I am one of the people that thinks virtual gifts can work - however - in order to get them to work you need to get people into the habit of using them, in order to do that you have to have a varied range of free gifts, the ribbons are not enough and it appears ning owners can't add free gifts 25 points being the minimum.
Free gifts are the key to getting people into paid gifts in my experience of what tempts me to use credits - as once a person has taken the jump and buys credits - the credits 'feel' different to money - I've used credits on Zopria, Hi5, Facebook/Zynga
I know ning gave network owners some free credits when the system first started up, but gifting is reciprocal, in order to feel the value/status of being given a gift people have to feel they can give a gift of value back - even if they couldn't pay for a premium gift that that time.
The gifts could be used by network owners as an alternative to users donating directly through paypal, as the affiliate program pays commission to the network and owners.
Niche owners might want a range of free gifts that reflect their network like Coffee for example (giving of virtual packets of coffee) with a couple of premium priced gifts that show their dedication to that network.
A mystery box of virtual gifts is also a good idea - over xmas one year I spent money on decorating a virtual cafe with virtual decorations that came in a mystery virtual box.
It feels like whom ever started the virtual gift idea ran out of steam and gave up on the idea - where are the new gifts ? - they are the same as when I left last time!
If the makers can't afford to pay graphic artists to make them, then ability for ning network admin to add more free gifts and develop the app, rather than just let it sit there or switch it off - the incentive of commission isn't the problem, lack of fresh/free/premium/new gifts is.
I completely agree with you they need to do something :-)
On my site I decided to create my own free virtual gifts so anyone can give them out.
They will work in comments & messages on Ning networks.
There are advantages creating your own virtual gifts. They're great for promoting your site
they will work on other networks messages and in e-mails that sports HTML..
Great for page views they have to go to your network to view the gift :D
Here is an example of one of my gifts.
Great discussion, I too strongly agree on this post. Well said, well though out. Excellent point.
What I wouldn't give for a peak behind this titanium curtain of secrecy Ning is putting us through right now.
Will we get this, will they give that... ugh, who really knows anymore? Do they even know? :(
So Hard To Have....