Kyle Ford
Kyle Ford
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We’ve just released a new round of features for your social network on Ning. Here are some of the highlights:

You can also see a larger version of the screencast here.

  • An all-new, streamlined sign in, sign up, account management, and password recovery process that uses your network’s branding throughout. We’ve also switched to having your members sign up and sign in with email addresses rather than Ning IDs.
  • The option to approve members before they join your network.
  • New PIN numbers for Network Creators and Administrators to provide an extra level of security.


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Streamlined Account Creation & Management

There is now a simple Join Now or Sign In box in the upper right corner of your network with links to join or sign in. While this might be slightly less convenient than the multiple options to sign in on your network today, this new approach has a number of key benefits including reducing complexity for your new members:

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Once you click the Join link, you are taken to a new Sign Up page. On this page, your new members can now sign up with an email address rather than create a distinct Ning ID:

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The only mention of Ning in the new Join process is a short sentence in the “About; section that says, “We use Ning ID for authentication.” This sentence is only displayed on your sign up and sign in pages. The goal is to make it transparent to new members about the relationship between your network and Ning. It is otherwise meant to be recessive and, well, mellow.

To sign in, you can also now use just an email address and password, eliminating another reference to Ning on your network. On this page, existing members can use the email addresses with which they initially registered or continue to use their Ning IDs if they prefer:

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You’ll also see on this page new links for “Forgot Password” and “Problems Signing In”. Clicking the “Problems Signing In” link takes you to a simple page on your network with some helpful suggestions, including minimum browser requirements and information about the switch from using the custom Ning ID to just email addresses:

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Clicking the “Forgot Your Password” link takes you to this simple password recovery page now on your network:

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Once you enter your email address, simply follow the recovery link in the message you receive, then reset your password.

One other note for advanced Network Creators: we also now offer the ability to use the Ning ID authentication system externally via our APIs. We’ll have complete documentation on this shortly.

Ok, now that your members have created an account on your network (and Ning), the next step is for them to add a profile to your network:

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Your new members will fill out a Name, which will replace the full name or Ning ID screenname they currently create when they join your network on Ning. Don’t worry though, your existing members will not have to create a new Name. This is only for new people joining.

Members of your network now also have the option to add a profile photo directly on this page as well as edit their photo within this network. In fact, members can now have different profile photos for different networks.

Below the Name and Profile Photo fields appear any profile questions you add when you set up your network.

When members of other social networks on Ning join your network for the first time, a few key pieces of data will be pre-populated on their profile page. Specifically, Name, Profile Photo and any “About Me” information is added by default, with the option for them to easily change any of it (including their Name on this network). The benefit here is that the member can make their profile on a given network relevant and specific to that network while still enjoying the benefits of having one account across social networks created on the Ning Platform:

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After joining, your members can always go back and edit their information using the “My Settings” link in the upper-right box on every page. From each network, your members can edit Account Info, Profile Question responses, as well as Privacy Settings and Email Preferences.

Your social network now automatically generates a random URL for each new member, but your members can easily change them with just a click. Unfortunately, your members won’t be able to eliminate the “profile” before their new URL (as we need this to differentiate between a person and a video, for example), but otherwise can control the URL for their member profile page.

New Network Privacy Options, Including Approval of New Members

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To set up the new option to approve members before they can join your network, go to the “Manage” tab and click the “Privacy” link. You’ll see a simplified set of privacy settings, including the option to moderate new members before they join.

As most of you know, on a public network anyone is allowed to become a member, however you can choose whether non-members see everything or just the main page. You can also now choose to moderate members before they join (in addition to moderating photos and videos).

In contrast, on a private network, you can choose whether anyone can sign up to become a member – which means that visitors would only see a sign up page before having to join – or if only invited people can become members.

Moderation on a private network allows Network Creators and administrators to selectively accept or reject invites sent by members of their private network. This is similar – and replaces – our previous option to “don’t allow members to invite other members”. With this new option, the members of a private network can invite other new members, but it’s up to the Network Creator or Admins to accept or deny membership.

For both private or public networks, we’ve built member moderation right into the “Members” area on the “Manage” tab. Pending members now appear under a new “Pending” tab, and you can accept, decline, or ban them directly from this page:

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You can click to view any pending member’s profile and review their profile photo before they become members of your network. If things looks good, you can approve them directly from their pending profile as well:

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While a member is in this “pending” state, here’s what they see for a public network:

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And here’s what they see for a private network:

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Network Creator and Administrator PINs

Finally let’s take a look at one last new addition to your network, which we’ve implemented, by popular request.

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The first time you sign in to your network as a Network Creator or admin, you’ll be presented with this new screen to create a separate Network Creator PIN. This is separate and distinct from your Ning ID password. PINs are only used by Network Creators and administrators. Your network’s regular members will never see them.

We’ve added this step to create an additional layer of protection for your network in the unlikely event that a Network Creator or administrator’s Ning ID password becomes compromised. Think of it just like the PIN number on your bank card.

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After creating the PIN, you’ll enter it each time you log in to your social network. You can also change it at any time by using the “Change” link.