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Making Buddypress a Social Network for non-bloggers?

  • Avatar of designodyssey
    designodyssey
    Participant

    @designodyssey

    I’ve been searching around everywhere for plugins, etc. to make Buddypress more manageable for my project – a niche website with social interaction added. I don’t think I’m alone in not wanting 1000s of blogs/groups, but still wanting some of that functionality in a more controlled way (i.e., can’t just turn off the BP module).

    In search for solutions, I came across a discussion that nails it.

    http://buddypress.org/forums/topic/is-buddypress-confusing-to-users/page/2#post-32163

    Nutshell.Buddypress is primarily for social networking among bloggers. Yet, IMHO, many of the best BP implementations hacked BP to death to get a social network among casual visitors/subscribers, not bloggers. (e.g. h-mag.com, tastykitchen.com, http://tdi.vw.com/)

    What extensions do we need to facilitate this? Here’s my partial list which is not necessarily a feature request, but maybe a plugin wish list or a hack solution wishlist:

    1. Ability of users/groups (by role) to post to their profile page with some formatting/media embedding – like a post, but without them having a whole blog/site and without having to go to wp-admin (preferably)
    2. Limit who can create a blog/group based on role
    3. Rethinking the theme framework concept to consider that many sites will be adding a BP layer to a new/existing site based on a WP theme framework (a la Buddymatic) where using BP as the parent isn’t desirable.

    Obviously, these issues get at what BP is being designed for. As my post above suggests, the merge will impact that roadmap (or IMHO it should). Currently there seems little discussion of #1 and I have a hackish idea below. #2 has been worked on and bpcontents plugin and others have sought to address this. #3 is something that I hope is addressed as part of the merge. Already other developers have used Thematic and Thesis as parents with BP partially integrated. I like that idea, but have concerns about upgradeability. Thoughts??

    _________________________________________________________

    Solving #1 – Hackish idea through plugin.

    • Create TinyMCE post submission form (using Gravity Forms of course) that is only visible on user’s profile page and only by logged-in user
    • User submits “post” through form that is added to a unique subcategory of a “profiles” category – e.g. “profiles/userid”
    • Profile page shows only posts where post category matches the userid.

    I think this works, but it might require some hooks and de-polluting the backend so that these posts are organized for the admin to deal with. Thoughts??

Viewing 25 replies - 1 through 25 (of 32 total)
  • Avatar of Xevo
    Xevo
    Participant

    @xevo

    1. Revive the wire function?

    2. Build an extra if to check role in the blog creation function.

    3. The theme framework is great, if you want buddypress on an existing wp theme, than rebuild the theme to work with buddypress. You don’t have to use the parent/child setup, if you just copy the parent theme and recall it to your own theme, your making your own buddypress theme.

    Avatar of abcde666
    abcde666
    Participant

    @erich73

    Re: #1:

    if you do not want to have User-Blogs, just turn this feature off.

    You will then have Groups, Group-Forums and a Social-Network without “User-Blogs”.

    I agree. Just turn off blogs. I don’t necessarily see BuddyPress as a social network for bloggers.

    Avatar of designodyssey
    designodyssey
    Participant

    @designodyssey

    Maybe I lack clarity. Maybe, it’s the post is just too long. I do understand I can turn off blogs. I’ve done that. Maybe I’m describing a beefed up wire.

    For example, the admin of the group “teachers” wants to post a video describing the group on the group page. Maybe add ongoing postings that are “from the admin” as opposed to a stream. I imagine some of this is just changing template files/plugins, but just removing blog functionality wouldn’t get there.

    @XEVO, re #3. If I use something like Thesis, do I then keep thesis as parent and then hack it up to work with BP in the child? If so, how do I handle upgrades to functionality in the BP theme framework?

    Avatar of abcde666
    abcde666
    Participant

    @erich73

    @designody

    you might be talking about something like the “Group-Blog-Plugin” is offering ?

    http://buddypress.org/forums/topic/groupblog-v13-adding-members-instantly-thanks-boone

    Avatar of designodyssey
    designodyssey
    Participant

    @designodyssey

    Don’t want a full blown blog for a group. Did get to thinking and now wondering can you create a category or sticky post type in the forums of the group that only the admin of the group could post to?

