I should also mention @nuprn1 ‘s other great plugin BuddyPress Activity Stream Bump to Top:
It helps Activity discussion not get buried so fast.
BTW, is anyone working on fixing the “Load More” button, so it loads more than 2 pages?
@dennis_h huh, i just noticed load more is no longer working too… is that in trac?
as for all the forum vs activity – i’m still hacking away at an activity stream discussion to replace bbpress. i hit a snag and more important projects came up so i’ll try and revisit it soon.
i still think the activity stream is the core of buddypress – if you can wrangle it and tone down the duplicates (ie, for blog comments/posts/forums topics/posts remove the excerpt and just make it a one liner with a permalink to blog and comment) – xxxxx user left a comment on blog xxxxxx. That is the nice thing about BP – change whatever you want.
i also have another advanced plugin – this would replace blog comments with the activity stream (though i don’t know how this works with a wpmu setup – single it works great)
Re: Forum vs. Activity – I have no doubt that it is harder than is seems, but that’s not relevant to the discussion. The issues being discussed are usability. Any good and usable design begins and ends with users… not programmers.
Re: Autocomplete (my pet peeve) – Sorry, doesn’t make sense to me. I’m free to message any member I want but I’m only given help and feedback when typing in friends names. Huh? If I compose a message to a non-friend by putting their username in “Send to” – I have no indication that I’ve gotten it right until after clicking send. And even then, the feedback is not that clear. An error message could be a wrong username or something else. I know you can more easily message non-friends by visiting their profile (instead of having to remember their username and type it without error) and clicking “Send Private Message”… but that only allows for one recipient. As for the spam issue – that’s a technical issue. We’re talking about usability.
And yes… I have tried to create a plugin and I got 99% there – but I’m not a programmer and I got stuck on how to remove / override the existing autocomplete ajax functions. I asked for help here but didn’t get a response. So I had to hack the core Oh well. And for some reason it stopped working the other day. Odd.
Anyway, BuddyPress just seems a little confused when it comes to it’s ideas around Friends, Followers and Members. It feels like an odd mix of Twitter (wide open) and Facebook (walled off).
Re: usability – Users easily outnumber developers a multitude of times over. Andy is the only employed person working on the project. It’s so easy to ask for something. A reminder that this is an open-source project where people help out when they can. Many people have spent countless hours developing solutions and helping others. Apart from the occasional, obligatory “thanks”, it’s mostly a thankless and ungratifying task, but we do it because we want to help!
If you use a plugin or if you’ve received help on these forums, you are encouraged to donate.
Or contribute something back to the community in the form of bug reports, themes and support.
“Andy is the only employed person working on the project. It’s so easy to ask for something. … it’s mostly a thankless and ungratifying task, but we do it because we want to help!”
Andy/Automattic is too responsive! Their focus seems to be on delivering all these requested features out of the box. It’s pulling them in too many different directions. They should have said NO and followed a strict plan to develop a coherent, solid core; users, posts, comments + privacy, security, management, API. Then let the community take over with themes and plugins.
“Anyway, BuddyPress just seems a little confused when it comes to it’s ideas around Friends, Followers and Members. It feels like an odd mix of Twitter (wide open) and Facebook (walled off).”
I’ve had an active BP Site of about 400 real-world members for 6+ months or so now and I can report back that very few people are actually using the BP functions. It’s not clear exactly what they are supposed to do and how it would benefit them. Twitter is intuitive, Facebook is semi-intuitive. BP, not so much.
Considering that wordpress is first and foremost a blogging platform, core BP should do three things well:1) Enhance members’ blogs (vs. an mu-only environment) and 2) Encourage interaction between members, and 3) Make members and their activities easy to find. BP is struggling with these basic objectives.
Regarding blogs, it is intuitive that members should be able to post from the front-end (One Quick Post is nearly ready). It is critical that sub-blog posts would show up in search results, but they don’t. And, it’s intuitive that you should be able to easily find relevant blogs (link tumblr), but you can’t. BP should make members’ blogs more visible, but it really doesn’t…at least not in an intuitive way. As a result, my members that joined primarily to blog (which is most of them), have little or no use for BP.
SOLUTIONS: Make sub-blog posts show up in search results. Apply xprofile fields to blogs and make them sortable. Create a front-end dashboard – I don’t think users should have to go to a dashboard with BP. Create a core-function to showcase sub-blog posts (then let the plugin devs apply slideshows, etc.)
Regarding interaction between members, BP tries a lot of things, misses the mark on some critical elements. Group-only forums are simply not intuitive. Regardless of where you stand on the issue, the fact that it’s been such a hot topic since 1.2 came out proves this point. The activity stream has merit, but is confusing for a lot of users. I have people posting “updates” who think they are posting blog posts or starting forum threads (perhaps is should be read-only?). Friending is fine, but doesn’t provide many obvious benefits beyond sorting your stream. Same with following. Groups are great, but without a solid core of features, groups don’t do much. (even here, they aren’t used much beyond forced-joining for forums). There should be an “events” element in the core.
