Ning deciding to gradually terminate their free service came as a serious shock to many of their users, especially those who established various free social networks based on the its platform.

If you are not familiar with it – Ning is offering a platform for quick and easy creation of social networks.

It seemed like Ning’s free service should have lasted forever: you open a network, recruit between tens to the hundreds and sometimes even thousands of members to your network, Ning plant ads on the network’s pages. Revenue goes to Ning.

However, since it’s totally free to create, not all the networks could bear profits. Some networks were created and then forsaken. It’s been sitting there for 2-3 years. Some photos, some blogs, poems, personal pages of 84 members, generating no real income as there are no visitors. However, this network costs. Someone has to maintain the data. It is stored somewhere. It’s taking space, resources.

Less then an hour after Ning has made their announcement the net was flooded with offers for backups, migrations and alternatives to the Ning platform, for educators or for any one. But the Network is now tainted for ever.

Trust no one!

What was accepted and perceived as a Free For Ever service – is not free any more. And if Ning can do it, why not Facebook, or Twitter? Or Gmail?

Leaving the business consideration aside for a moment what really bothers me is the question -what made them do it and why now? Is it the beginning of the content explosion?

I know several people who opened more than a single Facebook account. The most common reason is losing the password, but I know kids who opened several accounts so they can send themselves Farmville gifts, or people who opened separate accounts for connecting with family and connecting with business associates. Each account consumes system resources. Abandoned accounts don’t generate income. And double accounts, sometimes hosting double feeds or photos, take up a lot more space then the revenue they can generate.

And in the meantime we are all reading and writing and referencing and cross referencing and I see how the volume of contents keeps growing infinitely. In a presentation I watched recently the speaker revered about how our grandchildren will be able to share details from our lives in a much more vivid way then we can share our parents’, because all of this information is going to be stored online forever.


For free??