Current status of the Ning Platform is always available on the Ning Status Blog.

Eric Sewerz's Posts (13)

One of the great things about living and working in Silicon Valley is that from time to time we get to meet people who are working on a truly cutting-edge product that has the potential to transform, well, just about everything. We ran into one of these products recently. It’s called the Kno. You may not have heard of it, but you will soon. The folks who make this hard-to-get Kno tablet have been kind enough to provide us with two of them, which we want to give away to two people here on Creators! Read on for all the details, and check out the Kno. — Jason Rosenthal, CEO, Ning


Next Monday is the second annual celebration of Community Manager Appreciation Day all across the Internet.

Last year, I pasted Internet High-Fives into conversations and profiles of community manager types I know as a way to recognize all their hard work. It was great fun. This year, I’m proud to say that we can do better.

The fine folks who make the Kno tablet computer have graciously donated two of their upcoming tablet computers to our cause: recognizing people who devote their time to encouraging online conversation and activity — just like you do every day on your Ning Network. As the head of your own social network, you are essentially the community manager of your own site. This is your chance to share your expertise — and get a shot at winning a tablet computer.

You’ve undoubtedly had a ton of experience growing and shaping the conversation on your Ning Network. As your entry in this contest to win a Kno tablet, tell us...


What’s the single best piece of advice you can give to a new community manager?


How this contest works

  • You can submit an entry by simply replying to this discussion with a piece of good advice for a new community manager. One sentence works. A few more if necessary. 
  • Witty, insightful, funny, serious, straightforward? It's up to you. Whatever you think is compelling.
  • One entry = one reply: Please only one reply per person. Multiple entries will be disqualified.
  • Enter early but not often. No do-overs!
  • Network Creators only, please. Admins are not eligible.
  • This contest begins now and will end at midnight (PST) Monday, January 24th.
  • On January 25th, we’ll close this discussion, gather the responses, and force our CEO to choose only the two best pieces of advice.
  • We’ll announce the winner here on Creators on or around January 28.
  • We’ll also update this discussion with the results, so you’ll be automatically notified since you’re following this discussion.
  • We’ll contact the winners before announcing the results, so rest assured that if you win, we’ll track you down!

Good luck! Our hope is that everyone will get a good nugget of advice out of this community-based contest. 

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Want to build your own iPhone App but are hesitant about how it all works?

The CEO at AppMakr, who we recently partnered with us to help NCs quickly and easily build their own iPhone app, is giving the first 25 Pro Network Creators who built an AppMakr app for their Ning Network 3 months free. All you have to do is sign up here, and they'll help you get set up.

What's the catch? Once you're done, we'd simply like to here how it went here on Creators.

To summarize:

 

  1. Sign up with AppMakr and build your Ning iPhone App.
  2. Fill out this form.
  3. Share your experience here on Creators with a Blog post.

 

That's it. This is a great way for you to get started and try it out.

Good luck building your app, and if you're chosen — we want to hear how it went!

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Ning Pro accounts have the ability to offer a fully branded Music Player, but if your Ning Network isn’t all about music, there are a number of lightweight options that may work for you that are worth checking out. I did a little research and tried out a few services myself in the hope that I could find a few decent alternatives for Creators who like having music but don’t need a full-fledged player.

A few things to keep in mind…

Nullum Gratuitum Prandium *

There’s an undeniable truth about online services that offer music and/or embeddable widgets: It’s not cheap to host millions of songs. As a consequence, there are few completely free services that have survived with this business model (a great case in point is imeem, which shut down last year). But, there are still a few out there.

White label generally isn’t free

Some of these services include advertising or branding from the company that makes the player. Some of them offer limited functionality for free — and more options for a price. For most of these, the cost is reasonable. If branding is of utmost importance to you, check the FAQ pages for each service to confirm their policies about logos and branding.

Size matters

Some of the players will auto-resize, but some aren’t easily scalable in their dimensions, so you should experiment and make sure one really fits into one of the columns of your Ning Network.

