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Decision Time: Ning or SocialEngine

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    • 556 posts
    September 25, 2016 10:46 AM EDT

    Hello Vault Dwellers, Todd here with a rather important discussion. 

    Before we even began porting our site onto SocialEngine, I made it clear that we would have the option of moving back to Ning should we decide that SocialEngine doesn't fit our needs. Now, with only two weeks remaining for the Ning site, it is time for us all to discuss and decide which platform is better for the future of the Vault. There are some key points we need to take into consideration here, and I'll be sure to outline them below: 

    1. SocialEngine is a work in progress. We are still very unfamiliar with all that this platform can do. There are many quirks to it, but a lot of people have gotten the hang of it already. That being said, there will still be some plugins added to the site should we decide that we will 100% be staying on this platform (those plugins mainly focusing on Photo and Video uploads, and some minor tweaks and updates to existing features). 

    2. Ning's parent company, Mode Media, went bust a few weeks ago. A new company has since purchased Ning and will continue development on it. To be honest, I don't know if this is a good or bad thing for Ning. Mode Media was a terrible company that did nothing for the platform, but the new company could, in theory, breath new life into it. 

    3. Ning recently raised their prices. This site would cost us $59/month to run (which is what Ning used to cost), whereas Ning would now cost $120/month. If we were to move back to Ning, we would need to discuss addind ads in order to offset the higher cost. 

     

    These three things are important factors to consider when thinking about which platform we should go with (aside from user interface, overall ease of use, etc). Feel free to voice your opinions and discuss the options here. We have two weeks to decide what we want to do, and whatever we decide will be permanent - so please, don't take this lightly!

    Thank you all for reading, and I look forward to seeing your responces!

  • September 25, 2016 10:57 AM EDT

    Social Engine

    • 68 posts
    September 25, 2016 11:06 AM EDT

    Social Engine - both platforms have their quirks, but I feel that ning has been neglected too long and there are no guarantees things will improve. An increase in costs is not good for the site, funding these sites isn't always easy, so managing that is important.

    Also the new site feels cleaner and less cluttered on screen, and I think it has a lot of potential.

    • 122 posts
    September 25, 2016 11:10 AM EDT

    I'll be very honest, I don't like Social Engine at all. I find it far more difficult to use than Ning, and unless you know exactly what you're looking for, navigation is a nightmare. If you gave me the choice to move back to Ning, I'd take it in a heartbeat.

    I think one of the biggest pros with going back to Ning is that we'll get all our images back, which will be a huge benefit for the CB group (Not to mention all other discussions with images). Plus we all already know how everything works there, and shouldn't run into many problems down the line.

    The price increase is probably the biggest problem. Ads are something I've always found annoying, but if they'll help with that then I'm all for it.

    • 122 posts
    September 25, 2016 11:13 AM EDT

    Also the new site feels cleaner and less cluttered on screen.

    I find it to be quite the opposite, in fact. But to each their own, I suppose.

    • 1 posts
    September 25, 2016 11:15 AM EDT

    Social Engine. It is working quite well even if it is need of some tweaks.

    Ning was never reliable and a change in ownership gives no guarantee of improvement.

    It would be an increased cost for a lot of unknowns.

    • 191 posts
    September 25, 2016 11:31 AM EDT

    Social Engine. Social Engine has its formatting problems that I am hoping will get resolved in time, but it's not that bad, just different. Also, let's not forget that people actually invested a ton of money in this (Bonelord, I am looking at you, buddy). Out of gratitude for our benevolent donators and the fact that the site is ok right now with plenty of room for improvement, I vote we stay. :)

    • 463 posts
    September 25, 2016 11:36 AM EDT
    I don't know how the site could switch back. A TON of money was spent in the move from what I hear and going back to merely pay more and/or have ads to clutter up the site? The decision was made to move and I thought some have even expressed that going back wasn't even an option

    Best to just stick with what was done and move on from here.
    • 122 posts
    September 25, 2016 11:58 AM EDT

    I feel that this is really very speculative; Is Ning's new management going to be good, Will SocialEngine get the right plugins, etc. Of course most will want to stay here, mainly due to the uncertainty regarding Ning.

