Ning Alternatives – The best options for migrating networks

Ning Alternatives Import

I find myself writing posts like this one with a heavy heart. Ning has for years been the best hosted solution for social community building, and for me personally has meant not only the creation of a successful legal community site but also a business building social networks for others. Ning as a company have been good to me.

But, and, like Kim Kardashian, it’s a big but – many Ning network creators are disgruntled with the direction (or lack of) of the platform since Mode Media bought them out. Ning 3.0 was launched in a blaze of publicity almost 3 years ago and has seen little progress since. Don’t get me wrong, for what it does it’s awesome – flexible, easy to use, powerful in many ways – but for many Ning community owners trapped on the ancient Ning 2.0 platform and not overly keen to migrate to Ning 3.0 (not that is even an option at present) the urge to leave Ning and migrate their community to another platform is strong.

Realistically, most Ning 2.0 site owners don’t have the finances to hire a developer to work on a custom migration job to their platform of choice. I’ve worked on a couple of migrations to WordPress/BuddyPress and the lack of automated options for a clean migration has resulted in many costly man hours for either myself or my clients.

So, many will be reliant on import tools that other social network platforms have built, and this limits the options. Tools that are designed to import the Ning 2.0 archiver files – a series of (often malformed) JSON files and images – are available on the following platforms: SocialEnginePHP, JamRoom, Spruz.

SocialEngine PHP would be my pick of these options. I’ve said what needs to be said about them over in my Create your own social network – the four best community platforms post so please check that out.

JamRoom staff are pretty active on the Ning Creators Network (why do Ning allow rival companies such an active voice on their site???) and are apparently super helpful. Like the other platforms that offer a ready made migration path, they obviously sense an opportunity to capture Ning customers, so offering a) a migration tool and b) friendly, responsive customer service are sure fire ways to gain business. But as I’ve said before, “just because you can doesn’t mean you should” and I remain unconvinced by JamRoom as a social networking CMS. It’s a little clunky on the backend and the front-end templates and design leave a lot to be desired. Here is an example of a migrated Ning site. Cutting edge it ain’t. It’s like Ning circa 2004 .

Spruz is a bit of a curveball to be honest. I don’t like the look of their own website, which is a bad start, but they do claim to have over 650,000 social sites on their platform so they’re probably doing something right. They also have a fairly active customer forum which is another good sign. I’ll be up front and say I’ve little evidence to suggest you should use Spruz, and know of no one who has migrated from Ning. Here’s the post that details the Ning to Spruz migration process. Please get in touch if you’ve made the leap from Ning to Spruz!

Remember, these are options that use the Ning 2.0 archiving tool and that at present Ning 3.0 doesn’t have an archiver so you can’t get your data 🙁

Richard Pettet
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Richard Pettet

I'm a professional website designer who specialises in Social Network and community website build and design work. Expert with Ning and BuddyPress.
Richard Pettet
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  • Edie Antoinette

    This is wonderful SP!!! I love your style. Thanks for making my day. I have to admit–I cracked up laughing at your quips and spot on insight.

    • RichardPettet

      🙂

  • http://stockbuz.net/ Kos

    My experience with Spruz was less than favorable. I found the workings and design to be acceptable however when it came to migrating 2.0 content, their tool froze. Numerous attempts to no avail. I also noticed a ton of ‘spam’ in their forums which I mentioned to them. They didn’t seem to mind two years worth of attacks. Seriously? Anywho, my attempts for assistance with the migration tool went w/o correction. After months of back-n-forth, I chucked the site. For me, it was a waste of time and money. If the tool doesn’t work, they should remove it!

    • RichardPettet

      Kos, I’de be interested to know how large your Ning data files were and also if you validated the json files on a site like http://jsonlint.com/ ? Almost every import i’ve done on BuddyPress/WordPress has required me to validate and tidy up the data that Ning gives us – it is almost always malformed. Could be the problem with Spruz?

      • http://stockbuz.net/ Kos

        Couldn’t tell you. It’s been quite some time and my brain just isn’t working yet. More tea! More tea! *lol* I’ll have to look into jsonlint[dot]com

  • http://stockbuz.net/ Kos

    Jamroom twisted my brain beyond imagination. Actually tried it twice because I could’ve been wrong the first time. End result: It’s for developers – not your typical Ning Creator. Just to change one small item, takes forever to find ‘where’ to change it. Yes, they’re helpful but it’s ‘their way or the highway’. After months I decided it seriously was not worth the money and the heavy back end work was killer. No wonder it took Strumelia over six months to open – and yes, it looks 2004 or older.

    SP you need to purchase Ning. You could make 3.0 fly! LOL

    • RichardPettet

      If I had the money to purchase Ning I wouldn’t purchase Ning 🙂

      • http://apologetica.net.br/ Thiago Santos de Moraes

        Why not?

  • http://myrealwall.blogspot.com/ andytgeezer

    I’m currently considering a move to SocialEngine and weighing it up against PHPFox. I believe PHPFox has a Ning importer now too and wondering why you haven’t included PHPFox or Buddypress in this list?

    • RichardPettet

      I was unaware that PHPFox now had an importer so I’ll check that out. BuddyPress is not in this list because it doesn’t offer a ready made import solution like the others I’ve mentioned. Cheers

      • http://myrealwall.blogspot.com/ andytgeezer

        Thanks for the reply Richard. That rules Buddypress out for me then.

        I might be wrong about the Ning importer actually :-S PHPFox did make an announcement in 2010 (https://store.phpfox.com/announcement/import-ning-users-with-foxporter) that they intended to make one, but seem to be taking their time delivering on that promise. Definitely would say that SocialEngine, which is under new management, looks like the safest alternative.

  • Alyce Keegan

    Do you know of any sites that allow a ning 3.0 migration? I feel unsure what to do but ning customer service is just so bad 🙁

  • Ismail Shah

    i want to migrate suggest me