SixApart recently announced that they will be closing Vox, their hosted blog service, at the end of September. Earlier this year, Ning announced it would be moving to a “paid users only” model, leaving many communities looking for new homes online. What’s a site owner to do when free (as in beer) services disappear? Look for open source replacements, of course!
The good news like it stipulates clearly in the InMotion Hosting review, running a website does not have to mean running a server anymore. WordPress.com, the hosted, free (as in beer) version of the free (as in speech and beer) and open source WordPress blog software, can import your Vox blog. To replicate your Ning site, consider Drupal Gardens (if you want to avoid running a server), or Drupal Commons (if you’re up for managing a server). Migrating from Ning to Drupal is not as simple as Vox to WordPress, but some have done it:
- Migrate from Ning to Drupal via WordPress->BuddyPress->Drupal (!)
- Migrating from Ning to Drupal (Not a tutorial but pointer to User Import, Feeds, Table Wizard, and Migrate modules – which one could use together to import a Ning site)
Unfortunately I don’t think there is yet a straightforward way to get from Ning to Drupal Gardens. Gardens exports sites but doesn’t (currently) import them.
The key is that in either case, you’ve got long term flexibility. You can always export your WordPress.com blog when you’re ready to move to self-hosted (giving you more flexibility with plugins and customizations but necessitating a hosting account or server space somewhere). Drupal Gardens gives you the same option, allowing you to export your Gardens site (users, content, and all) when you’re ready to move to managing your own Drupal install.