Some useful BuddyPress plugins

BuddyPress is a plugin for WordPress that turns your site into a simple social network. It’s a remarkable thing, but I think it is fair to say that while it makes creating a social network easy, creating a good social network is still hard.

At Kind of Digital we’ve built a few BuddyPress sites recently, and we’ve found some other plugins that make life a bit easier, so here’s our list.

If you have any other suggestions, feel free to pop them in the comments!

1. BP Group Management

Enables an administrator to manage groups within BuddyPress by banning, unbanning, promoting and demoting current members of any group, adding members to any group, and deleting groups.

2. BP Profile Search

Adds a configurable search form to your BuddyPress Members directory, so visitors can find site members searching their extended profiles.

3. BuddyPress Extend Widgets

Adds a BuddyPress specific element to all widgets you use on the site. You will be able to select on which users profiles or groups pages you want to display a widget on and so on.

4. BuddyPress Group Email Subscription

A really important one this – it allows users to sign up to email notifications of activity within groups, and also to choose between instant updates, or daily or weekly digests.

5. Buddypress Humanity

A downside of BuddyPress is getting non-existent spam member signing up, who just want to post loads of links to your community and generally ruining it. This plugin adds a Turing type test to new member signups to make it harder for this to happen.

6. Buddypress Sitewide activity widget

Adds a widget you can place in a sidebar or other widgetised area on your site that displays a handy list of the recent activity on your network. If you’re struggling for space on your homepage, this is particularly useful.

7. BuddyPress Topic Mover

Another behind the scenes plugin – this lets administrators move discussions from one group to another. Dead handy if a user has started a conversation in the wrong place.

8. Custom Profile Filters for BuddyPress

Out of the box, BuddyPress automatically turns some words and phrases in the fields of a user’s profile into links that, when clicked, search the user’s community for other profiles containing those phrases. When activated, this plugin allows users and administrators to have more control over these links.

I find these really useful for profile fields that link to social networking profiles.

9. oEmbed for BuddyPress

This enables users to easily share rich media content like YouTube videos on their walls.

10. Welcome Pack

Great for community management activities, this plugins sends new users a welcome message when then join, adds them to groups and sends friend requests – making them feel at home right away!

The home of GovCamp

Over the past few years, a number of events have happened which could loosely be described as ‘GovCamps’ – taking the barcamp idea of open space style ‘unconferences’ and governmentising it a bit.

Starting with Jeremy’s efforts in 2008, we have since seen two subsequent national level govcamps, and several local versions, in Birmingham, Lincoln, London and Cheltenham.

The next one takes place in York on 12th June – find out more here.

It’s always occurred to me that the GovCamps are something that public sector folk in the UK could really be proud of – proof that a decent number of people are interested in improving things, and that they aren’t afraid to give up their Saturday to do it.

So how to best shout about this activity? Best thing to do is build a website. We had a Ning network – but that was very much dominated by the national, January event, and had a stupid domain name (ukgovweb.org – will be closing at the end of the week) which didn’t come close to describing what it was all about.

So, I had a quick play with WordPress and BuddyPress and produced UKGovCamp.com – a simple social site where people can find out about the GovCamps, see which ones are happening and which are being plotted.

Go and take a look, and get involved! I’ve even written up a 10 point plan for running your own event.

Social networks, or beefed-up blogs?

I have been looking around recently at social networkings systems, focusing on freely available ones, such as Elgg (which powers the rather lovely UnLtdWorld, and which has its proper v1.0 release out soon) and PeopleAggregator. The other option I had thought of would be to fashion something out of Drupal.

A post at Read/WriteWeb, however, has made me step back and think a little:

Platforms like WordPress and Movable Type democratized the process of self-publishing. With these tools, everyone could be a publisher and it didn’t require advanced technical expertise to do so. Now, the next revolution for publishing is to bring that same ease of creation to the process of building social networks. With Six Apart’s recent release of Movable Type 4.2, that revolution has begun. The new release provides DIY tools for building your own social networking platform which includes member profiles, forums, friending capabilities, rating of content, and more. WordPress isn’t too far behind, either – a new platform called BuddyPress, is being built on the WordPress core. Is this the future of blogging? Or is this the future of web publishing altogether?

I had been aware of BuddyPress for a while, but whilst I have noted Moveable Type’s development, I’ve never really go into that platform, for some reason. I think the Buddy/WordPress approach is sound, though, not building up the core functionality of the platform, but adding the social networking features as add-ons. If you want it, it’s there to use, otherwise you don’t need to be troubled with it.

BuddyPress is sadly some way from being production ready, so for now I’ll stick with the dedicated social network platforms. But in the future, rather than learn a new system, it will be a lot easier to use one I am familiar with to develop exactly what I need.

What are other folks’ views?

BuddyPress

This looks very exciting.

Thanks to Nick for the tip off.

Edit: More via TechCrunch:

It is easy to dismiss this as completely unnecessary given the abundance of social networks already out there, as well as application development platforms like OpenSocial. But an open-source social network does present some intriguing possibilities. New apps and features could be added simply by creating new plugins. And there would be no lock-in to any proprietary code or development environment.