Using BuddyPress for Social Networks

During this article I would like to explore the steps you would take at the very beginning of you social networking journey with BuddyPress.

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The main BuddyPress Forum component is bbPress. This is a core piece of software created by the creators of WordPress and it is pretty much fully integrated into WordPress and BuddyPress. With bbPress you can create two types of forum in a BuddyPress context – Site-wide forums and Group Forums. Site-wide forums have to be setup by the site admin whilst group forums are optional aspects of groups that are enabled by the group creator.

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Mycred is a full featured system for awarding points based on member participation at your site, the types of activities that result is points being awarded are entirely configurable and you can install add-ons such as Badges that allow you to create badges to be awarded when certain points levels have been attained. For all it’s power MyCred is pretty simple to install and configure.

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Events Manager is a rich featured Events plugin for WordPress/BuddyPress. Truth be told it is probably overkill for many BuddyPress sites however it does offer good integration with BuddyPress and it’s diverse range of options mean that it should be the only Events Manager you will ever need.

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One feature missing from the default BuddyPress installation is media galleries and the ability to allow BuddyPress users to upload their own images to be shared with others. Typical hosted social platforms allow the addition of media in three ways – media can be uploaded to a members personal profile page, for sharing with others and display on their profile page, Media can be uploaded to groups and held in a group gallery and media can be uploaded “to the site” – typically placed in a single collective gallery for all to see and often these images are displayed in a front page slider showcasing the uploads of those members. Sometimes media uploads can be marked as “Featured” and will be displayed in a featured content area in the main gallery.

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Compared to a platform such as Ning, the BuddyPress Group home page I feel is one area that lets BuddyPress down. By default it actually just displays the activity feed for the group. A Ning group home has extended information about the group, it has a summary of the forum posts and it has a comments section. In this article I intend to show you how by using BuddyPress Group Extras you can have a home page for your groups with all of these features.

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The combination of WordPress and BuddyPress is a powerful and complex mix, it will take you some time playing with all of the features in order for you to come up with your ideal site. In this article I would like to take you through the basics of getting to know your site and customising it for your purposes, in future articles I will cover adding additional features to your site in order to further customise your installation.

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This article is going to take you through setting up BuddyPress for the first time. It is geared towards people trying to set up Social Networking sites with features similar to those available with Ning or other hosted Social Network providers, as such it assumes that you will want all of the features of BuddyPress, plus a few more (well, a whole bunch more!).

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