Ning … here today, gone tomorrow.

Just noticed this post (No more Ning) from James Clay which comments on this post on the Ning creator’s network which tell’s us that Ning is planning to phase out its free social networks to concentrate on their paid customers. The timing is immaculate: on the day as on which I’d been promoting Ning to this community, creating a new Ning site for evaluation as a host for Sea SALT, and encouraging people to sign up, on the other side of the Atlantic the newly installed CEO of Ning is laying off staff and pulling out the rug from under me!

It was early days and so nothing much will be lost if Sea SALT has to be dismantled before it’s established. But of more concern is the fact that Ning is hosting the peer support site that we’re using for one of the HEFCw projects, and we’re going to need a replacement for that fast! Luckily, we have already established a Facebook page for that, and we were starting to conclude that that might be the best place to host that community anyway.

As for Sea SALT, I guess that you get what you pay for, and even though there are hints that educational sites may be a special case, it seems prudent to hold back from investing further time and effort to grow communities on top of a service that may be gone tomorrow. But if this community likes the idea of a social-network based community, we need to have a plan B. Self hosted free open-source social network services include Elgg (which used to host Oremi) and the Buddy Press plugin for the WordPress Multiuser edition. In addition Learning Objects’ new Campus Pack Fusion Community Areas look to have potential. All three would be perfectly viable, but all would require support from LIS. The current pricing of Ning is currently $4.95 a month to use our own domain and $25 per month to go add free. That be low enough for SALT to bear the cost. On the other hand, we are already paying for Learning objects and I’m told that the new Campus pack will cost the same as we’re currently paying.

Interesting times. Discuss them here, or follow this link to Sea SALT to register and have your say in the forum … while it lasts!

4 Comments

  1. Yes, not great news especially as some have invested a lot of time and effort into developing sites. Third party software and services always carry risk. However, it’s not just third party software. Paid for software can go the same way due upgrades, takeovers etc. Just look what Apple did to Logic – bought the company and the immediately stopped support for PCs.

    On a positive note, I like the idea of Buddy Press as an option, particularly as we've been thinking about using WordPress for the main SALT site. We going to be using it for the SALT conference so perhaps we can try it out with that?

  2. People are already moving away from ning

    "The Edusim Users Group is Moving ! Effective May 1st this Edusim Ning group will be closed and the NEW and IMPROVED Edusim users group network will be launched, located at http://edusim3d.com/network/elgg"

  3. Chris

    As Sea SALT is just an evaluation site accessible so far only to those who came to my Lunch and Learn (or were aware of that session), it's not a problem to move, or indeed just to abandon and move to BuddyPress. Moving the EG-353 site, or at least the useful content, is a more serious issue.

  4. It won't be quite as simple to create an Elgg site here … I could do a guerrilla site, but for long-term viability we need LIS support, and for that, I assume there'd be a long lead time.

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