Does anyone else noticed this problem?
I have two networks I'm building in which private groups are really important. And I expect much of the growth will come from members inviting people to their private groups to people who aren't already on the network. So technically this would be described as network members inviting non-network members to private groups.
This is something members can do. When inviting people to a private group, they are not restricted to simply inviting people who are already on the network. They can click the icons for email or other social networks and "invite more friends" who are not already network members.
The problem is it doesn't work. The invitation process flow breaks down. It stops before the person joins the group to which they were invited. Here's the user experience for the non-member invited to the private group:
Keep in mind this invited person didn't seek out the network, knows nothing of it or about Ning, and wasn't drawn to it themselves. There's no reason for them to know, having gone through the whole network sign-up process, verification, and approval, that they still are not done and haven't yet joined the group to which they were invited. Remember, they clicked on a link for them to join the private group. We know it didn't do that - it signed them up for the network instead - but they weren't told that and there's no reason for them to know that. They can't yet be expected to even begin to understand the difference between the network and a group.
There's no reason for them to know they aren't done. But they aren't.
If by chance they do figure out they haven't yet joined the group, and find their way to navigate to the group they were invited to, here's what happens. They are informed that group "Membership [is] by Invitation Only" and are told "If you have an invitation, click the link in the email to join." That would help, if it worked. But the link doesn't work. When clicked a second time the link only takes the member back to the private group yet again, and tells them again they must go to the invitation, which they just already did and it didn't work. They're stuck in an endless loop without ever joining the group to which they were invited.
Assuming the new member realizes they haven't yet joined the group to which they were invited - the invitation they thought they already accepted - the only way this new member can join the group is to ask the person who has already invited them to invite them again. Which of course is all counter-intuitive, because they've already been invited to join. There's no reason for them to know that's necessary.
I've checked this with Ning Support and they've confirmed they don't see this as a bug. Ning says the system is working as designed. I would disagree, but whether something is a "bug" or a "feature" is for the programmer to decide. Since they don't see it as a problem, my point is the system should be redesigned. Ning would be willing to hear that if other NCs see this as a problem.
Is this a problem for you?
I would prefer any one of these alternative solutions, in order of preference:
Absent these solutions, I'd appreciate any suggestions for workarounds. At this point the best I can come up with is thinking of a hack to remove the invitation link to people beyond the network. I'll also have to put in place a bunch of educational didactic "how-to's" to inform the membership that they need to first invite people to the network, then once they're members they can invite them to join their private groups. That's a lot of informational overhead for something that can and should be automatic.
This doesn't work even if they ARE a member of the network. They have to request to join the group and then be approved.
That's not my experience, Janettee. And I just tested it again. A member of an invitation-only group is able to send invitations to current network members which they can accept to join the group.
(My apologies: I should have been more precise in my original post. The problem seems to be that the group is by invitation only, not necessarily because it's set to be private. Those are actually two different settings. My bad.)
For an invitation-only group, the problem is actually worse than you suggest. You can't request to join a group that's by invitation only.There's no way to do that.
Here's the notice to a person who is not a member of a Private Group when they go to the Private Group's page:
There's no way you can request to join an invitation-only group. You can only be invited. You can only accept an invitation. But the invitations don't work.
Ning Support advises that this is the way it's supposed to work. To their thinking this is not a bug. It astounds me that they can't understand that their system is broken.
Was just advised by Ning Support that they do recognize this as a bug and will be working on it. No estimate on when. I'll update when advised.
Seems the emailed invitation link is good for one-use-only. Not a problem for someone who's already a network member. But for a non-network member, that use is good for signing-up on the network. When they go back to use it to join the group, it's locked.