A while back Damien wrote an article about how to install and run your very own social network using WordPress. At the time you had to download and install WordPress MU (or WordPress Multi User) in order to install BuddyPress and therefore to have your own social network.
Since the advent of WordPress 3.0, regular WordPress and WordPress MU has now been merged together. In other words, if you have upgraded your blog to WordPress 3.0, you have the features of MU built right in. You just have to activate them.
This is good news for someone who wants to use BuddyPress because they don’t have to download and install WordPress MU. Check out how easy it is now to install BuddyPress now that we have WordPress 3.0.
1. Activate Networking Abilities Of WordPress 3.0.
It’s kind of a mystery to me why the multi-site abilities of WordPress 3.0 are hidden behind a few hacks but they are. WordPress 3.0 does not act like MU right out of the box. Check out this article about how to turn your WordPress blog into a blog network using WordPress 3.0. Do what’s outlined there and you’ll be ready to move on to the next step.
2. Install The BuddyPress Plugin
Installing the BuddyPress plugin (it’s actually a group of plugins packed together) is as easy as installing any WordPress plugin. Just head to the plugins section of the Admin screen and search for Buddypress.
Just make sure it is the correct plugin and you’re good to go.
3. Activate A BuddyPress Compatible WordPress Theme
After installing the proper plugin, you’ll probably get a message saying: “You’ll need to activate a BuddyPress compatible theme to take advantage of all of the features. We’ve bundled a default theme, but you can always install some other compatible themes or upgrade your existing WordPress theme.”
If you don’t have one downloaded already, click the “install some other compatible themes” link. For the time being I chose to use the default theme.
That’s all there really is to setting up BuddyPress on WordPress 3.0. It’s as easy as enabling networking, installing a plugin and installing a compatible theme. From here it’s up to you to find a niche and users to use this tool. Take some time and become familiar with some of the features before you get too many users asking for help. Check out these features:
1. Activity Streams – See What Everyone Is Up To
You can view the activity streams of individuals, groups or even the whole site.
2. Extended Profiles – “About Me” Pages For Users
You have control over what fields users can fill in to describe themselves. They can upload an avatar too.
3. Private Messaging
Private messaging is like an internal email system. Send messages to other users that only they can see (image from the BuddyPress homepage).
There’s also other features common to social networking like friend connecting, blogging, and discussion forums. Check these out at the BuddyPress homepage. Also try out the test site by going to testbp.org and signing up for an account.
Is BuddyPress the only way to create your own social networking site? No. There are what Damien called “3rd party social network providers.” Check out Groupsite to create a free network without having to handle all of the installation and setting up. As we know, there are pluses and minuses to both but your needs may dictate which direction you choose to go in.
Do you run a social networking site? What do you use to do it? We want to know.
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