    Personally, I think that Ning being bought over by someone else (Cyndx, is it?) is one of the best things to have happened, as it shows that they have an interest in keeping it up and running (Otherwise, why buy it over in the first place?).

    • 739 posts
    September 25, 2016 12:07 PM EDT

    Based purely on what I've seen so far I'd go back to Ning in a heartbeat...

     

    1. Everyone's previous content is screwed

     

    2. I tried using the word processor to start a discussion just now and as I typed my text was going invisible and bouncing all over the damn screen! I had to boot Word and copy/paste my content over just to make a simple discussion FFS.

     

    3. Profiles are so boring and barely customizable here, it was so nice creating your own page that was 100% your own back on Ning and a great retention tool, very few can use HTML to reprogram their entire profiles. This issue seems to extend well into groups as well....can't add image links or navigation aids. Bland, bland, bland...

     

    4. In the groups you can't tell who made a discussion or how popular it is. This results in a ton of wasted clicks.... I can't even find my own content, not even from my profile... Its all just gone into a black hole someplace and is only retrievable with the search engine (which does work well to be fair, but not useful in the grand scheme of things)...

     

    5. Basically, if ES6 was released next week and I wanted to write a build I wouldn't want to write it here. And I think that should perhaps be the most important point... I don't feel like I could easily join in and be part of something...

    ...the mechanics here simply aren't compatible with what made the previous site so popular.

     

    That cost though! Can't believe they're basically doubling it...

    I'd be on the phone right now asking for some kind of loyalty deal mate.

    • 556 posts
    September 25, 2016 12:11 PM EDT

    Even if they could offer us a loyalty price, what would we do about the $1400+ spent building this site so far? All of that would essentially go down the drain unless someone else wanted to buy the licenses we have for our plugins. 

    • 739 posts
    September 25, 2016 12:15 PM EDT

    It's pretty much a no-brainer then mate...

    If that money isn't retrievable (did SE deliver what they said they would in the port-over?) then we're stuck here.

    Losing $1400 isn't an option.

     

    • Moderator
    • 626 posts
    September 25, 2016 12:23 PM EDT

    Mason said:

    It's pretty much a no-brainer then mate...

    If that money isn't retrievable (did SE deliver what they said they would in the port-over?) then we're stuck here.

    Losing $1400 isn't an option.

     

    What Mason said. We can't go back if 1400 has already been dropped on this site, and although I do prefer ning, it just doesn't seem like an option to go back now.

    • 96 posts
    September 25, 2016 12:50 PM EDT
    I have to agree with Mason here, Ning definitely offered an easier method of communicating & customizing content, especially for people that arent willing to spend hours just to change the text color on their profile to green.

    However, even though I dont like SE and so will decrease my activity here (not that anyone would care), thinking long-term we got to stay for good. Going back is not an option.
    • 122 posts
    September 25, 2016 1:56 PM EDT

    I don't suppose there's any way to get those 1,400 dollars back? As in, cancelling the SocialEngine subscription, being refunded, then using that money for Ning's subscription instead?

    Anyway, at the end of the day, you really have to do what's right for the Site. In my eyes, this is either stay on SocialEngine, knowing that all previous content is, and I quote, "screwed" (Plus all of Mason's other points), OR move back to new-management Ning, waste 1,400 bucks, but know that 5 years worth of content is all safe, sound, and with working images.

    • 641 posts
    September 25, 2016 2:02 PM EDT

    That's also gambling on Ning not continuing to be the piece of shit that it has been and also gambling that the company going bankrupt won't make it worse.

    • 556 posts
    September 25, 2016 2:38 PM EDT

    @Caesar, no. The $1400 is gone. Also, we can't guarentee that anything would be safe on Ning. It still has the potential to just go belly-up and everything is gone. 

    • 463 posts
    September 25, 2016 2:48 PM EDT
    Todd said:

    @Caesar, no. The $1400 is gone. Also, we can't guarentee that anything would be safe on Ning. It still has the potential to just go belly-up and everything is gone. 