Most importantly, it’s very difficult to keep track of things…try and find an old discussion thread on this site!…I’ve added a trac ticket to make anything (blogs, comments, members, discussions, etc.) “Followable”, allowing you to keep track of stuff. There should be a simple “Stuff I’m Following” button where you can keep organized.
SOLUTIONS: Enable a read-only option for the activity stream. Add hooks to “Follow” anything and make a “Stuff I’m Following” button. Allow forums without groups. Build Events into the core. Build more basic group functions (like group blogs, group email subscriptions, and invitations) into the core.
Lastly, I’m getting complaints and feedback about the ability for members to be found. Searchable, sortable, xprofile fields are a critial core component that is just plain absent. I run a real estate community. People intuitively-expect to be able to find a real estate expert in their geography…good luck. It’s virtually-impossible. Moreover, this is how, in more other communities, you can find people to network with. How can this basic element be missing?
SOLUTIONS: get xprofile fields working for members, groups, blogs, etc. Consider creating sub-fields as well.
If you can’t find or be found, your blog doesn’t get any extra exposure (actually it gets penalized for posts not being found in search results), friends and following provide no great benefit, and forums are too confusing to use, then it’s hard to justify joining the community.
I can’t say for sure that an MU blogging community is better with BP. I can’t say that a bbpress community is better with BP. And without these basic intuitive basic functions working right, it’s hard to make a case that BP is a great “community” platform.
I’m using it and hoping for the best, but my 400 members so far aren’t too impressed.
regarding your comment: “….as for all the forum vs activity – i’m still hacking away at an activity stream discussion to replace bbpress…”
This would be really cool if you could code something like that to replace bbpress with an activity-stream, similar to a forum but actually a threaded stream (it just needs to be simple with posts, comments and mark as favorite). So that would be replacing the Group-Forums, meaning still having the Groups but instead of bbpress having a threaded discussion-stream
The additional stuff needed would be exactly the same activity-stream you are planning to code, but instead of related to the Groups, it should be related to a Users Profile. Like having for each User a threaded “Wall” or “Guestbook”. with posts and comments.
as Greg said, BP should focus on Blogs.
Maybe your stream replacing the bbpress could somehow be adapted to achieve easy Front-End-Posting for User-Blogs, ala P2-theme ?
This would be another application when webmasters rather want to go with User-Blogs instead of Forums.
@gregfielding Your comments are apposite . I did start a thread (you may well have responded in it) trying to get thoughts like this expressed in one place in the hope that there could start to be a little greater community spirit and in the hope the lead/core developers could perhaps read and ask/answer questions from time to time – more interaction between core team and those actually trying to use the app in the wild, it was also meant as a check and balance to the thread started on the BP API as in that thread I saw the potential problem with BP being fundamentally mid tier heavy and lacking in input from front end developers and those that have a specific grasp of UI and Site Archetecture (yes I realise that the latter could be argued to be in the hands of those taking the app and building the sites, but not wholly so!) so your post above would have sat very well in that thread.
the best setup is having either Forums or Activity.
Choose which of those two fits best for your community, but try not to use both Forums and Activity.
@gregfielding Maybe for you BP is about the blogs. For my BP install it’s about the groups. Everyone uses BP a little different, so it’s hard to make broad statements like that.
I had a fledging community … BP utterly killed it. Folk just aren’t interested in investing the time trying to work out what the hell is going on. They retreated back into their blogs and shut down.
BBPress is just not ready for community building … let alone to have an even more stripped down and scrambled version.
I have no idea what the relationship between Automattic and Andy is, how much direction is involved or whether he is just allowed to fiddle with code all day like a prodigy in case “something” comes out.
There is some relative discussion, here:
greg makes good points about groups and friends.
There is almost no benefit whatsoever of Friends within BuddyPress. As far as I can tell it only enables three things.
1. Stream filtering
2. Group invites (altho’ there is the invite anyone plugin)
3. Autocomplete help on “Messages > Compose”
That’s it. You can still message anyone who’s a non-friend and you can still see the full profile of anyone who is a non-friend. The people in my small community (all of whom actually know each other in real life) simply don’t get it. They ask me all the time – “what the heck is the friend thing for? seems stupid”
You may counter that my case is a special case. I mean, who sets up a community site with less than 200 users?! Who all know each other! I’m not so sure about that. I see BuddyPress being used A LOT for micro-communities. I think in fact that there will be a new trend towards micro-communities. People have seen the value with things like Facebook and they want to see that now in their smaller online spaces… local mountain biking groups… local surf donkeys… your knitting club… whatever!
