community software

Dolphin Social Dating Software

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.

[ad name=”Small Square”]

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 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 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.


I first came across  the Phorum software one day when I visited the Sphider site to scour the forums for an answer. I don’t remember if Sphider always had this forum software, but it seemed new to me that day, so I think it was a change for them. It looks like they are running the default green install based on the Phorum demo.

[ad name=”Small Square”]

I also had a look around the admin area demo over at OpenSourceCMS. I think this is pretty decent looking software for someone going for the minimalist approach. It’s a nice change to all the phpBB and vBulletin community bulletin boards out there. Although the default doesn’t do much for me, I do like what the folks over at MySQL have done. The DealNews forums were equally impressive when they were up, but apparently things have changed over there since the forum is no longer reachable. Both of these sites are a testament to Phorum’s ability to handle hundreds of thousands (even millions in the DealNews forums archive) of posts which is quite impressive.

I’m not sure if it’s the Phorum software or the configuring the folks at the Sphider site performed, but I do have one major problem  based on my limited personal experience. Searching is just horrible. Whenever I try to find information over at the Sphider forums, I find the results extremely weak (if I get any at all). It’s been so bad that I once tested it by scrolling through pages and pages of posts until I found one that had the same keyword in both the title and the body of the post. I then went back to the forum index and searched for the keyword in the same forum and got zero results. Unfortunately, the only way to find what I need is to manually scan each page of posts, but who really wants to do that?

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.


[ad name=”200x200all”]

For awhile it seemed like vBulletin was the forum of choice for site owners looking to implement a community bulletin board system. For the longest time I saw forums running this software everywhere. Even my brother chose vBulletin for his website despite my best efforts to persuade him in giving open source a try first. He had his mind made up on vBulletin, so this is where I got to get my hands wet with the software. I’ve never owned it myself, but whenever he had a question, I got to log in and poke around, so I became somewhat familiar with the ins and outs of the back end.

I had used phpBB at this point, so I did have something to compare  it to, and I don’t think it was that much better to warrant paying nearly two hundred dollars for a forum, but my disinterest in forums might be making me a bit cheap about it. I do remember finding features that made me think this was like a premium version of phpBB, so it’s definitely not inferior by any means. It’s probably as good as a forum can get at the moment, but there are just so many other options for building communities that it’s hard to justify spending the money when you can get a similar alternative for free.

The folks at vBulletin must realize this because they now have a Publishing Suite for sale for a few bucks more, but it has the forum included with the addition of blog and article publishing as well. This covers more options and I believe it was a very smart move of them. Having a forum as a stand alone site might work at times, but you’re allowing your visitors to leave when they seek more in depth information on the same subject being discussed in your forums. By having articles and blogs with a community of users, you can keep those visitors right there on your site clicking pages and earning you additional revenue.

Whether you’re thinking of starting a forum or an entire community, vBulletin may be an option to consider depending on your budget. I do have to admit that the list of features is quite immense, so it’s certainly worth checking out. The forum is definitely tops as far as being built out. I will say that despite my indifference to forum software, if I desperately wanted to start a forum and spending money on a license was not an issue, vBulletin is definitely the one I would choose.

Elgg Social Networking Software

[ad name=”200x200all”]

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.