This Week! An update to Members pages and a change to Invitations

We’re excited to announce a few new updates coming this week to your Ning Network:

1. We’re updating the design of the Members and Friends pages so that more people show up even faster.
2. We’re retiring the Invite All Friends feature where your members could invite their friends across Ning Networks.

Here are the details:

Update to the Members and Friends Pages

In July, we introduced a new list view for Members and Friends pages. The key tweaks we’re making now are to move to smaller profile photos and display fewer lines of text per member. As a Network Creator, you’ll no longer be able to ban members directly from the Members page and members won’t see the “add as friend” or “send message” links. Here’s how the Members page will look with this release:

Members - New Member View

Retiring the Invite All Friends Feature

Yes, we’re retiring the Invite All Friends feature. While many found this feature valuable, we think there are a slew of new, better features we’ll be working on that will be even better for driving viral invitations and new members to your and other Ning Networks. Stay tuned, but in the meantime, we’ll be removing the option to “Invite All Friends” this week from Ning Networks and in early October for Ning.com.

Last thing we’re doing this week is re-enabling the iPhone redirect, so that your Ning Network on the iPhone will automatically enjoy your Ning Network’s native interface.

As always, please let us know if you have any questions in the Ning Help Center!

About the Author:

Nick Barr – who has written posts on Ning's Official Blog on Social Networking Sites.


  • eCoronado

    One related question I had about inviting members: Is it possible to NOT allow members to invite other members to events they create? Basically, allow members to create events, but give admins the ability to turn on or off the ‘invite’ feature within events. As an admin, I get lots of complaints from members receiving too many invitations from other members. Thanks for the great progress!

  • http://blog-o.ning.com Laura Oppenheimer

    Hi eCoronado!

    There isn’t a way to prevent members from being able to invite their friends to events they create. If this is an issue on your Ning Network, here are two options:

    1. Turn on event moderation (Manage-> Feature Controls) and only approve those events that you think your members would actually want to attend.

    or

    2. Tell the members who are having an issue with too many email invites that they can turn off email notifications for event invitations on their Settings page. After they do that, they’ll no longer receive email invites!

    Thanks,
    Laura

  • Robert

    This is great … Thanks for keeping us informed…

  • _

    Great that the “invite all friends” to other networks is going, please make any replacements optional, especially on private networks! We work hard for our members, we don’t want leeches pestering them with a new equivalent of “come join me on…”!!

    Thanks!

  • Phil Williams

    Hi,

    these changes look great – thanks as always for the update and work you do.

    The only thing I would ask is please, please, please don’t add the iPhone redirect in. I use my iPhone several times a day to check my two sites and I think seeing the full version of the site is a million times better than the limited iPhone version.

    If you do decide to go ahead with this anyway please add a way for iPhone users to express their choice as to which site they would prefer to see as default – i.e. web or mobile.

    This is standard practice for all major websites and means that users get a say in what they see.

    Please, please, please don’t make me scroll to the bottom of the page EVERY time and click the ‘show me the web version’ link. The phone should remember which one I prefer.

    Thanks and hope to see this addition before the release.

    Phil
    http://www.worshiptherock.com/
    http://www.hemustincrease.com/

  • Xenaholic Productions

    “Yes, we’re retiring the Invite All Friends feature.”

    Thank you I think this is how certain people were able to spam the smaller networks like mine and others.

    I hope nothing in its place will pop up.

  • Brian Fløe

    our prayers have been heard ! Thank you Ning, thank you thank you thank you ! Removal of the cross network invites YES !
    I can already see the spammers making that one last desperate run for their money :) ))

  • Ning Directory

    Woo Hoo! So happy to hear:
    “We’re retiring the Invite All Friends feature where your members could invite their friends across Ning Networks.”

    And it may have even been a good thing for the Ning Directory. But, I’d much rather, not have it. There are better ways to inform Network Creators that the Ning Directory exists.

    Thanks Ning!
    Jen

  • FLSN Organization

    At first I wasn’t much of a fan of the new members page that was added a few weeks ago, but I saw on LiveWired/Apps.io that there was a css trick to make it two columns. I am glad that the members page was changed because after I put that into my network’s css, I loved it. Now I wonder if removing those links will affect the css trick this page:
    http://community.apps.io/articles/index/view?id=1990958:Article:23708

    If you can tell me that would be great because if it will change things, I will remove the css before the new members page is released.

    Thank you.

  • http://blog-o.ning.com Laura Oppenheimer

    Hi FLSN Organization!

    Because we’re changing the CSS for this page, there’s a good chance that the custom CSS you’ve added will also be affected. If you feel more comfortable, you could remove this CSS in advance of the release. Otherwise, you can use the Firebug extension on Firefox to inspect the page after the release — and if you feel comfortable doing this — update your custom CSS yourself.

