Import from Ning: Import Ning users to Wordpress and BuddyPress

Import From Ning imports the contents of your Ning Network Archive into BuddyPress.

See the initial announcement here.

Download the most recent version


  • Install in your plugins folder and activate. I recommend using the plugin on a fresh WP/BP installation; if running on an installation with existing content, please make a database backup first.
  • Download your Ning network export, using the Archiver tool as described here:
  • Upload the content of your unzipped Ning export (a group of .json files, as well as several directories) to wp-content/ning-files. If this is the first time you’ve used this plugin, you’ll have to create the directory ning-files first.
  • Visit the plugin panel at Dashboard > BuddyPress > Import From Ning and follow the instructions

Frequently Asked Questions

What if I’m not running BuddyPress?
Version 2.0 of Import From Ning does not support WordPress standalone. Use version 1.1:
What content will Import From Ning import?
Import From Ning currently imports the following items from a Ning export: members, member profiles, member avatars, members comments (the “wall”), groups, discussions, and blogs. The plugin attempts to recognize inline images and copy them to the BuddyPress installation, so that you don’t lose the images you’ve put in your blog posts.
What about my images, movies, and music?
BuddyPress by itself does not currently support photo, movie, or music galleries. The best plugin available for images right now is BuddyPress Album+ , which is in the process of being adapted to support video and audio galleries as well. In the future, I hope to expand this plugin to import content for display with Album+, but in the meantime you can import your multimedia content manually.
What do I do if I have a gargantuan network?
The plugin is most reliable when working with relatively small sets of data, though I have tested it with a network import of over 1300 users. There are various safeguards built into Import From Ning, so that if a particular step fails to complete because your hosting environment runs out of memory, you can simply refresh the page to pick up from where you’ve left off.
What’s with all these new groups?
In BuddyPress, each forum must be associated with a group. In cases where your Ning discussion thread was not part of a group, Import From Ning creates a group corresponding to the discussion category and places the discussion topic there.

Be a pal

I spent many mornings building this plugin, so that WordPress and BuddyPress users – and especially my friends who are WP/BP consultants – could reap the benefits. If you use this plugin (especially for a paying client!) please consider a donation.

Import from Ning has been downloaded 4,953 times. Are you using this plugin? Consider a donation.

Version history

2.0 – July 23, 2010
Added support for Ning network content
1.1 – April 18, 2010
Switched from copy-and-paste to direct .csv upload
Added BuddyPress profile field import functionality
1.0 – April 16, 2010
Initial release

205 thoughts on “Import from Ning: Import Ning users to Wordpress and BuddyPress

  1. astacia

    I am attempting an import and I get fatal errors with not refresh option. I have been F5 refreshing and it is uploading the members table. After several F5s, it get

    “Internal Server Error

    The server encountered an internal error or misconfiguration and was unable to complete your request.”

    repeatedly. I have set permissions 777 and that doesn’t help.


    Ack! Astacia – quick set your directory back to normal permissions. 777 leaves your server wide open to hackers.

    First you have to ftp your files exported from ning up to the server. If you are just setting up, you may want to wipe your wp installation and start over installing wordpress, buddypress and then try the import process again. (That’s what’ I’d do but perhaps the author has a better method)

    Check your .htaccess files…maybe something’s screwy there?

  3. astacia

    After more time working with it, I have found it’s my FTP. 3 reloads is using up my 10 allowed connections. I then have to kill all connections.

    Each time I hit the continue button, the next screen says

    “Importing users – this may take a while.

    If you see a Refresh message at the bottom of the page you’ll need to refresh the page in order to continue importing.
    Fatal error: Maximum execution time of 30 seconds exceeded in [whatever file the uploader timed out on] on line [###]”

    Does anyone know of any easy (not line command) way to increase the execution time? I’ve been doing this for four hours and it’s only to 86 users imported.

  4. Tyler

    I have uploaded all files, the JSON files are all in the proper place.

    I have even placed duplicates in the
    /import from ning/JSON.
    In order to run the importer, you must first use your FTP program to upload the contents of your Ning export into a directory called ning-files in your wp-content directory. The plugin couldn’t find a members file at /home/stormy/public_html/VNC/, which probably means that you haven’t uploaded the files to the right place. Upload your unzipped export to the json directory, and try visiting this page again.

    Can anyone offer advice?

  5. Tyler

    I managed to get it to read the ning-members-local.json file, but now i am receiving

    Created down the line.

    Then the message sorry I could not create any accounts.

    Any advise?

    I had to convert a .csv, to the JSON.

  6. nike free singapore

    I’m impressed, I have to say. Really not often do I encounter a weblog that’s each educative and entertaining, and let me tell you, you have hit the nail on the head. Your concept is outstanding; the problem is something that not enough people are talking intelligently about. I am very happy that I stumbled throughout this in my seek for something referring to this.

  7. Tyler

    I managed to get this issue fixed.
    Turns out my ning archiver did not pull the ning-members.json properly.
    Redownloaded and set up a shadow copy of the site.

    Tested and confirmed.

