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What is BuddyPress Hosting?

Social networks offer easy communication, and a way for a group with common interests to stay in touch. With BuddyPress, you can build your own social network on your WordPress site. Want to turn your website into a robust social network? Sure, you could simply rely on templated setups such as Ning. But why do that when you can build your own, and customize it specifically to your group? You can do that with BuddyPress.

BuddyPress is a WordPress Plugin that adds full-featured Social Networking capabilities to a self-hosted WordPress site.

Who needs a custom Social Network?

With so many people already using Social Networks like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, you might think there isn't any need for another social network.

Actually, niche social networks are very popular. Small social networking sites help specific communities of people network, keep in touch, and share their passion for a topic or area of interest. Whether it's dog breeders or church musicians, stamp collectors or Star Trek fans, people enjoy spending time online with other people who share their interests.

Existing "real world" organizations, like churches and social clubs, can also use custom social networking sites to keep their members in touch between meetings or services.

Buddy Press Development Philosophy

Clean and transparent coding
The WordPress team believes that "Code is Poetry," and this philosophy extends to their development of BuddyPress. The code is elegant, easy to read, and well documented.

Modular design
Each component of BuddyPress is built to be used independently. Use only those features you need.

BuddyPress components

BuddyPress isn't one giant program. It is a series of small modules that each provide one aspect of a social networking experience. This means that you can pick and choose which features to enable. You can use BuddyPress to create a full social networking site with all the bells and whistles, or you can use it to just add one small piece of social interaction to your existing blog or website.

In addition to the BuddyPress Core (which just provides features needed by all the other components), BuddyPress modules include:

Members
The Members module adds account and notification settings into the existing WordPress User profile.

Extended Profiles
With this module, the BuddyPress site admin can add an unlimited number of data fields to the user profile. Data fields can be one of several input types (multiple choice, check box, drop-down, free text, etc.).

This can be used to add community-specific biographical information to the user profile. For example, if you are running a social network for Model Train enthusiasts, you might want to ask them which type of trains they use.

Friend Connections
This module adds the ability for members to be linked as friends. Features include sending and responding to friend requests and displaying lists of friends on user profiles. Also used in conjunction with other modules like Activity Streams and Messaging.

Internal Messaging
Allows users to send and receive private messages. Users have access to an Inbox, Sentbox, and Drafts folder, and can turn on email notification.

Notifications
Works in conjunction with other modules to let users know about messages and activity. Notifications appear in the user's tool bar and can also be sent via email.

Activity Streams
Lets members stay up-to-date with commenting, favoriting, sharing, and other activity via RSS.

User Groups
Allows users to organize themselves into Public and Private Groups.

WordPress Blogs
Members of your BuddyPress site can run individual blogs. Posts, comments, and other blog activity will then appear in activity streams and notifications.

Discussion Forums
Discussion Board functionality is provided by the bbPress project, also from the makers of WordPress.

BuddyPress Theming

BuddyPress is designed to work with a website's existing theme and style sheets, so any well-crafted WordPress theme will already support BuddyPress and its expanded functionality. (Though, of course, not all WordPress themes are "well-crafted.")

BuddyCamps

BuddyPress is all about building community. The software was built by a community of Open Source developers, and their project website uses BuddyPress in order to promote a high level of social interaction.

Along with that commitment to community are regular gatherings of BuddyPress developers and users, called BuddyCamps. BuddyCamps are a part of the WordCamp movement, and are a great place to learn more about the software and engage with the larger user community.

BuddyPress Hosting

Requirements

  • PHP 5.2.4 or better
  • MySQL 5.0 or better
  • Apache Module mod_rewrite enabled for "pretty permalinks"

BuddyPress requires that you have WordPress installed first. Do NOT use a one-click install script (Simple Scripts, Softaculous, Fantastico, etc.) to install WordPress if you are going to run BuddyPress.

The BuddyPress teams strongly recommends that you install WordPress manually. (This is not difficult. Instructions are available at WordPress.org.)

Recommended by BuddyPress

The development team strongly recommended against using shared and discount hosting for BuddyPress. They suggest, at a minimum, using a Virtual Private Server (VPS) for hosting a BuddyPress site.

BuddyPress Hosting Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is BuddyPress?

    BuddyPress is a WordPress plugin - created from a series of other WordPress plugins - that brings the features and functions of a social network to what is likely the most used content management system on the web. If you want to add social networking to your WordPress website, or you want to build a social network on the WordPress framework - BuddyPress is for you. Get user profiles, activity streams, user groups, and more on the WordPress platform and take your site to another level.

  • What are some good reasons to use Buddypress?

    BuddyPress is great if you are already familiar with WordPress and want to run a website with social networking features. BuddyPress is best deployed if you are interested in running a social network for your company or institution, an Intranet or internal communication platform, a niche social network, or a platform for launching some new products.

  • Are there any reasons not to use BuddyPress?

