Xanga 2.0 Review: The Incredible Shrinking Xanga

1957-TheIncredibleShrinkingManGreat1_Xanga_jpeg

Xanga has reached the two week mark of its return as “Xanga 2.0” and not much has changed in improving user functionality.  It continues to operate far below what “Free WordPress” offers.

Summary of Xanga 2.0 w/WordPress engine issues:

1) Not able to directly comment on replies. You can leave a comment on a blog, but not directly reply to a comment made. The exception to this is if the comment is made on your blog, you can reply using the WP dashboard feature, but it’s not intuitive, nor convenient.

2) Your username isn’t “linked” (clickable) to your website- which means someone has to formally type out your full Xanga address to get to your site if they wish to visit on seeing a comment made.  There’s a workaround for this, but again, it’s inconvenient and non intuitive, as well as a potential security risk.

3) Spotty notification of replies to blogs, or comments made by email. Some people get them, while some don’t. No immediate online notification.

4) No means to search for users or blogs on the site. The ONLY way to find active users is to first check your sub/follower list for active blogs to see who if any are commenting.

5) No ability to change site appearance or use of Themes.

6) Can only see “Xanga users” blogs and no one else outside of Xanga.

7) Xanga 1.0’s best features- Front Page, Top Blogs, Most Rec’d, Private Messaging, “Ish” Forums, etc.., are gone- and along with them, any true sense of community.

The biggest issue by far has been people leaving messages on the help board about “missing blogs” and wanting to know where their blogs went. There are also complaints from those who contributed, but have not had their blogs restored. This outcome was to be expected since the main message put on the site was only viewable first on the bottom right corner of the Front Page. So you really had to be looking for it in order to find it. A message was later put on user pages in the upper left corner asking for contributions to “Xanga 2.0”, with no mention of any impending shutdown or change to “pay to blog” format. The message was also easy to miss unless intentionally looked for.

The “billboard type” pages now being used to announce the arrival of “Xanga 2.0” would have served greatly it letting people know in advance, but were never used. They never used their private messaging feature to notify users either. In the end, users who never visited the Front Page or were away for a few months were greeted with a rude surprise with the changeover.

Typical messages in the help section are like this:

“My past 9 years are gone!!!

I am so heart broken! I was just on my xanga two weeks ago and I visit the site three days ago to see it is undergoing an update. That is great!

HOWEVER, I had no idea that this was happening and now the past 9 years of my life are gone. Apparently I had to pay money as a premium customer or send in campaign money?! Why!? Are you telling me that now I will never get my blogs back?

This is ridiculous and I need an email back ASAP! I am furious because this xanga has my heart and soul poured into it.”

Since so few got the message, many didn’t archive their blogs and made the unpleasant discovery that their blogs were missing. Xanga’s initial “Welcome to Xanga 2.0” page made no mention of how to obtain archived blogs other than buying a new membership to get ones blog transferred over. This left the impression to some that they were being coerced to pay to get their blogs back. This led to an online petition being created and shortly thereafter the Xanga Billboard page was modified to notify users how they could get their archived data back at no charge. Another bad PR move brought about by the lack of good communication.

Some of those who knew about the coming changes and paid for a membership were also caught up in the same net of confusion/frustration. Here’s a recent message from a paid user who paid but didn’t get their blog restored:

“Contributed, Blog Still Not Showing Up (Will Pull Donation Soon)

This is the fourth time I’ve have to post this, but the team hasn’t listened or responded to me in any way. I contributed the full year ($48) and my blog still does not show up. I’ve emailed John twice and even left a comment with the situation on the Xanga team’s page. My blog and its posts has still not been migrated over. If nothing is done by the end the week, I will pull my donation from Crowd Tilt.”

The XangaTeam must be deluged trying to answer all the help requests that are coming in- most of which could have been avoided by proper communication.

Bad communication has been the main word of the day when it comes to the shift to the new Xanga, and nothing has really changed. Since there is no longer a Front Page, there is no longer a focal point of information to use. They have a twitter account but the site hasn’t been updated much since the launch, and the same applies to their facebook account as well.

At a time like this updates should be made every few days since there is much confusion and lack of functionality.

The updated network traffic numbers of “New Xanga” also show dramatic changes, and not for the better.

Daily Net Traffic Measurement for 1 Month:

Image

What was once a mighty river has now been reduced to less than a trickle of internet activity. Traffic went from being over 80 thousand users daily to less than 400, just 0.45% of its former volume. The chart traffic drop clearly shows the date of the shutdown/reopening.

