Ning Phasing out Free Sites - What Are Your Thoughts?

Today, Ning announced a monumental change in it's business plan. This is good news and bad news. For premium networks, it's probably good news; in that, it's what most premium networks thought they were investing in, in the first place. It will make the premium Ning Networks closer to white label, and likely more valuable assets. It is bad news and extremely sad for some free Ning Networks. Here's an excerpt from the announcement by Ning's CEO - Jason Rosenthal:

When I became CEO 30 days ago, I told you I would take a hard look at our business. This process has brought real clarity to what's working, what's not, and what we need to do now
to make Ning a big success.

My main conclusion is that we need to double down on our premium services
business. Our Premium Ning Networks like Friends or Enemies, Linkin
Park, Shred or Die, Pickens Plan, and tens of thousands of others both
drive 75% of our monthly US traffic, and those Network Creators need and
will pay for many more services and features from us.

So, we are going to change our strategy to
devote 100% of our resources to building the winning product to capture
this big opportunity. We will phase out our free service. Existing
free networks will have the opportunity to either convert to paying for
premium services, or transition off of Ning. We will judge ourselves by
our ability to enable and power Premium Ning Networks at huge scale.
And all of our product development capability will be devoted to making
paying Network Creators extremely happy.

Full Story

New Group: Alternative Solutions to Ning

Please offer and discuss possible solutions, for owners of free Ning Networks. And most of all, let's all offer encouragement to our fellow Ning Network Creators.


ORIGINAL STORY HERE - - Ning Update: Rolling Out Full Details May 4th

Hi Everyone,

As many of you know, we made a decision yesterday to focus 100% of the company on enhancing the features and services we offer to paying Ning Creators. The tens of thousands of you who already use our paid
service represent over 75% of our traffic, and we’ve heard repeatedly
from you ways that we can deliver a killer service to help make your
Ning Network more effective. Some examples of things we are working on
that you’ve asked for include new APIs, a new mobile experience and new
advertising and revenue opportunities.

As part of this change, we’ll be phasing out our free service. On May 4, 2010, we will share with you all of the details of our new offering, including features and price points, through a series of blog
posts, emails, and conference calls. We recognize that there are many
active Ning Networks for teachers, small non-profits, and individuals
and it's our goal to have a set of product and pricing options that will
make sense for all of them. For Ning Creators using our free service who
choose to move to another service, we will off a migration path and
time to make that change. We will still continue to allow free trials
and test networks on the Ning Platform.

We look forward to talking to you further on May 4th.

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Comment by Abilene Area Paranormal Investig on April 19, 2010 at 10:14pm

GREAT research...are you an attorney or into corporate law? I bet Ning wish they had you on their side.

Anyone wanting a free site...Ningsters have been welcome to another site with open arms. They are aware of the ongoings. Then there are others as well... You may loose some items, but you CAN rebound.
Or we can call a class actions suit.
Now, remember, Corporate WILL delete anything negative posted on this board if they feel it is necessary to keep them in the "good" light of the rest of those on Ning that are paying for services.
THIS is why I never wish to be Corporate again. I'd rather make minimum wage than do things like this to individuals and employees.
Blessings to all and GL!
Kim Shoemaker
screen name on other sites: myfamiliar1
Comment by Magic Happens on April 19, 2010 at 10:51am
Most people are hurt because of losing their sites. But they still like ning's users friendly ways to set up a network, if they can find one like this, that is easy to set up, then l am sure this will be what they will do. They will leave in a heart neat.We are hoping ning give us a little more time after the May 4th update announcement, but it would be a answer to a lot of peoples prayer to find a site like this or better.
Comment by Jonah Manning on April 19, 2010 at 10:32am
Sorry for the shameless plug, but our networks is currently seeking network to syndicate (we ARE NOT a white label network)... we actually pay group builders to syndicate their networks on our site as well. If anyone is interested let me know.. jmanning AT
Comment by Cafeist on April 18, 2010 at 12:40pm
Hello there Jen, what is my thoughts? ... Well, hours ago, one of the member of my network quoting the lyric the the song (Blue Cafe by Chris Rea) at CAFEIST as

My world is miles of endless roads
That leaves a trail of broken dreams
Where have you been I hear you say
I will meet you at the Blue Cafe

Where are you going to?
I want to know what is new
I want to go with you

What have you seen?
What do you know that is new?
Where are you going to?

