an indicator of either a) overspending or b) underperforming, sales-wise. (Often heard as: "it costs them what per month? What the hell are they doing over there?")

Please don't worry.

First of all, the reason that we're concentrating so hard on raising money is to replace what we spent to cover the three months where we could only accept online payments intermittently. It isn't a sign of a major shortfall or an immediate urgent cash need: it comes from a desire to restock that "emergency fund" so that if (God forbid) we need to use it again, we'll have it on hand to draw from. The idea is that by restocking now, when times are good, we'll have it on hand in case of disaster.

Meanwhile, the fact that we aren't in the black month-to-month yet is something we'd totally planned: our schedule and business plan gave us plenty of time to get there. We could, at pretty much any point, cut back our monthly expenditure sharply to just "server costs" and have enough income to run the site comfortably for quite a long time. The extra cash is going into investing in our development: paying contractors to help maintain and improve the site, paying our fulltime employee [staff profile] fu to do awesome things for us, paying for other professional services, doing marketing research and usability studies of Dreamwidth (did any of you notice our forays into Google AdWords tests? Results say: I need to work on writing my ad copy like whoa), education like books and courses, travel (to conferences and other things where we both make important industry connections and learn about useful technologies -- site search came out of Mark attending a talk at OSCON '09) ... the list is endless.

So, it might look like we're making stupid decisions, or doing things wrong, or what-have-you, which we knew at the very start would be a major risk with the level of openness we wanted to offer -- Dreamwidth is, among many other things, an experiment in radical business transparency. And we do hold back certain details, because putting them into context would take time away from developing and running DW. But I can tell you, there's totally nothing to be worried about for DW's future. (The fact that we were willing to hire on [staff profile] fu as a full-time employee -- hire her away from her existing job, even! -- should tell you something!)

*

Now, while I've got you all here: As a part of our ongoing process of constantly re-examining our offerings, our processes, our goals, and our structures, it is time for a poll! This poll will ask you certain questions about both your existing and your hypothetical future behavior. I'm calling it the "completely non-judgemental paid account poll", because a lot of times when we make polls like this, people feel like they have to justify why they haven't upgraded their accounts, or why they've had to let a paid account lapse. Please don't! We absolutely do not think less of our free users, and everyone's reasons for paying or not paying are 100% valid for them. We completely respect your choices! This poll is just a way of trying to tease out meaning from some of our business stats, trying to figure out which of our planned or possible enhancements might be popular, and seeing whether there are any barriers to payment that we don't know about. (There are ones we know about, and some of them are things we're working on, and some of them are things we can't quite figure out the best way to handle, etc.)

As always, the results of this poll will be used as another factor in our decision-making; it isn't a guarantee.



For the first few questions, rate them on a scale of 1-5, where 1 is "most likely to buy" and 5 is "least likely to buy". Evaluate them independent of price: in other words, the beginning clause of each question should be "Assume that you considered it a fair price, and had room in your budget for discretionary items".

For the rest of the questions, pick the options that match most closely. If there aren't any perfect matches, but is close enough, pick the close enough. You can clarify in comments if you want, but don't feel obliged. Results visible to me and [staff profile] mark Results visible to [site community profile] dw_biz members. (I screwed up!)

Poll #3012 The Paid Poll
Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: Access List, participants: 656

From 1 (most likely) to 5 (least) how likely would you be to buy: A rename token?

Mean: 3.87 Median: 4 Std. Dev 1.36
168 (10.4%)
250 (7.6%)
393 (14.2%)
4129 (19.7%)
5314 (48.0%)

A virtual gift for a friend?

Mean: 3.29 Median: 3 Std. Dev 1.36
189 (13.7%)
2106 (16.3%)
3145 (22.2%)
4148 (22.7%)
5164 (25.2%)

An extra icon/userpic add-on (assuming you had to have a paid account first)?

Mean: 3.18 Median: 3 Std. Dev 1.39
1102 (15.6%)
2117 (17.9%)
3149 (22.8%)
4130 (19.9%)
5155 (23.7%)

The ability to let people with free accounts who comment in your journal to use paid account comment features?

