Xanga

Blog Hosting > Xanga > Xanga

Xanga (pronounced /ˈzæŋə/) is a website that hosts weblogs, photoblogs, and social networking profiles. It is operated by Xanga.com, Inc., based in New York City.

Origins

Xanga's origins can be traced back to 1998, when it began as a site for sharing book and music reviews. As of April 17, 2011, Alexa Internet ranked Xanga as the 2,450th most visited site on the Internet.

Core features

All Xanga members receive a "Xanga Site", a web site made up of a weblog, a photoblog, a videoblog, an audioblog, a "Pulse" (mini-blog), and a social networking profile. Members also have the option of joining or making blogrings (groups).

Weblog

Xanga first added weblogs to all Xanga Sites on November 5, 2000. Comments were added soon after, on December 8, 2000, along with the concept of "eProps", which a user can give to another user's entry as a sign of how much he or she has enjoyed the entry. Two "eProps" is the maximum amount that can be given. (By default, "2 eProps" is selected on the comment page.) Kevin Lu of Edison holds the world record for most props on a post. Comment Tracking followed on January 18, 2001.

A core part of Xanga is the ability to subscribe to other Xangas. Subscriptions allow Xangans to stay up-to-date on other Xangas to whom they are "subscribed", without needing to manually visit each site. Xanga first added an email subscriptions feature on November 30, 2000. In January 2001, this was followed by the ability to subscribe to a site using a web-based reader using RSS (and the ability to display subscriptions on one's site).

Initially, Xanga allowed members to subscribe to each others' sites anonymously. Some users were troubled by anonymous subscriptions, and so during the week of July 15, 2003, support for this feature was discontinued. Since some users had been using anonymous subscriptions to try out subscriptions to other sites, on July 21, 2003, Xanga added a feature that allows members to sample a Trial Subscription to another site. This update also allowed members to hide individual subscriptions from public display.

Subscriptions were originally called "Sites I Read", so some older users sometimes refer to them as "SIR".

Photoblog

Until the spring of 2006, Xanga's photo features were focused on enabling photo uploads within weblog posts. Xanga first started offering photo uploading on May 1, 2001. Originally, photo uploading was available only to premium members, and was limited to 20 MB of storage (although this was not enforced). Then, on April 7, 2005, Xanga overhauled its photo system to increase picture quality and picture size, as well as to increase capacity for the system overall. This was followed, on August 5, 2005, with the beta release of a new Photo Manager that allowed users to more easily edit and view their photos.

On August 30, 2005, Xanga announced that all premium members would now get a gigabyte of photo storage. On September 9, 2005, web-based batch uploading of photos was added; on September 26, 2005, all Xanga Classic members were given 1 gigabyte of free photo storage and Premium members were increased to two gigabytes of storage. On September 28, 2005, moblogging support was added.

Xanga released its photoblog offering on April 6, 2006; the ability to comment on photoblog posts followed soon after on April 28, 2006. On May 18, 2006, Xanga introduced new tools that streamlined batch publishing to a photoblog.

Some members have also chosen to post their entries entirely with pictures and photos. This has been made possible after the introduction to photoblogging.

Videoblog

Xanga Videoblogs were officially launched on August 9, 2006 with a video featuring Xanga employee Chris Choi's dog Gromit.

Audioblog

On September 29, 2006, Xanga launched Audio Blogs after about a month of beta testing.

Pulse

On February 22, 2007, Xanga introduced "Pulse", which was described as a "carefree miniblog". A Pulse message can also be uploaded by cell phone.

Profile

Xanga supported limited profiles as early as its launch in 2000. Profiles were revamped on February 1, 2004, to hold more information and offer better email security and control. Each member was allowed to upload one profile picture. On April 30, 2004, Xanga upgraded its profile image uploading to offer better quality images. Then on July 27, 2004, Xanga followed up with allowing the uploading of multiple profile pictures; classic members were allowed to upload up to 3 profile pictures, while Premium members were allowed to upload up to 99 profile pictures. Xangans were allowed to set a default picture that would appear next to their username, as well as choose between their profile pictures in each entry. Then, on November 19, 2004, Xanga extended its support of multiple profile pictures to comment icons; now Xanga users could choose which profile picture they wanted to appear next to each of their comments.

Then on April 6, 2006, Xanga upgraded its profiles to offer traditional social networking features—including the ability to connect with friends, to search for friends, and to fill out profile fields. On June 6, 2006, a link to each users' Profile was added to the standard Xanga navigation at the top of every Xanga site (along with Photos).