Because I want to go with you

Wherever the Cafe you are in, dont forget to let me know my friend.

Me:... She literally use the bold-style on ´Because I want to go with you´ stuff... At least that specific line made a good thing for this cloudy weekend:)

All the best for everyone...


Note: I would not take back what I have offered to the members of my network from the first moment I invited them, either I leave or stays with Ning. This member I mentioned above, clearly offered her self to contribute to my network in order to keep it running, because she loves my writings and the things posted in Cafeist...

But, above all, this is about ethic...You just dont take back what you already give...
Comment by Magic Happens on April 18, 2010 at 12:37pm
I think that business should have ways to increase their buiness, but the free sites are important to people who can not pay.

Most of the free sites are people who are shut-ins and on a fixed income, and the fixed income still may changed for some.

The handiccapped and people without a way to make friends, depend on social networks to communicate and make friends and learn things that interests them.

Ning is user friendly and this is why most people sign up. Now they are losing everything, losing a friend or many friends is like losing a family.

And if it was not for the free ning sites less people will come here . Then less people will not be clicking on the business sites.

They would take their business interests, even a buyer to the network they join. Not the network that cause them sadness.
Comment by Living On Love on April 17, 2010 at 4:04pm
Created a few months ago ...hummm, but is it worth keeping and paying? hummm, maybe if it all of a sudden had hundreds/maybe thousands of members....just don't know..... surely they will stay free to some level, such as ALL THE others are, charging for various upgrades....seems more sensible...but what would I know about that lol. But I'm sure thousands of great ideas will disappear....a shame really.
Comment by Living On Love on April 17, 2010 at 3:51pm
Comment by JW Najarian on April 17, 2010 at 3:36pm
Forgot to mention as an alternative.

JW Najarian
Comment by Living On Love on April 17, 2010 at 3:33pm
If any are interested, both and can take members/network creators should they wish some place to move, as to a group or groups. I'm sure some of those creators could be worked in as mods or the like in many cases, certainly of groups.

Also, I've listed alternative free social nets on a blog here, updated as I find them:

Pass this along to others if needed.

Comment by Social Market Building on April 17, 2010 at 2:22pm
Wow... Bummer, Dudes and Dudettes..
I sure am surprised by this decision... so I ask "What is my lesson here?" Ownership trumps non-ownership and always will. Doesn't mean that an owner makes the best decisions - but it does mean an owner gets to make decisions. How it affects the non-owners can vary... as it is here.

Is there a risk in setting up shop for "free" when there is questions about who owns the content? Sure there is. Much of it is spelled out in the terms and conditions but most people don't read them. I didn't. Not really.

Usually there is something in there that states that the owner can change their mind about any of the terms and conditions pretty much any time they want.

The way I see it is a non-owner gets to vote with their feet. I trust that whatever choices I make to go elsewhere will be an improvement over staying. I do like the FREE aspect.. but I also like the ownership aspect..

There are changes in the entire web these days... YouTube may be charging for posting vids or if free posting, they may require adverts to be run along side them. Is there a risk that any currently free social site I'd move to might also start charging? Sure there is.

How do I want to present my business? Is it time to change my model? So much information has been given away for no cost for so long that there is now a huge expectation that it should continue. If you are a business owner, how do you maintian and increase your bottom line with that free model? (yes, I know there are ppc, adsense, etc) - but it is food for thought. It seems to me that balancing excellent value with monetization and over delivery with paying the bills can take some creativity.

Enough speculation... I'm just musing at the anger expressed here over a loss of something that was never guaranteed to be eternally free in the first place. I do the same thing... as in trusting that what I sign up for is OK because I need it to be... or because so many others are doing it.

Having the herd mentality in anything is not necessarily useful long term and can really shake things up when the structures start to crumble and you're looking around for someone to blame. On the other hand a community with people who support and help one another is desirablel. Just make sure the support you enjoy doesn't include giving someone else the power to do your thinking and choosing for you.

Gosh darn it, somebody is moving the cheese again... So, I want to find a place that will end up being better than what I'm leaving. It will be interesting to find out...


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