    If you could do that, you could probably CSS the display of that category or group of stickies so they wind up on the group homepage as well as in the forum. That might work.

    Avatar of Bowe
    Bowe
    Participant

    @bowromir

    Ok here’s an idea..

    1: Install the groupblog component

    2: Make the default theme for the groupblog the P2 Theme: http://p2theme.com/

    3: Only let the admins add new posts (this can be videos like you said) and the members of the group reply

    4: Adjust the p2 theme to your taste so that it looks just like your site

    You now have a “wall” where admins can post videos/news/photos which does more then a standard wire does and it’s also fully integrated with groups/activity stream.

    It does’nt do everything you want but it could work

    Yes, the current group functionality is fairly limited. All you can really do is post comments and participate in forums. There’s no ability to create group content (posts, pages, videos, etc.) and very limited notification options. There used to be an option to post a wire update and notify all members of the post by email. Even this has now been removed in 1.2-bleeding… perhaps a casualty of the merging of the wire and update features. Hopefully it will come back. And hopefully bp-events will progress as well. It’s been very quiet lately.

    That said, there is a good foundation in place that I’m sure will be built upon over time by the core team and by plugin developers.

    As for the group blog plugin… I tried it but it didn’t do much for me since it doesn’t really integrate very deeply with the group. It’s basically a standalone blog that doesn’t live within the group context.

    Avatar of Xevo
    Xevo
    Participant

    @xevo

    @designodyssey

    Just use thesis and build in the buddypress functions.

    Avatar of Mike Pratt
    Mike Pratt
    Participant

    @mikepratt

    @David Lewis There are plenty of plugins that add to the ability to both create content and extend notifications

    @designodyssey creating a network of blogs is, in the end, going to be a rare use case of BP. Just how many people are sitting around going” Gee, I wish there was a network out there that would let me create my own themable blog as part of a greater community” What people really want is to find a niche community centered around a topic they care about in order to contribute and consume content and build relationships around like-minded people. BP just happens to be the best tool available to do your own custom building of said network. Drupal, Joomla, Elgg and <shudders> Ning are profess to do the same but they are either too difficult or pain in the ass to use (Drupal, Joomla, Elgg) or force you to play by their very constricting set of silly rules (Ning)

    The blog part of BP is a minor part…if you want it to be a part at all

    @Mike: I know there is the group blog plugin but it’s not deeply integrated into groups. I haven’t tried the new links plugin altho’ it sounds great. I’m not aware of any plugins to accomplish group notifications. bp-events shows great promise but needs some work. And there really is no way to have group documents that I know of (downloads or collaborative wiki pages). But I’m sure all of this will come in time. My main point is that out of the box… BuddyPress Groups are pretty limited. They basically just group people and allow them to make comments and forum posts.

    Avatar of Mike Pratt
    Mike Pratt
    Participant

    @mikepratt

    @David – downloads plugin at http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/buddypress-group-documents/. I haven’t tried it yet, but it looks good.

    Thanks for the plugin pointers guys!

    Ahh… I was actually aware of the group forum post notification plugin. I still miss the ability to post to the wire however and have everyone notified. Much less ‘friction’ for users than having to create a new thread just to make an announcement of some kind. Oh well.

    Avatar of briancollyer
    briancollyer
    Participant

    @briancollyer

    Question, to the group, posting a video clip to the home?

    I would like to place a short “site purpose” & “how to” video clip on the home page for new users. (non bloggers) What is the cleanest and easiest way to do that? Thanks

    Avatar of Bowe
    Bowe
    Participant

    @bowromir

    @Brian

    Just insert the raw html or video embed code into your homepage template. If your using default BP theme you can put it in wp-content/themes/bp-default/home.php

    Avatar of briancollyer
    briancollyer
    Participant

    @briancollyer

    Bowe,

    Thanks, I also appreciated your suggestion about using P2 as a means of communicating to the group.

    The community we are trying to create are not necessarily bloggers and we need an easy way for them to communicate site wide. For now I have created a group “Community Voice” to facilitate site wide communication, but a little clunky requiring everyone to join this group. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

    Bri@n

    Avatar of Bowe
    Bowe
    Participant

    @bowromir

    There is also a solution for that.. It’s called Community blogs: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/bp-community-blogs/

    From the plugin description:

    By activating the Community Blogs plugin, Administrators can give immediate registered user status to any member of their BuddyPress enabled site on the blogs they choose. All the member has to do is visit the blog. The user is silently added as a registered user of that blog. Administrators can choose the role the new user has. Either Contributor or Author. Admins can give access to all users or users from specific BuddyPress groups.

