Updated July 2021.
Back in 2013 I talked about a client's success in moving a Ning community to WordPress and, inevitably, BuddyPress. It seems like BuddyPress never had its moment of glory with all social media platforms sprouting up left and right, but then again, it's still relevant for WordPress-powered websites.
BuddyPress is a great option for those who want to build a social network themselves. It's powerful, flexible and free software that makes creating a private social network easy.
It is just a plugin, but BuddyPress creates so many new features for your website, it's actually quite a bit more. I like to think of BuddyPress almost as a social networking application, in a plugin. Its features almost make it a Facebook clone. But it's not Facebook.
A quick rundown of its features:
- User groups
- Friending, profiles
- Discussion profiles
- Private messaging
- Blog tracking [for multisite networks]
- Status updates
- Activity streams [which are an aggregate of the above]
- The wire [feedback wall, separate from the activity streams]
Keep in mind, BuddyPress is not the same thing as multisite. Multisite WP is for multiple blog sites in a single WordPress installation, and BuddyPress can be multisite or just one blog.
Forums v. groups
The confusion I found when starting a BP site is the difference between forums and groups. Groups can have forums and blogs, but forums can stand alone. And, groups can be made private — i.e, for membership or board members who need a private area.
Customizing BuddyPress also poses some new issues:
- You can use any WP theme out of the box. But it's worth customizing member, login and registration pages so that they fit your design.
- Most regular WP plugins work with BP, but as always, you need to check for compatibility.
Extending functionality with BuddyPress-specific plugins
There are specific BuddyPress plugins, adding functionality for users and admins alike. Here are some favorites:
- bbpress — forum enhancement
- Advanced ads — ad manager
- Registration options: attach to particular groups or blogs [multisite]
- Groupblog: associate blog w/group
- BP Group Documents: doc storage
- S2member: membership by restricting URLs by user
- Verified Member for BuddyPress — like verified users on Twitter, they get badges!
- BuddyPress Docs — collaborative workspaces
- Block, Suspend, Report for BuddyPress — just what it says it does!
BuddyPress spam beware
BP is a huge target for spammers, but there are some ways to combat, or at least cut it down:
- It's almost required to use Bad Behavior and/or WPMU's Anti-Splog (quite effective but pricey) to shut down spammers
- Remove the Buddypress & WP credit lines
- Rename your registration slug to block “insite:register” searches
What's next for BuddyPress?
BuddyPress 9.0 was just released, with widget blocks!
Some of my go-to resources on BP:
Designer + WordPress developer for 20+ years. Love design, travel, good food and the Iowa Hawkeyes.