My Experience with NING.com
At the recent TechHui Conference one of the presenters in the Social Media session made mention of a web site called ning.com. I wrote it down. The next day as I was going through my notes I came across that note and decided to take a look.
The home page of ning.com provided a very brief explanation of how the site can be used to set up my very own social network, plus a couple of form fields to fill out, one for the name of my intended social network and one for what apparently would become the web site name of “my” site (at least that’s the impression I got from the provided info). Since I recently took over responsibility for a singles group named Oahu Singles, and that group did not yet actually have a web presence, merely an email list of members, I thought this would be a great opportunity to turn it into an actual web site. So I entered “Oahu Singles” for the name and “OahuSingles” (no spaces) for the web site name (expecting that to become something like OahuSingles.ning.com for the actual site). Pressing the submit button brought me to a page asking me to provide a verification email address. OK, that’s pretty standard for web sites. So I entered my email address and, upon hitting submit, was informed that an email would arrive with a link to provide verification. Again, all pretty standard.
When I received the email I dutifully followed the link and performed the verification. But when it directed me back to ning.com there was,not an Oahu Singles social network group page, but a page with a ton of information about me, topped off with a “Welcome back, Roger Garrett”. It had my name, it had a photo of me, it had information about my membership in TechHui, it had a couple of pending event notifications for me, it had current postings from TechHui. What in the world was all this? I hadn’t asked for a personal “FaceBook” type of page, yet that’s what it looked like. I hadn’t given my name. I hadn’t given ning.com permission to seek out information about me from other web sites. And I certainly hadn’t given permission to TechHui to give my information out to ning. So, what the heck was this? And where was my Oahu Singles social network, which is what I was expecting to get? Clicking on the Social Networks link at the top of the page brought up a subsequent page that informed me that I had not created any social networks. So what happened to Oahu Singles? I tried going to OahuSingles.ning.com and I got a message from ning saying that the page doesn’t exist. What the …?
So, ning tells me I can create a social network and leads me to believe that that is exactly what I am doing, by filling in the forms on its first page. But instead it creates a FaceBook-like page for me and gathers up information about me without my permission. Apparently I can subsequently create a social network, but then I’m thinking, if it did this to me (telling me it’s going to do one thing and then actually doing something very different, plus gathering information about me without my permission) then it’s most likely going to do the same thing for the members of my Oahu Singles group as they sign up for my group.
So, I don’t think I’ll be using ning for this or any kind of social network.