Reactions to the Ning "Bombshell"

April 15, 2010
  • TechCrunch was early to the news of Ning’s change of strategy, which at the time was still known only to a few members of the Ning creator’s network.
  • Posterous announced that it would be building a Ning blog importer for free — but that still leaves all the other content up in the air.
  • Steve Hargadon, Social Learning Consultant for Eluminate, and moderator of Classroom 2.0 (A paid-for Ning network), has blogged about the Ning Changes and the Impact on Educational Communities. In the comments, Steve Verjans mentions a public Google Doc that has been created to document some alternatives to Ning:; and Lucy Gray is collecting user stories in Steve will be hosting a discussion on Eluminate, tomorrow night (21st April) at midnight GMT (1.00 am BST). See Steve’s blog posting for details.
  • D’Arcy Norman “On the Ning exodus” put his finger on the issue when he posted

    WordPress/BuddyPress and Drupal and any of a long list of others can provide the functionality of Ning. But, in order to protect yourself from another potential service change/interruption, you really need to provide a server. […] You need to copy files to the server. You need to configure a database and tweak things. This is where the people that use Ning in the first place are lost. They can’t/won’t do this.

16 April, 2010
Jack Schofield commented on the Ning announcement in the Guardian Technology Blog (Ning social network site is going from freemium to paid-for). His conclusion:

This is a useful reminder that no free online service is guaranteed to remain free, or even to survive. Indeed, it’s a fair bet that at least 90% will, in the long term, disappear. Those lured with the bait of cloud computing should bear this in mind and make sure they have complete backups of all their data, plus an exit strategy for when the worst happens.

will be taken to heart by this author.

17 April, 2010
19 April, 2010

So that’s it for now. We’ll know more in May when Ning finally announces its new pricing models. For me, this has to be the quickest e-learning fad I’ve ever promoted, from best-thing-since-sliced-bread to toast in 48 hours!


  1. Never mind Chris –I was a very enthusiastic advocate of Ning when I discovered it through a Trinity colleague two years ago, but sadly, it never really caught on in the way many of us had hoped and the main attraction – that of a walled garden that did everything the old-fashioned Web 1.0 forums did but with extra bells and whistles – was never that attractive – folk either stuck to the forums they knew and loved or moved first to MySpace and then Facebook and Twitter – neatly bypassing Ning!
    I reckon a Facebook page plus Twitter suits most situations if you want to be totally free or something like Learning Objects if you can afford a licence and SLA. WordPress and Posterous are good too – or even blogger as in this blog.
    Thankfully, we still have choices 🙂

  2. I have been looking for replacements and came across one – which looks interesting. They claim to offer free lifetime accounts and match most of nings feature plus they add a few more. Going to play with it over the next week or two until Ning give some timescale of what they intend

  3. While it might be usful looking at other similar alternatives any third party tool needs to be looked at in light of our guidelines

    It is also worth noting this from Mashable

    'Ning is one of the largest and most-visited networks of social sites in its class. If Ning can’t succeed in letting users build free social network sites, it might not be a viable business model for the other guys, either — and you might have to pack your digital bags again in another year or two.'

  4. Julia: Facebook page or Facebook group. What's the difference? Also, do you observe a student preference to Twitter or Facebook?

    SLA = Service Level Agreement?

    GBswales: No guarantee that Big Tent will be still around and free for the long haul either.

    Chris: I certainly should have read the guidelines!

    I'm currently thinking that learning Objects Campus Fusion 4 could be a slot-in replacement for Sea SALT, which is anyway only five days old and a very small community. I'm also happy to go along with Buddy Press if that's the direction the SALT team wish to take.

    For the HEFCw funded peer support project I'm thinking either self hosted Elgg or move to Facebook. I'm talking over the options with colleagues tomorrow so any thoughts would be welcome.

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