Why Ning axed a widgetmakerMarc Andreessen's Ning is a platform for thousands of social networks. Mick Balaban and Spencer Forman's WidgetLaboratory builds and sells add-ons for operators of those social sites. Or did, until August 22. That's when Ning general counsel Robert Ghoorah wrote Forman to say that WidgetLaboratory would be booted from the site for breaking its rules. The charge: something about how their widgets "unduly degraded" the rest of Ning. Now, Forman's made that email — as well as 14 others between Forman, Ghoorah, and Ning CEO Gina Bianchini — available online. Trust us, you don't want to read them all. Here's the soap opera minus the froth:
  • Letter 1, August 2 From WidgetLaboratory cofounder Spencer Forman to Ning CEO Gina Bianchini: Widgetlaboratory wants to know changes coming to Ning before they happen and to not be blamed when things go wrong.
  • Letter 2, August 2 From Bianchini to Forman: Ning and Bianchini want to talk on the phone clear up any "conspiratorial" thinking. "We just want you to succeed in a way that scales. Time and time again it feels like you are trying to threaten us into something that is never exactly clear." Let's work together if we can, if we can't let's move on.
  • Letter 3, August 2 From Forman to Bianchini: We have 1,700 networks and millions of users, when we fail you fail. "Considering the fact that we are the only Network that provides any real products to your customers on the Ning "platform," do you really think we are being unreasonable to believe that Ning might keep us notified before you decide to pull the plug on using Dojo [a software toolkit used by JavaScript developers] in the header of every page?"
  • Letter 4, August 3 Bianchini to Forman: I'm happy to talk on the phone, but the sniping has to stop.
  • Letter 5, August 3 Forman to Bianchini: "Let's get to work."
  • Letter 6, August 3 Bianchini to Forman: BTW, you were right we should have let you know about Dojo. Our bad.
  • LetterLetter 7, August 7 Bianchini to Forman: Good talking on the phone. No we can't always alert you to when we're about to pull one of your widgets. No you can't ask your users their username, passwords or pins.
  • Letter 8, August 7 Forman to Bianchini: No, please call us before you pull our widgets. Even at 3 in the morning. We have a million users! We're not phishers, please let us ask our users for passwords.
  • Letter 9, August 7 Bianchini to Forman: Argh, I can't handle this anymore, I'm delegating.
  • Letter 10, August 22 Ning general counsel Robert Ghoorah to Forman: You've been removed for TOS violations.
  • Letter 11, August 22 Forman to Ghoorah: Our lawyers say: WTF? You can't do this.
  • Letter 12, August 22 Ghoorah to Forman: You were booted. "Use of Ning is a privilege not a right. We do not intend to debate our decision."
  • Letter 13, August 22 Forman to Ghoorah: Please, therefore, provide "any" specific details as to the "unduly degrading" of your network.
  • Letter 14, August 22 Ghoorah to Forman: Your code breaks all the time. We called you last night about it. You were mean and unhelpful.
  • Letter 15, August 22 Forman to Ghoorah: It took two minutes to fix the problem when you finally called at 3 a.m. last night.