Sign-up to play

All of these services will require you to create an account in their system. It’s usually quite easy, although at least one requires a connection to your Facebook account. Most include ads or links back to their home page. If you’re uncomfortable with that, you may want to consider a Ning Pro account, which allows you to offer an unbranded, fully hosted Music Player that offers complete control.

Check your tech

Some of these players use Javascript, some use Flash, and some use both. As such, they could interfere with other code that you’ve added to your Ning Network (or perhaps could conflict in specific situations). Chances are they won’t, but (as always) test it out and see what you think before totally committing to something new. That said: There’s no harm in trying out as many as you can.


With all of those caveat emptors, here's a list of some you might want to try...

If you haven’t already tried the Muziic Ning App, it’s easy to install and test out. Every Ning plan can take advantage of it for free, so give it a try and see what you think.

If you simply want a way to play a few music tracks on your Ning Network, Playlist.com is one to try. They have a decent song selection and a good-looking (albeit branded) player. Their FAQs.

MixPod offers another decent-looking player, and it also offers something you’ll notice is becoming more prevalent with embeddable music widgets: it plays video in addition to audio. Many of these players pull their content from YouTube (a big host of content for a lot of scrappy start-ups), which you might consider more awesome — or not. It depends on what you prefer. Their FAQs

8tracks is a very hip choice. It allows you to upload (at least) eight songs to make a simple playlist, which you can then embed on your Ning Network. What’s great about this service is that other people share public playlists, so you can find some great mixes. This is a good choice if you aren’t tied to the idea that your music player must be like a jukebox and only play songs you want in the order you want. More info.

If you’re a musician who wants to offer your own music for sale directly on your Ning Network, you should absolutely try Bandcamp. It’s a very cool service that is tailor-made for independent artists who want to advertise their own music.

PodSnack is a Flash player made by SnackTools, which offers similar services for podcasts and other types of media. It allows you to upload tracks and create a nicely designed, unobtrusive music player. However, the free player will only allow you to play 1:30 of your songs. Purchasing isn’t unreasonable, but this isn’t a good choice if you insist on having a free player. Their FAQs.

iLike was purchased by MySpace last year, which makes it a very popular choice. Will you like iLike? There’s only one way to find out. Try it out. Their FAQs.

Share your own here

These are just a few to get you started. The main thing I’ve learned from researching embeddable music players is that none of them will allow you to have the kind of complete control you’ll get with the Ning Music Player available to Ning Pro. But, if you simply want a short playlist of songs for your members to enjoy, you should definitely try a few out and see what you think.

I know the people here on Creators are a resourceful bunch and will share their own ideas and experiences with other, similar services they’ve encountered and tried. So, have at it and offer your own suggestions!
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The Big Announcement: We haven’t sent out a regular digest in a few weeks. If we had, it would have been about one thing: Our big May 4th announcement. We’re thrilled to have finally announced the upcoming plans and pricing, and we’ll be working to bring you as much information about the changes coming in July. We’ll be updating our News & Views About Change regularly if you want to follow some of the highlights and new things we’ve seen. We’ll also keep you updated via this weekly Best of the Week digest.
Ning Network slow-downs: We’ve had reports from Creators of slow-loading pages and even some folks who are having trouble accessing their Ning Networks. The issue seems to be sporadic and only affecting some Ning Networks (it was visible on Creators yesterday for a bit). Our engineers are working non-stop to identify the root cause and lessen the impact on Creators and their members. You can check and/or follow both the Ning Status Blog and the Ning Status Twitter feed for updates. We’ll also do our best to keep you informed on Creators.
New spam tools: We’ll soon be rolling out more ammo in our fight against spam: 3 New Ways to Stop Spammers and Verify Your Members. Some of these tools echo previous product requests from Creators. So, for example, we’re happy to be delivering things like a customized quiz for prospective members. That tool will help protect your Ning Network against spambots, but it will also let you ask “in-the-know” questions to help you attract quality new members.
Made by Awesome Creators
Jen: Ning Conference Call Highlights: Discussion on Ning Premium Plans and the New Ning
Across the Internet
This week we stumbled upon a ton of conflicting advice — yet both points of view were still valid.
For example, Why Fights Are So Important was written by the same community-focused guy who wrote The Dividing Line On Inflammatory Comments. Both good reads. He always has great advice, from Creating Titles For Members to why you should turn your sign-up form into The Application Form.
Lots of folks keep talking about Facebook and privacy and the Bewildering Tangle of Options you may encounter if you are keen on being a more private person on Facebook. Again, lots of conflicting opinions out there, including differing opinions about the new Facebook Like button (which some Creators have already asked for). It ranges from Why I Like the Facebook Like Button to Think Before You Like.
This had nothing to do with anything, but we loved the header on this Ning Network. Fun!
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Important! Maintenance on Friday

