By nature, most human beings are social creatures. Regardless of how extraverted or introverted we may be, we all share information with our friends, family or sometimes even random strangers. We like to tell stories or funny anecdotes, give good advice to others based on previous experiences or just plain rant about something that's bothering us.
The popularity of weblogs, or blogs for short, has skyrocketed around this idea. Web sites like Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Flickr, LiveJournal and Blogger all offer users some method of self-expression, whether it's sharing a few thoughts on your day or a set of photographs you're proud of.
Xanga.com is one of those sites. Xanga (pronounced ZANG-guh) is a social networking Web site that hosts personal profiles, blog posts and photo sharing. The site is part of the Web 2.0 movement, where users of Xanga have a great deal of control over the content that gets created. On top of being able to post blogs on nearly any topic of their choosing, members have a good deal of independence over what their personal profiles can look like.
There's also an emphasis on online community on Xanga. After a blog entry gets posted, other users have the ability to comment on posts if they feel they have any valuable input. A conversation can start up about nearly anything, from everyday aspects of life like food and health to political debates or commentary on the news. There are different communities for users interested in specific topics, so members can follow posts that grab their attention. People can add their friends or make new ones along the way, and choose to share their thoughts with everyone or just a select few.
So how does Xanga work? How do users post blog entries and set up profiles? Is Xanga free, or does it cost to join? What kind of social networking benefits does the site offer? Keep reading to find out.
To start your own personal blog on Xanga, you'll have to create an account with the site. This is just a simple one-step process, in which you choose a username and password, enter your e-mail address and date of birth, verify that you're a real person by copying a bit of CAPTCHA text and agree to the Xanga Terms of Service. The regular version of Xanga is free to join (we'll talk more about what you might want to pay for on the next page).
Once you're logged into the site, you can jump right into sharing your thoughts and opinions. When you first sign into the site, there's a link in the middle of the page that reads "New Weblog Entry." Clicking on it leads you to an editing page, where you can write whatever's on your mind at the time. Once you're finished spilling your guts, clicking on the "Submit" button publishes the post to your Xanga home page.
One popular feature for users on Xanga is the ability to design their own personal blog pages. It's similar in nature to how members of the social networking Web site MySpace can change certain aspects of their profile, like the background color or music played from the page. Using markup language like HTML, Xanga users can add a unique background to their pages, too. After getting permission to use a chosen image, users can take the image's file URL and paste it into the "Background Image" section of the "Look and Feel" editor. Xanga users can also post background music onto their pages by pasting in the host URL of a music file (MP3, MIDI or WAV). The site acknowledges, however, that unless the music has been written or recorded by the user or the user has received permission from an artist, it's probably illegal to share the tune.
So is there more to Xanga than just blogging about your thoughts? We'll talk more about Xanga's community aspect on the next page.
Benefits of Xanga
On top of posting your own entries on your blog, Xanga also offers sever different online communities for users. Xanga Members can join specific communities based on their interests. If you blog often about health, for example, you can join "healthkicker" to follow entries relating to health and even post your own thoughts to the channel. Posts that are popular and get lots of readers and comments can get featured on the site for bigger exposure and more dialogue between users.
Xanga may also be helpful to bloggers concerned about privacy and safety. The site offers several security features that let users control who can view their posts and what type of content is appropriate.
Xanga is free for anyone who wants to use it, but there are a few compromises that regular members have to deal with. The major issue involves advertising. The site has banner advertisements on the top of most pages, something some users feel distract from the actual content. Of course, banner ads aren't really anything new for people accustomed to surfing the Internet, and most Web surfers just ignore them. Without banner ads, which are paid for by sponsors, Xanga wouldn't be able to remain free for regular users.
On top of that, there are a few limitations in terms of storage space and other features. Regular users, for instance, have about 1 GB of space for storing photos, can only upload about 100 MB of images per month and can use about 3 GB of bandwidth per month.
However, for users who want to take advantage of some of Xanga's extra features, there's Xanga Premium. So, what separates Xanga Premium from regular Xanga? Well, for one, you have to pay a subscription fee to gain access to Xanga Premium. There are several possible plans available and the costs are $4 for a single month, $15 if you select a six-month plan and $25 for a 12-month plan. And if you're really serious about your Xanga Premium Plan, you can opt for a $100 "Lifetime" subscription. Whatever the length, your Xanga Premium subscription gets you, among other things, 10 GB of space for image hosting, more profile pictures and no more banner advertisements on all public Xanga pages you view. As you can see, it's ultimately up to you to decide if you want the regular Xanga experience or the Xanga Premium experience.
If you'd like more information about Xanga, social networking and other related topics, follow the links on the next page.
Related HowStuffWorks Articles
- Xanga.com. "Xanga Help." (July 20, 2009)http://help.xanga.com/