Ning’s New Deadline for Pay-Only: Aug. 30

Claude AlmansiBy Claude Almansi
Editor, Accessibility Issues

Ning  announced repeatedly that it would delete free networks whose creators had not paid for one of its new pricing plans by midnight Aug. 20. On Aug. 21, however, Ning extended this deadline to August 30. Here’s the announcement of this extension on its Help page:

Deadline for Selecting a Ning Plan Extended to August 30, 2010

A number of Network Creators, particularly those based outside the United States, have requested more time to arrange for payment and make the right decision on a plan for their network. As a result, we have extended the deadline for selecting one of the three new plans (Ning Mini, Plus and Pro) to August 30, 2010. Beginning on this date, we will block access to any free Ning Network that isn’t subscribed to one of the three plans.

Please let us know if we can help, or if you have questions or comments. Thank you!

Thus, if you are the creator of a free Ning network, you can still:

  • Back up your network’s content with the  tool described in Archive your Ning Network’s content. However, don’t leave that to the last minute as the download sometimes hiccups, especially if you have many media files on your network – and you can only use the tool once every 24 hours. See the Archive tool problem and Content Archive Tool problems discussions on Ning Creators (the network for creators of Ning networks).
  • Choose and pay for one of Ning’s pricing plans. Read their descriptions carefully before you make a choice. For instance the Mini plan, for which there is even a Pearson sponsorship for North American educational networks, is severely limited and might not be adaptable to your network. See James Hawkins’ post in the Videos are Missing! discussion on Ning Creators: “What you have with the ‘mini’ is a crippled facebook that you have to pay for.”
  • Alternatively, migrate your Ning network to another platform. Several platforms offer this migration option (look up migrate Ning networks in a search engine) But again, read the terms of use very carefully before opting for one: some limitations of their free plans may not suit your network. For example, Denise Easton chose to migrate http://innovate-ideagora.ning.com to http://grou.ps/ideagora/home but without the videos, presumably because grou.ps’s free version has a 2GB storage limit and videos are heavy.

If you are only a member or an administrator of a formerly free Ning Network

and if its creator cannot/does not want to do the above, you can theoretically ask the creator to transfer ownership to someone else who will. However, I am not sure that there is enough time for that as the transfer must be approved by Ning, and this can be a lengthy process. So start at the same time to back up the Network by saving pages and files.

Unfortunately, Webcite archiving does not work on free networks. See the “Framebusting Changes” part of  Ning’s New Captcha, Framebusting Rules Now Live on Your Ning Network announcement on Ning Creators:
If any page on a Ning Network is embedded in an iframe, members will see a “framebust” — the page refreshes to show only the embedded page. . . .
This was done for a number of reasons, mainly to prevent Ning Networks from using an external domain without paying for the “Use your own domain” premium service. . . .

Keeping up with Ning’s decisions on Ning Creators

Ning Creators, as I’ve said at the beginning, is the network for creators of Ning networks. This means that only network creators and administrators can join and ask questions, but its content can be viewed by anyone.

If you get banned from Ning Creators for having asked something that riles the moderators, delete the Ning cookie that prevents you from viewing the network from your browser, or use another browser.

Get sponsored?

Pearson sponsorhip

As I already mentioned, the Pearson sponsorship of the “mini” Ning plan might not be adaptable to your network: limited features, limited bandwidth, limited number of members. Besides, it is is only available for North American educational networks.

Trialpay offer (???)

There is also another sponsorship offer by TrialPay, but there are some issues with it. See, on Ning Creators:

Also see “Issues with TrialPay sponsorship of Mini and Plus plans” discussion I started – now only available in its Aug. 19 version archived at Webcite since the moderators deleted it when they banned  me because(?) I reopened it after they had closed it :-)

Pay or migrate?

So if  your network does not qualifiy for the Pearson sponsorship of the “mini” Ning plan or is not daredevil enough to risk the Trialpay offer, the choice is between paying for one of Ning’s plans or migrating. If you choose to pay, read the conditions very carefully and consider whether it would not be wiser to pay on a monthly basis.

However, there are aspects other than money to be considered too. Ning’s new policy is markedly North-American-centric. Apart from the North American limitation of the Pearson sponsorship, see the way Eric Suesz, one of the moderators at Ning Creators, explained the new extension to people who were wondering why the free networks are still working when, last they heard from Ning, they should have been closed on Aug. 20 at midnight:

The deadline has been extended. We made this decision because we had a lot of people, particularly from far-flung corners of the Earth, who weren’t able to pay by credit card or PayPal or any other means. If you’re a regular here on Creators, you no doubt saw the pleas by people who were kind of freaking out because they were stuck in this situation. . . .

We non-US wogs “from far-flung corners of the Earth” – whether we have reason to “freak out” because the payment process set by Ning does not work in our countries or are able to use it – might seriously wonder if another platform with less narrow-minded administrators might not be more congenial for our projects. Things at Ning have changed dramatically since Jean-Pierre Chabrol posted this video in The Ning and the floating world project on April 5, 2010:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

“Crossing the Boundaries of Ning”

In his remarkable Crossing the Boundaries of Ning post on Ning Creators, Badan Barman explains how he has integrated several Web 2.0 tools to allow Indian librarians and information science professional to share knowledge, information and projects between themselves and with the rest of the world.

For instance, beyond  his Ning “LIS Links : A Virtual Community of Indian LIS Professionals” network, he also uses  feed aggregation to allow members and non members to subscribe to new content. And this feed aggregator, in turn, also broadcasts this info through various channels: Facebook, Twitter, his Orkut page, and Google SMS Channel.

