A comment last week to my October 2008 blog post, Ning Social Networking Sites Update, linked back to Ning Exposed - Tech Company Scams its Clients, an article which sharply criticizes Ning’s latest business model and platform, and it alleges foul play on Ning’s part in reacting to complaints by network creators.
As a Ning social network creator and user, I happen to appreciate Ning’s recent platform improvements and tend to disagree with the article’s assessments. While the allegations of censorship are disturbing, my careful reading of Ning’s Terms of Service leaves me hopeful that Ning has acted fully within its rights.
Aggregating Ning Social Networking Sites
I have always looked at Ning as a family of social networking sites. An individual chooses to become a member one or many Ning sites.
Ning members can connect to become friends, and the friendships that they make will extend across sites. Friendships aren’t limited to the site at which they were forged.
I have found managing my Ning memberships and friendships across sites somewhat complicated, so I was pleased when Ning tied everything together for me in one place at Ning.com.
I always viewed myself as a member of the larger Ning community, not just the semi-independent sites which I created or joined, so aggregating Ning sites and Ning members made perfect sense to me. I didn’t view it at all as some kind of sinister plot.
Member Contact Across Ning Sites
The article referenced above mentions a “hole in the system, which is convenient for Ning, which allows people to gather friends across any website using Ning’s technology and then invite them all to join their website.”
The article is referring to the ability of members to share their favorite Ning social networks and content with all their friends across Ning sites as a convenient loophole, not as an intended and beneficial system feature.
I admit that this feature can be and is often abused by members, but that’s not Ning’s fault. The real problem is that people often make friendships indiscriminately. If the friendships were truly meaningful, they would naturally anticipate and welcome contact, even across sites.
Ning Social Concept Epitomizes Web 2.0
As I indicated before, I believe that Ning is true Web 2.0. It takes social collaboration a step farther than Twitter, Facebook, MySpace , LinkedIn and other social networking sites. Individual social networking sites are created and contributed by users, not just the content within these sites.
I applaud Ning for providing us with a unique social networking venue.
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