And with regards to groups – same thing – groups don’t really do anything other than group people. Once you’re in a group all you can really do is post on the “wall”. That’s it. Groups is a great idea but they need to to a lot more. My users ask me all the time – “why can’t we create events in the groups”. All the time. It’s the number one thing people ask for. That plus documents, wiki, photos, etc. would all go a long way. I know much of that can be added with plugins. But out of the box, BuddyPress groups don’t really do much.
First, let me say that I am a big fan of BP. My post above simply shared criticism from my members and some frustrations from me, trying to get real-world people to use BP’s features.
@techguy, I agree that BP is “about groups”. My point was simply that BP doesn’t do a very good job of incorporating member’s blogs. They don’t show up in search results and they are impossible to sort-and-find. If your members don’t have blogs/sites, this is no big deal. But for those of us that run MU/MS and our members have blogs, this is frustrating.
Everyone’s using BP in different ways…I’m just trying to provide some actionable feedback from my experience.
“There is almost no benefit whatsoever of Friends within BuddyPress …”
Buddypress was supposed to be social networking added to blogging. Friends could form groups and work together in blogs. Friending itself is probably most relevant for internal email. The one thing you need to make that work is beefed up member management beyond default WordPress:
– full real names instead of anonymous meaningless usernames
– extendable, flexible member data fields
– ways to manage member lists
– ways to manage member roles
– ways to manage relations between members
– privacy and security controls on member data
– front-end functionality for members to manage their own profile data
– front-end functionality for members to manage their relationships
None of these points get the attention they deserve. Again, if you have the three solid elements (1) members (“users”), (2) posts, (3) comments, all the rest is just a matter of displaying the data in different views, including forum view.
The shift in focus from blogging to the old-fashioned bbpress forum structure further derailed the project. Adding social networking to blogging should have been the main focus.
“the best setup is having either Forums or Activity.”
I use neither. I’m trying to structure my custom 1.1.3-based theme around member profiles, blogs and groups with group blogs. My activity stream just reflects what’s happening on the profiles, blogs and groups; it’s not a discussion thread in itself – I think I originally broke the ajax and had to remove reply buttons etc…
you say you are osing Blogs and Groups, I guess by using the Group-Blog-Plugin ?
I wanted this set-up as well, but my trouble is that I do not want to send my users into a complicated Dashboard in order to write a Blog.
Do you have a solution to this ? I guess you went with P2 ?
@erich, yes, I use an older version of Marius Ooms group blog plugin and have integrated P2 into my theme, so it is used on all the blogs. For a visitor who is not logged in or part of the blog team, the blog looks normal, without a post form at the top. P2 has lots of options to configure how that looks and works. I still have to figure out how to hard code some of that into the theme instead of using the settings in wp-admin.
There are probably many different ways to integrate and configure P2. Mine is probably a bit messy. I’ve added the p2 functions to functions.php, p2.js to my js folder, kept other folders as they were. I had to add code to header.php to load the p2 stuff only where needed, because it clashed with another jquery script I had somewhere. Plus a few other hacks to solve weird problems. It sorta works now, even on WP 3.0 so far, but there is still a lot of clean-up and fine-tuning to do.
There are also a few flexible WP front-end posting plugins available that may be usable to create a more user-friendly member profile page. Also on my to-do list as I hopefully start to understand better how p2 works.
“…….full real names instead of anonymous meaningless usernames…..”
It does not have to be a “REAL” name, but ONE name for a member is enough.
Having 2 names for 1 user (username and display-name) is very very confusing !
@erich73 it gets better than that.
Check out the opportunities for naughty fun it creates…
@erich73; We find having an @ mention name and a full profile name useful, as long as they don’t clash and cause confusion. The ‘usernames-only’ plugin from @r-a-y takes care of that. We hope to include business members, so provision for their ‘business card’ name is essential, but only on their profile and pages they pay for.
I guess you are using the “Usernames Only Plugin” and from what I have read, Ray is already working to fix that issue or has already fixed it as there is a new version availbale just today (version 0.56).
I am very thankful to Ray for writing this Plugin “Usernames Only” and will surely send him my donation.
agree with you.
@erich, (“t does not have to be a “REAL” name…”)
The standard on social networks (Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.) is to use real full names. That should be the default imho and then there’s a plugin for those who want something else.
I don’t believe it is the standard. Facebook and LinkedIn at their core are just name directories so they wouldn’t work without real names, but I can’t think of any other sites that use real names by default. Every forum I’ve ever seen uses “user names,” and so does every other major site I can think of (Twitter, MySpace, Youtube, Digg, Reddit, WordPress, Blogger, Google, Yahoo, etc., etc.). The reason the user/real name issue is so confused with BP is because they have no privacy controls. If BP did it would make perfect sense to use a “fake user name” in public and keep your real name private for friends only.
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