I got my first spam “friend” request on Ning. It was a standard affiliate scheme. The Ning app is populated with a ton of content. The programmability of a social infrastructure platform is a mixed blessing as it lowers the cost of doing both good and bad.
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You are absolutely right that people can send friend requests to other users across the sites running on top of Ning. However, we offer two mechanisms for fighting spam that come standard on any site:
1. You can block that user from contacting you again by using the “block this user” feature.
2. You can report the site on the “Popular” link at the top of any page. This sends a message to the owner as well as to Ning that there are issues with the site in question.
We are looking to empower people to create and connect with others in new and interesting ways and while we can put mechanisms in place to fight spam, if we were to try and eradicate it altogether it would defeat the purpose of Ning and social websites more generally.
Thanks for your post!
Gina, I think it is a good thing that I got a spam request on Ning–it means that the community is starting to get enough usage/publicity to attract spammers.
The features you’ve built in are a great starting point. The more successful you get, the more you’ll have to worry about spam, trust, reputation and who knows what else. Since Ning is so flexible, you may experience new kinds of community dynamics, both good and bad.
One thing (shameless plug of a portfolio company’s product) you may want to consider is integrating with Akismet.
I really like Ning and wish you the very best. I just hope to find some more time to build some apps.