Type of site
|Created by||John Hiler, Marc Ginsburg, Dan Huddle|
|Registration||Required to blog|
|Launched||April 4, 1999|
Xanga began in 1999 as a site for sharing book and music reviews. According to Alexa Internet, an internet metrics website, Xanga's ranking has continually declined since 2007.
Xanga was introduced in October 1999, in a format dissimilar to its current strain. The following year, Xanga became public as a result of a series of e-mail recruitment methods via GeoCities sent by Bianca Broussard, a fictional PR personality of Xanga. In 2001, Biz Stone, the former Creative Director left Xanga. He eventually went on to become part of the Blogger team at Google, and then to work at a new internet startup, Odeo.
Over the next few years, Xanga underwent several formatting changes. Featured Content was divided in 2002 into Premium and Classic views with Premium as the default. In 2005, Lifetime Premium was withdrawn as Xanga introduced Premium Plus. Eventually, new profile features such as friends, "nudges", and chat forums that resemble Facebook were added. In 2006, Xanga launched Xanga Video and Audio.
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).
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.)
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 other's 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".
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.
On February 22, 2007, Xanga introduced "Pulse", which was described as a "carefree miniblog". A Pulse message can also be uploaded by cell phone.
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
Xanga supports several privacy features that allow users to restrict or control access to their sites.
- Protected Posting allows 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, 2007, 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 into a Xanga wished to view someone's Xanga, he or she would first have to log into 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, 2007, 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.
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. Xanga Footprints is not a current feature on the site.
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.
Civil penalty fine by Federal Trade Commission
In September, 2006, Xanga was fined by the FTC for violating the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) for $1,000,000 USD, the largest fine leveled against any online company. Xanga was found to have harvested private information from children under the age of 13 without consent of parents for commercial profit. Xanga had failed to post terms of usage on their website, as well as failing to post their practice involving children.
Reporting Inappropriate Content
A "Report Inappropriate Content" link is also found at the bottom of every page.
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 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.
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