    The biggest reason to avoid using BuddyPress is if you are not fond of WordPress as a primary content management platform. Because of the widespread use of WordPress, it is often the target of malicious attacks. There are always security measures that you can take to keep your WordPress (and therefore BuddyPress) platform safe, but there are extra costs involved in all of that added protection.

  • What are the alternatives to BuddyPress?

    If you are looking for a BuddyPress alternative that is also powered by the WordPress platform, the two most common comparables are WP Symposium Pro and UserPro. WP Symposium Pro is available as a self-hosted option and can be downloaded for free. UserPro allows users with Facebook accounts to instantly sign in to your site, which is a nice feature for today's online communities. For non-WordPress compatible options, there are a wide variety of social networking content management systems - Dolphin, Elgg, Jcow, and Oxwall are just a few options that many hosting providers can offer with a 1-click installation.

  • What are the requirements for BuddyPress web hosting?

    While shared hosting is often all that is needed to run a fast WordPress website, BuddyPress typically doesn't respond as well on a shared hosting platform. Whether your BuddyPress installation is hosted in a virtual environment or on bare metal servers, a dedicated hosting solution is the preferred platform to run your BuddyPress website.

  • Are there any additional specific hosting recommendations?

    The most commonly recommended hosting option for BuddyPress is managed WordPress hosting. When BuddyPress websites are run on managed WordPress hosting, the servers and support teams are specifically configured to run and manage WordPress installations. Managed WordPress hosting is also generally cheaper than other dedicated hosting options and is very secure for running a WordPress content management system.

  • Do I need to be concerned about installation?

    Since BuddyPress is a plugin package available to run on Wordpress, installing it should be fairly easy. WordPress is available as a one-click installation on almost every hosting platform on the web. Once you have WordPress installed, installing BuddyPress is even easier. After you make sure you have pretty permalinks enabled, simply navigate to the Plugins gallery, click 'Add New', search and find BuddyPress, and then click 'Install'. Once you click install and the plugin installs itself on WordPress, the last thing you need to click is 'Activate' and - voila! - you now have BuddyPress.

  • Is there any reason not to use a one-click installation wizard?

    The only reason not to use the one-click installation for WordPress would be if you already have WordPress and are simply upgrading to the latest stable release before installing BuddyPress. WordPress is so readily available as a 1-click installation for new websites, and the process is so streamlined today, that going the manual route seems very inefficient.

  • What does self-hosted mean? I don’t have to run a server myself, do I?

    Self-hosted websites do not require YOU to personally own a server and manage it to host your site. Instead, self-hosted simply means that hosting is not provided directly by the development team that created BuddyPress or on WordPress.com. In order to use a self-hosted content management system for social networking like BuddyPress, you will need to contract a hosting provider before building your website.

  • Can I host a BuddyPress blog on a shared hosting plan?

    There really are two answers to this question. The simple answer is yes, you can in fact host BuddyPress on a shared hosting plan. Millions of Wordpress installations run on shared hosting, and since Wordpress is the base platform you need to run BuddyPress, it is possible. Most BuddyPress experts will not suggest this type of hosting for a BuddyPress installation, however, so the preferred hosting configuration for BuddyPress is a dedicated or virtual server solution. Unlike Wordpress in its natural state, BuddyPress is resource heavy and requires a more advanced server solution to prevent your shared server from slow response times.

  • Do I have to know how to program to use BuddyPress?

    When it first launched, there was a great deal of programming knowledge you may have needed to know if you wanted to successfully run BuddyPress. Today, that isn't really the case. With that said, if you are completely new to website management, have no PHP programming knowledge, and have no desire to hack code with basic HTML and CSS modification, then it may be a good idea to find a web programmer or a web developer with PHP experience. At some point in your journey with BuddyPress, you are going to find something you want to tweak or customize that you won't be able to complete, and having someone with programming expertise is going to be a valuable asset.

  • Do I need managed hosting in order to use BuddyPress as my CMS?

    The answer to this question depends on your answer to the question "how much responsibility are you willing to accept for the maintenance of your website?" The more complex your site becomes with plugins and additional features, the greater your need will be for professionally managed website hosting. Shared hosting often comes with some managed services included. If you have a dedicated hosting solution, however, managed services are likely required as part of your agreement. This is the case with any self-hosted content management system for social networking - not just a WordPress website with BuddyPress installed.

  • How does BuddyPress compare to JomSocial?

    JomSocial is a common comparison for BuddyPress. However, JomSocial is not available as a WordPress plugin - instead, it runs on the Joomla content management system. Unlike BuddyPress, JomSocial is not available for free - you can expect to pay anywhere from $100 to $300 for JomSocial as an extension of Joomla site. If you are actively considering JomSocial as an alternative to BuddyPress and you have little experience with programming, you are likely going to be overwhelmed by Joomla and JomSocial. The easier solution with the shortest time to deployment is WordPress/BuddyPress.

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