Besides the basic functions of what the Ning Network provides, i've been wanting to find ways for Members to interact with each other or at least stack differently on the member page.
Are these current possibilities that developers can do? Maybe in the near future for the network themselves? I find members lost in the middle pages never really get viewed. Ive had members delete their accounts and re-sign up several times just so they show on the first page.
1. Showing how many people are currently online (as they are not necessarily on chat)
2. Stacking members who were most recently online the last week at the top, and then the remainder chronologically like it currently is at the moment by default
3. Showing members who have "viewed you" on a page
4. Letting members stack in a page who are interested in meeting you
My site is a social network and not a dating site but I find dating sites like Pof.com place in many functions that induce interaction among their members. It may feel passive on the member's side but it translates into activity on the receiving end when people find out their profile has been viewed. It's even nice to see who has been on the last week so people dong necessarily stack chronologically by sign up (or alphabetically or randomly as that is often not clicked)
This is kind of inline with what I've been discussing about Currency here on Ning Creators. So I'm glad to have a chance to share some thoughts on this. I realize what you are looking for are actual platform enhancements and apps. I can't help you in these area, but they are worthy suggestions. I too have seen similar features and find them helpful for inducing interaction. What I can say is I've put some thought on how to do the same essential thing on my network by making the best use of what I have to work with.
1) Who is online? The little green light that indicates a member is online from the All Members page can be useful, but it's not perfect, so there are some things you might do to make that work for you. One is to inform people about the indicator. They might not understand what it is, and they might not be clear on when it is more or less accurate- people might be logged in but not paying attention for example. Another is to encourage them to reach out to members when they are online. For instance, the value in doing so might be it's sometimes the best time to engage for a positive real-time networking experience, and also the how such as dropping a comment or replying to content the other member may have just posted.
2) Who has been online most recently? Encourage people to get involved for the sake of being reflected in Latest Activity. Besides the feed on your main page, other modules such as forums sorted by latest by default are a good indication of who has been active within the last week. So take the Ning Creators forum as a case in point. It might take a little presentation of the suggestion, configuration to support it, and smart placement of the recommendation- like a sub tabbed link to discussion describing the what and how to do. Another example that fits here is the use of Status Update. You can encourage it's use by rewording the field message to something like "Check in to let us know you stopped by". That feeds into Latest Activity, and you can also reward people for it by featuring their profiles on the member page.
3) Who has viewed you recently? Well that is a real passive value. You might do well to encourage more proaction for the same effect. For example, the action of responding to someone else's content or dropping them a comment lets them know you checked them out and in turn bumps you and them up in Latest Activity. Otherwise, this can be more passive by way of the Like/Favorite/Promote feature. Again, a little creative direction such as encouraging people to rate, or creating a bit of a meme like "Hot or not?" or how some Ning Creators like to comment with a simple manual "+1".
4) Who is interested in meeting you? This is also along the lines of what I've been discussing on Ning Creators about facilitating introductions. For example, setting up a forum category for introductions, and then encouraging members to use it after you welcome them can go a long way in presenting them in a more public facing situation than their profile. Discussions imply more of a call to action for response by committee. On a more automatic level, "Add As A Friend" can work very efficiently as this type of qeue. Again, a little direction describing how to make use and why can get people to use it this way. For instance, a lot of members more familiarized to Facebook might not be used to or expecting engagement until the friending process has occured. Some people might be overly hesitant in friending people they don't know as they are used to the privacy behavior, but you can encourage the difference in your network being more of an open social community (that can at least be seen by all members by default), and the benefits in being able to message directly etc. It's real simple to tie this into a recommendation to try to meet at least one new person a week, or make an effort to meet every member at least once.
O.K., hope I've been helpful!