Recap of my talk on Ning alternatives

Last Friday at SIDLIT I presented on one’s alternatives now that Ning has adopted a pay-for-use model. See my slides below. The gist is this–you have three options:

  1. Stick with Ning (and either pay for it or get sponsored)
  2. Switch to another hosted solution (with no guarantees that they’ll stay free)
  3. Host your own.

For option three, I demonstrated Elgg, an open source social networking platform that anyone with a little bit of web development know-how and some server space can set up. It’s come a long way in the last couple of years–within a few minutes after installation you can have a full-featured social network exclusive to your group. Another package worth looking at, especially if you’re familiar with the popular WordPress blogging platform, is BuddyPress.

One thing I want to stress, though: Even though software like Elgg and BuddyPress are free, they do require some setup and maintenance. And even though some of those upstart Ning competitors are free or cheap, you may find that you get what you pay for (or that they may disappear from the Internet out of the blue). I’m not defending Ning, but they do have a right to charge for their services–and I think the age of free everything on the web is coming to an end. My point is that if you want to leave Ning, that’s fine–but please think twice if your only reason is because they’re charging money now.


Related posts:

  1. 5 social network alternatives to Ning
  2. Pricing details for your online community with Ning
  3. No more free Ning–options for your online community
  4. SIM 2009 Presentation recap: Links and additional information for getting started with social media
  5. Watch video of our talk “The Productive Researcher’s Technology Toolbox”

Aaron Sumner

Aaron Sumner is the Director of Technology for Research and Development at the University of Kansas Center for Research on Learning. He has worked in web development and instructional technology since 1994.