A few weeks ago, I posted a rather lengthy, and somewhat heated, response to the cacophony of alarm and doomsaying that took place when Ning announced it was going to phase out it’s free social networking services in order to focus on just it’s paid services. At the time the edusphere explored with knee-jerk reactions of panic, pandemonium, and fear. As everyone scurried to jump ship, I calmly waited for an actual announcement from Ning, before making any decisions. Turns out, that was a great course of action!
Even though absolutely free networks will be going away (which will actually be great in getting rid of a lot of spammer networks), the new pricing models are awesome! For only $20 a month, they will be offering “Ning Plus”, which includes several services that would normally cost over $50 using the old model of paid services. Additionally, non-profits and other school-centric sites have an option of the “Ning Mini” service, which would allow them to keep their networks up and running for a paltry $20 a YEAR! Granted, those networks will only be able to support 150 members, but any network of sufficient size should easily be able to generate sponsorships and or donations or grant monies to pay for the $20 a month Plus plan (I manage to keep a 300 member wiki site going thanks to our local education foundation’s grant program).
Suffice it to say, this is great news for many people who less than a month ago were busy clogging Twitter feeds and Google Docs with huge lists of alternative tools for creating your own social network, discussing the best way to export user data from Ning, and generally spreading doom across the Internet. Not perfect news, but it’s far from the disaster it could have been.
Get the full details over at Ning’s official announcment of the New Plans, Features, and Service coming in July!