    As soon as a (registered) users visit the Blog (in your case Community Voice page) it automatically gets added as an author and is allowed to post! Great huh? ;)

    Avatar of designodyssey
    designodyssey
    Participant

    @designodyssey

    Wow! I’m glad this topic got people thinking.

    @Xevo, I do plan to use Hybrid (not thesis) and add the BP functionality, but not sure the implications as BP adds functionality with new releases. Sounds prone to breakage on upgrades. Someone at Automattic should be thinking about this if Mike is right about the future use of BP, which I think he is.

    @Mike Pratt, I agree 100% regarding BPs future and enjoyed your thoughts in the video from Wordcamp NY

    @Bowe, I’ll have to think more about the P2 solution, but doesn’t it mean I have ~9 tables multiplying by the number groups. If so, I’m looking for a lighter solution.

    Avatar of Symm2112
    symm2112
    Participant

    @symm2112

    Thanks for this post because what you’re describing, I’ve been basically going through the same motions. We have a band fan site that has been on a single wp install with just news with almost 1300 members. We wanted to give more interaction so we’re converting to buddypress. I really didn’t want them to be able to create blogs so I really just wanted the bp functionality but when I saw that the only group interaction was really just the wire and forums, I wanted a little more. With this thread, I’ve already implemented some of these ideas. I didn’t go with the p2 theme idea because I want the themes alike across all blogs but I did find the posthaste plugin that allows you to add a quick press like post box to the group blog page while still using your existing theme. It doesn’t have the ability to insert images but I’m looking for a workaround on that.

    Basically I just wanted to second everything that he’s said in that these ideas are basically to give a little more features than the default bp groups while not giving them full blown access to create blogs.

    Thanks for all the ideas everyone!

    Avatar of daan77
    daan77
    Participant

    @daan77

    at http://www.deeljezorg.nl we have custom made entry forms(TDOMF plugin) for users to enter their experience, stories and tips, it works fine, people can now easily add posts without the hassle of getting to know the wp-admin backend

    same thing is done at tastykitchen.com, where people share recipies, also using a custom form for posting,

    it’s disguising your blog posts into a more specific item

    Avatar of briancollyer
    briancollyer
    Participant

    @briancollyer

    @Bowe & @daan77

    Thanks, these are great tips. I am going to play with the community blog pugin today. Also, I ended up using a text widget to embed code for a video on my front page, it may not be the most effecent way, but I am not real strong on the .php or code side of things yet. thanks to everyone for all your your help.

    Avatar of Symm2112
    symm2112
    Participant

    @symm2112

    @daan77

    The reason that option works there is because it’s for posting to the main blog but it doesnt work without manual intervention if a user creates a new group blog. embedding the form on the page doesn’t work because the form is not global, it’s specific to the blog. This means that you have to create a new form for it to work anytime a new blog is created, which defeats the purpose. I found posthaste which doesn’t add the features but at least it can be embedded in your templates that your blogs use so that as soon as it’s created, it can be used.

    Avatar of designodyssey
    designodyssey
    Participant

    @designodyssey

    @daan77 and @Symm2112,

    This solution might work, but it’s hackish. Using Gravity Forms (more beefed up than TDO), you could create a form that automatically shows up on a page automatically created and linked from a group page. This form allow whatever you want, including shortcode for video, user posts, etc.

    When the user posts, you can select whether it goes to publish or to draft.

    WP functions should allow you to hook into the group creation to create a page with a unique name attached to that group. Using WP functions, you should be able to create a link between an exisiting GF form and the newly-created group and it’s group page.

    Doing everything else with the form is cake with GF.

    This is not my ideal, but I’ll look into it.

    Yesterday, I used GF to create form submissions that turned into store/party locations (custom postmeta) that are then geolocated by another plugin and put in a store locator by another plugin. I’ve been pretty impressed.

Viewing 25 replies - 1 through 25 (of 32 total)

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