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Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Ning Alternatives that Require Little to No Work?

I was hoping that Ning was going to come out with a inexpensive plan that would support the different Ning sites that I have a hand in.  They do have Ning Mini at $3/mo, but it only allows 150 members.  That’s not going to work for:

I’ve read a bit about alternatives, but each will require a bit of work.  Harold Jarche is trying to figure it out for the Work Literacy site.  I hope he comes up with a good answer and I can piggy back his efforts for the other two.

Suggestions?

20 comments:

Faraz Qureshi said...

Tony,

I have not used either of these, but looks like they hv similar features to Ning:
http://grou.ps/
http://www.grouply.com/

Ο Φοβερός said...

Ning haven't yet released any info about their export mechanism. Depending on what the export mechanism looks like, it maybe be a snap to import most info to another service (like social go), or it may be time consuming. I guess it's still a waiting game...

Tony Pinto said...

For the amount of time you are going to spend researching other options, exporting your data from Ning, setting up the new site (and realizing the grass is never greener), and encouraging your community to move over, you are far better spending the $200/year and getting the incredible Plus feature set, and spending all of the time and money saved on growing your community & creating new content. Ning ROCKS! That's my two cents anyway.

Tony Karrer said...

I've looked at grou.ps and grouply and we likely are going with one of those for the CTO Forum.

@Tony - but doesn't that mean that Ning wins. They sucked you in with Free and then change the pricing and you get stuck paying.

Anonymous said...

I'm moving my Ning site to http://www.spruz.com/

I think they have specific help on how to migrate from Ning as well. Not all the stuff you created, but an easy way to help your members move over

dgende said...

Tony,
You may want to check out:
http://grou.ps/move_ning.php

They claim: "How do I migrate my Ning users?
Simple. Log in to your GROU.PS network with your administrator account and visit the Migration section under the Tools tab. Then you will just need to import the .CSV file that you should have exported from your Ning network."

Would be very interested to hear if this worked out for you.

Educaster said...

Checked out and signed up for spruz... nice site!

Donald Clark said...

Tony, did they "suck you in with free" or perhaps "give you a lot of free time before requiring you to pay"?

Ning's business plan of making money with advertising apparently wasn't working so should they continue to take the loss or try something new in order to save the business?

You can try another free one but unless they have a better business plan it might all be for naught.

Matt Stenson said...

There are a number of alternatives in the comments thread of this post http://www.edtechpodcast.com/2010/04/16/ning-shuts-down-its-free-network-service-what-are-the-alternatives/ .

jay said...

Here are Robin Good's suggestions:

http://www.masternewmedia.org/ning-alternatives-guide-to-the-best-social-networking-platforms-and-online-group-services/

jay

Harold Jarche said...

Given the effort to change and whatever tweaking is necessary after the fact, then Ning Plus at $200 may be the best option. We could set up a tip jar and ask for $1 from a small percentage of our 5,000 + members

subquark said...

BuddyPress! http://buddypress.org/

The key is to be in control of your own content. Your own self-hosted blog (I like blogger, but you are at their whim and TOS) is where your main content should be and using BuddyPress turns your WordPress blog into a social site similar to Ning.

Cost? $0

My simplistic approach: get a domain, use something like HostGator to host and install WordPress, BuddyPress, and anything else you need.

Total cost - $10 domain per year, $8 a month hosting (for as many domains as you like!), done . . .

Sue Waters said...

Ning does have a full export option (as oopposed to just exporting member details) but it isn't that easy to find the information on how to organise your export amd it does take time for them to export -- currently they do need to do it for you and we aren't talking days.

Personally I think you will need to make a decision on whether you want something that requires little or not work OR like @subquark says "where you control the content" or other reasons.

My reasons are I want control of the content and I'm sick of dealing with the spammers on their network which I can't control on their network but can on my own site. The Ning spammer issue is way too time consuming for me.

Fortunately I work with BuddyPress as part of my work so it is an easy option for me. Feel free to join my BuddyPress site and see what it is like here - http://edugroups.org/

gih said...

@Faraz

I still don't understand. Pls be specific.

V Yonkers said...

Donald, I don't mind Ning changing their model. However, most companies start with a Beta version, then go to a basic "free" version with upgrade options. When they need more R&D or have difficulties maintaining profitability, they rebrand. Ning could have kept up their old version with no support, requiring those existing sites to pay for an upgrade, as they phase out the old "brand." Instead, 3 months before they make a change, they let users know that they will no longer have access to their sites without paying.

I find this very disloyal to those that helped make Nings known. Many educators (myself included) cannot afford the basic fee. In addition, I feel we helped build Ning's reputation, as our students (especially those that the college level) brought their knowledge of nings to organizations.

From a marketing standpoint, this was not a good decision.

Donald Clark said...

V Yonkers, the site still costs them money even if they drop support as you suggest. Ning was bleding money and in this economy you have to take the steps that you best think will save your company.

Yes, sites like yours might of helped build Ning's reputation, but it was not enough to make them money.

How many FREE social network sites are making money? Facebook seems to be the big exception because their model perfectly supports advertising. Twitter and YouTube are two big ones and they are bleeding money. While YouTube has the deep pockets of Google, will Twitter's model allow them to make money in the future without having them to charge a subscriber fee?

Does this platform, blogger.com, even make Goggle money? My guess is that it indirectly makes them money because of many of the blogs carry AdSense.

Donald Clark said...

V Yonkers,

I forgot to mention that sites like yours should be OK as Ning as backtracked and said it will continue free service for teachers. See this New York Times blog

Matt Wolf said...

Check out BuddyPress. http://buddypress.org/

squad said...

One of the sites that helped me find great name suggestions was http://www.squadhelp.com. I got 400+ domain name suggestions in 2 days for just $50. They engage people across the world who submit ideas - and the best idea wins the award amount. It sure beats the time and energy I would have spent myself to come up with names. You might want to check them out.

sanscrita said...

dont even try spruz. Disgusting management and limits. I migrated there and shame on them. try grou.ps or grouply, those are most chosen platforms as I have seen other blogs.