Important notice for all Network Creators: All Ning Networks will be down for scheduled maintenance this Friday (tomorrow), April 9th from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. PST. Since this is planned downtime, your Ning Network will display a branded message (with *your* Ning Network’s name) to any visitors. If you have any questions, please let us know here.

10,000 Creators Strong Contest Winner(s)

It’s official. We’ve now reached our 10,000th member and awarded our contest prizes: John and Jennifer, FTW! Thanks to everyone for helping us celebrate this milestone.

Want to Connect Your Ning Network to LinkedIn?

Someone asked for a clever way to connect their Ning Network to LinkedIn, and a Creator had a really nifty idea about how to use a simple RSS feed to connect the two. Great answer, Steve!

Made by Awesome Creators

Jen: Check Credentials of Potential New Friends Before Accepting Friend Requests

Joseph Porcelli: Teaching Members Which Features to Use When! and How to Export Your Members to a CSV File

Amit S: Running a Ning Network Isn't a Child's Play!!

Across the Internet

Fundraising from Online Communities: Love this quote: “If you want to fundraise from online communities, don’t start by asking for money.”

Is your Ning Network F-U-N? Don’t Build a Boring Online Community

This is (in theory) written for PR folks, but a few of these tips could be invaluable for Network Creators (check out BackTweets and Wordle for usefulness and fun, respectively).

Excuse me, sir. Are forums going to be replaced by something shiny and new? Forums Are Everywhere and Here to Stay, So Skip the Tools Discussion and Focus on Your Objectives

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If you joined Creators recently, you may have known about our contest to reward our 10,000th member with a Timbuk2 Ning bag and 10,000 gift credits. We’re happy to report that we have a winner! Well, actually, two.

Please join us in raising the roof, hoisting a glass, and high-fiving Creator John Freeman! He’s located in the U.K., and his Ning Network, Down the Tubes, is all about British comics. Congratulations, John! You are our 10,000th member!


We always ask folks to let us know how they heard about Creators, and some people regularly tell us that they heard about us from an existing member of Creators. We wanted to reward one of those people who get mentioned a lot, so we tallied up the person with the most recommendations and came up with a second winner: Jennifer James. It makes sense for us to see so many people listing Jennifer as how they heard about Creators; she runs a number of very successful Ning Networks, including the Mom Bloggers Club.

Thanks for joining us, Jennifer and John. You'll both be receiving a Timbuk2 Ning bag like this one in the mail, and you should soon see 10,000 gift credits attached to your account. Go crazy with the gifts!

We also wanted to say thanks to everyone else who’s been following along as we grow. The Creators Network as you see it now has only been alive for five months, and we’re thrilled at how much we’ve grown. What makes it especially wonderful for those of us who work at Ning is how we can take the combined wisdom of our members and apply that directly to how we build Creators. Like many of you, we’re building up a Ning Network from scratch; having so many smart people around to offer suggestions and feedback moves us along and inspires us to keep building new things.

