macheide (macheide) wrote in odiots,

Comfy Character Count Constraints

If you've come to LiveJournal from a certain other internet diary community wannabe, you've probably got bruises from numerous bumps against some extraordinarily tight limits on character counts for various diary fields. Worst has been the character limit for notes attached to diary entries: even after widespread user complaints forced the diarymasters to loosen the straitjacket on notes, the limit remains far toolow to prevent annoying stretches where a comment needs to be carried across multiple sequential notes. Frequently the same chop job needs to be performed on diary entries themselves, forcing an artificial "part 1, part 2, et cetera" breakup of the diary. For special fields such as diary title and journal entry subjects, the character count ration is so tight that the diarist frequently has to give up any thoughts of providing anything suitably descriptive, much less add any special HTML tagging or style.

If there are any character count constraints on LiveJournal entries or notes, I've failed to hit them, even after some rather absurd experiments that violate any reasonable limit on the length of decent discourse long before they violate any LJ system constraint. Take the full content of a complete multi-part diary entry�not a diary note, but a full diary entry spanning several full entries under that other site's limits�and cut-and-paste it into a LiveJournal note to a journal entry, and LiveJournal takes it all without so much as a blink. Cut-and-paste that same material multiple times over and over and over again into a LiveJournal entry, and you won't be forced to span it over different segments. Simply put, at LiveJournal you're free to be about as verbose as you feel you need or want to be!

Some odiots might be too myopic to see this as an improvement, stupidly arguing that release of character count constraints open the door to the supposed "abuse" of run-on never-ending journal entries, worse still for notes left by readers. That's about like accepting police state monitoring of bedrooms to keep a handle on morality. Besides, if verbosity control is the goal, those odiotic character contraints don't do the job: in fact, they worsen the situation by adding the extra structural pieces needed to handle the multiple notes and multiple entries for writers who in the end will be just as verbose as they care to be, limits or no limits. Whether or not excess verbosity ought even be criminalized, it's simply a poor attempt at an excuse for what is nothing more than diarymaster arrogance, disrespect of journalist needs, unnecessary structural control, and just plain poor programming.

Like that other diary website, LiveJournal does place character count constraints on title and subject fields. And unless a cyberjournalist wants a page-long title like some 1800s scholarly tome, generally limits in this case make a bit more sense. Even so, LiveJournal's constraints on each field are significantly looser than at that other website.

Furthermore, LiveJournal is more HTML-friendly to title and subject fields, so the cyberjournalist has less fear of wasting too much precious character ration on style or format coding. First, for broad journal-wide HTML/CSS specifications desired for a particular title or subject field, a livejournalist is given complete freedon to specify code outside of the field itself that would be applied to each such field, via style templates and journal overrides. Moreover, even for one-time coding changes, LiveJournal makes it easier to externally define style classes that could then be referenced internally by the relevant field, making it easier to include individualized HTML/CSS without taking up too much of the character ration.

I could say so much more on this topic, but for now�
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