Importing Ning users into WP

Today Ning announced that it would be ending its free social networking service. I tweeted something to the effect that this event is a wake-up call: When you use closed-source, third-party hosted solutions for something as valuable as community connections, you are leaving yourself open to the whims and sways of corporate boards. It’s not that Ning is evil or anything – it goes without saying that they need to make a profit – but their priorities are importantly different from those of their users. In the same way that Ning moves from a freemium model to a paid model, Facebook could start selling your crap, Twitter could crash, Tumblr could go out of business, etc.

All this is a good argument to be using software solutions that are more under your control. Like – drumroll – WordPress and BuddyPress.

Enough moralizing. I whipped together a plugin this afternoon called Import From Ning that will allow you to get a CSV export of your Ning community’s member list (the only content that Ning has a handy export feature for, alas) and use it to import members into a WordPress installation.

As of right now, it does not have any BuddyPress-specific functionality. But the data that it does import – display name, username, email address – are enough to populate at least the beginnings of a BuddyPress profile. The next thing to add is the auto-import of certain profile fields. I might try to do this tomorrow. The plugin is based on DDImportUsers – thanks!


  • Download the zip file and unzip into your WP plugins directory
  • Look for the Import from Ning menu under Dashboard > Users (unless you’re running a recent trunk version of BuddyPress, in which case it will be under the BuddyPress menu)
  • Follow the instructions on that page

Download the plugin here.

17 thoughts on “Importing Ning users into WP

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  2. HR Biker (Dog)

    Be careful! LOL I just did this. Worked flawlessly. But do it when the site is ready to go. Not when you are still building it.

    WordPress sends an email out to your users with their passwords and login information. LOL I forgot about this.

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  5. Tony Zeoli

    Any recommendations on the import timing out in a shared hosting environment? I’ve brought in about 156 users out of 738, but now have to split the CSV file. Also, the whole email users thing should be a choice, not forced. You should have a check box to email users or not. I want to get all my users in and make sure everyone’s in the system, before I notify. Are you planning on updating the plugin so the notification is a choice?

  6. Boone Gorges Post author

    Tony – Splitting the CSV into multiple uploads is about the best advice I can give for now. Make sure that you maintain the header row, or the plugin import won’t work. Otherwise you might check out the plugin from, which costs money but allows you to use a file that you’ve uploaded via FTP, bypassing some PHP memory limit problems.

    As for the email users thing: that’s a WordPress thing. It’s possible to make a checkbox, but that would require additional development. In a future version, I may add such a feature, but it’s unlikely that I’ll update the plugin in the near future, as I don’t have a lot of time to do pro bono work at the moment.

  7. Leonardo

    My test show this error:

    Fatal error: Cannot break/continue 1 level in /home/minhascitac/public_html/embuscadabibliotecaperdida/wp-content/plugins/import-from-ning/bp-functions.php on line 196

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  9. Melissa

    Hi, I installed the plugin. Uploaded the Ning Files into my directory as instructed, but the Ning Import link is not showing up under my Buddypress dashboard? I am thinking perhaps it is because I am running Buddypress on a secondary blog instead of my main website? Would you have any solutions for fixing this? I would really appreciate any advice you can offer. Thanks so much for providing the free plugin!

    Melissa Ringstaff

  10. Boone Gorges Post author

    Hi Melissa,

    Are you running Multisite? I have not upgraded the plugin to be compatible with WP 3.1 Multisite. You may be able to make it work be looking in the import-from-ning.php file for references to ‘admin_menu’ and changing them to ‘network_admin_menu’.

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