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Ning is a for profit company offering a hosted software solution called a "Ning Network". The company was started by a couple of well known internet evangelists. Their first product was a watered down version of a content management system that could be configured to serve several different purposes.

The initial attraction to the company was the fact that the network was free, open source, and that developers could alter the code of their application in a hosted environment. This combination was quite a panacea at the time of the launch.

As the service evolved it became clear that the bulk of the users were incapable or uninterested in modifying their applications in any way that required technical expertise, including changing colors for design elements when it required using hex numbers instead of a color picker. Ning slowly adopted this user base as their market and removed developer access while simultaneously developing a host of features that made it easier for users to manage a network while removing all of their power for code customization or data export.

In what seemed to many to be a very short time Ning was no longer flexible, no longer open source, and no longer free. Their announcement of suspension of all free accounts (with a few exceptions for government run schools, etc) has thrown tens of thousands of users into a tailspin. The turnabout in Ning's business model way be the single most far reaching event to damage the reputation of the freemium model since the very beginnings of the internet.

Users who are heavily wedded to the service have little choice but to pay the piper and stay with Ning, even though the breach of trust can't leave a good taste in their mouth. Ning has amended their recent pronouncement to add that they will be allowing users to export their content, but this promise is unclear in scope.

If you really want to you can find Ning online:

Ning Features

  • Posting Oprtions
  • You can add any of the different types of pages to the site
    • Blog post
    • Discussion
    • Video
    • Group
    • Profile
    • Comment
  • Page features
    • Latest Activity
    • Latest Videos, Featured Videos
    • Latest Blogs, Featured Blogs
    • Latest Discussion, Featured Discussions
    • Latest Comments
    • All members, my friends, Featured Members
  • Social Features
    • Comment
      • Hit a button, once logged in, and you can add a comment to any page or profile
    • Groups
      • Join groups
      • Start a Discussion in a Group
      • Commons on Discussions in the group
      • Leave comments on groups
    • Make friends
      • 'Request' friendship with people. When they are approved their picture, with link, is posted on your own profile.
    • Invite People
      • Easy to send invitations to people who aren't already members.
    • Share stuff
      • Hit a button and post to a number of services
        • Post to FB, Twitter, and more.
      • Send by email
        • Easily send a page to someone by email.
    • Stay Connected
      • Get emailed when someone comments on your Posting
      • Get emailed when someone comments on a Post you already Commented on

There are a number of features that make the system easy to use.

  • WYSIWYG Editor in text or html, allowing you to make your entry look nice
  • Scheduled publishing for posts
  • Easy to add an image to a post