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Re: Friends and Groups for BuddyPress 1.3



@ Mike:

As an example, a place to tweet from my site won’t turn many on. Not because they aren’t on Twitter, but they don’t come to the site to do it, don’t usually want to tweet about what they are doing on the site and the added convenience of tweeting from within the site isn’t worth the real estate. Still – it’s a great idea for other sites.”

This is exactly what makes these kind of decisions so hard to make for the development team. Basically there are so many different needs for different usergroups, that decisions about core functionality are always very hard to make. I apreciate the amount of interaction between us (end users) and the developers (core + plugin developer) on the forum and the trac, and I do think we’ll get there in the end. Since I am not a programmer I can’t say what is technically the best way to do something, but I do know a thing or two about social networking and online communities in general.

The thing which makes BuddyPress really stand out is, is that it actually crosses a bridge between blogging/publishing of content and micro-blogging/meaningles social networking. There has always been a clash between those two types of users and some usersgroups are way more focused on quality (and somewhat lenghy!) content then others. Your example about real estates agents looking for totally different ways to interact then a typical social networks user is spot on. You do not need twitter integration on your site, and you do not want to have those functions overcomplicating your site. My users on the other hand are EXTREMELY mixed on so many levels. The only thing they have in common is the fact that they all have the same disease. This makes creating my network a really big challenge and it means that there are many factors I need to think about. Many of my users are used to blogging and discussions forums, and a younger generation is used to facebook and twitter. Currently the more traditional users have more then enough to do on my site with the amazing Blog + Group functionality. These components can be tweaked to my liking by WordPress (user blogs) and the Group API.

Since the introduction of the Group API you have seen that there are plugins coming out which let us (the site owners) decide what we want to add to our social network. Plugin developers can easily hook into the Group API and add functionality to it, which might be specifically written for a specific usergroup. We’ve seen Groupblogs, External Blogs but also Twitter integration plugins, and it made the Group component by far the most powerful and promising BP component as of yet.

The mock-up I’ve made is basically saying that this kind of functionality should also be extended to regular profiles, so we get much more flexibility to create the social network we see fit. This does not only mean adding new functions but also disabling unneeded ones.

If the Friends functionality was extensible trough the Profile API it would mean that it could be customized into something that would fit different needs for different sites. Maybe some sites would like to allow individual users to add Twitter Widgets to their profile page, and allow groups of Friends to discuss on a seperate forum. I could imagine that a “family oriented” community could greatly benefit from such a feature, but your real estate community would not! With a Profile API it would mean that it could be added as a plugin on top of the basic friend functionality which everyone could use as a base to work from.

So basically I’m saying that it might be smart to work on making all the components as flexible and easy to extend as the Groups component, then it won’t take long before before there are so many options available to do thing they way you want, we will all be happy! :) There are more and more people discovering BuddyPress as a “general” Social Network solution instead of a “social network for bloggers” and there are even a lot of users who want to get rid of the blogging functionality and make it a normal social network. If WPMU and WP merge there will be even more need for individual/profile related functionality and a good API is the first step to achieve this!

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