Getting an Ad-Free Ning

Quite a few teachers at our school are starting to see the advantages that a Ning community can offer.  We have been using Nings this year with several classes, and I’m finding them a really good, really easy way to get teachers interacting with technology in ways they might not have done otherwise.  Ning provides a visually rich, yet secure, environment for students to collaborate and socialise in, with a range of tools that are both useful and fun to use.  Because Ning offers many of the same kinds of tools that Facebook offers – discussion, video, pictures, chat – students find it easy to adapt to.  It also provides a few things that Facebook doesn’t – blogs, music and page customisation – so it allows teachers to modify the Ning toolsets to meet their individual educational needs.

Although Nings are proving incredibly useful for educators, the Google ads that appear on the right-hand menu are problematic for many educational purposes.  As good as the Ning environment is, with the ads in place (and in a new Ning the ads are often for inappropriate things like weight loss, online dating, work from home schemes, etc) Nings become largely unsuitable for school use.  While it’s possible to pay to remove the ads, the cost and red-tape involved in doing this in a school setting also make it less likely that educators will pursue it as an option.

Realising this, the good folk at Ning very generously offer an ad-free option for k-12 educators.  Simply ask to have the ads removed, and they will remove them for you.

The problem is that the instructions for getting the ads removed are not obvious. They require you to write to them and ask for it; a nice personal approach, but not just a matter of clicking a simple checkbox in the same way that Wikispaces offers ad-free wikis for educators.  With Ning, you need to know where to direct your request for ad removal, and that information is not all that obvious.  If you Google “removing ads from a ning” you will find instructions to do it, but I’ve found that the instructions can be out-of-date or do not always match what you see on your screen… it can be a little confusing.

I just applied this morning to have a Ning made ad-free, and managed to work my way through the confusion. If it helps anyone else, here’s how I did it.

  1. Go to http://help2.ning.com/AskUsAQuestion
  2. Fill in the URL for the Ning you want made ad-free
  3. From the “Select a Topic” dropdown, choose “General Question”
  4. In the “Describe your Question” field, write a short request for your ads to be removed…  as an example, this is what I wrote…  “Hello, I’d like to request that the above Ning be made ad-free for education. Our school is doing a collaborative project with our sister school in Japan and would like to use the Ning environment for these exchanges. Our students are aged between 13 and 17 and the Ning will be used only for educational purposes. Thanks!

They say it takes about 3-4 days to get approved.

Thanks Ning-guys!  Hope you get a great big serving of Internet karma as reward for your generosity!

CC BY-SA 4.0 Getting an Ad-Free Ning by Chris Betcher is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

7 Replies to “Getting an Ad-Free Ning”

  1. Thanks for the interesting and helpful posting Chris. I’m looking at using a ning as a collaborative and communication space in my class next year, and this sort of information is really useful, especially since as you mentioned finding the information on removing the ads is not straightforward.

    Keep up the great work!

  2. Thanks Chris – I’ve set up a few Ning’s for schools and have always found them very helpful in removing the adds. It’s helpful to have these steps written down as it’s not the easiest process to discover as you mentioned.

    regards

    Stuart

  3. Awesome! I’ve already submitted the request for one of the Nings I manage and when that works, I’ll go forward with the others. Thanks so much for the concise information.

    Lisa

  4. Thanks Chris, but it’s important for your readers to know that the Nings will only be allowed ad free if they are used by students. It’s my experience that a Ning for staff collaboration etc will not have the ads removed.

    Rob

    1. Yep, good point Rob. Thanks for pointing it out.

      It’s odd… I set up a Ning as a conversation space to support the IWB book we wrote, and although the topic was obviously educational and it’s aim was not to be overly commercial, it was clearly not a directly education-related use for Ning.

      A few days after the Ning was set up, and with some reasonably heavy promotion of it on Twitter, etc, the ads vanished. I thought it odd, as I didn’t request the Ning to be made ad-free or to have the ads taken away. A few weeks went be without the ads, and then they mysteriously reappeared again.

      I’m wondering if someone at Ning saw it, assumed that because the topic was education related it would be eligible for ad-free, and then a few weeks later they realised it wasn’t and turned the ads back on. I’m not sure, but it did make me wonder, and I do suspect that the good folk at Ning keep an eye out for the content on their ad-free Nings to ensure they meet the requirements.

      Chris

  5. My understanding is that Ning will only give free accounts to secondary aged students as they have promise not to collect data on children. I was knocked back by Ning when I requested an ad free space for my primary students.

That's all well and good, but what do YOU think?