Thanks again, everyone! We’ll do some more contests soon. Feel free to suggest an idea for one, too. Always open to suggestions.

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10,000 Creators Mark Reached

We reached our 10,000th member! We’ll be announcing the winners (there’s two!), but it looks like that might be early next week. We’ve contacted them and are awaiting their responses. Thanks to everyone who entered — which is everyone. We’ll definitely be doing more contests in the future. We’d like to also spotlight contests NCs have run in the past that were successful. Everyone can benefit from that kind of shared knowledge.

April Fools!

Jen, one of our superstar Creators members, totally tricked us with an April Fool’s joke. Most April Fool’s jokes don’t work on us, but this one did. Apparently, it worked on a lot of people. Nice one, Jen!

DIY: The “Hero” Box

Lots of Creators have been asking about the new carousel of rotating images at the top of the Creators Main Page. Here’s a tutorial that shows how to make something similar.


Made by Awesome Creators

JP: 5 Free Matching Ning Backgrounds and Ning Headers

Joseph Porcelli: How to Export Your Members to a CSV File

Jen: Add Google Ads in Header

Peter Moorman: Top 5 Reasons Ning Members Leave and How You Can Get Them to Stay


Across the Internet

Developing Online Community Guidelines: This is some great advice for anyone who ever plans on revising their Ning Network guidelines. It includes a comprehensive list of all the things you *could* restrict — but with reasons why you shouldn’t.

Ever wanted to go beyond the virtual and actually meet the people in your Ning Network? Here’s 8 Ways To Merge Your Online Community With The Real World

The One Thing About Building a Community asks the question: If I had to start over from scratch and build a new online community, what would I do different? Good quote: “Community is not something that happens when you need it, it's something that you build over time that is suddenly there for you, when you need it.”

From the shouting-fire-in-a-crowded-theater department: Does Free Speech Apply to Communities? Favorite quote: “Those accusing you of censorship are a bit like those friends of friends who appear in your house, smoke in the kitchen, turn the music up a little bit too loud and suggest you should chill out when you challenge them.”

Community Resource: We discovered some new online resources; especially good for larger Ning Networks.

Can you answer this question: “People will participate in my community because…” If not, read on: Why Will People Participate In Your Online Community

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A digest for Creators of discussions, blog posts, and interesting things found along the way in the past week — on Ning and across the Internet.

On Creators

Spam: Beat It

If you haven’t seen it yet, we have a dedicated page where we’re posting updates on any spam-related issues.

Content Flagging Now Live

We released a new feature this week for NCs: Content Flagging. It’s entirely optional, and it allows you to give trusted members the power to hide content that is clearly inappropriate — like spam. You can read all about it here.

Want to appoint some of your most trusted members as Content Flaggers? We've put together some boilerplate messaging language that we hope will help you reach out and invite them.

SXSW Roundup

Two of our SXSW contest winners report how you can really make a bang with very little cost but also how SXSW isn’t for the timid — or camera shy.

Popular This Week

The 90-9-1 Rule

10,000 Strong Contest (We’re at 9,471 members — getting close.)

What’s in Your Dream Text Editor?


Across the Internet

Thoughts on Community Management. One of the best general blog posts about tending an online space we’ve read in a long time. Superb.

What to do after you lower the ban hammer: Replying to a Banned Member Who Wants to be Unbanned.

Some great points made here about where to place your energies when moderating an online space: Pre-Approve The People Not The Messages

We’re Addicted to Social Networks: A new study uncovers a lot of interesting stats, including this one: 28% of iPhone owners visit Twitter or Facebook before getting out of bed in the morning. (Guilty as charged!)

Do People Really Need Your Online Community? This is an excellent reality check for a community that feels dead and needs reviving. Favorite quote: "If your community has died, don’t throw in the towel…. Sincerely reach out to each person with this question: ‘What would make you want to spend an hour a day in this community?’ "

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Just as we did a few weeks back when we announced our Facebook App, we wanted to offer you some boilerplate to use for your Ning Network around the idea of content flagging. If you have decided to appoint Content Flaggers on your Ning Network, you may want to let them know with a simple message. We've put together some boilerplate copy that we hope will help, along with some copy to use after people reply to your message.

