GoNing, GoNing … Gone

The deadline for free Ning sites passed in July and any free Ning sites have to be upgraded to a paid plan by 20th August this year or risk deletion. The site eg-353.ning.com which I created for the HEFCW funded enhancement peer-support project is doomed unless I pay the $19.95 per month fee to keep it alive ($199.95 per year with one month free if bought before 3rd August).

There is an archive function: an Adobe AIR application that connects to your Ning site and downloads the membership lists and textual content (forums, blogs, events etc) as JSON files and downloads your uploaded media as documents. It stores the whole lot in a folder on your desktop.

From a data integrity point of view, this is not a bad solution. I presume that the JSON files are populated from the fields of the associated database tables and should therefore be pretty complete. From a non-technical user’s point of view, it’s useless! It is possible to open the JSON file in a text editor and extract the good stuff for a page-by-page reconstruction of your network on another platform. However, for a more complete solution, it would require some programming expertise and knowledge of JavaScript to reconstruct your social network from the raw data — even if the result of the conversion was just a static web site. (In fact, a static web site was what I expected that the archive would be).

I am tempted to pay the monthly fee to keep the files around, at least until the end of the funded project, but as a migration route for general users, Ning’s archive facility is disappointing. My other Ning network, SEA SALT, which I created for the Beginner’s Guide to Social Engineering reported earlier, also needs to be archived. There is talk of an alternative being developed within the SALT team, but if SALT, or anyone else wanted to keep the old one running in the interim, get in touch and we’ll see if there’s a way.


  1. So would we be able to extract the data from Sea SALT and upload to Joomla?

  2. There probably isn't that much data to extract … but yes. I guess I should do it anyway!

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