xanga's impending doom, yet another web 1.0 internetting casualty
Xanga.com originally launched in 1998. Yep, it's that old. And in July 2013 it will probably shut down. Either that or it will "pull a Friendster" where it will be rebranded/retooled into something else and totally lose the flavor or what it originally was...
...and so goes yet another early-internet site.
Xanga is a blogging site, and people do like to write stuff on the internet whether it's short-form like Twitter, semi-short form like Facebook or long-form like Blogger or WordPress. Whatever it is, people do like to express their thoughts online in their 'personal space' in one way or another.
The problem with personal space web sites is that they all ultimately fail due to herd mentality. GeoCities was at one time 'a thing', as in trendy, as in The Thing To Do On The Internet, and then the herd got bored with it and moved on. LiveJournal was 'a thing', and the herd moved on from that. Friendster was also 'a thing', MySpace was 'a thing', etc.
Xanga was also, of course, 'a thing' at one point in time with a monster amount of active users. But that time has since long passed and the herd has moved on.
Right now 'the things' are Reddit, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Instagram. And every single one of them will at some point fade into obscurity and the herd will move on just like it always does.
The really crappy part about sites that die off (or change enough to where anything left of the original is gone) is that any content you posted there usually goes away forever. Yeah, the site will probably send out a broadcast email that says, "Hey, on [date here] we're shutting down go grab your stuff off our site before that happens!", but the thing is that for really old web accounts, the original user probably signed up with an email address he doesn't even use anymore and just forgot to update to the current email address used, so the notification is never received. Then the end date passes, the content gets whacked, and... yeah. Totally screwed.
What a lot of site owners have found out - myself included - is to always host everything yourself whenever possible. I basically host everything but video because video files are too huge and consume too much bandwidth, but as for text, images and audio, yep I have all that here. Sure, I share it out to other sites (like the way I share out Radio Free Menga to iTunes), but the point is that there's always a copy here just in case the places where I share stuff out to goes down.
I used to tell people to get a free blog, but I don't do that anymore. What I tell people to do now is to register a dot-com/net/org/whatever instead, pay the yearly registration fee and pay for web hosting. Hosting for most companies get either be paid by month or by year. Better to pay by year if you've got the cash because it's cheaper that way, and starts at between $75 to $100 for a full year of hosting depending on what you use for a web host.
Yeah, hosting your own domain is a totally computery, totally nerdy thing; it's not easy and not free either. But at least you know what you put there stays there and doesn't vanish like a fart in the wind because the site you were using just up and dies due to herd mentality.
This is, incidentally, why sites like DreamHost (a web host provider, and you can also register your dot-com/net/org/whatever there too for true one-stop-shop domain'ing) have been in business since 1996. The only way I know of for a web host provider to up and die is due to massive fiscal bungling since every account is a paid account. But that's so rare it's not even funny. Registrar/Host providers like DH have way, way, way more staying power compared to any free blog service because they're actually making money on every account. Yeah, you pay, but your stuff stays and won't vanish just because a particular free web service ceases to be trendy for whenever that happens. That alone makes it worth paying for.