It started November 28th, 1999 before WordPress.com was even an idea. It was on this date that Xanga launched an alpha version of their product. Before blogging really took off, there were these things called portals. Portals were websites dedicated to specific topics. To make a long story short, portals were one term used to describe blogs before they were called blogs. For more than 13 years, Xanga has existed on the web providing a home for those looking to publish their thoughts online. However, Xanga recently underwent a major restructuring both in terms of software and how they’ll do business in the future.
Time For A Fundraiser
On May 30th, 2013 Xanga announced plans that contained two options. The first was to relaunch the service using WordPress as the platform while the second was to shut the site down.
Door #1: We can’t afford to renew our expensive lease at our networking facility, so we would have to offer everyone a free download of their blog posts, and shut down the site. :(
Door #2: We would find a way to port Xanga to open source blogging software like WordPress, and reinvent the site together with the community.
We strongly favor Door #2, but need your help to pull it off. It would require two things to open that door: time and money.
On this same day, the relaunch campaign was started with the goal to reach $60,000 by July 15th. During this process, John announced that if the Fundraiser could generate at least $50,000 that he would chip in the other $10,000. While the funding goal of $50,000 was exceeded ($58,640), they didn’t quite make the planned $60,000 but decided to go through with the relaunch of Xanga on the WordPress platform.
I Know How They Feel
Of particular interest to me are the comments on the relaunch post. Understandably, some people were upset while others wanted nothing to do with WordPress which is why some were using Xanga to begin with. Before I discovered WordPress, Joomla, and other Content Management Systems, I came across a site called EFx2blogs.com. Knowing what WordPress.com is today, EFx2blogs was my WordPress.com. It featured a dedicated developer, an awesome tight-knit community, and an atmosphere that not only encouraged writing, but also checking out the posts of your neighbor. It was a great experience and I was really sad to see it go away. At least with Xanga, the owner/developers are sticking around and will be using WordPress as the foundation of their relaunched service.
As far as how Xanga will do business in the future, all new users will need to pay a subscription price in order to blog.
Because of this cost, we would have to move Xanga to a paid model, where bloggers pay for hosting for their blogs. (Just being a member of Xanga would still be free though, so others could still subscribe to your site.) We would enable our bloggers to pay in either money or time (through volunteering). At first, though, we would only be able to offer money options – as we would need a significant amount of money to make the relaunch possible. We would also include a gifting option, where you can buy a Xanga blogging membership for a friend… or earn one through volunteering, and gift that blogging membership to a friend.
Paying Xanga means all blogs will be ad-free but at the cost of putting up a barrier to entry, something WordPress.com does not have. I love the idea of being able to gift certain aspects of the service to other accounts, something that WordPress.com added in 2006 but soon after removed.
Only Time Will Tell
When reading the vision for Xanga 2.0, it becomes clear that initially, the service will just be a branded WordPress Multisite install.
We’re incredibly excited about using the WordPress platform, as the publishing software is incredibly powerful. As we adapt it for use for Xanga 2.0, we’re working to make sure that all that power is combined with the warm fuzzy feeling of Xanga community love as well.
It will be interesting to see over time how this transition works out and if the dedicated Xanga community sticks around or ends up leaving for WordPress.com, once they’ve had a taste of what the software has to offer. Then again, software is one thing and community is another. Software is easy to create, community is not. Good luck to John, the Xanga team, and all users of the service as I hope this transition helps cement their place on the web for another 13 years.