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:
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):
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:
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.