One way or another Ning has been on my mind alot lately. Starting with the ongoing spam issues that I have with the Libraries of the Future Ning site that I set up in a previous role and have rather grudgingly maintained, through to the issues Mike has had with the Bathcamp network that briefly led to a change in the signup procedures as he was also drowning in spam. Brian also wrote a post about the use of Ning at the JISC Conference and whether this really worked (to be fair I pushed hard for these event specific networks in the past but am starting to feel we need new ways to offer that functionality that doesn’t entail joining something new each time..) Then this week Dougald Hine of School of Everything and Spacemkrs fame started a Twitter conversation that both scolded Ning for its spam problems while supported its general use and functionality. Also the talk Will Perrin gave at the JISC Conference demonstrated how well Ning can be used citing some of his Talk About Local projects. Then finally (for now) the announcement via Techcrunch yesterday evening that Ning was ceasing to offer free versions and that only a variety of paid versions would be supported in the future.
I can’t say I’m surprised by this but the main problem is that even with a paid version I see no evidence that there are improved spam filters and thus the same problems remain. It does I think give some momentum to tools like WordPress and Buddypress (and via Owen Stephens I see that someone is already building the required migration app!). I’ve been thinking for a while that an essentially WordPress powered community site (like GISThub) is probably the way forward for community events etc anyway – especially if easy ways can be found to integrate things like Twitter authentication on a read-only basis so you can avoid additional sign-up trauma.
I’m in discussions with a few people about an idea for a hackday soon so maybe I’ll give Buddypress a go and see what happens.