The funny thing is folks were constantly told by Xanga’s “unofficial” spokesperson that the drop in traffic seen by all in July/August was just due to Xanga being in a “transitional phase” and that things would be picking up once they moved to the new version. It’s now clear that couldn’t have been further from the truth.

The current trend for the last two weeks also leaves little room for optimism:

Daily Net Traffic Since Xanga 2.0 Opened For Business (Start date: 9/3/13):

Image

After “peaking” to 1,894 users on September 4th, net traffic has been steadily declining to the sub 400 lows now seen. Not a good sign for a relaunch of a product aimed at attracting new users and publicity.

Here’s a snapshot of Xanga’s traffic count from before the pledge drive was announced to current day:

Image

Xanga made the announcement at the end of May. You can see that it caused a temporary blip up of activity in June.

Taken as a whole, the lack of service functionality and extremely limited traffic brings up some very real, yet awkward questions.

The first of which is how can Xanga feel justified in charging $48/year for use of a site in such poor shape? Free WordPress easily beats current Xanga in all areas of usability and convenience. The state of Xanga’s software has been described as worse than “beta” level, making it “alpha”, or some would even argue pre-alpha.

Users were “promised” that Xanga would maintain its look and feel despite being on WordPress, and that WordPress would just be the engine driving the new software. The reality is current Xanga is more a poorly functioning copy of the free WP version than anything like Xanga 1.0.

People were asked to donate $48, double the old yearly premium fee of $24 for “Xanga 1.0”  for the right to blog on “Xanga 2.0”, and in return, they were told they would have a more “user-friendly” and “community” based experience than what current free blogging offers.

Currently this isn’t the case at all, and it’s just a matter of time before even their most devoted paying fans start complaining loudly about deception and being sold a bill of goods.

Since Xanga basically charged for “memberships” instead of just asking for contributions, I would think they are now legally on the hook to provide a quality of service meeting the standards that were stated/promised. If people demand refunds, will they be honored or will the amount paid be considered an nonrefundable “donation”?

Another question is how can Xanga hope to advertise for and attract new users with its software in such a sad state? Its current capacity would have trouble getting even free users to sign up, let alone paying ones.

Is the membership clock ticking- meaning are users being charged during this pre-alpha testing phase?

How long can users expect to make do with these sub standard conditions?

These questions and more demand consistent and steady communication from management, which has not been the case at XangaCorp, and there’s no reason to expect anything new in this area.

People using “Xanga 2.0” as paying members are mostly remaining upbeat and positive, but I suspect the mood of many will grow increasingly negative the longer conditions remain at such a low level state. Xanga now has a new deadline to beat – getting their software to operate as promised before the bulk of their paying users grow disfranchised and start demanding refunds.

Advertisements

24 thoughts on “Xanga 2.0 Review: The Incredible Shrinking Xanga

  1. Thanks for those charts. I was hoping you would show those to “confirm” my impression I had in June/July. Xanga is dead it seems … at least traffic wise. When I logged on once to the new platform it looked like the standard WP.com platform but I didn’t explore it any further.

    Like

    • The tragic thing is people paid to keep the “Xanga” they knew, but now have to experience blogging on a site that looks more like the WP “prototype” build instead of the final polished product we have on the free site today.

      Like

  2. I don’t even visit the Xanga version of my site, anymore. I can’t access comments or anything – and it doesn’t matter. It’s a shoddy back-up, behind the back-up I put together at a secondary free WP site with the archives they let us download, which is separate from my present free WP site that I started in June upon the announcement.

    Great statistics, though!

    Like

    • It’s really not ready for prime time, as can be seen from the many people logging complaints on the help site and getting even the basic “free” WP features to work. Not a great selling point when your most natural competitor is just a click away.

      Like

  3. yeah, seriously. there are so many old features from xanga that aren’t there anymore. they don’t even have the private message link which was pretty useful. and i hate that it’s not interconnected with the WP community, it seems silly to login to my xanga, read a sub here or there, and then log out just to login to WP.

    Like

  4. I had enough even before the new 2.0 got started. I like word press and the fact that I can buy more room for my photos without having to pay a yearly fee to use it.

    Like

  5. I have seen some individuals that bought the hype and paid for premium, leave the site now. John refuses to explain the real premise of the site to any of the help threads he barely responds to. He told one person he didn’t speak their language so that he could not help them. What on earth?! He had a whole site devoted to an Asian userbase, and now can’t help them because he doesn’t speak their language? It’s hard to laugh in situations like this. People on the facebook page were being told to give ”someone” (which is actually Joel – who is not an employee of Xanga!) running the page, usernames and passwords so that they could figure out what was wrong with the accounts. Like that’s secure.

