May 30, 2013
It’s hard to believe, but Xanga has been around for over a dozen years. In that time, we’ve soared to great heights… and then come back down to earth. Through it all, we’ve stayed with the site for over a decade now.
We’re now at a crossroads, as our lease is up soon on the networking facility where we’ve been hosting our servers. As the status quo is no longer possible, we’ve been working to figure out the best way for the Xanga community to move forward.
We’ve seen other sites go down different paths… some have sold their sites to the highest bidder, while others have doubled on their own platform. The thing is, it’s really hard to grow a social site that has fallen from previous heights. MySpace, Friendster, LiveJournal… lots of people have tried to resurrect these sites, and it has rarely, if ever, worked.
We started to wonder if there was another path. We started building the Xanga website back in 1999, and it’s amazing how much has changed in the past almost 15 years! If we built a site like Xanga now, we’d use a lot more open source software – heck we’d probably even build on top of some of the existing open source blogging engines out there, and port users over from our existing custom platform.
We’d focus the site on what we have always felt was its core strength: the Xanga community itself. And we’d get the community a LOT more involved in running the site – especially when it came to fighting spam and trolls, the bane of any community site. It would be a blogging community by the people, for the people and of the people.
As we mapped it all out, we thought: “Is this possible… could we build this??”
Well we mapped it all out, and got really excited. I believe that this is a plan that could give Xanga a fresh lease on life. And life is the key word, as our options look like this:
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.
I’m willing to work for free, but we’d still need roughly $60k to open door #2, including:
* The costs of setting up new hardware at a new data center/hosting facility.
* The costs of programmer/webmasters to get the site up and keep it running.
* The costs of running the site day to day
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.
Since blogging memberships would be paid, we wouldn’t have any ads on the blogs… giving our bloggers an ad-free experience.
I would donate our time to get things up and running… but programmers and webmasters would still need to be paid to relaunch the site. So we are launching a Kickstarter-style fundraising effort, with the following rewards:
- A year-long Xanga blogging membership ($48)
- Two year-long Xanga blogging memberships (i.e. One membership for you, one for a friend… $96)
- Three year-long Xanga blogging memberships ($144)
- Four year-long Xanga blogging memberships ($192)
- Five year-long Xanga blogging memberships ($240)
Here are some of the new features we’d be able to offer out of the box:
* Custom themes – you’ll be able to use custom themes we’ll pull from around the web, as well as add/edit CSS.
* Plugins – We will provide a library of powerful plugins that you can activate and configure on your site.
* Group blogging – At long last, you’ll be able to allow others to blog on your site… and share moderation rights on your blog.
* Threaded comments – We’ll look into threaded comments, which would allow readers to reply to comments in a threaded manner
* Better spam controls – Every user would have their own spam queue that they could configure and manage.
* Moderation features – You would be able to put keywords, IPs and usernames into moderation on your blog.
We have been busy assessing the feasibility all this, and started the work necessary to launch Xanga 2.0! If we can raise $60k by July 15th, we will be able to keep the site up! If not, we will understand and will use the time between now and then to help users download their data.
We also plan to rework Xanga to tap the power of the community so that we can be much more responsive and community-driven. We would ask for volunteers in various areas, including:
* Spam fighters: to help us fight spammers and remove spam
* Themers: to help us design or find gorgeous themes to make available to all
* Plugin developers: to help us develop and deploy new features
* Plugin evangelists: to help us find and test new plugins
* Jury members and Judges: to help us resolve abuse complaints
* Helpers: to help members with customer service
* Documentation writers: to help us write up world-class documentation for the site.
Volunteers would receive free Xanga blogging memberships that they could gift to friends, and our most active volunteers would be invited to join our decision-making bodies.
* A product council: to prioritize product development efforts
* A frontpage council: to figure out the best way to promote member content
First things first: no matter how things turn out, we’ve made it so that all members (Classic and Premium) can generate and download a backup of their data through July 15th:
Beyond that, here are the key dates for the next two months or so:
* May 30th: We launch this fundraiser, and continue our work building a WordPress version of Xanga.
* Through July 15th: We will contact our registered members to let them know about the fundraiser, and also allow any and all users to download their blogs and media files for free.
* July 15th: This will be the final day for the fundraiser.
If we have a successful fundraiser:
* July 15th: If we’ve raise $60k, then we will move over to the new WordPress version on this date.
If the fundraiser isn’t successful:
* July 15th: If we haven’t raised $60k, then this will be the last date that Xanga is up and running.
One last note: throughout this process, you will have full access to your data! You can either download your content from our servers (see link above), or we will relaunch the site shortly after July 15th.
You can check out the fundraiser (and make a pledge!) at the following link (we have a full FAQ there as well):
How can I download my blog data?
All Xangans can download their blog archives in HTML form from now until July 15th (this has traditionally been a Premium feature, but we’re opening it up for all members): http://www.xanga.com/private/archives.aspx
What will happen to all of my friends and subs?
If our fundraiser is successful, we will be migrating over the logins of every single one of our Xanga users. So all of your friends and subs will transfer over to the new system, and anyone will be able to subscribe or comment on blogs.In the new Xanga system, people will be able to comment and subscribe for free; the fees will only be for members who want to host a blog.
When will I be charged for backing this fundraiser?
If you back this campaign, you will not be charged at all, unless the full $60k campaign goal is reached. If the goal is reached, then the credit card you leave on file will be charged when the campaign concludes on July 15th.
We have answers to more FAQs at the bottom of the page here.
Let us know if you have any other questions! I’ll be answering questions, reviewing the rewards and posting regular updates on thexangateam blog.