Today I’ve been able to log onto the “new” xanga both as a premium user with full blogging rights and as a non premium users who can only read and comment of other blogs. I’ve done enough to be able to give a “start up” review on “Xanga 2.0”.
The new Xanga is still very much a work in progress and they freely admit that. They listed 4 phases of the transition to “2.0”, being
1) Data Migration
2) Site/System Tuning
3) Feature Building
4) Community involvement with site tasks.
They’ve stated that they are done with phase 1, and phase 2 is underway.
My initial reaction was, it wasn’t what I was expecting. We were told that WordPress would be the engine on which Xanga would be running, meaning the look and feel of Xanga would remain consistent to what we were used to. This isn’t the case as new Xanga is a lot closer to operating like a standard WordPress account than a “Xanga 1.0” account. Anyone expecting to dodge the WordPress learning curve will be disappointed. If you are already familiar with WordPress, the layout is similar in many areas.
Here are the features “1.0” had that are currently not present in “2.0”
- No “Frontpage” displaying Top or Most Rec’d Blogs
- Private messaging is gone
- Profile details have been reduced to basic WP format
- No credits or Mini’s
- “Ish” sites appear to be offline
- No footprints or tracking
- No “Rec” or “Like” comment options
Friends and Subs have been combined in a weird way.
In Xanga “1.0” the typical user has 3 lists:
1) People they subscribed to
2) People subscribed to them
3) People they were friends with
All three lists were usually not identical, meaning that people were not friends with everyone they subscribed to, they may not be subscribed to all those subscribed to them, and the ones they subscribed to may not be subscribed to them. So the lists may have common names but also have their differences.
Xanga “2.0” combined all three lists into one super group of “Followers/Approved Followers list” . “Followers” can read your blog, but only “Approved Followers” can comment. The problem is the lists have been combined so you are now subbed to everyone who subbed to you, and all the folks you subbed to are now subbed to you. So basically your new “Friends” list is now everyone you subbed to plus everyone who subbed to your account in addition to your original Friends list.
You are limited to only seeing other “Xanga” blogs and don’t have access to other blogs like Blogspot, Tumblr, or WP blogs outside of Xanga yet. This means pickin’s are pretty slim in finding active users that only exist on Xanga. The vast bulk of the users I had subbed to are non premium and hence have no blogs to be read.
Like WP, there is no “user search” function so you can’t do a search to find other users- you’re basically limited to your sub/follower list as a quick searching tool.
Commenting features look to be still under development as you can’t directly reply to a comment made on a blog, but have to use the “Dashboard” to access the comment to make a reply- convoluted. Regular comments can be done with no problem.
If you are a non premium user that doesn’t have blogging rights, your Dashboard control is limited to just reading/commenting on your subbed blogs.
The biggest gripe in the current help section is…guess: shock and concern about “missing blogs”, which is what I predicted time and time again since the big message to all users alerting folks to what was going on never happened. Now you have a ton of folks wondering what happened to all their blogs and data.
Overall, the new Xanga at this stage feels more like WP and without the front page, “Ish” sites, and user search features, the community experience is nullified. It will depend on who is still active on your sub list. At this point in time, WP has more community than Xanga since WP’s interfaces are fully operational while Xanga is still working on theirs.
As I’ve said, this is an early review which could change if Xanga makes good on their improvement goals. But at this point in time the case for paying to blog on a site of limited people and access and lower capability than its free counterpart would be a pretty hard one to defend, even by the most devoted users.
Lets have a moment of silence for “Xanga 1.0” it leaves behind big shoes to fill.