Xanga as a Pay-Site? (Debate Finale!)

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?

Opening Statements:
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.

Rebuttals:
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.

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72 comments

  1. While I think that making people pay for Xanga will result in its death, I have to admit that the more cogent arguments for his point of view was 9 seed’s.  I do have a problem with their use of an acronym without offering what it stands for (MMO), though.

  2. 3. landslide.i think they should get a rematch if this is the final question. the person arguing for xanga being a pay site had a tough way to go.9’s argument tries valiantly, but falls apart when they compare xanga to a premium cable channel. people pay premium prices on those channels because the content is premium. xanga would really, really struggle with that because the content on here would not justify the money.

  3. I say a mix *but that is what they have now* ads and the chance to pay.  I would pay if there was something extra you got as a paying blogger but you don’t really get anything special.  I mean not really.  Anything you do as a paid user you can do pretty much as a free user.  So the issue is not the cost but the business model Xanga put into use that didn’t give any major bang for the buck to paying users.

  4. Both sides have extremely good arguments, but i’m gonna have to go with 3.  That argument seemed the most logical and well thought out in the long run (although i admit 9’s argument was very well done all the same)

  5. 3. 9’s arguements are weak at best. Xanga is one of the best social networking sites online right now, with little downtime and trolls activity compared to the other sites.

  6. 3   If 9 wants all those better services he can get premiumSide note:  if they actually started charging would I no longer be able to access what I wrote on here?   Because some things are only saved on my blog (not on my hard drive anywhere) and I’m definitely gone if they start charging but it would suck to lose all that stuff =(

  7. I’m with 9. I don’t agree with paying to be a part of Xanga. I can just up and leave this one for an entirely free blogging site if Xanga were to start charging.

  8. Considering the position 9 got stuck with is unpopular and pretty much completely impractical, they do a remarkable job making a fairly reasonable case for it. Allowing this handicap, 9 gets my vote.

  9. 9 had a nearly impossible position to argue but did a great job. 3’s openeing statement wasn’t so great, but 3’s rebuttal wins the debate.  I do wonder if going second is an advantage in this form of debate.Anyway, my vote is for 3.

  10. This was a very close, very tough debate. HoweverI’m going with seed #3 ftw.His/her arguments were more thought out, explained, rationalized and developed to a further extent then #9’s, although #9’s arguments were just as valid.Three arguements seal this for #3:1) Highlighting the broad base of Xanga users and how a fee would negatively affect them and drive them away if implemented2) Solid arguments and subsequent rebuttal around the role of advertising – #9 never clearly sealed the argument that ads are ineffective.3) The role Xanga plays in an online social networking community, and the adverse effects should a fee be implemented.For those of you who don’t know what “MMO” means, it’s Massively Multi-player Online game: think World of Warcraft.Also, have a numbered list is still an argument/debate format: for one, they are opening statements and two, it highlights great structure that allows for easier understanding. I don’t see or have a problem with this methodology.Big shout out and thanks to Dave for organizing this! It’s been a blast… πŸ™‚

  11. I think that even though 3 makes me feel happier.. 9 wins my vote because they are right, people will pay, and they will get a higher quality…FTW.. I am offended I WAS tagged…. lol jk πŸ˜‰

  12. That wasn’t really a debate. But SORRY I’M a COLLEGE STUDENT LIVING OFF THE PARENT. I”m A BROKE JOKE. HECK NO! I HAVE TO SAVE MONEY. I wouldn’t pay for something that I can just write on paper or on facebook and myspace.  OVER, LOUD AND CLEAR!

  13. Unfortunately, 9. I say “unfortunately” because I don’t want anyone in a position of power to read this and agree with 9’s argument.Realistically, I don’t think too many of us would pay any amount of money to blog on any site. There are waaayyy too many free sites out there. A fee would turn Xanga into a hosting service. And if I were paying, I would expect Xanga to compete with other web hosting services, not with other blogsites.If we’re going to pay, we may as well go with WordPress and open proper blogs, aiming for book deals and media attention.RYC: Nah, I felt later like I’d been kind of preachy. πŸ˜› Though I do think people are a little too free with the personal info around here.

  14. I HAVE something to point out to “seed 9”. charging?  even if trolls delete there account or make a new one they easily can change their email which makes it harder to keep track of charging them.  unless they charge new users too.  i would rather go to a different blog site to write than xanga due to the fees. xanga will not gain new users…therefore defeating the purpous of this public blogging community.  i surely wouldn’t want ot pay.  that is BULLSHIT! 

  15. 9…i think having to defend why paying for xanga is the better option is way way harder…in my opinion, no matter how you look at it, most of us would prefer not to pay at all. having said that, ultimately most will side with number 3, but you see, we are here to judge who debates better regardless we agree or not…is it possible to have another round though?enough said..hehe!

  16. 3. I like having the option of choosing to pay for the upgrade, gives the illusion of control  – Maybe (slightly) raise the fee on the upgraded Premium level, and improve those services?

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