BuddyPress is an open source social networking software package owned by the web company Automattic since 2008. It is a plugin that can be installed on a WordPress site to transform the site into a social network platform. BuddyPress is designed to allow schools, companies, sports teams or any other niche community to start their own social network or communication tool. When BuddyPress is installed on WordPress, it provides features that allow your members to socially interact with each other within a multi-blogging platform environment.
What BuddyPress has to offer
Members and Friends
BuddyPress uses and extends WordPress’ traditional user system. Users are called “Members” on BuddyPress. Members can be friends with other members, follow other members’ activity feeds via RSS and email, participate in groups and much more. Members can also have extended profiles, personalized avatar and they can even be listed in a global forum directory on your site. You can change these settings in the “General Settings” of BuddyPress.
In comparison to the WordPress standard user registration, BuddyPress gives members the ability to completely customize profile fields so they can tailor a user’s profile so that they are seamlessly incorporated into the site.
Groups are an effective way to have members participate in the site. BuddyPress’ groups are built around the bbPress forum structure and have three levels: Public, Private and Hidden. The groups can have their own moderators, who are chosen by the administrators. The members can easily set the amount of group activity notification that they receive.
Private messaging allows users to talk to each other directly, and in private. Users can send messages to multiple recipients and aren’t only limited to one on one discussions. Administrators and moderators can regularly communicate with members and groups.
Like a status update or tweet, members can update their own activity streams. These streams can be followed by other members through RSS or email. Members can be mentioned via the @ symbol. Activity Streams can also become favorited, commented on and replied to.
Included in BuddyPress is bbPress, which allows the creation of discussion forums. These forums can be extended through plugins or by editing the bbPress code.
BuddyPress also allows the creation of WordPress blogs for members which make creating a blog even easier than using WordPress alone.
Invaluable BuddyPress Plugins
Here are just a few of the invaluable BuddyPress Plugins available for managing social networking sites.
BP Group Documents – This is a plugin that creates a document storage area within each group, and is excellent for sharing resources among groups.
BuddyPress Group Email Subscription – This plugin lets people receive email notifications of group activities, especially forum posts. Users can choose to subscribe to weekly or daily digests of forum activities.
Welcome Pack – This plugin gives you the ability to send registered users a friend or group invitation along with a welcome message. It can also redirect them to a start page. The default emails can be customized to make sure they match the brand and tone of your site.
BuddyPress Moderation – With this plugin you can add links and buttons to flag inappropriate content, which allows a convenient way for moderators to view reports and take action.
BuddyPress Forum Topic Mover – This plugin allows forum moderators and system administrators to move topics placed under the incorrect group in BuddyPress.
BuddyPress Announce Group – This plugin allows you to change any BuddyPress group into an announce-only group, where only administrators and moderators can post.
s2member – s2member can help you start a membership forum. Unlike Wishlist, s2member integrates with BuddyPress and Multisite by restricting URLs for certain levels of user. It also allows for custom login and registration pages, and has full documentation and a tutorial library for first time users.
Always something new
There have been a vast amount of improvements since version 1.0 came out. The initial team along with hundreds of developers, designers and community volunteers put thousands of hours into the latest version of Buddypress. Every version brings new and even more useful changes to a product, that many have wondered what could be improved.
The most current updates have allowed network owners to provide site owners with a 1-click install of a fully-configured, fully-themed BuddyPress site. The New Blog Templates is the essential plugin for any WordPress multisite network owner that needs to create new sites on a regular basis.
The Plugin allows existing sites to be used to create templates that can be selected by new users during the registration process. The network administrator can decide which parts of the existing site will be duplicated.
BuddyPress is a great solution for anyone looking to build a social networking site on top of the WordPress platform. If you are already familiar with WordPress and how to develope with it, then using BuddyPress will come easily and naturally. In addition to that, you can easily add plugins and themes that are compatible to create exactly what you are looking for.