    Then we are already answering the question. There is no possible way or reason to spend that much money and then put out the option to go back. As I said before, it is obviously best to just move on from here.
    • 189 posts
    September 25, 2016 3:32 PM EDT

    I'm not gonna give an opinion either way, but just for the record, anyone talking about the cost already put into the Social Engine, that is a fallacy. The money cannot be retrieved either way and therefore it is irrelevant to the decision moving forward. It's basic economics: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sunk_costs

    If you want to factor money into the equation, you should disregard what has been spent already and is now unrecoverable (i.e., the sunk cost of Social Engine software and plugins), and instead consider prospective costs of both Ning and Social Engine. Which one will incur more costs in the FUTURE? This is relevant because it is controllable based on the decision at hand.

    That being said, cost is only a small part of the equation. You guys are giving it way too much weight right now. IMO, form, function, stability, accessibility, customizability, etc. are all more important. The site has always managed to make ends meet when needed, so money should not be the chief concern to begin with, as I see it.


    This post was edited by Teccam at September 25, 2016 3:33 PM EDT
    • 556 posts
    September 25, 2016 3:49 PM EDT

    @Teccam, that's exactly my stance on this. We need to focus on what is best for the site and its future. We'll make due with whatever that might be.

    • 122 posts
    September 25, 2016 3:56 PM EDT

    Some really good points there, Teccam.

    Right, so if the money already spent on SocialEngine is off the table, then I really don't see a reason to stay. Ning might be more costly in the future, but let's face the facts: Our discussions don't have images, our pre-move Builds are just giant text-walls, it's much harder to navigate, Profile customization is just grossly over-comlicated. Unless I'm missing something, Ning seems like the best option here.

    • 312 posts
    September 25, 2016 4:18 PM EDT
    Honestly, I kind of prefer SE to Ning, especially since there are so many unknowns. The biggest concern being "If we move back, and Ning goes belly-up, then what?"
    • 418 posts
    September 25, 2016 4:21 PM EDT
    I think that all the annoyances on the social site are only made worse by how comfortable we became with Ning's. People will figure out how to make creation easier, and even if it takes a while, we know ES6 isn't close so it isn't massively pressing, just a little frustrating.
    And 1400 quid is a lot of dosh, and the increased prices for Ning is also frustrating, so in for a penny, in for a pound I guess (which means I think we should stay).
    • 640 posts
    September 25, 2016 4:31 PM EDT

    Veloth the Vampire-Hunter said:

    That's also gambling on Ning not continuing to be the piece of shit that it has been and also gambling that the company going bankrupt won't make it worse.

    This is precisely my concern, Veloth. Mode Media went belly up and "sold off" (but it was more like offloaded) Ning to Cyndx, which is an acquisition company known for flipping the companies they acquire. They have said they will "improve" Ning, and of course that is how Ning and Cyndx are both trying to spin it.. but with this doubling of mothly subscription costs coupled with unloading the tool to a company who will likely ultimately just sell it again down the road... to me, that just spells more instability and uncertainty in the future. That reads like a huge corporation not giving a crap about the communities, since it's just a profit to be gained for them.

    So if the question is "Ning or Social Engine?" we should look more at the future stabiliy of SE and the server company, rather than Ning. To me, between increased monthly costs, diminished customer support, layoffs, and becoming a tiny pawn in a large corporate game, Ning looks pretty fucked no matter how you cut it. That's just my perspective. I'd rather see us pull together organize as a community to work on importing images, make suggestions for plugins we should fundraise for, to help make our new platform really special. We can choose to invest in ourselves and build something great, or go back to what we've known and become further stuck. Again, just my two cents on it. 


    This post was edited by Edana at September 25, 2016 4:46 PM EDT
    • 312 posts
    September 25, 2016 4:32 PM EDT
    I can't find anything online about the transfer of Ning, so I'll take your word for it.

    Update: The only things I could find were Ning's announcement and a skeptic who argues that it might not actually have happened. Everything else was about 2011, when Mode acquired Ning.
    This post was edited by WuYiXiang at September 25, 2016 4:41 PM EDT