Larry Brauner

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

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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23 Responses to “Ning Social Network Controversy”

  1. Chuck Bartok on April 5th, 2009 3:58 pm

    Well stated Larry.

    One problem I see across the spectrum of Social network Sites is that most members don’t understand WHAT it is.

    Years ago we were limited to our Social Networking because of geography and time. Now the Internet models have unleashed an endless opportunity.

    And Ning is one of the most powerful of platforms, if used by those who understand WHAT Social networking is and How to Optimize your time and energy.

  2. The Divine Miss White on April 5th, 2009 4:03 pm

    BRAVO on an intelligent reply to an intelligent response to a call for a more streamlined platform.

  3. Julianne McLaughlin on April 5th, 2009 4:41 pm

    Excellent reply Larry. And I applaud you for reaching out to expand this social network to include many!

  4. Diana Broomfield on April 5th, 2009 6:52 pm

    I agree with you Larry.

    I love Ning and the fact that you can share content and information with all your friends across all networks. I have made some wonderful contacts who I will continue to cultivate.

    I recommend Ning for anyone who is serious about relationship marketing.

  5. Jose Damaso Ramon on April 5th, 2009 8:41 pm

    The idea of Ning as a family of social networking sites is very appropriate.

    The Ning system of sites is very important, and we have to have a center for us to keep control of our sites.

    Besides our site to build a network around our most focused interests, we share in more than one idea or marketing concept, which leads us to join other communities in which we have shared interests.

  6. Chris Patterson on April 5th, 2009 9:53 pm

    I would throw in a “I disagree, IMHO comment” if I had one, just because it seems to be the social media way, however once again your remarks are on point and relevant.

    Our Ning site at has actually experienced a lot of positive growth with the new changes. That makes it difficult for me to muster up any negativity until I see a legitimate faux pas.

    Bravo to Larry Brauner and NING!

    Chris Patterson

  7. Aurora on April 5th, 2009 10:26 pm

    Ning censors any negative comments about its services leaving all the good comments. A true Social Network would deal with such negative critics in a positive way, that was the real reason why I lost my trust in Ning in the first place.

    Seriously, a true Social Network like Facebook cared what people think when they decided to change their policy overnight.

    Ning has always been arrogant and never listens to Network Creators whenever they make any changes. No one can deny the efforts and investment made by Network Creators in promoting their Network. Ning should at least consider what they think before making any changes.

  8. Larry Brauner on April 5th, 2009 10:38 pm

    @Chris I like inSocialMedia and have benefited from my membership and from knowing you.

    @Aurora I appreciate where you’re coming from, but the situation isn’t so clear cut.

    I would be surprised in Ning didn’t care at all about the network creators. However, after all is said and done, it’s their baby, and they have to do what’s best for the whole business — even if it bends some people out of shape.

    Facebook, by the way, doesn’t simply delete negative content, they delete users when they see fit. And I don’t blame them for that. Sometimes fear is the best motivator. One follows the rules or faces deletion.

    However, I do understand that all this has had an adverse effect on you, and I’m sorry for that.

  9. Debbie Morgan on April 7th, 2009 3:05 am

    Hi Larry! Thanks for these great clarifications. I’ve used the Ning sites for over a year now and find them to be great. Next to Facebook, the Ning sites are my favorite place to visit my friends and network! Deb

  10. Mike on April 7th, 2009 8:16 am

    Thanks for sharing this - I am new on ning with membership in two sites. I recently dropped Facebook as it changed stuff on their pages that made the site - not friendly for dial-up users. With the graphics and other applications trying to load, it killed my connection. Ning - I can get on and use it and it does not kill my connection.

  11. Larry Brauner on April 7th, 2009 10:05 am

    @Deb I’ve met lots of interesting people through Ning including you.

    @Mike You should try Twitter if you haven’t yet.

  12. Steve on April 7th, 2009 3:37 pm

    Larry, I appreciate you for being a pioneer in the Ning Social Sphere. I always appreciate your well thought out responses and critiques. I, for one, have been appreciative of Ning and for what it enables me to do in terms of connecting with like minded people.

  13. David Williams on April 9th, 2009 5:00 am

    Very interesting situation. I hope they are not in the wrong, and everything pans out OK. It would be a real shame if this got real ugly.

  14. Mizé on April 9th, 2009 8:35 pm

    Hello. I read about Ning here in your site before but didn´t know you were behind its creation.

    Just wanted to wish good holidays.


  15. gemroy on May 6th, 2009 9:21 am

    Ning is a good social building website, but I don’t like the expensive price of it.

  16. Faisal Qureshi on May 27th, 2009 8:47 am

    I’m trying to find answers about how Ning scales in case of a large site/community. What happens if a user has say 5000 friends. Facebook has already shown that it has tech issues in that range, and I’m a victim of that.

  17. Larry Brauner on May 27th, 2009 8:58 am

    That’s a good question Faisal. I hope to eventually discover the answer.

    I have about 1700 Ning friends, and all is well.

    My newest site that I’ve personally created in Beyond Business Coaching. My most popular is Let’s Follow Each Other.

  18. Carl on June 12th, 2009 5:44 pm

    @Mizé you stated, “I read about Ning here in your site before but didn´t know you were behind its creation.”

    Larry did not say he created the Ning site/platform. Larry has created Ning networks which is like groups on Ning that he manages. There are thousands of Ning network creators. You can create a Ning network in a few minutes.

  19. stan on July 22nd, 2009 10:22 am

    The name “ning” is a Chinese word, which means “tranquility”.

  20. Larry Brauner on July 22nd, 2009 10:38 am

    That’s reassuring Stan. Hopefully the Ning controversy has waned and we can all experience social networking tranquility.

  21. Imran Anwar on September 6th, 2009 1:26 pm

    Good points, Larry. Ning showed promise when it launched but I gave up on using it almost immediately. I will check it out again now based on this new info.


  22. My Top 10+ Blog Traffic Sources on January 25th, 2010 10:41 am

    […] Ning social network – I’m sorry to report that Ning has morphed into a host of unrelated niche sites. If you have your own Ning site, or a group or lots of friends on someone else’s Ning site, you can use that site to move traffic. As with Twitter, getting started with Ning is harder than it used to be, and the marketing benefits are fewer. I belong to many Ning sites and have several of my own. My primary Ning site is Beyond Business Coaching. […]

  23. Daniel Calandriello on January 26th, 2011 12:44 pm

    Well put, I am a new user to but so far so good. As far as using CMS’s like WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal in the past I feel that makes it simple and easy to signup, and launch your social network leaving you way more time for the important aspects of a social network (Design, Content, and User Friendlyness). So to all you Debbie Downers out there, I think that this site goes above and beyond the other sites out there (FB, TWIT, and MySpace).

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