I’m not spending a great deal of time on Ning these days, but I am aware that some great conversations are going on there related to learning and education. I like the accessibility of Ning and the fact that people who are not currently blogging can join conversations and contribute ideas without an intimidating number of steps or clicks.

I continue to be wary however, as I’ve noted in the past, of some individuals outside the edu-blogger community who appear to not have a “conversation agenda” within Ning. Consider the following Ning profile, which I’ve edited to obscure names. (My intent here is not to slam or embarrass anyone, but rather to point out a few things:

Signs of a non-conversation agenda in Ning

At least two signs this Ning user may not have a “conversation agenda” are:

  1. The fact they have over 3000 “friends” on Ning.
  2. The fact they are members of 99 different networks on Ning.

The decision to “friend” someone on Ning, MySpace, or anywhere else is a personal decision, but I think it’s worth pointing out that not everyone sending out friend requests may be most interested in having conversations with others. I have no idea what this user’s actual agenda is (or who this user is “in real life”) but it’s reasonable to guess they want to build their Ning “friend list” to drive traffic to their Ning websites and thereby earn Google Adsense revenue. That is not an evil agenda, but it is certainly different from the agenda of most everyone I read and with whom I interact in the edu-blogosphere.

Just a word of warning for the wary! Before you accept a Ning friend request, take a few seconds to check out the user’s profile and try to discern if they appear to have a genuine conversation agenda. If you think they may not, you may not want to accept their friend request.

That said, I also will note there are some GREAT, active Ning social networks out there for educators! The “Global Education Collaborative” and “EduBlogger World” are two examples of many where educators with authentic conversation agendas are gathering to discuss learning, technology, collaboration, school change, and other issues. My encouragement to others is NOT to avoid Ning, but rather (as should be the case with other social networking sites) be aware and saavy as you interact with others.

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5 Responses to Deciding Ning “friends” to avoid

  1. Tom Turner says:

    Although there are great many conversations going on Ning. I just have a hard time splitting time between there and the regular run of blogs that I read. I do have the Nextgen Teachers and classroom 2.0 blog feeds coming down to my reader. And comment when appropriate. Just having a hard time to juggle everything else that I’m doing and adding that to the mix.

  2. Mrs. Durff says:

    I like the new look btw. I applaud your caution. I always carefully look into all friend requests on ning and twitter and SL. It is just the responsible thing to do. Subscribing to Ning conversations with RSS keeps one up-to-date without needing to visit communities for this purpose. You know, I don’t know how many friends I have on Ning. There are a bunch!

  3. Really good warning Wesley. I have made it a habit to check out the profile of friend requests. There are a number I have rejected because of an apparent commercial agenda. Interestingly I have started experiencing this in podomatic. A new podcast set up the other day attracted a number of “friends” within a couple of days. A close look at their profiles led me to believe they were just people interested in building their own profile.

  4. Great post, Wesley – well timed, too. I’m wondering if/when we’ll need to specially address this on the EBW ning.

  5. Alice Barr says:

    Great post Wes and very timely! I was just noticing the same thing yesterday when I suddenly had a slew of friend requests. This is great advice.

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