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Furry 4 Life asks users to pack up, dig deep as they drop Ning

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Blotch Furry 4 Life bannerFurry social network Furry 4 Life is raising funds to leave the Ning social platform. Over $800 has been donated towards a $3000 goal of two years of hosting.

Established in 2008, Furry 4 Life boasts over 24,500 members, but has become hamstrung by an abandoned platform. Staff hope to complete the move by the end of the month, although they warn migration may last until January 2016.

Network creator Shy Matsi, who also founded adult-only furry social network FurriesXtreme, explained why the community was moving, while cautioning that some data would be lost:

Ning, back in 2008, was the best answer to the question "How can I build a social network for my niche community?". They really were the best option and still remain a powerhouse in hosted social software platforms. We really do owe a lot to them, but we are moving in different directions, and the Ning Platform is no longer a solid solution to our growing community.

That said, I and some other admins have been testing out new community solutions, looking at optional ways to move the network, including building our own from scratch. Instead of "reinventing the wheel", we are going to go with a open source software solution which will be hosted on our own servers. This way we can grow and include features we can create ourselves as well.

I recently found out that it is not possible to back up all of our data here on the Ning Network Platform. Which is very disappointing, because that promise was one of the reasons Ning was selected the be the home of Furry4Life. The best solution will be to download things you would like to move over to the new platform.

I'm very sorry about that and I hate to delete all of our data here. It's a lot of memories, and depending on the answers from some independent freelance developers in the coming week, we may or may not have at least the last 10,000 items in every section of the site come with us. So Please Back Up the Data You Want!

Ning's slow decline

Ning was once a well-known haunt of free social networks, but a change at the top brought job cuts and the removal of free options, leading to the migration of FurNation and ColumbiaFur – both of which had previously moved to Ning – and the demise of some other furry social networks.

Furry 4 Life may be lucky to be get any data at all; while the network archiving tool only supports the last 10,000 of each type of content, it is not even available for newer "3.0" networks. A new export tool was promised two years ago, but like many missing features it has not been created. On an "ex creators" site, former network operators discuss their fear of lack of control over shutdown, and the threat of a forced migration.

While Ning is still taking payment, the platform appears to be on life support. Staff forum interactions and "cultivation" blogs stopped mid-2014. Bizarrely, Ning's Facebook page is left full of angry customer comments, while their LinkedIn page implausibly reports 501-1000 employees. It also proudly displays the site's slogan: "Your Brand. Your Members. Your Control."

The social platform may be including network creators in this figure – or perhaps staff of Mode Media (formerly Glam Media), who bought Ning for a reported US$150 million in cash and stock in August 2013, apparently to leverage the platform's technology for their fashion websites.

Comments

Your rating: None

This reminded me of WikiFur's move from Wikia. It also demonstrates the risks of not having technical control over your platform. Leaving a walled garden can be a painful, drawn-out transition; but it is often essential for long-term stability (and staff sanity).

Your rating: None

And to think when i was in the initial planning stages right before building FurrTrax.com I almost (came so close!!) to taking the easy way out and using Ning, but then something about it rubbed me wrong and i decided to go all custom, now im glad i made that choice.

DarkXander
Owner of FurrTrax.com Furry Social Network

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About the author

GreenReaper (Laurence Parry)read storiescontact (login required)

a software developer and Norn from London, UK, interested in wikis and computers

Small fuzzy creature who likes cheese & carrots. Founder of WikiFur, lead admin of Inkbunny, and Editor-in-Chief of Flayrah.