Two years ago, Xanga, a ship desperately trying to use a tiny bucket to bail water out of a sinking ship with holes the size of Australia, was in it’s final death throes unless it could raise $60,000 (which was later dropped to $50,000 because one of the people who couldn’t even pay a single penny suddenly miraculously came up with $10,000 to chip in with). Some, at the time, compared Xanga to the Titanic. I’ve blogged about Xanga’s downfall before. This is not that post. This is a post about the [lack of] recent events.
See, there’s this liason named Joel, aka “edlives”. IRL I’m sure he’s probably a really great guy. He’s a dad, has an autistic kid (and believe me, I understand that one from a brand new perspective from the me of 2 1/2 years ago), and currently is unemployed. He’s got this big project that began on Xanga (Autisable, for anyone who’s interested. It’s a blog about autism, and they’ve just started doing a video series) and I can understand the reason for brand loyalty. He spent so much of his own personal time and effort on that project, and losing your webhost is NEVER easy, especially when years an years worth of data is in limbo and risks becoming lost. However, here’s where I see a potential problem…
There may have been a conflict of interest going on.
See, as I said, Mr. Joel is the Xanga liaison, and he’s unemployed. He doesn’t get paid, he’s a volunteer. He’s also the ONLY point of legitimate contact between the remaining Xanga userbase and The Xanga Team. The only other point of contact is a help page that is hit and miss and constantly filled with users complaints – the majority of which are to do with either getting their old blogs, deleting their accounts, problems with the archives they’ve managed to get hold of, and sudden deactivation of their accounts despite having paid for a full year. Let’s not forget the reactivation of accounts that could take up to 2 months to get done, and trust me, users who have this happen to them don’t get those 2 months of blogging back. They pay for 12 months, only get 10, and then their account is deactivated because it’s time to pay up again for another 12 months… which makes the user confused because they were expecting the 12 months to kick in when the account was activated, and are caught off guard when it’s centered around the original date of that first payment.
Anyway, so there’s all these issues on the help page, and nobody can get legitimate answers because the ONE person, Eugenia, is so bogged down or otherwise busy (this is also a constant problem, as in all of this time excuses have been made for her absences, and there is NO ONE ELSE who takes over for her when they happen), that it takes months and months to get an answer at times via e-mail from her.
So, the only other point of contact is Mr. Joel… who’s been working on getting Autisable back in operation. As liaison, and as someone in DIRECT CONTACT with The Xanga Team, I think you can see how this can be perceived as a problem for the average Xanga user. While this may not be the situation, it does appear that Xanga Team has played favorites, and spent far too much time on a single project rather than doing their actual jobs – getting Xanga 2.0 up and running again.
Joel, again an unpaid volunteer, has a vested interest in Xanga’s survival. As liaison, he’s been lambasted from all sides by naysayers, former Xangans who keep tabs on things in the hopes that they will be able to turn back to the service, and users who become increasingly disappointed by the service.
I’m gonna take this time to point out that literally the only reason Joel is the liaison is because anyone who was actually qualified for the job pretty much washed their hands of the site and moved on from Xanga, already seeing that it was not salvageable. So Xanga was rather desperate for someone to do this job and played the “we can’t pay you because we’re broke” card. Joel stepped up to bat and filled the slot, and honestly has done a very lackluster job of it this entire time.
One user, who was an early immigrant to WordPress, Soullfire, has been from what I can see the most vocal about the problems Xanga faces, and has been championing for the users for quite a long time. Time and time again he has pointed out the continued issues, the fact that Xanga promised a service and have yet to deliver despite 2 full years of time, and has repeatedly been told that his concerns will/have been passed on to John (John Hiller). There are 2 standard responses I have observed over 2 years of time that users who turn to Joel receive:
- Their concerns have been passed on to John, and now Joel waits for answers. (Problem – the answers either never come, or the answers are never passed back to the users.)
- Joel completely agrees with the user’s concerns, says they’ve been passed on to John, and then blames the user for not being proactive and volunteering to help rebuild Xanga. (This is straight up VICTIM BLAMING, and it is NOT OKAY in any situation.)
