July 28, 2008 § 1 Comment
Purely by coincidence, I have recently had the occasion to join three different Ning networks, and while I think it’s super cool that this is a tool anyone can use to create a social network, I find the functionality lacking in many respects, not the least of which is the search capability. Its one of those simple searches that won’t allow for you to do any finessing whatsoever. You search for one term, fine. I did a search for “Yoga”, and came up with 27 pages of 20 results each. When I combined the search with “Chicago,” I got 17 pages. Better, but still too many, and I could see immediately that I was getting some identical hits from my first search. Still too many, and not what I’m looking for. It would be great if there were some advance search options that would let you search by region or combined terms or something.
Another problem is that one of my social networks doesn’t appear on my main page after several days. And it seems as though I have to keep logging in when I try to move back and forth from one window to another with my different networks open. This just doesn’t make sense to me, since I’m using the same Ning login for all of my networks. Very strange.
Finally, I found a group from my neighborhood that I wanted to join, the Uptown Chicago group, but you must be a member of a block club in order to be approved for membership. I’m not a member of a block club, and I wanted to email the founder of the group about it, but there is no way to do so if he is not my friend or if I am not a member of the group. Not helpful, and I would wager that the group is not intended solely for members of the neighborhood block groups (at least I hope not…doesn’t seem very neighborly).
With these limitations, Ning so far feels clunky and confusing. I wish that there were an easier way to move around from network to network, instead of having to login separately and needing to create a page and a blog for myself within each one. Maybe I just need to give it more time before I get it.
On the surface, the groups that I have joined are small so far. I hope that they grow because the community is the important thing. But when I dug in a little deeper on some of the groups that I thought were interesting, many of them looked like they had died on the vine. I know that’s going to happy naturally with any social networking too, and perhaps there are some vibrant Ning communities out there. I’ll keep giving it a try because like I said, the community is the thing, and ultimately I’m trying to connect with people who have similar interests. Perhaps its functionality will improve, so I’m withholding judgment today as to how conducive Ning actually is to community building.