The Elfwood LiveJournal communities are virtually unique. Not only are there a vast number of them, many of them with a vast number of members, but LiveJournal has also become well integrated with Elfwood. In addition to the link to the main Elfwood-LJ on Elfwood's main page, there's a place in your personal information where you can input your LiveJournal username, generating a link to it on your shelf or gallery. But what if you can't find your way around the Elfwood LiveJournals? What if you don't even know what LiveJournal is? Don't worry, it's not quite as complicated as it all sounds.
What is LiveJournal?
LiveJournal is an online journaling provider, one of the two largest on the net. What it enables you to do is write up entries - about your day, your week, your current thoughts, about pretty much anything - and post them to a page online which serves as your journal. Unlike most other popular journaling providers, however, LiveJournal has many built-in features that allow you to use it as a community tool, making it perfect for Elfwood to utilize. In addition to allowing you to set up a friends page where you can keep an eye on the latest posts of the people you know on LJ, you can also create and/or join 'community' journals - which allow multiple people to post in them, sort of like forums, only with a somewhat different atmosphere and format.
LiveJournal's basic service is completely free, but presently it requires an invite code for you to make a new journal. Like Elfwood, LiveJournal was suffering a great deal of abuse; the invite code system was set up to cut down on it. If you have a friend or friends currently on LJ, just ask them for a code. If they either don't have one, or else you don't know anyone on LJ, send an email to 'atleast18 @ hotmail.com'. In the email, give your name, your Elfwood address(es), and the reason you'd like to join. One of them will pass your request along to the Elfwood LJ Community. Since every person with a journal gets at least one code, we should be able to help you out.
Alternatively, you can simply skip the invite code business by getting a paid account. You see, while the basic LiveJournal service is free, you can get a great many more nice features, including faster servers, by buying time as a paid account. If you do this when setting up your account, this completely bypasses the need for you to get an invite code. Further, LiveJournal paid account prices are very reasonable; you can buy anything from two months of paid time at five US dollars, to a full year at twenty-five US dollars, and there are a variety of ways to make your payments. It's not necessary to get a paid account, however; like Elfwood, giving money to LiveJournal is entirely voluntary, it's just that with LJ, you're paying for extra services when you do so.
So how do I get started?
In order for you to participate in Elfwood's LiveJournal communities, you'll need to have set up your own LiveJournal. Don't worry that you won't be able to update it very often, because lots of people can't. Also, don't worry about using it 'properly', that is, to do actual journal-style entries. LJs can be used for lots of things, from posting your favorite lyrics to quizzes and other fun. In fact, it's entirely feasible to set up an LJ just to post your Elfwood gallery or shelf updates to!
Of course, before you can worry about content, you have to have create your journal. Assuming you've already settled the business of an invite code, all you need to do is go to http://www.livejournal.com, and, on the main page, go down to 'Create a Journal'. If you run into any problems in setting one up, just visit their FAQ, and if the answer isn't there, their support section. Whatever you do, don't post LiveJournal setup questions to the Elfwood-LJ; there's a place called the Newbie Lounge, which is where to go to for that sort of thing.
What are the various Elfwood-LJ Communities, and what are they used for?
The very first Elfwood LiveJournal community is simply elfwood. This is the main community journal for all of Elfwood on LiveJournal, as all the others get much more specific about what they cover. This is the place to go to with general questions about art or Elfwood, requests for advice, or really anything that ties in with the Elfwood themes or would be of interest to Elfwood members. However, there are also some detailed rules about what can and can't be posted in this LJ, particularly concerning rants or complaints, and plugs, which should be sent to two other communities. The information page can be found here, so be sure to read it carefully before you join!
elfwoodrant and elfwoodplugs are two community journals that have spun directly off of the main Elfwood community. elfwoodrant is for, as it's name might suggest, rants. This is where you go to complain and kvetch about anything Elfwood related. You won't get 'in trouble' for things posted here, at least, not with the ERB or Thomas, although fellow members of the community may reply to your posts in a relatively harsh manner. Of course, you can always reply harshly back. elfwoodplugs is similarly easy to identify in purpose: it's for plugs. This is where you'd say 'Come visit my gallery (or shelf)!', or post when you've updated, and so on.
elfwoodprojects isn't a community to which you can post, but it is a community worth watching. Another direct spinoff of Elfwood-LJ, this community is for the planning and announcement of Elfwood-LJ projects and contests. You might not be able to post directly to the community, but you can comment on and answer posts, as well as vote in the contest polls that appear here.
handdrawn is another community that, like elfwoodprojects, people cannot directly post to. handdrawn is actually a service community for LiveJournal done by Elfwood members, decidated to providing hand-drawn userpics by request. Elfwood members who are interested in donating their time and efforts may find out how to do so in the community information, which is also where you can find out how to request a userpic from the community.
wyverns_library is the Wyvern's Library community on LiveJournal. Here's the place for any discussions of writing, and of Wyvern's Library itself. Like the main Elfwood community, wyverns_library doesn't encourage plugs or rants, but you are allowed to post parts of stories and poems that you'd like critiques on or help with.
ew_gothic is the community for all Elfwood artists who consider either themselves, their artwork, or their stories to be of a gothic nature or inclination. Posts here should both relate to Elfwood or it's genres and stuff with a darker slant. It too has some posting rules, although the rules differ slightly from the main Elfwood journal.
wyvern is a writing project, a collaborative effort to tell fairy-tale stories in journal-style form. While the project is run by #wyverns_library, it is not necessary to be a visitor to the channel to join in. When a project is currently going on, new people cannot join in, but when a new project is launched, new members are always welcome.
