Yup. This is precisely the point I’ve made about buddypress.org (a point that will apply to many of our own sites as well) many many times before, and is at the heart of my reluctant but growing disenchantment. Agree, 100 percent.
I wouldn’t let it disenchant you – there will always be people saying “buddypress should be X and should not be Y”. The one thing we can agree on is that BuddyPress is a purely awesome collection of tools that you can pick and choose to build your own social network.
I finally sat down and read through the whole discussion. Some great points. I don’t know how possible it would be to do this, but what about multiple streams? @Sadr made a great point that the activity stream should have elements that users could subscribe to or not subscribe to. Right now there is one stream that either has too much information or doesn’t have the right kind of information. With multiple streams, each of which could be put on a different page or within a different area on a main page, the information flow could be tailored by each site designer and user to serve their needs and the needs of their communities.
Another point that was brought up was navigation, now I know that this is partially the theme setup, but in a default install even if a user is redirected to their groups, it is still another click away to a the groups wiki, blog, forum or documents or whatever your groups are based around. It needs to be easier to place the sub areas of a Buddypress site where you want them. Maybe the new menus in WP 3.0 address this (I haven’t had a chance to play with them much) but navigation needs to have small blocks that can be quickly and easily rearranged in order to design navigation paths that fit your community. And navigation is all about menus; activity streams are a form of navigation if they send you quickly to the information you are interested in. Couldn’t the profile, for example, be more widget ready so that either admins or users could pick and choose the pieces they want (think iGoogle).
@Peterverkooijen made a good point about members profile / privacy. It is possible to do it now to a certain extent, but this needs to be easier and more comprehensive.
As many people said the users are who are important and poor UI will drive people away, but Buddypress is used in such a wide variety of situations, that it needs to be easy to customize for each communities needs. To use an analogy I don’t want Buddypress to be like Moodle, for example; if you’ve seen one Moodle site you’ve seen 98% of all Moodle sites. The strength of WordPress is the ease with which one can customize not just the functionality but the looks and UI of the site, let’s not lose that.
@3sixty (“The irony of “BuddyPress shouldn’t be about forums”, and “if you want a forum, don’t use BP” and “bbPress is a parasite in BP…” is that the FORUM is the center point of activity here on buddypress.org”)
There’s nothing ironic about that. Traditional forums are very useful, but if you want a traditional forum you can install PunBB or bbPress. The point is that bolting a forum onto a social network derails the social networking structure. Mixing forum and social networking is the cause of a lot of the confusion and interface problems that this thread is about.
Social networking sites (Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.) imho evolved from traditional forums; they are a next generation paradigm in how to structure a web community, with more emphasis on individual members, less on forum topics. That’s also why I keep complaining about anonymous usernames and the underdeveloped member management in BP.
It has been depressing to see in recent months that people who primarily want a traditional forum are taking over Buddypress, pushing it back into the older forms. Mixing these different approaches to structuring a community does not make it a more versatile product. It’s the kitchen sink. It’s becomes an unwieldy mess.
As explained earlier in this thread, you can get forum-like functionality following existing Buddypress/Wordpress structures. You can display blog posts and comments in a forum structure. You could probably do it in a template. There is absolutely no need to bolt on an external forum, adding new database tables and functionality that partly overlaps/clashes with existing functionality.
Automattic needs to go back to the basic building blocks – users, posts, comments – and make sure they are solid, remove redundancies etc. And then develop different ways to connect those elements and display the data in different user interfaces; blog, social network, forum, microblogging, social bookmarking, etc.
“Automattic needs to go back to the basic building blocks – users, posts, comments – and make sure they are solid, remove redundancies etc. And then develop different ways to connect those elements and display the data in different user interfaces; blog, social network, forum, microblogging, social bookmarking, etc“.
Just to be clear, on this account I agree wholeheartedly. Forum functionality is one thing, but a separate script all together to make a forum when you’ve already got WordPress and BuddyPress put together with their respective building blocks at your disposal, that seems like a flawed development practice to me.
With WordPress, 3.0 and its custom post types in particular, we’ve got all we need already. This is what I tried to get across on my ‘rethinking posts’ thread.
I’m missing a lot icons in BuddyPress.