Community Migrations (away from Ning)


(Mike Collins) #1

Bit of a massive topic but looking to glean any experience in what will be a project first for me. I’ve been with Ning 2.0 then migrated to Ning 3.0 and now we’re looking to move away from Ning.

We understand what is working well for us and we’re shifting the focus of our community but it’s a bit of a minefield around which community platform is right for us, out of the box or open source, hosted or self hosted. We’re formulating our community strategy so understand what features are important for us and where we’d like to improve. We do love our Ning site but lack of development, no API’s and no clear road map plus scarily little communication from them and poor customer service has forced us to look elsewhere.

The other area is around migration. We’ve spent 3 years generating great content through blogs and forums and don’t want to lose this however Ning 3.0 haven’t providing an archiving tool so not sure how to go about extracting all our great content and then how to go about importing this in to another platform.

Anything at all you can share on these themes or any experiences you have had on similar projects would be massively helpful.

Thanks in advance
Mike


SPRINT London 2016 - The One Thing That Would Really Help Is
(Sarah Hawk) #2

Hi Mike,
Happy to help out here. I’ve migrated a couple of communities (including this one) and am currently in the process for a third time. Those were to Discourse from either vB or Drupal.

The decision is a tricky one. Are you currently leaning in any particular direction?

Here are a couple of resources that may help:

Ugh, that sounds frustrating, especially given their lack of communication. This post implies that it is possible to extract .json files, which is all you need. The rest will depend on which platform you choose. I know that Discourse have a Ning migration tool.


(Mike Collins) #3

Hi Sarah
Thanks for sharing

The decision is a tricky one. Are you currently leaning in any particular direction?

Having effectively rented space on Ning for the last 3 years we’re really tempted by open source - we know this will cost a little more to set up but we then own the code and have control over the platform rather than being a passenger with no / little control. Looking at both options through so currently looking at Lithium (expensive), Vanilla Forums, Discourse, Social Engine, Joomla and potentially Buddy Press. The way we have our Ning site up is working really well for us now so and we don’t want to change or lose any of the look and feel or core functionality.

Thanks for the resources - I’ll take a look at those.

Ugh, that sounds frustrating, especially given their lack of communication. This post implies that it is possible to extract .json files, which is all you need. The rest will depend on which platform you choose. I know that Discourse have a Ning migration tool.

Yes have heard it’s these .json files and that we can scrape the content from Ning in the absence of the archive tool. Not sure how we’d get the data and how we could import it but that’s what I’m looking at now.

Be great to grab a coffee on Wednesday and have a more detailed chat?
Mike


(Mike Collins) #4

The other element to this is how we continue to support our customers with their qualification programmes as our community plays a big part in their learning. We’ve looked at a Learning Management System that does ‘social’ & ‘collaboration’ as well but there isn’t a single platform that does what we need so we’re looking at how we integrate the two systems or at least make is a clear user journey / experience.


(Sarah Hawk) #5

NodeBB is another good open source option, just to complicate things. I suspect that you’ll find BuddyPress a bit oversimplified and cumbersome. It doesn’t deliver a particularly slick experience.

Unfortunately I’m not going to make it to London (I work remotely from NZ) for Sprint this time around, but hit up @Todd_Nilson for that coffee – he’s also up with the play when it comes to platforms.

[quote=“Mike_Collins, post:4, topic:2127”]
We’ve looked at a Learning Management System that does ‘social’ & ‘collaboration’ as well but there isn’t a single platform that does what we need so we’re looking at how we integrate the two systems or at least make is a clear user journey / experience.
[/quote] I hear you on this. We currently have disparate platforms for training (Schoolkeep) and discussion (here). I’ve tried to create some cohesion by creating a Student Homeroom category here on Discourse and linking back to discussion threads, but it’s far from ideal. I’d love to hear what your research turns up.


(Mike Collins) #6

Thanks Sarah I’ve dropped Todd a message and will hopefully catch him tomorrow.

I’ve taken a quick look at NodeBB and it’s definitely a contender and seems cheaper than others with similar functionality.

Have you had any experience with Vanilla Forums - I know they are a sponsor / partner so Feverbee must rate them?

Yes the social / collaborative aspect of communities is a real key enabler is supporting learning and I’ve not come across a LMS’s that’s cracked this yet - there are plenty of ESN’s that support workplace collaboration but nothing really I’ve found that could create a community that links to formal learning programmes.

My quest continues…


(Sarah Hawk) #7

I haven’t had any personal experience and yes, we do have a partnership arrangement with them but we’re very platform agnostic. I have only heard positive things about Vanilla but it is at the pricier end of open-source. @Adrian works there and I’m sure he’d be happy to jump in if you have specific questions.


(Adrian Speyer) #8

Hey @HAWK, thanks for the mention. I wanted to clarify your comment

pricier end of open-source

The open source is free to download. We don’t charge a penny :slight_smile: You can get it at vanillaforums.org

We do offer a hosted version which has “premium” features like connectors to Salesforce, Zendesk ect. It’s based on the open source platform but there are many other differences.
That’s available here: vanillaforums.com

@Mike_Collins we do offer a free 30-day free trial with no credit card, and work with numerous education customers. If you’d like, send me a DM with your contact info and I can have someone go into more details for your needs :slight_smile:

p.s We’ve also done numerous migrations from Ning.


(Sarah Hawk) #9

I was a bit vague there - all open-source is free to download! I was referring to the hosted solution.
Thanks for the clarification. :slightly_smiling:

@Mike_Collins If you want to chat with someone that has NodeBB experience, @Ryan_Illman is a good bet.


(Adrian Speyer) #10

No worries @Hawk! Just wanted to point it out as there always seems to be a confusion between our hosted and self-hosted. It’s not EXACTLY the same product. Once again thanks for mentioning me, much appreciated. Maybe one day I can give you a quick demo of our product so you can see what it’s all about :slight_smile:


(Mike Collins) #11

Hi @Adrian

I’ve been speaking to Steve Wint and he’s having a chat with his VP Jeffrey about our community and potential to migrate. I’ve got the trial set up with admin rights so I’m playing around.

Mike


(Justin Farrow) #12

Another way to look at this @Mike_Collins might be to use a scraper like import.io and create your own json files from the scrape. I’ve managed to do this with several features on various Ning sites. If you’d like a little guidance let me know


(James Higginson) #13

@Mike_Collins how are you getting on with this? We have recently migrated from Ning to Drupal and our developers did a fantastic job of scraping content from our Ning 2.0 site plus use of the archived content, I imagine there is still no archive tool for 3.0, they were not big on development! Happy to put you in touch with my developers, maybe they can help.


(Mike Collins) #14

Hi James

That would be great if you could. We’ve had no luck at all and Ning are as
helpful as a chocolate tea pot.

Thanks


(James Higginson) #15

I’ll PM you the details as I’m not sure whether I’m allowed to place links here or not :slight_smile:


(Mike Collins) #16

OK thanks James really appreciate it.


(Richard Millington) #17

good recommendations of vendors you’ve used might be ok.


(Darren Gough) #18

hi @Mike_Collins. Just to jump in here we actually did a Ning migration recommendation piece for Diabetes Hands Foundation about 18 months ago including the projected migration paths to Drupal, Discourse, BuddyPress etc.

Be happy to discuss it offline if you want some help.

Open source should be a careful conversation - it can work but the appeal of free vs. ongoing migration, development and customisation costs need to be carefully thought through else “free” turns into “very much not free”. Careful planning is the order of the day to understand up front what you need it to do / end up like.


(Sarah Hawk) #19

You definitely are, if they’ll benefit the wider community. :slight_smile: