Ning Takes Important First Step; But Is it Enough?

Crisis
March 25, 2009

  We’re happy to report that today Ning announced that it has reconsidered and reversed its previous decision to email the members of all Ning networks. Ning has decided not to email members of social networks who pay to keep Ning ads off of their site. Here’s an excerpt from the email: “Since we launched the new Ning.com two weeks ago, we’ve heard from many of you about the increase in new members and activity you’ve seen as a result of it. Thank you for the kind words and we’re excited to hear that many of you are benefiting from it already…We have also heard requests from some of you who have purchased the premium service to remove Ning promotional links that we not contact members of your social network directly. As a company, we’ve always appreciated the open and honest dialog we have had with Network Creators on the Ning Platform. In this case, we’ve listened carefully to your feedback and wanted to let you know that as a Network Creator who has purchased the remove Ning promotional links premium service, we will not be sending an administrative message announcing the new Ning.com to members of your social network.” While there remains practices which we find unfair, it is extremely encouraging to see a company that can realize its mistakes, listen to its clientele and come out publicly to make necessary changes. We truly applaud Ning for it’s recent policy reversal. But is it enough? Since yesterdays post, Charting Stocks has become a de facto forum for Ning Creators (With no fear of being deleted), both satisfied and unsatisfied. We encourage a healthy debate which is both for and against Ning’s policies but would ask that if there is something which you FACTUALLY disagree with to please be specific. Yes, Ning has the best social networking platform on the market. We’ve never questioned that. We question the companies business practices and treatment of its client base.

Ning Network Creators Bill of Rights

Why not use this de facto Ning forum to come up with a bill of rights for network creators? We believe that we were somewhat influential in Ning’s policy reversal of today. Members have been complaining for weeks, but a bit of blogospheric attention from a relatively highly visited site may have moved matters along. Why stop there? We would love to hear all of your suggestions. At the end of one week, we can compile all of the data and come up with one “NC Bill of Rights,” which can be presented to Ning. The company has proved willing to listen to criticism, if that criticism is loud enough.  A bill of rights, which Ning creators got behind and emailed to Ning executives, posted on their Ning sites, their off-ning blogs, etc WILL trigger a response. Pissing and moaning on a Ning site, which they can, and do delete, isn’t going to work. NC’s need one plan which they pound the table on. Some possible ideas may include: – The right to view and edit the files on your own (Ning) website – The right to express any critical view of Ning without getting your comments deleted or membership banned in the network creators forum – The right to have ANY content you wish on your own site if you are a paying client. – The right to remove ALL of your members from a Ning.com search – The right to disallow ALL member invites across Ning social networks. To finally put an end to the “Come Join Me” spam invites. Those are just a few to get the party started  Was the word “Scam” to harsh? Scam, as defined by thefreedictionary.com (first one that came up in a google search) is to “deprive somebody of something by deceit.” Were not the creators of mature websites deprived? Were they not deceived into thinking that Ning would never get involved in their sites content? Aren’t the members of the network creators forum being deprived of information by the monitoring and deleting of opposing comments? Isn’t that deceitful? Lastly, is it not deceitful to advertise your services as a social networkplatform, a platform in which YOU control the content and own the data only to change policies and become a competing social network of your own, built on the hard work and money of other people? My goal is NOT to smear Ning. If they were willing to reverse some policy decisions, Ning would be my first choice in creating a Charting Stocks social network, though something tells me that I may not be very welcomed. I think that Ning started out as an innovative company build on excellent customer service. 6-8 months of bad decisions does not cause the failure of a company or business – As long as they catch it and rectify it. My grandfather used to tell me that “The customer was always right.” Stooge Comments? We find is odd that some “Network Creators” expressed nothing but joy over Ning’s policies in the comment section of our previous post. Aside from an excellent platform, how can you be pleased with the sharing of all of your members data? How can you be pleased with the likely diminished value of your website should you try to sell it? Sure, a social network who owns its own member data exclusively and whos members do not receive constant “Come Join Me” spam email invites is worth considerably more (All other things being equal) than one on Ning. Why would that delight a network creator?

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