    Thank you Boone for your awesome import tool

  8. Elgee

    I keep trying to import forum posts but they are not associated with a group and I’m not sure how to import them if they are not – or how to associate them with a group now. is there a workaround? thanks!

  9. Mark O'Connell

    Hi Boone, Thanks for this incredible plugin. I am half way through using it but it gets stuck on the importing groups page. It says 0) groups loaded and then there is no ‘continue’ button appearing at the bottom so I can’t go further.

    My thought was that maybe i hadn’t completed the Ning Uploading process and had incomplete group and discussion json files. Have you any thoughts about how i can go forward. I think i have to wait another day until i can archive again … I really want to get those group/discussions into site if possible.


  10. Deb Wood

    I am trying to revive a Ning network that I ended in April. Finding this script could be a lifesave and enable us revive our beloved site! I have al the complete archive files from the site and have uploaded them all to the ning-files folder as instructed. The network was fairly large (over 2400 members) but I am only really wanting to import the blogs as we will be running mainly a blogging site. Members would be great but not necessary.
    When running the importer, it begins the process, it has created some users but then this following message prevents me going any further: Catchable fatal error: Object of class WP_Error could not be converted to string on line 191. I’ve tried refreshing, no go :-(
    Any ideas?
    Many thanks

  11. Arne


    Thanks for doing this plugin. However, I seem to have run into a problem. I only want to import member information, not all the rest of the crap off the old network as we are starting anew. When I just upload the members directory plus the two members .json files, the plugin does not recognize that I have uploaded them. And yes, they are in the right directory on the server and upload has been set to 777 for the occasion.

    Any thoughts?

  12. apotek dk

    Jeg har lige set din meddelelse til den nye version af Ning importør plugin, og jeg vil gerne arbejde med dig for at sørge for det virker problemfrit med BuddyPress Media.

  13. Scott

    In the second step of the upload, I get this:

    Fatal error: Call to undefined function xprofile_get_field_id_from_name() in [shortened]/wp-content/plugins/import-from-ning/bp-functions.php on line 1243
    Original field name New field name (optional)

    Any ideas on what’s happening here?

  14. Batsirai


    I love the plugin – but my members profile pics are not being imported. Only those with gravatars are shown… but nearly everyone has a profile pic, that I downloaded and uploaded to ning-files folder. Am i missing something?

  15. Batsirai

    Great plugin – however my users profile pictures are not being imported. I uploaded them to ning-files together with all my -local files. The only profile pics that show up are those with gravatars setup already. Is your plugin supposed to bring over their profile pics – as contained in the /members/ folder after the Ning Export?

  16. Stefhan

    Hi Boone

    Sorry if this has been answered elsewhere, I have looked!

    I’m trying to use your plugin to import a csv file I created (it’s not an export from Ning). I can’t get past the “can’t find a ning-members-local.json” error message. I tried creating an empty file with that name but that hasn’t worked, and I can’t seem to find a sample json file on the net I can look at to create my own.

    Any help would be much appreciated!


  17. Robert DeBenedictis

    Hi Boone,
    The plugin has worked great for importing users and their posts. But, I am having trouble importing Group Forums. I get this error:

    0) Created group: Wordiness
    Could not create group forum for Wordiness

    Have you seen that before? Any idea of where to start?

    Thank you,

    1. Boone Gorges Post author

      Robert – Many thanks for the link to the JSON debugger. That is extremely handy to have in the toolbox!

      I’m afraid I’m not available for extensive troubleshooting on the plugin, but I have been collecting the names of developers who are. If you’d like some contact info, drop me an email: boone at gorg dot es.

  18. Ian Littauer

    I am trying to import my Ning members and blogs from to I have archived all the files from Ning and uploaded to / But I keep getting a the error messag:

    Houston, we have a problem

    In order to run the importer, you must first use your FTP program to upload the contents of your Ning export into a directory called ning-files in your wp-content directory. The plugin couldn’t find a valid members file at /hsphere/local/home/c324059/, which probably means that you haven’t uploaded the files to the right place. Upload your unzipped export to the json directory, and try visiting this page again.

    If you’re sure that your files are in the right place, then the most likely explanation is that your ning-members-local.json file is invalidly formatted. Contact Ning to ask about getting a new one.

    Not sure what I am doing wrong as everything looks good. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

    1. Nathaniel

      I get the same issue Ian – I think maybe the latest version of WP/BP and this plugin don’t mix, which is highly possible.

      @Boone does this work with the latest versions of WP/BP?

    2. Nathaniel

      Hey Ian, I got mine to work but it stops at the end of uploading the members and doesn’t proceed, trying to bring across a large number of members so that could be the issue.

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  20. Amelia

    Hi Boone,

    I have searched and searched for an answer to this issue but I can’t find a solution anywhere.
    As soon as I hit Continue to start the Import I get this message:

    Import Users from Ning
    Importing users – this may take a while.
    If you see a Refresh message at the bottom of the page you’ll need to refresh the page in order to continue importing.
    Catchable fatal error: Object of class WP_Error could not be converted to string in /home/xxxx/public_html/xxxxx/wp-content/plugins/import-from-ning/bp-functions.php on line 191.