Recently, a third type of answer has popped up. Joel just completely agreeing. No statement about passing on the user’s concerns, no victim blaming. Just… agreement. Here’s the thing though. When your comment is reassuring that Joel is at absolutely no fault whatsoever because he’s the liaison and isn’t accountable for anything at all, he happily agrees and thanks you for the encouragement. However, if you make the same exact points, and don’t constantly reassure him, then you get something a bit more. He’ll agree, but he’ll also go on this long diatribe about how he agrees and understands and sympathizes, but he’ll also take any criticism of his role in the process as an attack. The more direct someone is about the issues, the more he feels it’s an attack. And it will go on and on until finally he’ll get in his last word about how it’s been passed along, he understands and agrees. This tactic I’ve seen many times in internet debates and conversations. The “Fine, I agree with you, now will you stop and go away”, even if it’s legitimately a debate about an issue and not a back-and-forth argument.
Regardless, he’s more of a PR type of person rather than a liaison. A liaison represents the interests of both parties, not just the one. From Joel, over a period of 2 years, there have been nothing but excuses from him on behalf of the Xanga company. Both on his personal blog, where people are forced to come for ANY news about what’s going on with Xanga (btw, that’s a shady as hell tactic to drive up web traffic, just so people know) and on the official Facebook page that guess what, Joel also runs. Often people who turn to the FB page have ALREADY EXHAUSTED all other avenues of communication, and have ALREADY been having to deal with Eugenia over a period of weeks and months, with no success. Guess what people who turn to the FB page are told?
Yes. Email Eugenia… who has already failed to solve the problem, hence why people are turning to the next open channel of communication: the FB page run by a volunteer who’s gotten preferential treatment from the Xanga company and has been their top cheerleader from the beginning of this long 2 years of digital wasteland.
Xanga just needs to toss in the towel already. Just lay down, accept defeat, and move on. It’s a relic. A derelict ship with less than a skeleton crew that pillages it’s users and refuses to give them the features and tools they need to connect to one another again. Why is that, anyway? Are they afraid that if the community were to be rebuilt, and people started to tell one another of their experiences on Xanga 2.0 they might realize they’ve been royally fucked from the start and mutiny?
Currently Xanga’s Alexa rating is 61,360. It has FALLEN 12,663 ranks in the last 3 months. The numbers, unlike The Xanga Team and by extension Joel himself as their official volunteer liaison, don’t lie. Xanga is dying a long, slow death like Boramir in Fellowship of the Ring, and planet Namek on Dragonball Z.
I would also like to point out something that’s been bothering me for quite some months now. Joel has discussed a few times now that Xanga 2.0’s security features are superior to those of the Free WordPress. Yet, he does not state HOW they are superior. I would like to point out that Xanga has a Xangalock feature, which only allows people signed into to Xanga to see a blog, and even then, you’ve got to find the ruddy thing AND be approved for viewing by the blog owner.
This is IDENTICAL to how the Private security setting of a Free WordPress blog works. I know, I’ve been on both sides of that setting. One of my favorite blogs to read uses that setting pretty much as standard. But the Private setting takes it a step further. It puts control of who can see your blog directly into the hands of the blog owner by using an invite system. The blog owner MUST SPECIFICALLY INVITE YOU to view their blog in order to see the private posts. You don’t get that feature on Xanga.
There is also an additional feature on Free WordPress that allows a blog owner to password protect the posts. One must have the password to be able to view or comment on anything. This password, again, must be given to you by the blog owner.
These 2 different security features are JUST AS EFFECTIVE as the Xangalock feature. However, they are user friendly and more easily navigated by BOTH blog owner and blog viewer.
I would also like to point out, these VERY SAME WORDPRESS FEATURES are also available on Tumblr, another popular blogging platform that is far easier to use than most, and boasts features that even a 12 year old or a 60 year old can navigate and use with absolutely NO experience on ANY social media whatsoever. The UI is self explanatory, just as with Free WordPress (though the UI is completely different, they each are very straightforward in their use) and is completely 100% FREE. ALL other blogging sites ALSO offer the feature of owning/running/writing multiple blogs WITHOUT having to sign up for multiple accounts and having to have a different e-mail address for each individual one, something Xanga NEVER had.
This has been the old Xanga user Kamikaze_Zealot, weighing in on that old blogging relic yet again.
I leave you with this screenshot, taken this morning, of the wonderful latest update from The Xanga Team.
EDIT: 8/16/15 – 12:27AM: Soullfire is a man. Pronouns changed accordingly. (Sidenote: Sorry mate!)