Mean: 2.90 Median: 3 Std. Dev 1.27
1108 (16.5%)
2148 (22.6%)
3193 (29.5%)
4114 (17.4%)
591 (13.9%)

The ability to browse the entirety of the site using SSL encryption, all the time?

Mean: 3.24 Median: 3 Std. Dev 1.32
183 (13.0%)
298 (15.3%)
3187 (29.3%)
4122 (19.1%)
5149 (23.3%)

Improved ability to use your domain name with your journal (so that all content comes from your domain)?

Mean: 3.42 Median: 3 Std. Dev 1.30
163 (9.8%)
298 (15.2%)
3171 (26.6%)
4131 (20.4%)
5180 (28.0%)

A bound-book version of your journal (with or without comments included)?

Mean: 3.47 Median: 4 Std. Dev 1.46
194 (14.4%)
295 (14.6%)
3107 (16.4%)
4123 (18.9%)
5233 (35.7%)

Pick the option that most closely defines you:

I have a single free personal account, or all of my personal accounts are free accounts, and I don't plan to upgrade any of them
46 (7.1%)

I have multiple free personal accounts, and I may or may not upgrade one of them
59 (9.1%)

I have multiple free personal accounts, and am planning to upgrade one or more of them as soon as possible
41 (6.4%)

I have a paid/premium paid account, primarily because the features appeal to me
187 (29.0%)

I have a paid/premium paid account, primarily because I want to support Dreamwidth
279 (43.3%)

I have a paid/premium paid account, primarily for another reason
33 (5.1%)

Have you ever bought paid time/points for a friend?

Yes
172 (26.3%)

No
453 (69.3%)

I don't remember
29 (4.4%)

If you currently have a paid/premium paid account, pick the statement that most accurately describes you:

I will absolutely renew it when my time is about to expire
371 (62.8%)

I may or may not renew it when my time is about to expire
90 (15.2%)

I probably won't renew it when my time is about to expire
3 (0.5%)

I definitely won't renew it when my time is about to expire
4 (0.7%)

(I don't have a paid account.)
123 (20.8%)

If you currently have a free account, what's the #1 thing that would make you want to pay for your account?

If you've ever had a paid account and let it lapse back to free, what was the #1 reason for letting it lapse?

What things should DW add or work on to make you want to pay (if you're free) or keep paying (if you're paid)?

Creating more ways to share data with other websites/read things from other websites on DW
333 (55.5%)

Creating better tools for me to post and manage top-level content in my account
254 (42.3%)

Creating ways for me to post other forms of media other than text (pics, vids, etc)
332 (55.3%)

Creating better tools for me to find content on DW I want to read
261 (43.5%)

Creating better tools for me to manage comments & conversations in my journal
214 (35.7%)

Creating more ways for me to be notified of activity I'm interested in within my circle
150 (25.0%)

Creating more ways for me to be notified of activity I'm interested in elsewhere on the site
180 (30.0%)

Creating better tools for community participation
204 (34.0%)

Creating better tools for community administration
140 (23.3%)

What's the single thing that DW should add or work on to make you want to pay (if you're free) or keep paying (if you're paid)?

Creating more ways to share data with other websites/read things from other websites on DW
208 (35.7%)

Creating better tools for me to post and manage top-level content in my account
79 (13.6%)

Creating ways for me to post other forms of media other than text (pics, vids, etc)
131 (22.5%)

Creating better tools for me to find content on DW I want to read
62 (10.7%)

Creating better tools for me to manage comments & conversations in my journal
41 (7.0%)

Creating more ways for me to be notified of activity I'm interested in within my circle
9 (1.5%)

Creating more ways for me to be notified of activity I'm interested in elsewhere on the site
14 (2.4%)

Creating better tools for community participation
23 (4.0%)

Creating better tools for community administration
15 (2.6%)