*****

This use of RSS aggregation and of several tools in typical Web 2.0 manner is the way to go, especially for cultural and educational projects that are also of interest to non participants. Thus, if one resource becomes unavailable or has to be migrated on another platform, the members of the project and people getting information from it can be told very easily  about the change, and information gathered and disseminated in this manner is easier to retrieve too.

Never put all your eggs in a single provider’s basket – no matter how many cute gadgets s/he offers to lure you into full dependence.

Updates:

See the more recent Why Unjoin Ning Networks that Won’t Pay post, where I shall add further updates about Ning networks, if needed.

3 Responses

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Claude, Claude. Claude said: Ning’s New Deadline for Pay-Only: Aug. 30 « ETC Journal 2010-08-22 http://bit.ly/cAasmY via http://www.diigo.com/~calmansi @etcjournal […]

  2. Madam,
    You are right in your post about “Never put all your eggs in a single provider’s basket – no matter how many cute gadgets s/he offers to lure you into full dependence.”.
    I am exactly following this sentence since my launching the site over web in 2008. I know if some creator at Ning will loose their sites, they will loose everything they have or enjoying presently. Except the backup copy of the site they created, they will not have anything in their hand.
    O, I took a backup of my whole site also through archiving tool. This time it works fine.

    • Sir,

      I’m so glad the archiving of your great http://lislinks.com/ network worked this time.

      The lesson of your “Crossing the Boundaries of Ning” post on Ning Creators is very important: hence my link to it here. It may be too late for creators of presently at risk Ning networks to learn from your example, but what you write is also valid in general.

      In fact, several other networks that were, like yours, created to serve a project, also use a similar array of linked / aggregated online tools. However, particularly among educators with scarce web literacy, many were taken in by Ning’s proclaimed commitment to education (offer of free ad-less networks for grade 7-12 educators in 2007) and by the “all purposes” look of Ning networks.

      It’s this “all purposes” look that made me wary when I first discovered Ning networks. That and the fact there were no back-up possibilities. So I deleted the network I had made to see how the “back office” worked (1) and went on using a combination of blog, wiki, social bookmarking for the projects I was involved in. Then twitter and facebook too.

      This Ning saga reminds me of 2 inventions attributed to the Swiss army: the Swiss army knife and the “tent square”.

      A proper Swiss army knife – see illustration in http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swiss_Army_knife with under 10 blades/tools can be a handy thing to have on a short excursion, but for a longer trek, you need proper tools. Early Ning networks were like proper Swiss army knives.

      But then some business people saw that gimmick lovers were an interesting target, so they produced a giant version of the Swiss army knife, with “87 Implements / 141 Functions”, weighing 2 pounds. Illustration in http://www.wengerna.com/giant-knife-16999. Who would want to cart that on a picnic – and pay $1400.00 for it too? Ning’s continuous rolling out new features and gimmicks people can only use if they buy the more expensive plans is a bit like that.

      Take the Leaderboard, meant to trigger “deeper engagement” of network members. The members of Ning creators first enthused about it, then reported glitches, then politely but firmly told the managers of Ning Creators that their own implementation of Leaderboard on Ning Creators made it totally unusable.

      Now to the “tent square” – illustrations in http://fr.scoutwiki.org/Toile_de_tente:
      – m. 1.65 x 1.65
      – 64 buttons and 32 button holes
      – 1 reinforced eyelet at each corner
      – a cord

      Granted, the tent square is even drabber than a Facebook page. However, their common simplicity is what enables users of both resources to easily adapt them to their purposes. And the same is true of other really Web 2.0 social tools. Ning chose instead to also target the niche market of people who wanted to “personalize” their network in the vain hope it would work as a real, full-fledged business website. And this choice might explain why it has been less successful than Facebook.

      Professional businesses create a Facebook page and other Web 2.0 things (twitter account, blog…) and integrate them in their website for visibility, and it works. They do not create Ning networks because they don’t need the gimmicks, and the search engine visibility of stand-alone Ning networks is dismal, no matter how many tags creators add to them.

      It’s a pity for the would-be e-business tycoons who are finding out that Ning, even if you pay for heaps of additional features, does not work well as a single e-business tool.

      However, the really serious issue – in my view – is the problems Ning’s new policy creates for people who just wanted a tool to collaborate towards a useful purpose and didn’t particularly care about personalization or visibility. Among them, people like you, who understand how to combine several tools, are fairly safe: LIS-links will go on anyway. But some other worthy projects whose creators are not as Web 2.0 savvy as you are now at risk, also because some of these creators were late in realizing what Ning’s change of policy entailed.

      ——

      (1) Though I deleted that first network, I created another one in November 2007, http://pakfeeds.ning.com in November 2007. I happened to be chatting with a friend in Pakistan on Nov. 3 when then president Musharraf proclaimed the state of emergency , and blocked all independent TV channels. This friend was angry and baffled by the lack of independent info. So I made that Ning network for him: as an RSS feed aggregator of the alternative information channels that Pakistani human rights activists very quickly set up in the days following this “self-coup” by Musharraf. Then some people joined the network, so I let it be, even after Musharraf’s downfall.

      This old aggregator network is the reason why my application to join Ning Creators was accepted. Actually, I noticed this morning that Jim Shimabukuro had also made me administrator of http://talketc.ning.com/, the network he created for this blog: I didn’t know, or I had forgotten that, when I applied for Ning Creators, though. They kicked me out soon enough, as they had kicked out Jaap Verduijn a few days earlier, when I started asking questions they didn’t like. Maybe I could reapply as administrator of http://talketc.ning.com/? ;-)

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