    Thanks!
    Laura

  • Chris

    Finally! I’ve been waiting for this since day 1. I hope that Ning will not bring this back or create another easy way for spammers to steal members from other networks.

    Good Work Ning!

  • The Groovy Rat

    The ability to sort by ‘online now’ would be a great addition.

    Regards

  • Miss Online

    Out of all the releases and updates, this is by far the most important. I commend you on an EXCELLENT decision to remove the cross network invites.

  • Sta.rtUp.biz

    Does this mean that members can now longer invite any friends from their e-mail accounts or is it just for ning friends on other ning networks. So will the link stay, but just be used to e-mail your contacts list.

  • http://blog-o.ning.com Laura Oppenheimer

    Hi Sta.rtUp.biz!

    Members will still be able to invite their friends via email address. The only feature we’re retiring is the one that allows members to invite the friends they’ve made on other Ning Networks to your Ning Network. Specifically, when you load the Friends box on the Invite page, you’ll no longer see the “All Friends” option.

    Thanks!
    Laura

  • Brian Fløe

    Why not have two columns in the members list. All that horisontal white space seems wasted and obvious for improving effectiveness.

  • Brian Fløe

    • Sort by online
    • Sort by latest login
    • Sort by number of total logins (most active member).

  • Kim

    Essentially, this stops ALL Ning networks from growing. I thought these were “SOCIAL” networks??? How does everyone think they got their site as big as it is?? People that you make friends with at other networks, don’t want to give you their PRIVATE EMAIL ADDRESS so this essentially grinds ALL networks to a halt on growing any bigger unless you can get your friends you’ve made to give you their email address. I personally think and so do many others that this was the biggest mistake Ning has ever done. Reinstate the invite all friends link!!! These are social networks for gods sake!

  • Kim

    Also, all the ones who think this is such a great thing, how did you get your members? You might have started off inviting people you know, but more then likely, you grew more from invites to people you met here at Ning. Do you even realize that you won’t be able to invite people you meet either unless you get their email address? Inviting your friends is not spam, that’s how social networks work, it’s just silly to think that.

  • Alex (MUL)

    Thank you for doing this Ning! I also noticed you removed the “All Friends” option from event invitations and content sharing! Thank you, thank you, so much for listening! This will eliminate a majority of the SPAM on my network!

  • Alex (MUL)

    Kim, we grew our networks by promoting our social networks off of Ning (word of mouth, local events, advertising, etc). NOT by soliciting members off other network creator’s social networks.

    It’s not fair when you spend the time and money to build up your site for other network creators to just reap the benefits by being able to solicit your members and there is nothing you could do about it. It’s common sense! This is one of the best moves that Ning ever did as a company. Thank you for listening!!

  • Lester Orman

    Now the friends invite has been removed, will someone please tell me how do I invite
    people to a new network I create.
    Taking into account that I don’t have their email addresses.
    Secondly, the people who wanted it removed, how are they going to invite
    people to their network.
    If they know of a way, we would all like to know about.
    A better idea would have been to allow creators to choose to block
    incoming invites if they wished.

  • Kim

    Alex, YOU might have done your network that way, but the majority of network creators got their members by friends they made at Ning and across the Ning platform. Believe me I know about building my sites, the time I put into them, and cost, my main site was one of the very first sites on Ning. I find this lacking in common sense, totally disregarding most members across Ning and how they socialize. A social network is just for that, socializing, now it’s impossible to share with all your friends important updates or information that needs to be shared across the world. It’s really been done for those individuals who seem to have a problem with sharing, and didn’t like their members being at other sites. Look at other social networking platforms, myspace, facebook, they don’t remove you from inviting your friends.

  • Laura Oppenheimer

    Hi Kim and Lester,

    Thanks for raising these points. While many Ning Networks have benefited from the invite “all friends” option, many others have raised legitimate concerns about how this feature was negatively impacting their network. We believe that all Ning Networks can grow — and grow quickly — without inviting members from other networks. Ultimately, organic growth via inviting people through email, discovery on Ning.com and other methods can fuel your Ning Network’s success.

    If you are looking for ways to invite friends from other Ning Networks:

    On any Ning Network you are a member of, you can message your friends directly through the message center. If you want to invite your friends from one Ning Network to another one, you can easily send them a message and invite them to join (if you are the Network Creator, you can use the invite code found on the Manage-> Network Privacy page). You can also always use a potential member’s email address to invite them directly.

    Thanks again for your feedback,
    Laura

  • Alex (MUL)

    Well said, Laura. Like someone mentioned on Get Satisfaction… You don’t see MySpace putting up a link to Invite All Your Facebook Friends to MySpace (or vise versa). They are two separate social networks. Network A and Network B on Ning, although on the the same platform, are essentially two separate social networks with totally different interests.

