Minstrel Banjo

For enthusiasts of early banjo

Just thought I'd mention that Ning has been deteriorating over time, and that sometimes if you experience site problems here it is due to that, it's not something going wrong on your own computer....don't touch that dial.  ;)

For example, there were some site outages with 500 errors last month.  The new thing lately is that sometimes when I come to Minstrelbanjo, I see only the 'Latest Forum posts' (the bottom section on the main page)- the main Activity Feed is not showing, and that's where all the latest videos and new comment excerpts show up.  I'm assuming others have noticed this lately as well.  

When that activity feed is missing in action, whatever happened while it was not there will not show once the feed appears again.  Thus, right now it appears in the Activity feed on the main page that the last video added was Tim's Jaw Bone...but there have been several videos added and commented upon since then.  -It leaves content gaps as the activity feed pops in and out.  Of course you 'can' see the new videos in the left hand video column, but if there was a gap in the activity feed you'll have to actually go to each video to see who may have commented.  

Sometimes when I come to the site and see no activity feed, I can jump to another page and then click the Home link again and the Feed will then show up again for me.  But the content gaps remain.  

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I'm also noticing that forum post excerpts no longer appear in the Main Activity Feed...am I mistaken- didn't they used to show?  Makes it seem like no discussions are going on.

Also sometimes it takes many minutes for something to show up on the main page after making a comment?

I am experiencing same issue. I also notice not all updates are showing in the recent activity area. It's usually pretty instantaneous so I think sumthing is up with ning servers

Thanks Lisa, I was wondering why videos / comments weren't showing up in the activities feed

Yes, I am seeing the same problems. Hope it gets straightened out soon.

The only items that seem to appear now in the Latest Activity Feed on the main page are videos and their video comments-  and some of those are not appearing either.

So, I guess this a plea for our admin John to investigate. I'm sure he will let us know. I don't think he is on enough to notice, but will act as this is pointed out. Ning Classic Banjo seems to perk along just fine, but they have a better version. I'll shoot a message to Ian and see if he has experienced anything like this lately.

We'll see what John comes up with. Ian over at the Classic Ning says just the usual small glitches, but a recurring 500 error a few weeks ago which we also had. It seems it has been squirrely here for many weeks.

Lisa is right, the problem lies with Ning.  We could consider moving to another service.  I will look into this, what we don't want is to lose some of the features that we have here.  However, if this is unreliable then we may have no choice.  I will take this up with the folks at Ning, and do a little looking around.

John, keep archiving your site backups in the meantime- and save an older complete backup as well, because reports from other Ning network owners are that the Ning Archive Tool is deteriorating as well -so one of these days you won't be able to get a good content backup at all anymore ...so if that happens you'll need to instead use an older archive copy if you want to migrate any content to a different platform. Ning support is down to a skeleton crew in India and responses are often simply canned replies now.

I successfully moved my Ning mountain dulcimer community site to Jamroom over a year ago, along with all my site's members and content in the process:  http://fotmd.com/

I researched for two years prior to my move to Jamroom, and I can highly recommend them, also I'd be happy to help you during migration and with setup, since i went through this entire process myself.  After an initial small fee to JR for hands-on help in migrating my site from ning, my Jamroom site now costs me about $60/month and is on Jamroom servers which they maintain for me.  It might cost you somewhat less ($40-50), depending on how much server space your site content requires.  You can also delete some older defunct members and their content if you want to cut the size and price down further.  
Unlike Ning, on Jamroom you literally own your site and your own copy of the platform, so you do need to learn some things about how to tweak it and maintain it.  It's been a longterm learning process for me, but I badly wanted to save my site.  

There are no more platforms similar to Ning anymore- where they conveniently own the platform and 'run the machinery' ...and thus control your fate- it was not cost effective for them and that's why they slowly been letting things go to pot (while still collecting monthly fees of course). 


The bad news for the Classic Banjo ning site is that they migrated to Ning's newer 3.0 version (while never actually got completed)...and that version has NO archive/backup tool.  That means it will be difficult or impossible for the Classic Banjo site to move their content to another platform and off ning.  They may well have to start over from scratch when Ning finally becomes nonfunctional. The good news is that this site Minstrelbanjo is on Ning's older 2.0 version which does have a content backup tool provided..though it's not perfect and doesn't always work right.  A good complete content archive copy would enable most if not all site content to be migrated to a different platform.

As to features, on Jamroom you would wind up with MORE features than you currently have here- including new audio/music player and Soundcloud support, Groups and group discussions, Youtube/Vimeo videos compatibility, and much more.  I can happily say that JR support is fantastic.

John I can save you some research time-  The only other social network platform that has the ability to pull in all your current Ning content is SocialEnginePH...but they are quite expensive and don't offer maintained server hosting.  Wordpress/Buddypress is cheap, and can import 'some' of your content, but it's really more blog-like and does not handle video or audio media very well.  

I'm afraid that's about it for platforms that have the ability to import your Ning content.  If you choose to simply start over however, then you have more options for where to go, including a simple FB community, with whatever features FB offers.

Hope this info helps.  It's infuriating for many ning site owners to not know how long Ning will continue to limp along, but it's definitely going to get worse over time rather than better, and if Ning choses to they could literally just shut down at any time.

Whatever we decide, make an announcement please as I would like to take a copy of Joel hooks minstrel hall of fame pics :)

I personally never liked ning but found it worked really well for this topic. I also would not recommend WordPress buddy press even tho they supprt video and audio pretty well now since it is primarily a blogging platform. A Facebook group would be easiest and cheapest but Facebook kinda owns everything on their servers as well as it would require folks to have an fb account.

Ning essentially a forum on steroids so some of the forum software still standing might've beefed up their features to compete with products like ning.

I don't use many other sites so maybe jam room is the next best option out there as far as plug and play out the box communities go.

I have already ruled out WordPress buddy.  Jamroom looks like it might work, but the cost to us is $600 per year rather than the $240 we pay to Ning.  I suppose you get what you pay for.  If we choose to migrate we will need to do two things, come up with the cash to fund us, and I will have to send an email blast out to everyone.

Wow! That's a big jump.

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