Ning is really cool, especially (from what I can see) if you want to create your own social network.
However, I am frustrated with it, as an average user:
- if I enter via http://www.ning.com (as I do) there is no quick way to jump to my list of networks. I have to figure out a new path each time
- from the front page of ning, there is a tab called "My networks" that sounds like it should fit the bill, but instead it is a place to set up a new network. I fall for it almost every time I come in and go there by mistake. I think it is poorly named.
- I can't find a place that shows me where I have posted things and people have responded. I am set up to receive individual email messages, but if I come straight here instead of clicking on each individual email message, I have a difficult time finding things.
- If someone invites me to be a friend, it is difficult for me to see much about that person before I accept him/her as a friend.
- if I am looking to possibly join another network, it is difficult to see more information about that network before I click in and join. Even seeing who has set up the network, when it was created, what the focus of the network is, and how many members there are would be a lot more helpful.
- Ning is littered with networks people have created to test this thing out, but I can't tell if they get cleaned out. This makes it a real pain when searching for networks of interest.
- People have a tendency to create networks to try this system out, but then when they get bored or busy they abandon the network and leave the members they have invited in kind of hanging, having to figure things out and chat amongst themselves. Overall, I think people are going into creating networks too lightly. (Perhaps it is too easy to create a network?) For myself, I can think of a few networks I would like to see and participate in, but since I don't want to be committed to maintaining them, I just am not going to go down that path. Tempting as it is to play with this software.
- finally (and this what really irks me about all of this) there is a whole network and forum for network creators, but no forum that I can find for regular users of Ning. There is a network called Ning documentation, but no facility for feedback or questions that I can see.
If you just go into one distinct network at a distinct URL, then you probably wouldn't notice these things.
Overall, Ning is focused on the needs of network creators and not on the end users. As an end user, I do get frustrated at times interacting here. Even having a place to rant where the Ning powers would hear me would make me feel a whole lot better about my experience.
Thanks for letting me get that off my chest!