Laaaaadies and Gentlemen (Imagine Michael Buffer announcing this)…
It has been a long road. Words have been flying at a breakneck pace. Egos have been inflated and deflated. Now we are down to the finals of the first ever Xanga Debate Tournament.
In one corner, wearing the orange sherbert trunks, we have the number 3 seed. In the other corner, sporting fuscia and periwinkle (remember the periwinkle crayon?), we have the underdog 9 seed. Two will enter, one will leave.
As always I remind you to be objective. Read and let me know who deserves to be in the final four. Please keep in mind that we are voting on who had the more well structured argument and not which stance you agree with. The participants were not allowed to choose their topics or which side they were arguing.
Topic: If xanga were in financial trouble, which would be a better solution; increased commercialism or making users pay a members fee (separate from premium) to remain on xanga?
9 Seed (Pro Fees) – First off, this nominal fee would have to be less than half the MMO standard ($15, so $7). However with membership fees comes greatly superior features and customer service. The most obvious change is that Xanga would be able to have both more organization and more programmers on staff. The result of this would be quicker updates to the interface and better and more diverse features for Xanga. In almost every case, the long term quality of care is better when the service has a fee attached to it because the company behind the fee can pay staff to keep quality high and updates frequent. Without this fee, Xanga can do very little to update the site effectively – one prime example is their lack of a customizable universal inbox that almost everyone has shouted for. Such changes would be easily fixable with more programmers on staff, which a fee would ensure.
The auxiliary benefit of membership fees is the decreased amount of trolls and stalkers. People will be much less likely to start a new account to harass someone if they have to pay $7 each time to make a new account – these people will also likely be deterred from starting an account originally if they have to pay to maintain their “hobby”. This keeps the user quality on Xanga high as well by having only those truly interested in blogging on the site. The trolls, stalkers, creepers, lurkers, will all be easier blocked and there will be far fewer of them on the site with a fee.
3 Seed (Against Fees) – (1) Ads are tolerable: while annoying, they are something we are used to.
(2) Xanga would lose innumerable users should they begin charging; Facebook, arguably one of the (if not the) most popular sites has a group with 2,460,637 members entitled “We Will Not Pay To Use Facebook. We Are Gone If This Happens;” how many more would Xanga lose? It is unique, but not so much so that the majority of the current users would pay to use it, with the myriad other (more popular) blogging sites such as blogspot, lj, and wordpress. Its already precarious hold on new members will freefall.
(3) Xanga will actually lose money as even many premium users (especially the many who have it by credits) will leave.
(4) Corporate involvement will invest businesses in Xanga’s well-being, encouraging them to promote Xanga so as to promote themselves. This will create a “scratch my back I’ll scratch yours” collaboration.
(5) This is the better choice for Xangans: it is common practice for to prefer commercials over paying (hence the popularity of sites that offer TV shows free with ads over sites that require payment), and should those who hold a strong hatred for ads can still opt to leave, the loss will be far less than should Xanga choose to charge.
9 Seed – Ads are now highly ineffective. Most users don’t even bother to click on many of these ads, which minimize their effectiveness. Because ads are not very effective, companies do not invest in them as heavily thus websites cannot rely on advertising as the only form of income (e.g. Premium). It is true Xanga would lose members initially, however the community would likely stay intact because you do not need to be registered to comment on blogs. Also many users are premium for life and a member fee might actually be less than current premium costs.
There is also the fact of “You get what you pay for.” Once Xanga starts charging a member fee, they will output a greatly superior product to its competitors, who do not charge a fee, and thus cannot commit the resources to upgrading their product that Xanga would be able to. Channels such as HBO and Showtime are still incredibly popular despite requiring a fee to view, and have a superior quality product that have dominated the Emmys for years – Xanga’s member fee will have a similar effect. Finally, corporate involvement and fees are not mutually exclusive. Even if Xanga chooses to charge a fee, there will still be corporate backing; Xanga just won’t be 100% dependent on it.
3 Seed – If ads weren’t effective, they would no longer exist. But they’re increasing. Even if this means the individual ad has lost its strength, advertisers are still advertising, now in greater numbers. This is a great thing for us: Xanga charges a flat fee based on amount, location and size, the ads pour in, Xanga rolls in money. As its new-traffic rate is currently growing, they will continue to receive offers. Add to that the money some users would likely opt to spend to keep away the advertisements, and Xanga will come out winning irrespective of whether the ads are effective. However, the sharp traffic drop-off and slow decline inevitable if they begin charging would both prevent this and hurt the users that chose to stay, so that soon there wouldn’t be enough users paying to keep up Xanga, much less give better services. “You get what you pay for” is a truism, not a fact. The example of HBO is falsely analogous; what superior product would Xanga come up with? We have one of the best, most open teams, who have set up a way for us to request and support changes to Xanga. Truthfully, it doesn’t even matter, because there is little chance they would make enough money with member fees to even keep up the amount they are making now. Traffic is a fickle thing.
That the community will stay intact is naive. Few users are here to only read and comment. There will be even fewer who make the transition and choose not to pay for Xanga yet still comment. What would you have us do, bookmark every single blogger we follow and cycle through every day to comment on them, check to see if our comment was returned, etc.? So many people will stop blogging anyway (whether initially as they can’t/won’t pay, or later on because they have lost most of their traffic) that there will be hardly a point to sticking around. We are ignoring the huge group of people this would forcefully push out of Xanga; those who could not afford, especially in this economy, to pay for a blog service. Pre-teens and teens, college students, parents with children, members of the lower-middle class: for all of us, blogging is already a time-expense; as a monetary expense, many can’t afford it. Consider how many Xangans are in this bracket: honestly, who will be left?
VOTE NOW: JUDGES VOTES WILL BE COMBINED WITH READERS VOTES TO DETERMINE THE WINNER! ALL NAMES WILL BE REVEALED IN THE RESULTS POST.
Sidenote – I am tagging anyone who has been keeping tabs on this contest.