I found Dolphin 7 while searching for open source dating software, but it really doesn’t seem like open source to me, or at least not what I’ve come to understand as true open source. WordPress is true open source to me. Dolphin has all its code available and offers a free download. I suppose by definition that makes it open source, but not to me. Anytime I obtain a new piece of software in which I pay real money out of my pocket before ever installing it is not open source software to me.

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I’m not saying I don’t like spending money on software I obtain for free. Quite the contrary. I’ve spent quite a bit on WordPress themes and plugins alone, never mind the occasional costs associated with hiring programmers to tweak a site just the way I want it. I guess I just don’t like being duped into thinking something is free when it really is not. Dolphin is free if you want to build the Boonex brand and not your own.

I know people need to make money and deserve to be compensated. I just wish companies were more up front about whether or not it’s a commercial script. As a webmaster, if you’re not going to pay the money to remove ads and links, your site may as well be located at mysite.boonex.com. In other words, you’ll be attempting to build your own brand in the shadows of Boonex.

Now that I got that off my chest, I’ll add that it’s not really dating software either. I suppose all social networking software is dating software in a sense, but calling Dolphin dating software would be selling it incredibly short. This demo is hot!

I don’t know where I ever got the impression that Dolphin was lackluster, but from an aesthetic viewpoint, I was dead wrong. This thing is packed full of features. Overall it’s very well laid out and there’s not much you’d need to do if you wanted a community website online rather quickly. I’m sure there would be plenty you would want to do, but very little you’d actually need to do in order to be a fully functional community site.

The menus seem to go on forever with just about every option you can imagine. I have to say I am extremely impressed visually with Dolphin. The most important part to me is the part that visitors will see, and I really think this would be a nice experience for a user that happens upon your vibrant niche community using this software.

So far I have been a fan of SocialEngine, but Dolphin is really putting up a fight right now. The only thing giving SocialEngine the edge for me is the Scribd plugin from SocialEngineAddons.com. The site I’ve been thinking about launching a community script on is author/writing related, so this add on would be just about perfection.

You might feel differently depending on your needs, but I would definitely not gloss over Dolphin as an option if you’re in the market for decent community software.