Want to turn your WordPress site into a community? Or even a social network? Then you need to take a serious look at the bbPress and BuddyPress plugins
Written by the WordPress developers to power the WordPress support forums, bbPress is also the underlying technology behind the WordPress plugin repository interface and provides the forums component of BuddyPress. The integration of BuddyPress and bbPress is a work in progress but fairly functional as of this year. And as of version 2.0 (released in 2011) bbPress is now a true WordPress plugin. So if WordPress comments are not enough and you want a true forum component on your site, check out bbPress.
With BuddyPress (also now a full plugin for WordPress) you can take your WordPress site to a whole new level by turning it into a social networking community. BuddyPress brings a whole suite of capabilities to WordPress: including user profiles, a friending mechanism, groups and group based forums. While bbPress provides sitewide forums, BuddyPress provides forums that you need to be a member of a group to participate in. The group concept is very flexible and groups can be public, private and even hidden.
At a recent meetup at Oakland coworking space: Tech Liminal. I got the opportunity to see two speakers, Ben Hansen, webmaster for gotgame.com and Eric Reynolds, developer and current community manager of oakarts.net, walk through their BuddyPress sites. GotGame.com serves the gaming community, featuring reviews and original video content. While Eric’s OSA APT Connect site is an online place for parents to come together who have children in a Oakland Performing Arts school. The two sites serve two totally different communities but both are great examples of what you can do with BuddyPress. Most of the information in this post is based on their talks, so a big thanks to Ben and Eric and to the East Bay WordPress meetup Group.
Here are a couple of plugins beyond WangGuard and Ban Hammer(see above) that Eric and Ben recommended:
One of the reasons I am such a fan of WordPress is because of the community that supports it and the interesting directions that some have taken with it. The bbPress and BuddyPress plugins are great examples of how you can build something very significant on top of the WordPress platform.
Kathy Alice Brown is a traffic and conversion expert specializing in SEO, Copywriting and Facebook Ad Campaigns. In her spare time she loves to get outside.