Xanga profiles also include Memories, Nudge, and a Chatboard.

Privacy and safety

Privacy

Xanga supports several privacy features that allow users to restrict or control access to their sites.

  • Protected Posting allow users to restrict access of each post to a list of specified friends. Xanga Classic protected lists can hold only up to 10 members; you must obtain Xanga Premium in order to get a protected list of unlimited size.
  • User Blocking allows users to block certain people from commenting or subscribing to their sites.

On April 26, 2006, Xanga launched Xanga Lock, a feature that restricts access to a given site to only other Xanga members. If a casual web browser who is not logged in to a Xanga wished to view someone's Xanga, he or she would first have to log in to a registered account, or else he or she would see only a page indicating that that user has chosen to "lock" their Xanga. Xanga Lock also prevents the site from being indexed by Search Engines. Members can combine Xanga Lock with the Footprints feature to create a means of controlling and monitoring access to a given site.

On October 20, 2006, Xanga launched Friends Lock. This feature is similar to Xanga lock, but it provides even more privacy by allowing a user to lock out everyone who is not on the user's friends list. This feature is very similar to protected posting in many ways. However, unlike protected posting, a user can have as many friends as wanted without having to purchase Xanga Premium. Furthermore, a user can have friends who do not need to be on the user's Protected Post list.

Tracking

With Xanga Footprints, participating Xanga users can see the usernames of signed-in visitors to their site. If visitors are not signed in, then the Country or State is shown instead. Xanga supports an opt-out for this feature.

Flags

Xanga developed a flagging system that allow users to easily report sites that violate Xanga's terms of use (such as sites that contain Threats of Physical Harm or Underage Nudity). Flagged sites are reviewed by Xanga's employees and shut down as appropriate.

The flagging system was first proposed on April 19, 2006, and subsequently launched on May 1, 2006.

Ratings

To address the issue of clean content, Xanga has created a rating system that, among other things, limits access to age-inappropriate material. Xanga SafeBrowse, also known as Xanga Ratings, allows people to set their Xanga sites to one of five levels. A Xanga site set at the highest level (Explicit Content) can be viewed only after credit card verification. The system is modeled after the movie ratings system.

Safety

On June 8, 2006, Xanga launched safety.xanga.com, a site with links to tips for parents, youth, and law enforcement. Links to these safety tips were added to the bottom of every page on Xanga.

Reporting Inappropriate Content

A "Report Inappropriate Content" link is also found at the bottom of every page.

Design

Xanga has two primary ways that users can control the design of their Xanga Sites: Skins and Layouts.

Layouts

Aside from layouts, Xanga users have access to almost unlimited design capabilities. Xanga Classic users can use all HTML properties, excepting only the <META> tag (which Xanga banned in 2004 for being associated with advertisement removal). The <META> tag is one of the tags that page transitions can be made from. At the time of the ban, page transitions were at the peak of popularity.

A controversial issue among the layout community is the use of HTML encoders to scramble their codes. Since most Xanga users are Classic users, they feel that all scripts should be public domain. Xanga is one of the few blog/profile sites that allows the encoding property to work. The encoding property is not bound by Xanga's Javascript blocks, so a user may encode a <META> tag and place the encoded script into his/her blog and "trick" Xanga into thinking that it is a safe script.

Revenue

Premium subscriptions

Xanga also offers two levels of premium subscriptions: Premium; and Premium Plus. Members who subscribe to either service receive additional features, including additional photo storage and monthly uploads.

The Premium plan provides 2 GB of photo storage and 100 MB of monthly uploads while the Premium Plus plan provides unlimited photo storage and 1GB of monthly uploads. Premium members on both plans may also fully customize their site using skins, post entries to their site via electronic mail, and download archives of their entries. Pages of Premium members also do not contain web banners. Some other Premium features include a higher limit on profile pictures, a custom sidebar, and specialized page skins.

Xanga Premium was first launched on May 1, 2001, largely consisting of 20 MB of photo hosting (although limits on photos were not enforced). A downloadable archive of entries and comments was added to the premium offering on May 10, 2001, while customizable Skins were added on February 15, 2002.

Payment options for Premium have grown over time. When Premium first launched on May 1, 2001, Xangans could pay for Premium only with a credit card. Support for check payments was added on April 15, 2002, while support for PayPal was added on May 13, 2002. Support for gifting of Premium was added on December 23, 2001. The Premium Plus plan was added on November 8, 2005.

Xanga Premium now features 10 GB of storage space.