Of course, all of this — including Content Flagging — is entirely optional, but our hope is that this might help Creators be more efficient, while still being high-touch with their most valued members. Hope it helps!


Invitation to content flagger

Subject: We’d like you to be a content flagger

We recently added the ability for select members to flag content that seems inappropriate — stuff that seems spammy. Since you seem to be one of our most helpful members, we wanted to reach out and ask you to be a content flagger for the community.

We’ve asked some of our best members to take on this role, and the way it works is pretty straightforward. If you see spam or content that is clearly inappropriate and violates our guidelines, feel free to flag it. Once flagged, the content will be hidden from view unless it is unflagged. This will help us fight spam by spreading the ability to help keep the community clean to our most trusted members.

Of course, there’s no pressure for you to flag anything or do anything different, but we hope you’ll want to join us in keeping an eye out for the rest of the community so we can continue to make this a great place to interact. Our admins already do a great job of monitoring the site, but adding flaggers helps them be even more efficient.

Thank you note

I’m thrilled that you want to help watch over the community. If you ever see a blog post or photo or video that seems spammy, you can click on the Flag icon to hide it. If you’re ever unsure about whether something is inappropriate or not, you can simply err on the side of leaving it up. Our admins will be on the lookout, too. Thanks again for being such a helpful member!


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We're Back from SXSW! One of our SXSW contest winners, Darcy of Swap Mamas, acted as our reporter in the field this week. She wrote not one, not two, but three (!) blog posts to highlight what she saw at SXSW. Nicely done, Darcy! (Never been to SXSW but curious what it’s all about? The SXSW Experience! captures the spirit of SXSW in stunningly beautiful time-lapse video.)


We Have a New CEO: Get to know our new CEO and let Gina know how much we appreciate her hard work by signing a virtual group card.

Our 10,000 Strong Contest Rolls On: We crossed the 9,000 member mark this week, and we’re headed toward 10,000. We’re giving the lucky 10,000th member a Ning Timbuk2 bag and 10,000 Gift credits. If they mention you or your Ning Network, we’ll give you the same. More here.



Popular This Week on Creators

New Spam Update Page for Creators

How to Customize Your Sign-up Page on a Public Network


Across the Internet


How to Build A Massive Online Community has an excellent interview with someone who built a very large (48K+ people) and very successful online community from scratch. My favorite quote, when asked about member growth milestones: “The most exciting member was number two.”

A good post from the consistently interesting FeverBee: Making Things Happen In Your Community. Best quote: “Stop trying to get your community to do things they don’t want to do.”

With so many new tools at their disposal, what did the attendees of SXSW use to communicate with each other? The Social Technologies Powering SXSW 2010 points them out. A lot of them are, not surprisingly, location-aware online tools.

Ning gets a shout-out as an inexpensive tool to use when considering how to represent a business online in Make it Simple, Focused, High-Performance, and Polished: My Web Philosophy. It also theorizes that there are three kinds of people on the Web. (We’re a #3. We’re guessing you are, too.)

If Your Online Community Is in Trouble Turn to Grass for the Answer. No, it’s not about drugs, it’s an extended metaphor about gardening and people in online spaces.



"Best of the Week" is a digest for Creators of discussions, blog posts, and interesting things found along the way in the past week — on Ning and across the Internet.

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We're turning 10,000!

Since Creators was relaunched — just four months ago — we’ve seen an outstanding up-tick in membership. Our growth is really a testament to you, the members of Creators. You make this place a welcoming one. Thank you!

To celebrate our 10,000th member of Creators, we’re running a very simple contest. It starts right now. If you’re a member of Creators, you’re already entered. How’s that for a low barrier to entry?

What’s the prize?

