So there was this inflammatory Techcrunch post about Ning. Diego has already done a good job of walking through the inaccuracies, so I won't repeat that. The interesting things to me about this whole episode are:
When it comes to developer relations, (just about) no question or comment should be dismissed. There are the obvious areas -- folks asking for support for new features, reporting bugs, making suggestions on how things could work better. The slightly less obvious category of comments not to dismiss are ones that are just factually incorrect (such as "there's no support for key web service APIs out there that people are really excited about mashing up"). That's still an important piece of feedback to deal with. Ning supports just about whatever web service API you want, since you can stick random PHP code in your app and have it mash up the universe. If someone thinks otherwise, it points not to a technical failing, but a need to educate users and developers more.
The alternative to constantly tooting one's own horn is not total horn silence. When it comes to publicity, hype, marketing, whatever, I have a pretty typical programmer attitude: no thanks. Show me the code. I'd rather have something silent and functional than lots of promises about the future. To be frank, that's one of the things that made me excited to work at Ning in the first place. The emphasis has been on doing things, not talking about doing things. I can see why people are critical of this approach, but the alternative of pouring too much hype on an early product is worse. I'll join Diego in pledging to blog a bit more about what we're doing. Yoz and I are giving a talk at Etech, too.
The old saw is true: "all publicity is good publicity." The conversation that sprung up due to the Techcrunch post was pleasantly positive -- lots of great things said about Ning, the repeated point that the product is only three months old, some constructive criticism, and even a suggestion that the back-and-forth about Ning can be an inspiration for political hot-heads.