    You can still join any Ning social network you want, make friends, post discussions/events, etc about your network, but if you violate the particular network’s rules they can ban you and then you will no longer be able to invite their members. Before it was just to easy to bypass the Network Creator (banned or not) and this was totally unethical. Now you actually have to PARTICIPATE on the network to convince members to join your network. Sorry, no more leeching! :)

  • Jens Mügge

    Thank you for this change. It looks now really so much better than before! It is a good thing now.

  • Phil Savory

    so what is this idea or feature that is suppose to be better then the invite all feature. It must be good because I was getting up to 25 members a day by inviting people, and 100 or more members a month.

  • ClarkP

    Kim:
    “Come Join Me On…(X Network)” invitations were a HUGE problem. I am thrilled to see this spammers loophole no longer available. Bravo Ning!

    Contrary to what you say, most networks did not grow by spamming other Ning networks. They grew by their members inviting their REAL friends. Friends that they had email addresses for. (If you don’t have someone’s email address, they are not your friend. Period.) This is the natural and ethical way to grow your site.

    Phil Savory:
    If you were getting 25 new members a day by spamming other Ning networks, you are part of the problem. I’m very glad Ning has disabled the ability for people to spam other networks. Have you not thought that the Network Creator of the sites you are spamming worked hard and quite possibly spent money growing their site? Why should you be able to steal them?

    Thanks again to Ning for removing the cross-network invitations and notifications. Legitimate NC’s hated it… and spammers loved it. :-)

  • gotjamn.dk

    The new friendlist update runs way more smooth than the earlier versions. Still… i really miss the opportunity to add new members as friends via the friendlist, since it’s been a part of my way as an administrator to connect instantly to new members and welcome them.

    Now I have to go onto every new members page to add them and it’s hard to keep track of who i’ve already made an “add as friend” to and who i’ve forgot.

    I know there has been some serious issues with the “add as friend” on the memberlist, it did’nt update right, and often you still had the “add as friend”, even though you already DID add them.

    Anyway, the new memberslist runs smoother than ever, but I will put my vore to bring back the “add as friend” on this page, i know that this issue is being mentioned by other administatrators on the Get Satisfaction forum.

    The supporters there have made some feedback, but it seems like the size of this issue for administrators is being underestimated.

    Anyway, if anyone would like to follow this thread on Ning @ Get Satisfaction, here’s what I am talking about.

    http://getsatisfaction.com/ning/topics/all_members_listing_screen

    Thanks, stil loving Ning!

  • Alex (MUL)

    ClarkP, Well said… This move by Ning has actually changed my mind about moving to another platform. It’s great that Ning is finally listening to NC’s who are running a legitimate business and don’t grow their networks by spamming other networks! Thank you, Ning!

  • Lisa

    As the creator of my ning site, I can understand both sides on this invite issue. If you don’t want invites, why can’t there be a box to check in the member’s privacy settings, blocking invites from reaching your email?

    And ClarkP, you are not physically hog tying members that want to accept an invitation to join another network. They are not being stolen, they are choosing of their own free will to join more than just your network. Using the term stealing your members sounds greedy and that is not being very social or friendly.

    And Alex, maybe you should move to another platform with ClarkP if you both are so greedy and paranoid about your members discovering other social sites and joining them as well, all because they received an invite.

    Spammers can be highly irritating when they constantly send your invites, but the ones that send out an invite in a polite and timely fashion should not lose the “invite all” feature because of impolite members.

    Again, I feel having the box to check in privacy settings, blocking invites from reaching your email is the fairest way for the members who send out invites in a polite and timely manner.

    I would appreciate your response Laura Oppenheimer. Thank You!

    Kindly,
    Lisa

  • Mark Halbert

    I have had to ban 8 people from my networks because they post the same message on every members page.
    Inviting people to accept your friendship based on mutual interests has always been the acceptable way of networking across most of the networks that I know about.
    Once they have accepted your friendship I see nothing wrong with inviting your friends to participate in your activities on whatever network they choose to join you on.
    My feeling is that if you close this avenue of legitimate networking—-you will just encourage all the real spammers who do not bother to even request your friendship before they spam you with all sorts of offers.

  • Mark Halbert

    I personally have invited over 3,500 people to my networks using the csv upload—but how many people know how to do this.
    I think Ning should allow complete freedom of association. People will gravitate to the networks where they get most value and away from those networks who are trying to monopolise them and stifle the freedom to exercise their choice of freedom of association.
    I certainly will not try and monopolise my members and stifle their ability to be friends with others and join other networks.
    In summary I think monoply is bad—Cross pollination is good

  • Mark Halbert

    Why doesnt Ning give those Networks who dont want to allow their members to join anyone elses networks a privacy option —so that no-one else can see them—-that is my solution for those networks who want to monopolise their members and who dont want to network with everybody across all Ning Networks

  • Matt LaClear

    After checking the stats from my ning site I have seen a steady decline in the amount of invitations being sent out to come join my network. In fact I have seen a 700% reduction in the invites my members have sent out. Is it because they are no longer happy with the content I provide on my site? I thought so at first.

