WordPress is so underrated. It helped usher in an era of mass self publishing on the Internet. Self publishing evolved into social media, social media evolved into social networking, and all of it nearly disintermediated the watercolor as a GLD-safe harbor in the workplace.
It has evolved into a fantastic content management platform, and even the largest media empires are now choosing to use it. But WordPress wants to be more than a publishing platform.
Since 2009, an open source project to build social networking tools on a WordPress foundation has been in the works. It’s called, BuddyPress. The earliest versions of BuddyPress required someone smarter than me to implement. They had discrete design themes that made an integration with an existing WordPress blog somewhat difficult.
Within the last year, BuddyPress has made some real strides in accommodating a shade tree coder like myself. Installation is much simpler, and its look and feel now pulls from your existing WordPress installation.
I’ve always thought it would be cool to create my own social network; limiting it to just a couple dozen friends. After reading about the newest version of BuddyPress, I decided to give it a go. Here’s how to do it:
From the WordPress dashboard, I navigated to Plugins, and then to Add New. BuddyPress is prominently displayed in the Featured section, but if you don’t see it, you can always use the Search feature in the top right corner.
Next, I clicked on the Install Now button.
Alright. This part is a little tricky. A dialog box will pop up on your screen asking if you are sure you want to install the plugin. You will have to make up your own mind here. I weighed the pros and cons, then decided to click OK.
Dang! You just installed BuddyPress. Good job! Now you just need to Activate the plug-in and follow along with the Get Started guide.
Building your social network
All good social networks have a catchy name. I’m a sucker for a good double entendre, so I named mine, The Clique.
Get it? Get it?
After completing the Get Started guide, I checked out the Activity Page to see how it looked. Everything seemed to work. The only problem was that I was the only member of my new social network, and had no friends.
So I invited a few folks to join, and solicited their feedback.
What I Learned
Starting your own social network is pretty damn easy. Why the world needs another social network is a topic for another post.