Users of Ning who are upset about the recent changes that have taken place regarding the service now have at least one avenue to take. Thanks to Boone B. Gorges, Ning users can now use a special plugin that will transfer both users and their custom profile data. This migration plugin is free of charge. John James Jacoby has also mentioned that people are standing by in the BuddyPress.org support forums to help those that decide to make the migration from Ning to BuddyPress.
I can’t help but think about the time MovableType decided to go from free to a piece of paid software which created a backlash so large, it was the tipping point for the WordPress.org software. I can’t say whether that is what is happening here but it sure would be interesting to time travel into the future and see if this event has a similar effect for BuddyPress.
Much has been said about Ning already but I still find what they did to their free userbase as wrong. It would have been much better to just cut off free registrations and work with the userbase they already had. Instead, they have all of a sudden become a gated community and have told everyone that hasn’t paid that if they don’t pay, to get out. A shame that a company would do that to the very userbase that put them on the map. However, Ning is a great case study into one of the best features of BuddyPress. The ability to run your own network, to own your data, to control what happens to it without the middle man.