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  • Our Vision for Xanga 2.0

    We've written a bit about why we're relauching Xanga... and wanted to followup with a bit about our vision for Xanga 2.0!

    We're working super hard right now on building Xanga 2.0, so that it brings the goodness of Xanga together with the power of the WordPress platform. As we've been building the new site, we've focused on three things that have been great for Xanga over the years... and that we'd like to bring to the Xanga 2.0:

    1. Simplicity
    2. Community
    3. Privacy

    1. SIMPLICITY

    When we first launched Xanga, it was really simple. You could blog, other people could sub to you, and you could read all of your subscriptions on a single page. There was a real power to this simplicity and it made it really easy for new users to understand how Xanga worked.

    Over time, Xanga got a bit more complicated and harder to explain. For example, what's the difference between friends and subs? If pressed, I would explain that there are three main differences:  Continue reading

  • Don't miss Roadlesstaken's radio show tonight at 7 pm EST!

    Alex will be interviewing me tonight on his radio show at 7 pm EST... details here!

    The Xanga Team's John Coming Soon to My Radio Show!

    Talk with you guys tonight!

    John

  • Update on Relaunch Xanga fundraiser, and Xanga Archives news

    Hey guys, we're almost halfway there to reaching our fundraiser!!

    Thanks so much to everyone ($28,874!!) for your support.  We're beyond excited, and hard at work preparing for the relaunch of Xanga!!

    I also wanted to share a bunch of news on the Xanga Archives feature... including these two announcements:

    1) We've built XML archives and they are now available!

    We just built an XML archive generator for everyone's blog posts. You can generate the XML archive (and then download from our servers) here... just go here to "Update your Archives", and then download the second file:

    The XML archive is WordPress-compatible, and you can convert it from there into any number of formats. We'd love for you to stick with Xanga (and hope that you do!), but wanted to make sure you guys have your data.

    2) Please make sure to also download your photo archives!!

    We wanted to make sure that everyone gets a copy of all of your photos, so we have had a complete download of your photos for a while now. The third file in on our archives page is a photos.zip file that contains all of your photos!

    Please make sure to download all of your photos (along with all of your other archives, while you're at it).

    One note: if you view your archives (either in HTML or XML), the photos should all appear nicely. But we wanted to give a heads up that your images are still being served off of Xanga's servers! So you definitely want to download your photos, so you have a copy of them.

    Please note: we definitely are aiming to raise our full fundraising goal, and keep Xanga up for everyone! In that case, we plan to use the same URLs for all of your photos and they should all just keep on working.  This is just a heads up to download all of your archives, just in case.

    While we're talking archives, we fixed three issues in our HTML archives that were flagged by a few users.  Continue reading

  • Update on our Relaunch Xanga fundraiser!

    Thanks to everyone for your support for our Relaunch Xanga fundraiser!  With a month to go, we're almost half-way there (~45%)... with $26,879 out of $60,000 raised.

    Thank you for your support!! It's very exciting... and in the meantime, we've been hard at work preparing for the potential migration over to a new WordPress platform!

    We've gotten a number of questions, so I wanted to come up for air and share some answers here:  Continue reading

  • Relaunching Xanga: A Fundraiser

    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.

    ANOTHER PATH

    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??"  Continue reading

  • Post-mortem on yesterday's downtime

    We had some downtime yesterday for some users, and wanted to share a post-mortem on what happened.

    Early yesterday morning, we got some reports that some Xangans couldn't reach Xanga.com.  We were able to quickly confirm it ourselves, and also confirm that traffic was significantly down.  However, there were still a good number of users who *were* able to reach the website... we could see them showing up in our server logs.  Plus the site came up for us on our iPhones, even though it was down on our PCs.
     
    So the servers were still up, but some users weren't able to reach them.  That was a huge clue.  About 3 anxiety attacks later, we were able to ascertain that most likely, the routing table on one of our bandwidth providers was broken.  We got in touch with them and they were able to fix the issue... and service was restored to all.
     
    We have been exploring alternatives to our current hosting setup.  More on that soon... but in the meantime, wanted to share this post-mortem with you guys.  If you experienced any downtime yesterday, we are very sorry!
     
