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BuddyPress for building your social network

A few months back I talked about a client’s success in moving a Ning community to WordPress and, inevitably, BuddyPress.

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.

Buddypress features

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
  • Bookmarklet
  • 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.

BuddyPress Resources

Some of my go-to resources on BP:

 

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Lisa GhisolfBuddyPress for building your social network