I’ve been watching BuddyPress since it was announced, and was hoping to use it for my site (Blogs.ca), but it is lacking the one feature that I need.
Basically the ability for a user to add an existing external blog to their profile, and the corresponding RSS feed. The posts from the external blog would show up in their profile. If they were part of a group, say “Politics” the group would have a merged aggregate feed of all the member’s blogs.
Wishful thinking, or on the horizon?
Incredibly, I don’t think any of the main developers see this as an important feature; I made a similar request about a week ago, after Andy’s announcement about the upcoming non-MU version of BuddyPress (which will, absolutely, need to be able to list external blogs) but, apart from a short, interesting discussion, no-one seemed to agree that it was a vital feature:
My conclusion was that this is one of those situations in which the people in a position to introduce a feature haven’t yet realized how important it is – it isn’t yet an itch they feel the need to scratch.
But, yeah, it is one Hell of an omission, hopefully it will be introduced once the main guys have got their real-world BP communities running at full tilt and realize that most users will want to link to their main blogs.
I’m just working on updating the flokka site we developed to the latest version of BuddyPress. For this site, we have developed external blogs functionality. I’ve re-written the original external blogs plugin and now have a BP plugin that implements the ability to add an external blog and feed in the member profile. It uses SimplePie RSS for feed discovery, aggregation and management.
I will need to see how to now integrate this into the site part, like the Blog directory etc… Once I finish, I may be looking at releasing this as a BP plugin to the community.
@donnacha I think you are right, it’s a important feature, just not realized yet. Real world examples will prove the need, as a large majority of people aren’t going to recreate their existing blogs just to join a community.
@phlux0r That sounds really interesting. We are currently using SimplePie right now to grab and aggregate the RSS feeds on Blogs.ca, and it’s pretty slick. I’d be interested in talking to you about what you’re working on, if you could fire me an e-mail at shawn [@] blogs.ca
Sounds really good.
One useful option might be for the admin to be able to switch off the RSS feature and simply let users link to their external blogs; as JJJ mentioned in the other thread, some admins may have an issue with not being able to control the nature of incoming content, whereas a link out pretty much absolves responsibility.
Personally, though, I like the idea of lively profiles buzzing with RSS imported content, and I think the profile owners will too.
Yeah, real world usage makes a big difference. BuddyPress 2.0 is going to be AWESOME
With this plugin, the tricky bit is to make the external blogs as integrated as possible with the internal ones as, from the member’s point of view, it shouldn’t matter where their blog is. The admin part of this plugin is pretty straightforward and simple to make but then the proverbial can of worms opens…
It affects the blog directory, activity (obviously, the activity feed won’t contain activity from external blogs unless there is some background process running periodically and checking for external blog activity and adding it to the member feeds). Also, if you have a site-wide latest posts page, how do you aggregate the two different sources… etc.
So, the upshot is, that even if there is an external blogs plugin for the profile, there is quite a bit of work in the integration and that is really a case by case scenario…
This would be a fantastic feature!
In my own example, I contacted a number of writers in my ‘field’ to see if they would be interested in ‘syndicating’ their blog content on my site. Almost everyone said yes…. that was until they found out it was required to manually input all of their articles.
For those that complained, I went ahead and did the job myself. It took days, but for my personal reasons the content was worth it.
Having the ability to go to another blog author, and have them ‘import’ their blog into my system would be huge. It benefits them because I have some pretty good traffic and I allow their ‘book’ adds etc on their own sites. It benefits me, because my readers get content that is focused to my topic from leading experts.
Conceptually, the content of external blogs not appearing in the activity streams is a good thing – a user visiting another user’s profile will be able to learn more about that user, including the latest content from their external blogs, but a user looking at the network’s front page will see only native activity. That actually makes a lot of sense.
regarding the admin management of the external blogs, the plugin could be built with moderation capabilities for the site admin. Ie. site admin is notified when a member adds an external blog. They check it and ban it (disabling its output and visibility) if the content is offensive. In this case a member may have to request an un-ban with another URL…
As far as just specifying the external blog URL goes, this could just be an extra profile field, no additional effort needed.
Writers familiar with syndication are certainly going to require that, but I think what we all need to realize that even ordinary users, “civilians”, are now aware of the importance of linking to their other online points of presence, whether that be their Facebook/Digg/YouTube profile or even their own website.
The idea that anyone is going to stumble across our BuddyPress sites, create a profile and start filling the blog we give them with content, without the standard “reward” of a link back to their “real” online home, is ridiculous.
BuddyPress is a beautiful piece of work, but we need to start thinking about what drives actual usage when you don’t happen to be Facebook. We need those external blogs listed right next to native blogs.
