For those of you not closely following the drama between social network platform Ning and a popular widget provider called WidgetLaboratory, you can read the background here. On Friday Ning unceremoniously shut down their access to Ning, making all those widgets vanish.
WidgetLaboratory cried foul, saying they’d done nothing wrong, that the ban was “completely without any notice,” and that “it would appear that [Ning] decided to elminate WidgetLaboratory for anti-competitive purposes alone.” Ning was silent in response, citing a “longstanding policy against publicly discussing third party widgets and applications as well as the details of Terms of Service violations.”
Ning remains silent on the reasons for banning WidgetLaboratory, but the whole story is coming out anyway. WidgeLaboratory has posted a number of emails back and forth between the two companies in support of its case (in the event the emails are taken down, we’ve grabbed a copy here). But the emails show just the opposite – that Ning was concerned over the fact that WL was gathering credentials from users and otherwise creating havoc on Ning networks. It was clear that Ning wasn’t happy with WL, was working with them to resolve the problems, and made it clear that if the problems were not resolved WL would be removed from the platform.
In an email to WL on August 2 (more than three weeks ago), CEO Gina Bianchini wrote “Our only goal is to have you build your products in such a way that doesn’t slow down the networks running your products or takedown the Ning Platform with what you’re doing. Both of those would result in us needing to shutdown WidgetLaboratory products and that’s has never been our first choice of options. Hopefully, you know this after 8 months of working with us.”
In another email to WL on August 7, Bianchini wrote “If we have evidence other than our conversation last night that you are asking for username, password, and pin of other Network Creators on WidgetLaboratory, we will be put in the unfortunate situation of shutting down your network and widgets. We don’t want to do this. In fact, we’d like very much to work more closely together but we can only do so if everything you guys are doing is within the Terms of Service.”
The emails taken as a whole show a pattern of emotional rants by WL, followed by reasoned responses by Ning. Frankly, if I was Ning I would have banned then a long time ago based on the harvesting of user credentials alone.
Based on their own evidence WidgetLaboratory flat out lied in their initial communications around the ban to gather sympathy, and then used the situation to get further attention from the community. These guys are idiots.