But what's the big deal about BuddyPress? It is a plugin, but it 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]
The "famous" add-on to BP is bbPress, which is essentially forum enhancement.
Keep in mind, BuddyPress is not multisite. Multisite WP [and certainly a topic for a future blog!] 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:
- For developers: When editing your themes, don’t edit bp-sn-parent, the parent theme. Copy it to bp-default, and create a child theme.
- Right now, you can't use any WP theme out of the box. There are some rather limited options, which are notably different because they include the "special" BP pieces: login, registration, forums, groups, etc.
- Only some regular WP plugins will work with BP, but usually, multisite ones will work. It takes some testing to see which are compatible [but isn't that always the way?]
There are specific BuddyPress plugins, adding functionality for users and admins alike:
- bbpress: forum enhancement
- BP my home: allow users to move their own widgets & set up their “dashboard”
- Pending activations: not on multisite
- Ad manager
- Activity refresh: you set timing
- Registration options: attach to particular groups or blogs [multisite]
- Ultimate Facebook
- Private community
- Welcome pack
- Groupblog: associate blog w/group
- Group Documents: doc storage
- S2member: membership by restricting URLs by user
BuddyPress spam beware
BP is a huge target for spammers, but there are some ways to combat, or at least cut it down:
- Bad Behavior, Wangguard plugins (July 2017 note: WangGuard is now no longer supported by its author, and I've found WPMU's Anti-Splog is quite effective but pricey.)
- Remove Buddypress & WP credit lines
- Rename your registration slug to block “insite:register” searches
What's next for BuddyPress?
Coming down the line for BP 1.7 is compatibility with all WordPress theme. This is simply huge! We've been waiting on this for a while, so not sure when it'll hit.
Some of my go-to resources on BP: