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 🙁
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