Meanwhile, some news and updates on features that people have been waiting on: rename tokens are very close to being completed (the first round of code review is in process), vgifts are close to being completed (the first draft of the patch is done, but will likely require a few more drafts, because of the complexity), [staff profile] mark is working on cross-site friends page reading as his primary development priority right now and estimates sometime in June, [personal profile] foxfirefey is working on importing community posts from other LJ-based services and doesn't have a specific time estimate yet but is giving it the majority of her development attention, and [staff profile] fu is concentrating on the mockups of the update page redesign that will be a preface to draft/scheduled posts, which we hope to have done sometime during the summer ... are there any other projects you guys would like a specific status update on?
florahart: (writing)

Poll commentary

[personal profile] florahart 2010-05-05 07:50 am (UTC)(link)
I'm not totally sure I know what these things mean; there's a decent chance that means relatively novice-ish users may also be unable to take a stab at their likelihood of using, like me:

The ability to browse the entirety of the site using SSL encryption, all the time?

Improved ability to use your domain name with your journal (so that all content comes from your domain)?


Also:

Choice that there isn't: I have a paid/premium account that is my primary account, and also at least one free account.

Also:

I have a paid/premium paid account, primarily because the features appeal to me
I have a paid/premium paid account, primarily because I want to support Dreamwidth


I chose the former of these, but it's more both of these in combination, in the sense that even if the features alone are not currently appealing enough, it is clear to me that this business is one I wish to support because I feel able to trust that there is a great deal of interest in creating features which are appealing to me, in the short and long run.

Creating more ways to share data with other websites/read things from other websites on DW

I can't answer this because, okay, as noted above, I trust you guys. But Facebook has been creeping the crap out of me lately with its looking over my shoulder (newest thing: you have to opt out of stuff in order to prevent it from making recommendations to you based on your google searching in another tab. Which to me is a big fat OH MY GOD NO STOP SPYING ON ME.) Anyway, so: Facebook's recent changes are being called an improvement as far as creating ways to share data, and I want to just say: okay, I see the value, but somehow not like THAT, you know? And I know you are clear on the importance of not springing changes on me or making me opt out after a change is applied, but just saying.
goodbyebird: The Middleman: Wendy and the Middleman stand around  in their underwear. (Middleman)

Re: Poll commentary

[personal profile] goodbyebird 2010-05-05 09:38 am (UTC)(link)
I have a paid/premium paid account, primarily because the features appeal to me
I have a paid/premium paid account, primarily because I want to support Dreamwidth

I chose the former of these, but it's more both of these in combination, in the sense that even if the features alone are not currently appealing enough, it is clear to me that this business is one I wish to support because I feel able to trust that there is a great deal of interest in creating features which are appealing to me, in the short and long run.


+1

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tyger: An unidentified person-shape from Detective Conan.  Text: LURKER (Lurker)

[personal profile] tyger 2010-05-05 07:54 am (UTC)(link)
You forgot I have one free account that's I'm planning to upgrade, so I chose multiple/one upgrade. I have a comm, that's almost the same.
silverhare: drawing of a grey hare (dw - doctor [cup of tea! <3])

[personal profile] silverhare 2010-05-05 09:47 am (UTC)(link)
Agreed.

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cesy: Home is where the <3 is (Dreamwidth) (Dreamwidth)

[personal profile] cesy 2010-05-05 08:13 am (UTC)(link)
I am so happy about cross-site reading and importing community posts in particular. Thank you for the update on those. How are the GSoC projects looking so far, or have they not really started yet? I remember seeing a couple of people doing minor bugs to get familiar with the codebase.
foxfirefey: Dreamwidth: social content with dimension. (dreamwidth)

[personal profile] foxfirefey 2010-05-05 08:35 am (UTC)(link)
GSoC is currently in the community bonding period, where we work on getting our students acclimated to the culture, set up for coding, familiar with the documentation, etc. Students at this point might still be facing finals--and we don't want to negatively affect those! May 24th is when the bonding period is over, but I wouldn't be surprised if some projects have started being coded then.

