Ning is going to be making an announcement on May 4th about their new premium services schedule. You can read about it here. They are phasing out their free service option. Here is what I posted to their blog…
First, those who are about to lose their jobs are in our family’s thoughts and prayers. It is my hope that you stand behind your promise to find them new positions elsewhere. They have worked very hard to make Ning what it is and I hope that you honor that devotion. With the way the economy is currently it is already difficult for everyone so I am sure this will be a big blow to them and their families. My heart goes out to them.
I have two groups of my own on Ning, both free communities. Neither group is non-profit yet though we are planning to apply for status in the future. Another free Ning community that I set up a couple of months ago for one of my clients, a 501c3 charity group that I have been volunteering with for over a year, is finally beginning to see people join and it is starting to flourish. It would pain me to see this disrupted so I am hoping that you will offer special rates for charitable organizations.
I am a homeschool mom and I work from a home-based studio as a freelance illustrator, writer, and designer (graphic and web). I am home due to my health and, though the money is good, it is sporadic because it is dependent on finding clients who have the ability to pay for my services; not easy when you compete with the availability of free services online. What happens to those of us who cannot afford to maintain our communities? Will there be a discount, at least for the first year as a thank you, for those who were here from the beginning? What happens to the thousands of free community sites that have become communities of friends, extended families, that have poured long hours into their Ning sites? Those who cannot stay with Ning will either lose all of their content, some of it extensive, or spend long hours trying to retain and move all of it.
I do understand business and that in order to stay in business you need to do what is best for your company, that sacrifices are sometimes necessary. It is my hope though that you take into consideration those who have signed up for free Ning sites, who have helped you advertise Ning to friends and family (possibly having led to your larger premium service communities) who have put time and effort into their sites.
As of right now, though I know that it will not be the same as having Ning, I am going to be working with several groups to build sites using other tools like WordPress and Flickr. There are a lot of us that cannot afford premium services or we would have already gotten them. If Ning can provide an affordable alternative I might pitch it to other groups. I know we are a small percentage comparatively, and we generate no direct income for Ning, but there are a lot of people feeling “burned” right now from what I am hearing; depending on the coming rates, if it turns “money is more important than people”, I doubt they will support Ning much less any site Ning does after the changes.
I love Ning, and I am sad to think of all the wonderful groups (22) that will be closing because of this.
Those free groups are what made Ning great.
Post to their blog if you have feedback about how they can improve their services without losing all of the fabulous communities that are currently using their free option. Petition below.