I picked up somewhere that Ning is a hot place for creating online social applications so I checked the site out. After a couple of visits, I concluded that Ning is not that practical.
The idea behind Ning is online applications that users can use and contribute to it. For example, Ning has a Bookshelf application which allows users to review books that they read, or mention books that they want to read. Users can also add their own reviews to other people’s books. If you like the idea, but want to use that application for something else such as movie review, just clone it. I have not actually cloned any app, but it seems straight forward.
The problem with Ning lies in the fact that it only has a handful of core applications we can clone from. That means if none of those applications fit your need, you are out of luck, unless you can create your application from scratch.
The second problem with Ning is the applications are single-minded. What do I mean by that? Let’s look at Yahoo! Group (YG) for example. YG offers its users many features such as discussion, photo album, file depository, database, poll, calendar, … These features make up a comprehensive online community. A Ning application just do one thing, and it does not do it well enough to stand out.
In conclusion, after playing around with Ning for a few days, I do not see any value Ning can offer me. Keep in mind that this is my own opinion, there are plenty people who will beg to differ. If you are curious about Ning, give it a try. It might fit your needs or it might not.