Advertising

Xanga is largely supported by advertising, in the form of banner ads that appear on the top of most pages on Xanga. Sam Garland does most of the advertising for Xanga. Xanga ads first appeared on the site on May 30, 2001. On September 21, 2005, the ads were changed to a larger leaderboard format.

Terminology

An entire vernacular evolved around the word "Xanga".

People used to refer to their weblog as a "Xanga". The word "Xanga" was also used as a verb. (For example: "I'm going to xanga later tonight." or: "Oh, I haven't had time to xanga today.") In addition, the term "Xangaholic" was sometimes used to refer to Xanga addicts.

The FAQ section of the official site states that Xanga staff pronounce it "ZANG-uh". Other known pronunciations that have been colloquially used include the following: /ˈzɑːŋɡə/ zahn-guh, /ˈzɛŋɡə/ zayn-guh, /ˈzæŋɡə/ zan-guh, /ɛksˈæŋɡə/ ex-an-guh; and in Hong Kong [ˈsɛŋɡa], due to the lack of [z] in Cantonese.

Timeline

  • October 1999, Xanga starts up in a form that would be barely identifiable today.
  • December 18–19, 2000, Xanga goes public as the first wave of GeoCities members respond to a spam email recruitment from Bianca Broussard, a fictional PR personality of Xanga.
  • October 30, 2001, Genius, aka Biz Stone, the former Creative Director (and alleged creator of Bianca) leaves Xanga. He eventually goes on to become part of the Blogger team at Google, and then to work at a new internet startup, Odeo.com
  • Winter 2002, "Xangalympics" is aggressively marketed by Xanga to its members, with the winner to get Lifetime membership, and the winning "Team" to get other prizes. Winners are never announced. This is again viewed as a demonstration of the various contemptible techniques in which Xanga attempts to recruit new users, as well as a direct result of the resignation of Biz Stone, alleged creator of "Bianca", from the Xanga Enterprise.
  • June 22, 2002, Membership is estimated at 100,000 bloggers and traffic at a million hits a day.
  • September 7, 2002, Featured Content is divided into Premium and Classic views with Premium as the default. John believes this will guarantee: "No more social propping - just stories, musings, pictures, fiction...."
  • December 31, 2005, Lifetime Premium is withdrawn as Xanga introduces Premium Plus.
  • March 2006, Xanga adds new profile features such as friends, "nudges", and chatboards that resemble Facebook.
  • August 9, 2006, Xanga launches Xanga Video.
  • September 7, 2006, Xanga is fined $1,000,000 by the FTC for violations of COPPA (The Children's Online Privacy Protection Act), the stiffest penalty for a COPPA violation on record.
  • September 29, 2006, Xanga launches Xanga Audio.
  • June 20, 2007, Xanga suffered from a denial-of-service attack.
  • August 6, 2007, Xanga launches Xanga TV. Xanga is easing into this feature, so they are opening this up for the premium users first.
  • July 2, 2008, Xanga has an API using MetaWeblog
  • March 24, 2009, Xanga moves its accounts to a subdomain and all existing URLs become http://username.xanga.com
  • March 27, 2009, Xanga users can now publish blogs to Facebook (API)
  • April 9, 2009, Xanga added no a vote to Idea voting
  • May 29, 2009, Xanga experiments with the Top Blogs module to see if it can drive more traffic to Xanga sites
  • November 5, 2009, Xanga brings back Personal URLs
  • March 5, 2010, Xanga added a new archive module setting: list by month
  • March 17, 2010, Xanga launches Site-Level Search
  • April 8, 2010, Xanga's home page swaps position of "Top Blogs" and "Featured Weblogs"
  • September 17, 2010, Xanga experimented w/ Frontpage Plugz for a week
  • October 6, 2010, Xanga was upgrading many their servers to brand new equipment
  • April 15, 2011, Xanga now lets you recommend or share a comment.
  • May 9, 2011, Xanga dumps the Share button. Xanga added a Facebook Like button, but it will not show up until on or after May 11.

Inappropriate usage

Many sites have been created solely to express dislike or animosity towards others. These sites tend to attract retaliation in the form of negative or offensive comments, promoting hate-speak within Xanga. The Xanga Team has attempted to close such "hate sites" down, along with restricting members who misuse Xanga.

Although it is briefly mentioned in its About page, many users play copyrighted material without permission. It is also stated that "distribution" of copyrighted material is not allowed without permission; however, slews of Xanga users specialize in finding uploaded audio to which other users can hotlink.

