In a shocking move, Ning announced yesterday that it would close all unpaid networks, leaving many online stranded after taking years to build their networks or utilizing Ning communities as their social space. No date has been set yet for the closure of the free networks. Paid networks will not be affected by this move.
Techcrunch reports: "It has just announced that it is killing off its free product, forcing existing free networks to either make the change to premium accounts or migrate their networks elsewhere. Rosenthal has also just announced that the company has cut nearly 70 people — over 40% of its staff."
Chris Pirillo admits, "As I read this news, I breathed a sigh of relief that both Geeks and Gnomedex are hosted on premium Ning accounts already. As of today, we have more than 27,000 members, 14,000 blog posts, 19,000 forum threads and countless photos and videos that all of you have contributed. That is a LOT of information sharing, folks."
Those who wish to move their free network to one of the paid, premium networks and keep their data and members currently have a multitude of options. "Currently, Ning’s premium options include support (which has a $10/month and $100/month options for different service levels); Custom domains ($5 a month); Extra storage and bandwidth ($10 a month); Ad removal ($25 a month) and the ability to hide any trace that you’re running on Ning ($25 a month)."
But there are other sites that provide similar services to Ning--some free and others paid.
- Posterous: this site (which is fantastic for mobile blogging) has already announced that they will create a Ning network importer.
- Flux: owned by MTV; a paid network site.
- Crowdvine: has free and paid options similar to Ning.
- Grouply: works with exisiting Yahoo Groups or Google Groups (currently, for free).
- OneSite: a paid site that hosts a lot of major accounts including Panasonic.
- Groupsite: try it for free, and then move to the paid options.
- Planypus: more for smaller social networks that want to plan face-to-face meetups.
- Wetpaint: free site that leans heavily towards pop culture networks.
- Grou.ps: similar to the old Ning, starts with a free option and also has paid accounts.
- GenderFork: a supportive community for the expression of identities across the gender spectrum.
- WebMd Exchanges: member created exchanges are operated and self-moderated by WebMD members. They can be Public or Invitation-only. (No blogging platform is provided.)
- Gather: functionality includes blogging platform, groups, status updates.
- and...last, but certainly not least, BlogHer: our "groups" feature allows you to create forums, share blog posts, and set meet-ups much in the same way Ning works.
The announcement comes during the same week that Twitter announced promoted tweets (essentially Twitter-based advertising), already sparking a discussion about the future of free social media sites.
Are you affected by the Ning announcement? Discuss your thoughts below.
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