We've been looking for a replacement for the now defunct Grouply blogsite. Unfortunately it appears most blogsites on the net take one of two forms:
1. Intended for professional use and therefore... expensive.
2. Amateurish and buggy beyond belief and not worthy of attention.
There's not much I've found in between. Therefore I've had to consider what our group needs and what's available in the way of a group-oriented blogsite. I came up with two options:
1. Individual blogsites are easy to find. I could set up a Wayfinder blogsite which I could use to keep in touch with the group... but while that would keep folks informed, it leaves out everyone else when it came to blogging.
2. We could return to Ning and live with its limitations.
I've decided for the time being, to go with the second option.
TWO SEVERE LIMITATIONS
There are two rather heavy limitations with Ning:
1. We can only have 150 members.
2. There is no events listing.
Yes, that's sad. But on the other hand, Ning only costs $20 a year. So, how can we work around those limitations?
We will set up a blog page for events. New events will be listed in the comments section. Anyone wanting to keep track of Elf Clan events can check out that page for the latest information.
MEMBERSHIP LIMITED TO ACTIVE ELF CLAN BLOGGERS
Anyone can read the Elf Clan Ning site. The only ones who really have to join are those who plan to blog or comment on a regular basis.
Those who in the past have blogged or commented on a regular basis will be allowed membership. We will also allow our region owners membership, as they need to be appraised of group activities automatically. Other Elf Clan members can simply log in to Ning once a day to check for new group information.
I am going to be going through our membership listing today and removing any names I don't recognize as regularly participated in blogging and / or commenting. That should bring our current maxed-out membership list down considerably. From that point on I will add members who contact me in-world with the stated intent to be an active participant on this site.
If your name is removed, please don't take offense. It's not personal, it just means we must limit Ning membership to active Elf Clan bloggers. Anyone who plans to blog or comment regularly is welcome to apply for membership. I'll sign people up on an "intern" basis. If they participate, their name will be left as a member of this site. If they don't, they'll be removed and room freed for someone who plans to be active.
This doesn't mean you have to be active to enjoy the site. It means you don't need to be a member if you don't plan on blogging or commenting; the site is available to read to anyone, member or not.
I hope this decision proves beneficial for our members until / if we can find a more suitable site. One thing we want to avoid is another experience like Grouply... a company that shuts down without notice and destroys hundreds of blogs. Fortunately we have been able to retrieve all posts from the Grouply site, but that doesn't fix the fact those posts are no longer online. We wish to avoid that kind of unprofessional experience again.
Ning is within our budget. Unfortunately their "step up" fee is fairly expensive ($24.95 a month... or $300 a year). That's quite a chunk for a non-profit, recreation-oriented group with no membership fee. So we'll have to stick for now to the $20 a year plan and live with the limitations. At least our members can remain informed of group activities. We don't have to blog to exist (group notecards serve us fairly well). This is a luxury, so we'll deal with whatever limitations Ning has and use it for what limited benefit we can gain from it. At least Ning as a company is stable-- which after our experience with Grouply, is the most important thing.