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lferion: Pride-rainbow Dreamsheep (DW_Sheep_rainbow)

[personal profile] lferion 2010-05-05 08:16 am (UTC)(link)
I have a seed account, and while I am contemplating a second account (mostly so I can have the redirect of iferion to Lferion) which would be a free one because it would be a redirect :-), I haven't made it yet. Since there was no button for seeds, I answered as if my account were paid/premium on those questions. (I hope that makes sense.)
the_shoshanna: "I believe in Dreamwidth" colored pencils (Dreamwidth pencils)

[personal profile] the_shoshanna 2010-05-05 02:55 pm (UTC)(link)
I have a seed account too, and after thinking for a while I answered as though the questions were asking, not about renewing my own account, but about spending money on the site in other ways. Mostly gifts to others. Yay, ability to transfer DW points to other users!
stepps: (Default)

[personal profile] stepps 2010-05-05 08:22 am (UTC)(link)
The ability to browse the entirety of the site using SSL encryption, all the time?

IDK what this means.
cesy: "Cesy" - An old-fashioned quill and ink (Default)

[personal profile] cesy 2010-05-05 08:59 am (UTC)(link)
It's basically an extra level of security for people who are really concerned about security, particularly if you're using a public computer.
Edited (saying what I mean, rather than ableist shorthand, sorry) 2010-05-05 09:00 (UTC)

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logios: (heh fancy meeting you here)

[personal profile] logios 2010-05-05 08:27 am (UTC)(link)
Dreamwidth has in general been UNBELIEVABLY GREAT for the newish RP game that I mod at. I'm very happy here and so are lots of my players. There are just a few "in a perfect world" sorts of features that come to mind that would encourage me (and my players) to part with a little more cash ;) :

1) Userpic-only packages - believe me, if you gave people the opportunity to have 360 pics here, I have players who would buy it. They really don't care about anything but the pics.

2) Image hosting, like LJ's Scrapbook - people like to share pictures of themselves and the characters they play as and interact with. I have a paid account at LJ and while I barely even go there anymore to write, I still use my Scrapbook constantly.

3) As a community manager in a "dressing room" - this is a very casual show-up-and-play style of RP - it would be so helpful to be able to look at community member lists sorted by date, email/IM listed (where available), and name (i.e. the name in the About part of the profile rather than the account name.) Right now we're picking up 10 or so new members in the comm a day... I'd really like to know who the new guys are!

4) Also as a community manager: we're currently splitting content between third-party wikis and google docs and Dreamwidth communities. If there was some kind of very lightweight "community wiki"-type add-on feature available - it would lower the bar for use by players by maintaining the look and feel of the community and allow them to use the journal-based editing tools that they're accustomed to already.

But these are minor quibbles! DW is already so much better than any other similar service. <3
highlyeccentric: Sheer Geekiness, unfortunately - I just think this stuff is really cool (phd comics) (Sheer Geekiness)

[personal profile] highlyeccentric 2010-05-05 08:39 am (UTC)(link)
I don't RP at *all*, and I've no idea what I would use such a thing for (in fact, I probably wouldn't), but the community wiki idea sounds awesome!

... I think i spent too long working in internal communications.

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tree: text: dreamwidth, in blue on a blue and green background ([else] dreamwidth sheep)

[personal profile] tree 2010-05-05 08:54 am (UTC)(link)
wee, ticky boxes.

i want there to be a "yet" option for Have you ever bought paid time/points for a friend?. because i haven't. but i will!

also, I have a paid/premium paid account, primarily because I want to support Dreamwidth assumes only one paid account, but some of us might have more than one. 'cause we're greedy.

thanks, as usual, for being so transparent about everything. i'm actually impressed and pleased that you've managed to make it into the black within the first year of business. my understanding is that most businesses spend at least the first year in the red, which is why so many don't last much beyond that.

