Over the past few years, social networking sites have proven to be a great online source for people of the same interests to gather and interact with each other.Â While there are already some notably large established social networks, chances are that you have thought about starting your own social network.
There are a number of software packages you can use to power your site, many of which cost money.Â However, there is a free solution available worth checking out.
Have You Heard Of WordPress?
We all know how great WordPress is, in fact, we use WordPress to power ploked!Â WordPress is amazing not only in that it is free to use, but there is a plethora of plugins available to enhance your WordPress installation.
Release of BuddyPress 1.0
BuddyPress has just announced the release of version 1.0 which has been in development for over a year.Â Since BuddyPress is a community project, they openly ask developers and users to submit not only recommendations for the site, but also encourage the development of plugins and themes to further enhance the BuddyPress capabilites.
Build Your Free Social Network
BuddyPress is not only free, but provides the power and flexibility of what you have come to expect from a WordPress related application.Â The software comes packaged with a handful of plugins that will prove useful to your social networking site.
The plugins can also be themed so that they can match the look and feel of your site.Â Like typical WordPress plugins, you can install or uninstall them easily to suit your needs.
Overview of Features
Profile Fields – There are many features that come with BuddyPress.Â One notable feature is the ability for site administrators to add additional profile fields for members to fill out.Â Aside from the typical name and profile pictures, BuddyPress allows you to add additional fields to really let your members detail their profile information.
For example, if you are developing a social networking site targeted towards musicians, you can add additional fields asking information about what instruments they play, type of music they perform, how long they have been a musician, etc.Â The opportunities are truly endless as to how detailed you want to be.
Private Messaging – BuddyPress, like other community driven sites, has the ability for members to send private messages to each other.Â You can message one or multiple people at a time.Â Messages can be stored as drafts or saved in your sentbox after they are sent.
Adding Friends – Finding and adding friends on BuddyPress is a breeze.Â Like many other social networking sites, you can use the search feature to find other members that share your same interest and add them to your account.
Joining Groups – What social network would be complete without having a section to create and join groups.Â BuddyPress is no different as this is a core feature of the software.
Activity Streams – This component is very similar to what you get with Twitter or Facebook.Â It is a stream that shows what your friends are up to in regards to new friends, new blog posts, new comments, and more.Â This can be customized to suit your needs.
Blog Tracking – WordPress MU is all about multi-user blogs and BuddyPress embraces this concept.Â If a user has blogs or comments across multiple blogs on the BuddyPress installation, these blogs and comments can be aggregated into one location so that it is easy to see what a particular user has posted.
Create Forums – Finally, BuddyPress allows you to create a bbPress forum.Â The forums are created by group managers and allow for members to participate within the forum.
BuddyPress already has a great package of features as outlined above.Â According to their website, they have future plans of incorporating a “status update” which sounds like it will be very similar to what happens on Twitter.Â BuddyPress also states that a photo album feature will also be added so that users can upload, tag, and share photos with their friends.
Should you be interested in creating your own social networking site, I suggest you look into what BuddyPress offers.Â With the backbone of WordPress, you can rest assured you will be using a quality product supported by caring and active developers.