Some users who have mastered basic HTML and CSS create more advanced and eye-pleasing templates for those who are less apt. These users are called "designers" or "layout coders". Xanga has not yet solved the problem of copyrighted images. Most of the designers use a generic search engine (such as Google Image Search) to find a picture of the defined theme (such as video games, music artists, athletes, etc.) and merely add text or other embellishments. The designers then stamp the image (banners, backgrounds, avatars) as their own copyrighted image.

Some Xanga pages are entirely for the use of pornography. These sites violate Xanga's Terms Of Service, and the Xanga staff try to shut down those sites.

Unsafe scripts

Xanga currently allows users to use JavaScript to customize their pages. Server side word filtering is used to detect dangerous scripts. It is claimed that the filtering can be bypassed by escaping the filtered text into Unicode and outputting the now scrambled script using JavaScript. A series of filtering was recently implemented. Some functions, such as setTimeout(), which many people were using to remove the advertisements, have been overridden.

Criticisms

Xanga has been criticized for giving its users too much flexibility, including the use of arbitrary JavaScript. This feature was used to mount a denial-of-service attack on Slashdot's search page in late 2004, causing intermittent errors.

Incidents

Elementary or junior high school users of Xanga have been punished upon discovery of content on their personal pages. The most common incidents have been threats made against teachers or classmates. In other incidents, posters have uploaded photos of themselves, or others, performing activity illegal due to their age (e.g. drinking or child pornography).

  • May 20, 2007: In Hong Kong, a 14-year-old boy was arrested after professing that he was involved in the Sun Yee On triad society gang fighting on his Xanga site.
  • September 7, 2006: The Federal Trade Commission fines Xanga US$1 million for allowing children under 13 to use the service without their parents' consent, thus violating the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act. Xanga admins close down all Xanga sites whose users signed up with birthdates that signified they were under 13, sparking much discussion among legitimate users for various reasons (for example: User was under 13 when page was created, but not any longer, the page was created for a pet, the birthdate that was given is actually an anniversary, etc.).
  • February 26, 2006: A Michigan high school student faces three felony charges for allegedly taking photographs of two juveniles having sex, posting them from the Internet and linking to them from the popular Xanga web site, allegedly prompting a student in the photos to attempt suicide.
  • February 8, 2006: Fifteen to twenty students at a Michigan high school face possible disciplinary action by the school after parents reported seeing Internet photos of them drinking alcohol at parties.
  • January 2006: Twin sisters in Newark, Ohio received probation for making death threats on their Xanga blog against some of their High School classmates.
  • December 2005: Police in Dublin, Ohio, United States arrested a 14 year old boy for posting death threats on his Xanga site, threatening to kill classmates and teachers.
  • December 8, 2005: Students of Taft High School of Chicago, Illinois have been suspended for posting threats about teachers and students.
  • September 2005: Our Lady Of Peace Middle School in Columbus, Ohio expelled a student for insulting both teachers and students on her Xanga. Similar cases happened in Taipei American School in 2004.
  • July 2005: In Lincoln, Nebraska, several students at Lincoln Southeast High School were suspended from basketball after a teacher had stumbled upon Xanga photos of the athletes drinking.
  • May 17, 2005: Police used a murder victim's last Xanga entry to identify his and his sister's killer.
  • May 2005: Multiple students at a Pennsylvania elementary school are suspended after their Xanga sites were reported to the principal. Only one site posted 'illegal' content - threats against teachers. That student was suspended for three days and questioned by detectives. The remaining students were punished with suspensions for using profanity.
  • April 2005: After a student's suicide, her classmates at the high school in Elizabethtown Area School District in Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania spread a rumor. The rumor was that students were bringing guns into school and were following a hit list that was claimed to have started on Xanga. This caused a scare among the students and faculty, and school was dismissed early. After the incident, Xanga users at the high school could no longer access Xanga from school property.
  • April 2005: Students at Buchanan High School in Clovis, California used Xanga to insult and threaten their classmates. Cyber-bullying of classmates and family members was reported.
  • March 2005: Two students at Grand Ledge High School used Xanga and MySpace to post entries that included death threats against a teacher.
  • March 2005: In a posting on the online journal site Xanga.com, a pupil at Trailridge Middle School allegedly threatened to kill a teacher over a grade.

See also

  • Piczo
  • Friendster
  • MySpace
  • Bebo
  • hi5
  • AsianAve
  • Facebook
  • Open Diary
  • Twitter
  • Mixi

This article uses material from the Wikipedia article Xanga,
which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.

Available on eBay

More Pictures