Ning is really cool, especially (from what I can see) if you want to create your own social network.

*Rant on*

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.

*Rant off*

Thanks for letting me get that off my chest!

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Comment by Safety Neal on April 9, 2007 at 5:54pm
I assume the reason that we cannot click on a member's photo and see their profile is because they have a different profile on each network and some mechanism would need to be created where you could pick which profile you wanted to see.
Comment by Aaron Dobbs on April 6, 2007 at 7:56am
Do'h! I'm an idiot. I've been grumbling about not knowing where my list of Networks is & it's been sitting there all the time. Just because the links aren't in the "Golden Triangle" (top left corner, just under the header) doesn't mean they're not there! *sigh*

Look around, they're there :)
Comment by Connie Crosby on April 5, 2007 at 2:22pm
Thanks for explaining more, Gina! The changes you have planned sound quite sophisticated and helpful.

To be honest, one of the reasons why I didn't email this directly to all of you or "crash" the network creators forum with this is because I could see you were already working on a lot of things and likely have a priority of changes in mind. Mostly I was just getting it off my chest (which is why I put it into my blog as well and not into the forum here).

I am delighted you and David picked up on this so quickly. I look forward to seeing what you have planned, and if I come across anything else, I will let you know!

Cheers,
Connie
Comment by Connie Crosby on April 5, 2007 at 1:58pm
Bill and David:

Thanks so much for your comments! Bill, feel free to forward if you haven't already. I'm delighted to hear from David that some of these issues are already being addressed.

Bill, I work with three computers (workstation at work, macbook and laptop at home) and at least four different browsers between them, and now belong to six networks on Ning, so bookmarking starts to become complicated. I tend to just type in the URL and www.ning.com is easiest to remember. Okay, go ahead and call me a geek! 8-)
Comment by Connie Crosby on April 5, 2007 at 10:01am
if you click on your photo or name at the very tippy top of the screen, it will pull up your friends and the networks you belong to. But that only works once you are inside a network, not when you first sign on to Ning by going through the main website.

I will check out Ning Rants. Thanks, Aaron!!
Comment by Aaron Dobbs on April 5, 2007 at 8:35am
Word! and Ditto!

Luckily, for me, I set up two of my networks (Library 2.0 & alamembers) as links off my blog - I know I joined at least two more but I have no idea what they were (I joined in the dead of night whilie I was sleepclicking). How the hey do I find me in those other networks?!

Heh, I think I'll create a network... "Ning Rants." Turns out "ning" can't be the first 4 letters in a ning network URL, oh well.

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