    I have also seen a decline in the number of new members joining my favorite Ning site at sta.rtup.biz as well. Not having access to their invitation stats I bet they have seen the same reduction. I know for a fact their new members totals have dropped SIGNIFICANTLY over the last couple of weeks. Is it because their members are no longer happy with their content?

    After reading this post I see why now.

    The only reason I’m here reading this post is because I was investigating where all my traffic had run off too. So know for certain that this policy change has already started dwindling the growth of networks that relied on it.

    Some of you have wrote “Thank God the spammers are defeated”. Which I think is very small of you to say as such.

    What made the Ning system so remarkable was the cross pollination that took place amongst the different networks. And I believe that any network owner who believes they “own” their members needs to lose their members for that very reason.

    What made the system so strong was that it enabled average Joe’s without massive email lists to be able to build viral networks. That was a powerful concept the world has never seen before.

    Now the invitation system on the Nings are little more than the “Tell a Friend” mechanisms we all used to put on our static sites. Remember how effective those were?

    Bottom line is folks are more willing to invite their friends over to a Ning network they liked because: 1) it was so easy to do so, 2) they were not sharing their friends actual email addresses, 3) The majority of their friends were being stored on the Ning system and it was the only way they could invite them over since they didn’t actually have the physical email addresses of their friends.

    Now it’s my personal opinion that the spammers will be hitting all our networks harder now as a result of this policy change.

    How so?

    It’s simple. Now that normal rule abiding users of the network can no longer invite all their friends to come join their network many will choose to resort to spam to get those members on board. Trust me on this. They will.

    So expect more posts on the the comment walls of your members.

    There is a reason why there is not a functional Ning Friend Adder Bot on the market today. There simply wasn’t a need for one. But now that has changed.

    Just watch and wait. Next you’ll see these invites you hate posted overnight on the comment walls of all your members pages.

    And when you ban the evil doers that did so. They’ll just create another account and do the same again and again and again.

    I personally think the only solution to all this is to offer a privacy option to all invites going out that disables the end user to quit receiving future invitations from that user.

    That’s how I see it at least.

  • Sky

    Totally bogus, I have great information I like to share with people in totally different “ning worlds” where I could bring them together over a cool e-class and now I have to what? Go to each individual network and post a blog? Ptui. I agree with Matt LaClear and I hate startup biz, even tho I belong to it, he is not wrong, but is absolutely rite. I usually don’t gripe, but this time I did. Bet all the people who are forking money over for premium services will think twice about giving Ning any monies, when it decides to do something downright dumb as this. Thumbs down..I’m still smiling tho.

    see? :)

  • Sky

    And thanks for this opportunity to transcend duality, lol.

    I will skip the bad zen jokes*

  • Matt LaClear

    There were enough fail safes to protect the inboxes of the members who wanted them protected.

    I for one have several thousand friends scattered across the Ning networks and I too got tired of the constant invitations. So I logged in and updated my privacy feature in a matter of seconds and stopped the invitations from being sent to me. Seemed like a pretty simple and effective system. That way the only people who continued receiving invitations were people who wanted to receive them.

    One of the strengths of Twitter is that it allows members to “eavesdrop” into the conversations their friends are having and even jump into them if they so desire. It’s what makes Twitter so interactive and madly viral.

    Ning offers no such mechanisms. The comment walls and forums are completely inadequate for the task of creating massive interactivity and viral activity amongst it’s members.

    It’s my contention that the only such mechanism Ning had to facilitate this was the mass invitation feature. It allowed friends to keep up with their other friends on WHATEVER network they joined WHENEVER they did so.

    Sure that meant folks were jumping around. But so what. It’s what they wanted to do!

    The admins shouting praises for the removal of the mass invitation system are mostly individuals who treat their Ning networks as if it were their web 1.0 website. They view their members as property that needs protecting. Rather than learning how to facilitate the active communication amongst the Ning members they’d rather instead limit it.

    Why so?

    To keep them to themselves for fear their members will join another network and never come back to theirs.

    Such a system is identical to what free trade has done for the consumer. It requires admins to provide great content that causes members to come back again and again and again. In doing so they would strengthen their network even more so.

    But all that is gone now.

    Which goes against everything I know and love about web 2.0.

  • http://www.wizanda.com wizanda

    This has totally changed Ning as a social networking system, agree with many who say add an option for those who want a business or privacy, yet don’t just remove it.
    Made friends from over 500 networks, each network is like a separate part of our interests, meeting people who might have different interests is only possible by visiting that network.
    So now its just the same as using an external search and finding different websites; which means if your not going to pay for advertising, then the social network will not expand.