ning-logoAre you looking to create your own social network? Then Ning is the place for you – this is an online platform, which was launched in the month of October in 2005, and is the brain-child of Marc Andreessen and Gina Bianchini.

Ning is Andreessen’s third venture after Netscape and Opsware. So what does ‘Ning’ mean? Well, it’s the Chinese word for peace.

Ning allows anyone and everyone the ability to build their own social network, based on their own topic or need, and focusing on specific members. In this respect, it gives MySpace and Facebook heavy competition. There is a single application, that can be customized, meaning that anyone can create their own network.

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One can also change features and the logic of the network, as one wishes. Creating a network on Ning comes free, however, the advertisements on it are controlled by Ning. If one wishes to control the ads, then the person will have to pay certain funds. An additional monthly fee can give you other services like extra storage and bandwidth, and even non-Ning URLs!

Just a few quick technical words – PHP is used to program the social networks on Ning, and the platform is built in Java. Various levels of membership and viewability can be selected, by the network administrators. These networks are governed under COPPA regulations. However, Ning has run into its share of controversy, namely – the banning of a third-party provider, also the forum that allowed for communications between network creators was removed, as well as adult networks.

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This website had its initial beta launch in the year 2005, and the full launch in 2007. The fact that will be seeing its one millionth social network created only proves that the level of customer satisfaction is high. It seems that it is quite easy for people to create social network, based on the topics that are close to them.

According to Ning, there are 22 million registered users, a staggering number of 700,000 among them have set up their own networks. 200,000 of the 1 million networks created are active, and every day, about 2.5 million bits of new content (like photos, comments, etc.) are added. Certain new features like in-built Chat are sure to draw more users to Ning. Also, other changes include the overhaul of the Ning homepage so that users find it easier to handle their activities on multiple social networks.

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Ning is absolutely unique in the sense that it lets you set up your own network, about what is important to you, in less than a minute! The design is great, you can play around with the customization, and the moderation is easy as well. One has the option of choosing from about 50 themes – each one distinct and different from each other. However, you could go a step further and create your very own design, with custom CSS. Your profile should be designed properly, for the benefit of incoming members.

You have your choice of widgets and OpenSocial profile applications. And keeping security concerns in mind, Ning allows you to choose whether you’d like your network to be private or public, and you can moderate members prior to their joining. You can also moderate videos, photos, chats, and events – all before they’re posted. And if need be, you could ban certain members from the network that you have created!

Other great features include a full Web address book, csv file importing, search engine optimization, and an automatically updated feed of everything that’s going on. You can also put in RSS feeds from your website, or your blog – this provides a steady torrent of information to your social network on Ning.

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