Social Networking

WP Symposium Social Network for WordPress

For someone who has never put any genuine effort into building a social network with WordPress, I certainly seem to be enamored with this WP Symposium plugin. I have it installed on four separate site installations, and until my most previous ¬†“best idea ever”, I’ve done nothing but play around with it. I think I like the idea of growing a social network, but I really have no idea how to do so. However, I don’t let that keep me from tinkering. ūüôā

WPSymposium is a free social network plugin for WordPress. The plugin is actually a suite of seven separate plugins that include the core and six secondary plugins. (mail, profile, forum, panel, members, and widgets) There’s also a couple of premium membership options, Bronze and Silver, that give you access to additional plugins for Bronze and a help desk for Silver.

I’ve toyed with the idea of starting a social network site of some kind, but if I wanted to use my preferred open source framework choice of WordPress, the choices seemed very slim. There’s BuddyPress which is a plugin, although I thought I remember it being a theme when I tried it.

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Turns out it is a plugin, but to make it work with your existing theme better, you can download a BuddyPress template pack. It’s been so long since I tested it that I honestly don’t remember how my install went, but I remember not being impressed with both the default view and navigating around the options. I’m sure a lot has change in the last year or two, and I do use the Thesis Theme which often makes such things harder, so perhaps BP was just not in the cards for me.

The other option was Mingle. I actually used Mingle for awhile on a family photo site to give all family members a log in without having them deal with the WordPress back end. While it was functional, there was very little developer support, which made the forums at the site a virtual ghost town. I once asked about an issue I was having and was told the developer was aware of it, but it was never addressed in the few months that followed. At the time I gave up on Mingle, the plugin had not been updated in nearly a year, so it was apparent it was not a high priority to anyone to keep it going.

Then I found WP Symposium, and while it’s certainly not without inconvenience to a hack like me, it’s a solid plugin that works and has a community worth hanging around in to look for answers. I also must say that the guy taking care of business over there must work tirelessly on this plugin. It seems like every other day I have seven new plugin updates (all for WPS), so this software is continuously being improved and polished.

So here I go again with a new idea, this time giving it an honest shot at building a small social network around a niche idea. I’ve got WP Symposium pretty much set up the way I want working in conjunction with the Theme My Login plugin for redirects to keep users out of the back end area. Now if ¬†only I knew CSS better to be able to fix how Thesis strips form elements to look like crap, I’d be close to ready for launch. Luckily for me, that Thesis forum is priceless for all they do for members.

This is the one, right? This is the idea. The one that changes everything for me. Stay tuned for that. ūüėČ

Wiccle Community Builder

Update – 10/20/2012: I noticed the dead link for and found some information on Facebook regarding the site. An officer resignation in May of 2012 and three weeks later the site goes down. Here’s the post from Facebook on June 5th.

“Our main website ( is currently offline for reasons beyond our control. We’re working on resolving the situation and resuming regular service. In the meantime, you can download our free CMS software at the following address:¬†”

Unfortunately that url also seems to be unavailable. Is this the end for Wiccle?

I came across Wiccle by accident last night. I was again trolling through random free software lists and happened on to this one. Upon first glance it reminded me a lot like SocialEngine without the price tag. There’s a fifteen day trial, then you can either get yourself a free license that is supported by ads, or buy a lifetime ads free license for ninety nine euro. Although the free price sounds enticing, I think it’s a no brainer to pay for the brandable license so you can slap your own ads on there and eventually earn some revenue. I know you really have to enjoy what you do for a living, but isn’t the point to make some coin while you do it? I would run websites for free, and I am, so getting paid for it would be the icing on the cake for me.

The install was pretty simple but there were a lot of directories I had to make writable before it would allow me to install. After that, it was really quick. I had a site up in minutes. The default site and its icons kind of reminded me of those ads I’d sometimes see on websites about dropping and dragging clothes on a cartoon girl. I forget what they were called, but it definitely had this anime type feel about it.

There are a ton of settings to play with in the admin area. I have not had a chance to try them all, so I can’t give much input on flexibility or functionality. You might be asking yourself what good is a write up for a piece of software that is fairly foreign to me, but my posts are intended to be more about discovery than the dissection of all the software offers. It’s up to you to figure out if this software will fit your needs or not. I can say that there is a nice and easy website builder option to add your own content to standard pages such as terms, privacy, about us, etc.

I will add that Wiccle seems to have all the typical menus you would expect from a social networking content management system. It offers the ability for its users to blog, post events, write and rate articles, create image galleries, include links, start groups, and more. This one is definitely going to be explored more in the coming weeks.

SocialEngine Social Networking Script

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I found social engine a few months back when I was searching for a decent open source social networking script. I found Elgg and tried that out for a bit, but it really didn’t do it for me. I’m still on the look out for a meaty open source platform for social networking, but so far the best scripts appear to be the commercial ones like social engine.

I just installed social engine today so I don’t have much to rant or rave about, but I have been poking around the demo for days in anticipation. This is what a social networking script should look like to me. I didn’t plan to install this trial so soon, but I just happened to come up with a five letter dotcom domain name that was available, so I bought it and ftp’d the files immediately. I’m actually posting this first before I even go through the install process.

Upon first glance it appears that there is a gargantuan list of features, but a lot of them are actually plugins that cost extra. This means the script could end up costing almost double in the end for the fully loaded model. At the same time, you really can’t put a price on finding the ideal script for what you’re trying to accomplish.

I’m pretty impressed with the amount of documentation and detail on the site. From feature details, community forums, newsletters, knowledge bases, FAQ’s, demos, and support tickets, the site seems to be a wealth of information. I’ll have to report back and let you know if social engine is worthy of my hype and excitement, or if it’s all just smoke and mirrors.

Would you be so kind as to Stumble this page?

Elgg Social Networking Software

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Elgg is an open source social networking software that I found while searching for free community building platforms. I really didn’t have a very good idea for a site, but I wanted to play around with Elgg, so I bought a domain and created a site for fans of classic TV shows.

I was enamored with Elgg for about a week before I started getting bored with it. I created some groups, set up my profile, and configured some settings in the administration area. There was a strange plugin setup where the lowest plugin in the list weighed the heaviest and would take precedence over others, or something to that effect.

The software is group based where users join and create groups for different topics. While that might seem like a good idea for social networking, I thought it was clunky and wasteful as people seemed to want to create new groups for topics equivalent to that of a new forum thread.

About three months after I abandoned the site, I went back to see how the site was doing and to my surprise I had about fifty users and over two hundred blog posts. All spamming users, all spamming blog posts. I’m sure there are ways to secure the site, but I just didn’t feel that it was worth spending the time learning any more about this software.

You can’t beat the fact that it’s free software to build your own community, but so far the commercial scripts I’ve tried are much more user friendly than any part of Elgg. The pay scripts seem to have features and settings that are easier to configure with much less of a learning curve and Elgg just can’t compare at this point.

There’s also a lack of support for Elgg right now. There are some plugin developers and a few theme developers, but overall I still felt the choices were limited. I only found a few different sites that created plugins and themes for Elgg, and a number of them were not free, so your open source site will incur some costs right off the bat unless you can develop your own add-ons and site designs.

If you want to give social networking a shot on the cheap, then by all means give Elgg a shot. You’ll be able to have a functional¬† and unique social networking site up pretty quickly, but what you sacrifice in money will unfortunately cost you in time. And hey, if you’re a television sitcom fan, I have an Elgg site to sell you.