Your view is reasonable. Also, another site admin may prefer all blog activity in their feeds as they might not want to discriminate people with external blogs in the site-wide activity/posts (this is what my client wanted).
Essentially, this is a matter of taste and individual requirement but, from the point of view of the plugin, it should cater for either case .
I’ve been thinking about this also. I was planning on creating a group/personal blog component for bp. Andy convinced me that something like the project he talked me into would be more beneficial. I have plans to allow bpContents http://code.ourcommoninterest.org/2009/03/05/bpcontents-tags-everywhere-for-everything/ to have content types that are external to a bp/wpmu install.
bbPress topics are external to the install. bp group forums use xmlrpc to communicate with bbPress. It’s an external resource for bp. My plans are to create some standard content types that exist within the bp site such as blog posts, wp pages and the wp links table.
I always thought it was important to be able to relate external resources and treat them as if they were ‘just another resouce’. When I found out that the bp-bbpress communications mechanism was xmlrpc and exactly what that implied I jumped at learning and developing for that comm method.
Practically all blogs, no matter what type they are, have an xmlrpc interface. Gonna make it another content type in bpContents. It’ll provide the ability to get the external posts into bp, inside tags.
Oh, for sure, don’t get me wrong, if you can have both as an option, excellent!
My only concern is that all this impressive functionality may cause us to lose sight of the simplest form that recognition of external blogs could take: allowing the user to link to them, just a regular link, from their profile. In terms of need, that is a 10/10, because without it we will struggle to engage users. The other stuff is 10/10 in terms of want, but not having it will not necessarily impede a network’s initial momentum.
If it can all be done, amazing, and I am very grateful for the work you are putting into this.
Cool, I understand. It’s just that one of the elements of our discussion was “real world” usage of BuddyPress so an overly simplistic approach in those terms may not be sufficient .
We’ll see how it goes. On our flokka site we call these external blogs “Network Blogs” and have appropriate sections under the Latest Posts widget on the home page and the Latest Posts page. Also, they are listed in the Blogs directory and can be set as featured blogs. We found that most members actually use the external blogs feature rather than create a new blog on the site…
We found that most members actually use the external blogs feature rather than create a new blog on the site…
I guess that fact alone proves the thesis that being able to list their outside blogs is something users want
BTW, beautiful site.
Burt, I’m listening, and I applaud your xmlrpc efforts. It haunts my dreams.
That XMLRPC approach sounds interesting. Your BPContent concept looks very promising. Should provide a great framework for all sorts of shenanigans with Buddypress .
While XMLRPC is provided by blogs, often it has to be explicitly enabled, which I guess is fine. I assume that the benefit of using XMLRPC over plain RSS is also that you can get more info out of external blogs, like number of comments for a post – that would be cool.
I’ll keep an eye on this thread for sure . Thanks.
That’s a good idea to plan a new plugin..
I haven’t read all posts of this thread but i think i’ve go it,
We need that: a place where the users can add his external blog feed and simplepie that checks for new posts and record the link, the title and the excerpt in activity, is that right?
a thing like BP Blogs for external ones,
is that right?
(the external blog posts could be aggregated in an sub-blogs)
I’ve been following the other thread you mention in your first post. So as not to double post, you can read my recent thoughts on this issue here: https://buddypress.org/forums/topic.php?id=1485#post-8136
@nicolagreco Ya, basically that’s what I’d personally like to see. Under the person’s profile they can add their blog(s) and the RSS feed, and simplepie grabs the feed and displays it. Maybe even have the new posts in the activity feed.
Extended on that, say if there was a group called “Football”, a user could join the group, tag or mark his blog as being football related, and the group admin could approve it. Then have a merged RSS headline feed of all the Football blogs show up on the group page.
@Jeff – thanks for your detailed posts on the other thread. JJJ has now closed that thread with a post referring everyone here.
An important point is that the user’s external blogs be given the same prominence, possibly even appearing under the same section heading, as any native blogs they have created.
As an aside, it is ridiculous that blogs are not listed on the main page of profile but, instead, as hidden away in their own section.
If a user is actively using his native blog, or has active external blogs, they should be listed, under a heading titled Blogs, on the main page of the profile.
If a user created a blog upon sign-up but never does anything with it, the Blogs section should disappear from the main page of his profile.
In case you hadn’t noticed, I posted another suggestion for a plugin that I believe would be immensely popular, a hack of the current Friends plugin to create a new, simpler form of relationship to be used in addition to Friends:
I think it would be a great addition to the plugins you provide at your BuddyPress Dev site.
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