    Please let us know how the site is working for you now!
  • Fighting splogs, and some proposed tweaks to the registration process

    Hey guys -

    We've been getting hit pretty hard by spam blogs lately, aka splogs. A lot of the times the sploggers will just create a site and then... do nothing. Most of the account don't try to spam anyone; instead, they just sit there with a link in their profile. We have shut down a lot of these so-called "splogs", but they just keep coming.  The worst part of splogs is that they are created in such a way that they are slowing down our themes database. As a result, some of our REAL users are having trouble creating accounts or editing their theme  

    To help address this, we're looking into ways that we can prove that our new users are actually real people. We already have a CAPTCHA in place, but apparently there are now companies in China and India that do nothing but hire humans to defeat CAPTCHA tests.  We've tried a number of technical fixes, but a lot of times the technical fixes prevent real users from being able to register accounts. :(

    So we've had to switch gears a bit.  After some brainstorming, we've come up with a few new ways we can try and prevent these humans-for-hire from creating fake accounts:  Continue reading

  • Meebo Chatbar

    Hey guys - we've loved hosting Xanga chat through our partner at Meebo, but they were acquired by Google this year and are changing their product priorities.  As a result, they've contacted us about turning off our chat bar... 

    We've been looking into chat usage, and it's actually used by very few of our members.  And we've been investigating, and turning off the chat feature should make Xanga sites load a bit faster.  So we're going to be turning off the chat feature this afternoon.

    Let us know if you come away with a faster browsing experience overall!

  • Request For Comment On Proposed Revenue Stream

    Hey everybody,
     
    We're trying something new to make more money to support Xanga.
     
    Say you link to an Amazon product in a blog post. Here's the new part: we're going to be adding Xanga's affiliate codes to *some* of those product links.
     
    Which links? Well, if you've already added your own affiliate code to that product link, we won't be adding our affiliate code.
     
    Also, if your account has Xanga Premium, we won't add our affiliate code to your links ever.
     

    Only in cases where you haven't linked using an affiliate code *and* you're a Classic member will we sometimes add an affiliate code.
     
    I think this is an nice way for Xanga to make a little more money, without having a negative impact on the user experience. I don't expect Xanga to make a huge amount of money from this, but an increasing number of Xanga readers are using ad blockers. Hopefully, this will help replace that revenue stream for us. We're looking to try this out as a test sometime this week.
     
    I'm hoping this will help the site support itself over the coming year, and serve as a counterpoint to the ad blocking that we're seeing.  We work really hard to keep ads here as unobtrusive as possible, and I am hopeful that this fits the bill.
     
    Could you guys let us know what you think before we move forward here?  Thanks...
     
    Thanks,
    Bob
  • Update: Xanga's New Jersey Datacenter Is On Emergency Generators

    WEDNESDAY MORNING UPDATE: Xanga's datacenter is now back on utility power! So we are no longer dependent on the emergency backup generators... Woohoo!

    The backup generators would have run out of fuel at some point, so it's great to be back on utility power.

    We're not totally out of the woods yet, since our datacenter needs to fix one of its backup generators in case utility power flakes out again. Also, I suppose our datacenter also needs to replace all that diesel fuel they've used up...

    But we're making progress!

    Hooray for electricity!

    Thanks,
    Bob

    ~~~

    Hi Everybody,

    I hope everybody is safe with Hurricane Sandy!

    I wanted to give a quick update on what we know about how the hurricane has affected Xanga...

    Our servers are located in a datacenter in Newark, New Jersey, which was hit especially hard with power losses and flooding.

    The good news is that our servers seem to be OK. They're located on the 8th floor, so they should be safe from flooding.

    There are two bits of bad news.

    The first bit is that our bandwidth provider ran into difficulties from 2am to 10am EST today. So even though Xanga's servers have been online the whole time, you may have run into problems connecting to the site. It's possible that our network provider might run into more problems, but for now, the network seems to be OK, which is great.

    The second bit of bad news is that our datacenter has lost utility power. So Xanga's servers are currently operating on emergency backup generators.

    Hopefully, utility power will be restored before the emergency backup generators lose power!

    There are two risks here. First, our datacenter's backup generators are in the basement of the building, along with the diesel fuel and fuel pumps. So there's a risk of flooding, which would disable the backup generators. At this point, we think this risk is minimal, but you never know...

    Second, the generators may run out of fuel before utility power is restored. This would obviously take our servers offline.

    We'll keep you updated as we learn more!

    In the meantime, stay safe everybody!

    Thanks,
    Bob