A black Ning Timbuk2 Messenger bag.

10,000 Ning Gift credits.

The bag looks a lot like this one, but with a beautiful Ning logo on it:

Who can win?

The 10,000th person who joins the Creators Ning Network automatically wins.

You can win, too! If the winner is recommended by you, we’ll give you a messenger bag and 10,000 Gift credits, too. Know someone who's not yet a member of Creators? Have them mention you or your Ning Network when they sign up. If they win, you win, too.

When does it end?

When we hit 10,000 members, of course! You can follow the counter on the Members page if you like:

We’ll also be tweeting about it (@ningadovacy), so follow along if you get as excited as we already are! We’ll announce our winner in a Broadcast Message when we hit 10,000, at which time you’re encouraged to shower the winner(s) with hearty cries of congratulations.

Good luck!

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We've just released our Facebook app, which joins our recent Twitter app as another way for you to use the power of social-media channels to grow your Ning Network.

When we release a new feature, we do our best to get the word out to NCs by blogging about it here on Creators and on the Ning Blog. But what about your members? How do you get the word out when you add a new Ning Network feature? If you’ll be installing the new Facebook app (or the recently released Twitter app), will you be passing along any information about it to your members?

We thought we’d give you some boilerplate copy you can use to send a broadcast message to your members. If you send out a regular broadcast message or newsletter, consider including it. Or, you could use this a jumping off point to get your members excited about sharing great content from your Ning Network on Facebook and Twitter.


Of course, you can always customize it (below) to fit your needs, but we hope this helps make it easy to keep your members informed and using all of the tools you've given them to their fullest potential.

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Announcing: Facebook Integration


New feature! We recently added Facebook integration to our Ning Network. Now you can share your favorite posts, photos, events, and videos directly on Facebook. Just look for the Facebook logo when you see something worth sharing and check the box before posting. You can share just about anything on our Ning Network.


Want to see what everyone is posting and sharing? We have a new Facebook page. Check it out!


Like Something You See? Share It on Twitter!


We're excited to let you know about our recent Twitter integration! On our Ning Network, we've cultivated a spirit of sharing, and one of the ways we do that is on Twitter. When we see something we think the rest of the world might find interesting, we send out a tweet with a link. We like sharing things on Twitter so much that we've now integrated it directly into our Ning Network. See something you want to share with the world? Click on the Twitter link to have it also post to your Twitter account. We hope you enjoy it!

Here's a walk-through video that explains how it works: http://bit.ly/63TViH

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Want to include logos with your announcement? I’ve attached these for you here as well, along with an example of how you might do it (top of this blog post)

facebook_logo.jpg

twitter_birds.png

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I’m new here. I wanted to simply stand up and say hello. I join Laura as a fellow community manager on the Creators Network. Like Laura, I’m here to help Creators with their creations: providing tips on building Ning Networks, encouraging folks to get creative and improve things, and pointing out ways people can manage and grow their Ning Networks.
I have a fair amount of technical knowledge, although if you bust out some elaborate CSS, I will probably have to defer to someone smarter than me for an answer. I’ll always do my best to try, but luckily I have a ton of smart people here at Ning (and in the Creators Network) who can weigh in. In addition to community management experience, I also have a background rooted in publishing and communications. I’m all about spreading compelling information and advice — and that includes helping Network Creators do the same.
One way we’re spreading it is with the Ning Now newsletter, which we’ve recently begun sending to everyone who has created a Ning Network on Ning. I’ll be helping to create and corral and organize the content of the newsletter, but it’s really a team effort. Don’t mean to be so forward, but I pretty much already consider you part of the team. I know we’re just now meeting for the first time, but I’d like you to take an important role in the shaping of the newsletter: I’d like your feedback as we move forward.
To that end, friend: Let us know what you’d like to see. You gave us a few suggestions after a recent issue, but feel free to share more feedback and suggestions here if you like.
What say you?
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Meanwhile, you can check our social media channels