Social by Social

A community around using social tech for social impact

Nings are great for setting up your own social networks and for making connections with people with similar interests and infinitely preferable in my view to Facebook for social networking. The best example of a Ning I know is Blurbonline, which has been embraced lovingly by the creative communities and in particular an individual who I had been trying and failing for years to get socially networked.

But Nings undoubtedly have their flaws. Chris has just told me about some issues that are solved by adding an 's' into the URL (an introduction to URL-hacking that isn't necessarily well suited for early stage web development). When I set up Stoke100.ning, I got very embroiled in problems like the 'x' not showing up on some computers, making it impossible for them to delete contributions they'd added in the wrong place and the navigation being completely incomprehensive to a user who was obviously fairly comfortable with email. It didn't go down at all well.

I think what is handy about Ning though is that there are workarounds and particularly the fact that they make RSS feeds so easily available. Does anybody have any tips or examples of Ning workarounds that can be built and easily used without explanation for people with limited web connectivity and/or website literacy? So that we can have the best of both worlds?

It's something I'm going to be playing with over the next few weeks and maybe organising a practical Night of Ning in Stoke - if I dare :) All ideas welcome.

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Clare

Can I offer up our ning site navcaboodle as a growing network for those in CVS-land. It sprouted from an idea I had and is now being lovingly cared for by @sospot. You do need to register - but only to leave your profile - we approve anyone working in the vol com sector!

My tip would be to plan out the format of the ning, where you are going to use groups and where forums, how you will include pictures and where to put video etc as yes I agree nings can look confusing for new users.

We have learnt a lot about ning in a very short space of time - a night of ning sounds very interesting

Paul
thanks Paul, navcaboodle is a really good example of a Ning that seems to have encouraged a lot of newcomers to post and share.
Hey Clare

I've been exploring this recently from a slightly techie angle. Using the 'Analytics' code option from the Manage interface it is possible to add in all sorts of extra Javascript which, with use of a library like jQuery makes it possible to add extra usability features to a site.

I've managed proof-of-concept to get a better tagging interface, and WYSIWYG editing onto a Ning this way - but I've not yet had time to check (a) if this is all allowed within the terms of service; (b) how accessible this is on older browsers and (c) how to make it stable.

Has anyone been exploring modifying Ning in this way?
Hi Clare - all

There were quite a few people at the workshop this week using Ning for local and other networks. I expect Amy and I will be looking at ways to enhance this site. Is it worth setting up a group called ... um ... Ning things ... to share tips and development? Ning have just released some apps, too.
We are already experimenting with the new Ning apps on navcaboodle test group.

Integrated Qik look very slick! Also tried out the embedded Poll feature which is good too.

Happy to chat or whatever.
Thanks Paul - may I ask what level of resource has/is needed for a site like navcaboodle ... and thoughts on tasks? Keen to compare notes on future development of this site ... and to provide some guidance for others. I'm thinking (compressing Steph's roles):

Start up
- scoping what's needed, coming up with a structure
- putting that in place, maybe with tweaks to themes/templates
- initial content including feeds
- promotion, recruitment of community

Management/support/tech development/strategy
- welcoming, monitoring registrations
- responding to queries, monitoring content
- adding apps
- supporting users
- reviewing direction

Animation, facilitation, reporting

- encouraging conversations
- bringing in highlights from elsewhere
- creating content, helping others

This obviously needs a mix of skills - probably from different people - and can be a mix a central paid-for and distributed volunteering.

From experience there's a baseline of time/commitment needed to manage a site, then different levels of support/facilitation depending on what you are trying to achieve.
I am very new to the world of social media and on a serious catch-up mission. Very interested in night of ning in Stoke and keen to learn more about their potential.

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