    I have around 2100 members and really would like to import the whole Ning site over.

    Any help would be greatly appreciated.



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  22. Beyond Facebook

    The import stalls after the 10th member. If I remove the 9th and 10th members from the Ning .json file it uploads ok. Are there any known glitches? Maybe the .json file handles some special characters incorrectly?

    1. The Bipolar Planet

      Mine was because a user joined, quit, and rejoined. Ning had her in the database twice, once marked “active” and another marked “left.”

  23. halfrid

    I am trying to import my Ning network information to a buddypress site.
    I have downloaded all the files (members, groups,etc.) and when I use the plugin to import them I get this error message:

    string(12) “love^belinda” object(stdClass)#16756 (8) { [“createdDate”]=> string(24) “2011-01-20T12:53:45.788Z” [“fullName”]=> string(12) “love^belinda” [“email”]=> string(20) “” [“profileQuestions”]=> array(0) { } [“profilePhoto”]=> string(65) “members/5001-6000/5027-226208437.png?crop=1%3A1&xj_user_default=1″ [“level”]=> string(6) “member” [“state”]=> string(9) “suspended” [“contributorName”]=> string(13) “3uby9k2g8ukas” } object(WP_Error)#42230 (2) { [“errors”]=> array(1) { [“existing_user_login”]=> array(1) { [0]=> string(33) “Disculpa, este usuario ya existe.” } } [“error_data”]=> array(0) { } }

    (the spanish text says: that user already exist)

    This is because a spammer member that created 2 accounts very similar. I have deleted it and download again the json file but it still appears inside.

    I have tried to delete the entry in the json using wordpad, but then the plugin doesnt recognise the json file. I suppose that the file corrupts when I modify it

    What could I do?

    Please help.

  24. Paul

    Importing users works fine, but when trying to import groups I get:

    Fatal error: Class ‘BP_Groups_Group’ not found in /home/[mydomain]/public_html/buddypressdev/wp-content/plugins/import-from-ning/bp-functions.php on line 620

    I’ve just updated WP and BP, but still get the error when I jump to the import groups section.

    Is this the best place to ask for help?
    Thanks for your time.

    1. GlowPotion

      Hi Paul, was your Fatal error: Class ‘BP-Groups_Group’ on line 620 etc… every solved? I’ve ran into the same issue and hoping there is a quick fix. Thanks!

      1. Paul

        no sorry, never found a work around. Decided to ask our users to resign up and we imported selected content by hand. Hope you have better luck.

  25. Perrie

    Is there a way to bring over content from Ning? I am an owner of a Ning site, and this is a big issue for us. Many would love to leave Ning, but we can’t leave our content. Hope you can help.

  26. Mmc

    I’m having a problem importing members. There’s a little over 2800 members to import but it stops after importing the first few hundred. After clicking Start Over, it gets through the same first few hundred ok but stops with this (xxx’s inserted to protect personal info):

    string(13) “xxx” object(stdClass)#1499 (12) { [“createdDate”]=> string(24) “2014-06-19T15:17:34.562Z” [“fullName”]=> string(12) “xxx” [“location”]=> string(15) “Jersey City, NJ” [“country”]=> string(2) “US” [“zip”]=> string(5) “07304” [“birthdate”]=> string(10) “1987-07-17″ [“email”]=> string(22) “xxx@” [“profileQuestions”]=> object(stdClass)#1500 (3) { [“I liked JCFamilies Page on Facebook (”]=> string(3) “Yes” [“Membership Type”]=> string(3) “Mom” [“About Me”]=> string(27) “Love being with my children” } [“profilePhoto”]=> string(42) “members/1-1000/578-CAM00229.jpg?crop=1%3A1″ [“level”]=> string(6) “member” [“state”]=> string(6) “active” [“contributorName”]=> string(13) “2ixhlklosgpai” } object(WP_Error)#6279 (2) { [“errors”]=> array(1) { [“existing_user_email”]=> array(1) { [0]=> string(42) “Sorry, that email address is already used!” } } [“error_data”]=> array(0) { } }

    I looked through the json file and it looks ok to me, but I don’t see any reference to “Sorry, that email address is already used!” in it.

    1. Mmc

      Found the problem in the code above. There is a space after the @ in the email address. Removing that allowed all 2990(!) users to be imported. NOTE: Users were inadvertently notified when I imported them. Not all, but the ones that had posted in discussion threads. I downloaded a plugin called User Control to disable the accounts so they couldn’t poke around in the development site. I would suggest that you turn off all notifications before starting the user import. There’s code you can put in one of your buddypress files will do it. Do a search.

      Now on to figuring out why the discussions won’t import.

  27. GlowPotion

    Really thankful you took the time to share this hiccup. Not only did it fail to import more than half the members; it failed to import most all pictures in posts, failed to import discussions, forum threads. The whole damn plugin is a nightmare. I wonder if the Ning creators did this on purpose, just like the oil tycoons don’t allow renewable energy sources to be on the open market. We left Ning because they’re tyrannical money goblins.


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