Ning isn't a forum.
Forums tend to be hierarchies.
Ning is not.
Ning is a very wide partnership with all the modding unsupervisable.
The Ning forum aspect is minor to all the connections being made elsewhere.
Think of it as live-in-site-retreat plus forum.
Yes, you post but you spend a lot of time in the background socialising and sharing 1to1
I looked at all the forum softwares but they were Web 1.0
They were also technically complex to manage.
Ning is cookie cutter and anybody who can cut and paste can create a forum in a week.
Ning and Squarespace make small web designers a bit redundant.
I am considering my options carefully about becoming dependent on small projects as this Web 2.0 cookie cutter stuff is quite acceptable and cost effective at that end of the market.