Other journals which are not actual communities, but are affiliated with Elfwood and can be a good idea for an Elfwood member to keep an eye on, are erb, elfwoodtech, and ew_mods. erb is used by the ERB to post things that concern them, as ew_mods is used by the Moderators to let Elfwood members know how things are going. elfwoodtech is used to post technical updates of things happening in the 'woods. There are also several private journals used by Elfwood communities and groups. Most of the Elfwood communities will list the other communities on their info page, so if you're lost on LiveJournal, try looking there.
How do I join an Elfwood LiveJournal Community?
There are two kinds of communities on LiveJournal - open, and closed. With open membership communities, anyone can join. Most Elfwood LiveJournal Communities have open membership, so to join, all you need to do is go to their information page, read over their rules, and then at the top, follow the joining instructions where it says 'Community Information'.
However, not all of the communities have open membership. With closed communities, only the community owner can add new members. Most of the Elfwood communities that are closed do welcome new members, but have either specific criteria for membership, or else want people to directly ask to be added. Look in the community info of these communities to find out what you need to do.
How do I post to an Elfwood-LJ?
Posting to a Community or other shared journal isn't quite as confusing as it may sound… but sometimes it can come close. For one thing, it varies depending on whether you're using and LJ-Client (a software download) or posting from the website.
If you're using the official LJ-Client, select the LiveJournal menu, and then go to 'Select Active Journal…' Once there you should find a drop-down list containing all the communities to which you belong. If some are missing, try logging the client out and then logging back in again. From the list, select the community you wish to post to, and hit okay. The next post you make will be sent to that community instead of your regular journal.
If you're posting from the LiveJournal website, make sure you're using the full update (found here). Under optional settings will be a drop-down menu labeled 'Journal to post in:', from this menu, simply select the journal you wish to use. As with the client, the post will be sent to that community instead of your regular journal.
How did the Elfwood LiveJournal Communities come about?
Essentially, it's Kate's fault.
Katherine Laws was one of the very first Elfwood members to find LiveJournal. She liked the potential it had for communities, and she liked the potential Elfwood has for communities, so she decided to put the two together. She created an LJ community, searched for other Elfwooders with LiveJournals, and invited them all to come join.
A few months later she discussed LiveJournal with Thomas, who agreed to take a look at it. He liked what he saw, ended up getting himself his own LiveJournal, and added the link to the EW-LJ to Elfwood's main page. Since he was also making some changes and additions to Elfwood, he added a feature in the personal info section at the extranet where members could input their own LiveJournal username and have it come up on their shelf or gallery as a link.
The Elfwood LiveJournal community got a tremendous boost in population in June of 2001, thanks to the temporary closing of Elfwood and the permanent closing of the Elfwood messageboards. A link to the community was provided on Elfwood's closed page, and Elfwood members, looking for answers, comfort, or just more of the Elfwood communities, joined up. The community went from around fifty to over five-hundred members in a very short period, and still continues to grow.
Of course, with growth in members, posting rates went up, and it became obvious that it would become necessary to filter the posts at least a little. This lead to the maintainer of the main Elfwood LiveJournal forming the first two additional journals, for plugs and for rants. When those two journals did well, the idea spread, and other people began making more communities.
What can't I do in an Elfwood-LJ? Are there other things I should know?
Most of the Elfwood communities have their own rules spelled out on their info pages. It's very important that you read those first. However, many of the communities are also part of a 'shared journals' group, which basically means they all follow the same rules. Unless you're absolutely sure that it's okay within that community, it's advisable not to post rants or plugs anywhere but elfwoodrant or elfwoodplugs. However, keep in mind that there probably aren't any communities out there where you aren't allowed to provide a link to your gallery and/or shelf in your introductory post to that community.
In addition to the content and the purpose of the communities varying, the tone of them can also be wildly different. It's a good idea to at least read back through some of the older entries of a community before you first post, to give you a feel for what the community is like. Also, check over the Memories section of the group to see what, if anything, is archived.
While the majority of the people in Elfwood-LJ communities are Elfwood members, there are also quite a few people who aren't, either because they left or because they never joined. The current maintainer of the main Elfwood LJ, as well as rants and plugs, is a former Elfwood member, but she doesn't see herself leaving the journal communities anytime soon. There are plenty like her, so keep in mind that not everyone who posts will have a gallery or shelf.
And finally, from the previously mentioned maintainer of EW-LJ, 'Words of advice? Lots of people work hard in Elfwood's name. Even if you can't be one of those people: respect it. Elfwood is filled with people who have something to contribute, even if that is just one little comment which inspires one little girl to pick up a pencil. Be that person. Make that comment.'
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