    Like

    • It’s a hot mess over there. There was a rumor that HK Xanga wouldn’t be impacted by the shutdown/changeover, and neither Xanga nor the “volunteer spokesman” certainly did anything to squash it, so I’m sure even more folks over in Asia were greeted with a nasty surprise when their blogs went “poof”.

      The only thing that has remained a solid constant from “1.0” is their continued lack of providing timely updates to folks.

      Speaking of “The Prophet” and “unofficial” spokesman, he has returned to posting by the way and had to immediately go on the defensive with some irate former “devoted” users. It’s clear that he and Xanga still see things differently from the masses judging from his responses to the comments being made.

      Like

  6. I’ve only been back to Xanga once since 2.0 was launched. One of my blogs got saved because I used your idea to exchange credits for Premium, but I didn’t have enough to save the other one.

    I don’t really have much motivation to use Xanga now, and seeing the state it’s currently in doesn’t add to it. Then again, I haven’t been blogging as much as before.

    I am glad that all my photos are still available, though.

    Like

  7. I was disappointed in the un-salvageable state of my blog. Being able to log in but not being able to access my blog content unless I put a week’s worth of food money into it will not be an offer I can accept. Xanga was cute and had legacy while it existed, but the lack of upkeep, maintenance, and a successful transition has led to its demise. I’m on WordPress to stay.

    Like

    • Looking at the current degraded functionality of Xanga, the case to charge people for that experience makes little sense. They are forcing folks to learn WP, and then providing them with a lower functioning version of “free” WP – very bizarre.

      Like

    • We only learned yeasterday about the closure of the free Xanga services and also lost the ability to see our texts in the new Xanga 2. But luckily by WordPress we managed to restore our text on one of our WordPress sites, so that we can recover the writings and place them on one of our sites, where the messages should find a better place and get more readers than on Xanga. (Because on that platform we did not get many readers to our writings. It was only useful to be a member so that we could react to others their writings.)

      Like

  8. We only got to know very very late (yesterday) that Xanga had closed down its free service for bloggers. First we tried to get on with Xanga 2, but could not find our own writings. Got only to see an empty Dashboard. We tried to recuperate our previous postings on Xanga and tried to place it on one of our Blogger sites, but did not succeed.

    After the shutdown of Multiply we found out that WordPress was much easier to publish and got us many many more readers and even more important got us in contact with those people we wanted to reach.

    Before we had, after a long waiting also gone on Xanga, because many things where said but could not be reacted to if the reader was not a member. the big problem of Xanga was and is only see “Xanga users” blogs can be seen and no one else outside of Xanga.

    Looking at the public we would like to reach and seeing the analytics we can say Blogger and WordPress deliver the best results.

    Like

  9. Problem with such free web services is that their offer always can end some time. Multiply warned their readers much in advance, but Xanga did not give any sign. Only yesterday I got surprised by not finding my own Xanga site nor other favorite Xanga sites.

    It is strange that they did not give any warning, and as such Xanga blogs could also not give notice to their readers where they could be found in the future. This probably would mean many Xanga bloggers shall have to start all over again, loosing all their previous published material, and finding over again new and previous readers. It will take some time to build up readership again.

    Multiply and Xanga confronting their free writers and readers with a sudden halt of publication should make us aware how easily writings, drawings, photographs a.o. shall disappear in the future and will be lost for ever. It shows how fluent and transient everything is.

    +

    Dear ex-Xanga blogger,
    You shall find that WordPress is not only a much easier system to publish, it will offer you more (interesting) readers and writers to get in contact with.

    I do hope you will find your place in this virtual world but would be willing to contribute some interesting ideas to the real world for free.
    Good luck.

    Like

  10. I still have my blog on Xanga because a friend paid for a year for me. I’ve blogged on there some since the relaunch, but I rarely visit now. Maybe once a week, if that. It’s just not Xanga anymore. And you’re right; free WordPress is better than current Xanga that you have to pay to blog on.

    And I don’t think the Xanga Team has made an update since September. At least that is the last update I saw on their blog when I looked the other day. I checked because I wanted to know what is going on, where are all the things they promised the users? I stopped blogging on Xanga regular before the relaunch because I just had a bad feeling about what the Xanga Team was doing. It seems they don’t even care.

    I miss the old Xanga, but I’m happy here on WordPress now. I feel that I have pretty much moved on, and I think if the Xanga Team wants their user-base back, it is going to take a lot.

    Like

  11. Pingback: Xanga 2.0: 1st Year Full Review: The “Anti-Social” Network | Soullfire

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s