[personal profile] hyelishcreations 2010-05-05 08:58 am (UTC)(link)
Rename tokennnsssss. *makes grabby hands*

Like Florahart, I have a paid/premium account that is my primary account, and also at least one free account. *posting from free account*
chaosraven: Chopper (Default)

[personal profile] chaosraven 2010-05-05 09:01 am (UTC)(link)
I answered the last question with "better tools for community participation" under the assumption that it was meant as "the greater DW community" and not "a community journal on DW". That might not have been how the question was intended but that's how I chose to read it.
sedge: A drawing of the head of a sedge wren. (Default)

[personal profile] sedge 2010-05-05 10:33 am (UTC)(link)
+1

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elfy: (Default)

[personal profile] elfy 2010-05-05 09:01 am (UTC)(link)
Yes, something like Scrapbok is totally missing here. It's one of the main reasons for me not to really move yet. I use it constantly over at LJ. Having it here would be great, especially if you would probably make Scrapbook waaaaay better than it is at LJ (e.g. leaving comments on pics? :))
havocthecat: sunflowers and dreamwidth (random dreamwidth)

[personal profile] havocthecat 2010-05-05 01:05 pm (UTC)(link)
I seem to remember hearing that a Scrapbook-like system is coming at Dreamwidth, but that it's going to take a LOT of coding to do so it's not as kludgy and cumbersome as Scrapbook is on LJ.

Which would be nice, because I want to move my pictures from my LJ Scrapbook over to here too! So I sit on my hands and try to be patient. (It's not easy.)

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dzurlady: (Default)

[personal profile] dzurlady 2010-05-05 09:03 am (UTC)(link)
There doesn't seem to be a I have a single free personal account and I may or may not upgrade one of them option, so that part of the poll was a little tricky for me.
dzurlady: (Default)

[personal profile] dzurlady 2010-05-05 09:04 am (UTC)(link)
Argh, I mean 'it'. I have to say, the paid feature I miss not having the most is comment editing.
orbitaldiamonds: penguin in a green shirt with Earth on it, "<3 Earth" sign (Default)

[personal profile] orbitaldiamonds 2010-05-05 09:20 am (UTC)(link)
You didn't mention seed accounts in the question about renewing. I have one and I do intend to be here awhile, and likely buy points and gifts for friends and all. :)

Also, how would I connect my domain with my journal now? I didn't even know you could do that.
zarhooie: Girl on a blueberry bramble looking happy. Text: Kat (Default)

[personal profile] zarhooie 2010-05-05 02:58 pm (UTC)(link)
Yep, you can do it! The FAQ on it is here, and you can see how it works in real life by visiting zarhooie.com

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shanaqui: Akihiko and Shinjiro from Persona 3, in bed together. ((AkihikoShinjiro) Together)

[personal profile] shanaqui 2010-05-05 09:34 am (UTC)(link)
I have multiple paid accounts! Or I will when I have a little more money. (One paid premium, two paid: the paid premium one is for the features, the two paid ones are simply to support Dreamwidth.)
goodbyebird: Dollhouse: Priya hopes for the best. (DH Priya bön)

[personal profile] goodbyebird 2010-05-05 09:42 am (UTC)(link)
I'd say the ability to make notes is a big wish of mine. I have a very bad memory, and it really helps me keep track of people's identities in the beginning. Also, userpic packages would be a dream said the icon-addict in the corner.
Edited (html fail) 2010-05-05 09:45 (UTC)
dancing_serpent: (Default)

[personal profile] dancing_serpent 2010-05-05 09:48 am (UTC)(link)
I have a paid/premium paid account, primarily because the features appeal to me AND because I want to support DW. As for options to choose: I have one premium paid account, paid for two communities and have several at the moment free accounts I've paid for over the last year in chunks of one or two months of paid time.
trixtah: (Default)

[personal profile] trixtah 2010-05-05 10:02 am (UTC)(link)
Mmm, it would be great if you offered SSL, but I don't think it should be a feature we should pay for. I appreciate the fact that you'd have to pay several K for the certs, but, eh, I don't think we should pay for security.
andrewducker: (Default)

[personal profile] andrewducker 2010-05-05 10:16 am (UTC)(link)
I agree. It should be a function of a paid account, or all accounts.
andrewducker: (Default)

[personal profile] andrewducker 2010-05-05 10:17 am (UTC)(link)
Just to say - the multiple choice ones weren't intuitive. The idea that "1" is greater than "5" and that the "more" direction is right-to-left meant I had to redo two of them when I got them the wrong way around.
birguslatro: Birgus Latro III icon (Default)

[personal profile] birguslatro 2010-05-05 10:50 am (UTC)(link)
+1

I was thinking they were back to front compared to most polls I've taken. The results will be a bit meaningless if 50% just skimmed the instructions...

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umbo: looking up at B-24 J engine (Default)

[personal profile] umbo 2010-05-05 10:27 am (UTC)(link)
I have a seed account, which made it hard to answer some of the questions. But I agree that having a way to host pictures here would be great, so I didn't have to use my LJ Scrapbook for that and could use DW instead.

Also, I had to go back and change my votes because I automatically thought the "1" was the less and the "5" was the more--that was kind of confusing.
jd: (Default)

[personal profile] jd 2010-05-05 10:27 am (UTC)(link)
I have a paid account that is bought entirely as gifts from friends. I can't afford to buy my own account, so I don't.

Pretty much nothing DW can do right now would make me buy one since I don't have a job. Once that changes, things will be different.
raelynne: (aurora)

[personal profile] raelynne 2010-05-05 10:29 am (UTC)(link)
In case it matters, I answered for my primary account, [personal profile] queenbarwench. This is a free account that I use to log in from work, and is unlikely to be upgraded.

I have a paid account both because I like the features and I want to support the institution.

A feature that I heard about ages ago (and may just be speculation rather than a plan - I've not checked Bugzilla) was to have a master account with linked subsidiary accounts. I would love to know if a) this is a real plan and not just in my head and b) if there is a timescale attached.
cesy: Unofficial Dreamwidth volunteer (Dreamwidth volunteer)

[personal profile] cesy 2010-05-05 10:53 am (UTC)(link)
It's a real plan, but there's no timescale attached, since no developer or designer has yet volunteered for it.

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darkrose: (dreamsheep: dw swirl)

[personal profile] darkrose 2010-05-05 10:31 am (UTC)(link)
I have a seed account, which makes some of the questions hard to answer.

[personal profile] genshouku 2010-05-05 10:33 am (UTC)(link)
I figured out how to add the feeds from Livejournal communities that I am a part of onto my readers list so that I can sort of follow them....

...if there was any sort of way I could leave myself logged in over there and see the locked entries on my readers page over here I would never go back, hahah. Well, I guess unless I needed to crosspost >_>

I guess...I just desire more reasons to not have to wander back over there just because the majority of my reader base is still stuck in the dark ages and will be for some time.
telesilla: dreamwidth sheep with a peace sign on it (dreamwidth peace sheep)

[personal profile] telesilla 2010-05-05 10:34 am (UTC)(link)
I've got a seed account but I also buy time for one of my communities and so I kind of answered the "option that defines you" assuming we were talking about the community.
vass: A sepia-toned line-drawing of a man in naval uniform dancing a hornpipe, his crotch prominent (Default)

[personal profile] vass 2010-05-05 10:34 am (UTC)(link)
With the bound book thing: what I'd like is an affordable way to buy a year at a time of bound book, because my journal's a work in progress, and I don't want to have to keep buying the whole thing over and over to get the new content.
havocthecat: a pre-raphaelite is reading (pre-raphaelite reading)

[personal profile] havocthecat 2010-05-05 01:07 pm (UTC)(link)
Oooh. Yes, that's a very good idea.

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zooey_glass: (OTW Founding Member)

[personal profile] zooey_glass 2010-05-05 10:51 am (UTC)(link)
I have a seed account, which I bought because I wanted to support DW getting started. I'd say the only feature you don't currently provide that I desperately want is the ability to import communities from LJ (and I think that is in the works, non?). The thing I love about DW, though, is that you're constantly adding new features that I didn't know I wanted but which really enhance my experience as a user. I'm unemployed right now, so I'm not making any big purchases, but I will probably buy paid accounts for others in the future, because I want to continue to support DW even though with my seed account I get all the premium features anyway.

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