Why I joined wpmudev.org

I consider myself beyond beginner but not advanced user of wordpress, or perhaps I’m an advanced user but by no means a developer. My goal is to create a buddypress website that is essentially a facebook killer for my small community of friends. We used to use a PHPBB-esque board called Xoops, which was great… we made it private and invite-only, and it was really effective for taking public debates into a more controlled private discourse that was troll-free, or at least, had the “trolls that you know.” We created that board as a reaction to another more public version of itself which had more content, but more noise vs. signal… so we created an alternative for those interested in more signal vs. noise.

Facebook has now become the new noise…. and to get people willing to migrate to another private board requires not only doing what facebook does for them feature-wise, but does a little bit MORE. One of those “more” things, is privacy obviously, but more control and flexibility is nice. This is why i love wordpress and open source software, apps, plugins, etc. We could allow for attachments of any kind of file to posts, not just images or video links, for example.

My community is only about 100 people strong, but we’re very close, and on the old board we would hang out all day, but that movement has switched to Facebook in the past few years… and now, there is concern over privacy, and a newfound respect for non-advertiser-subsidized social networking. There is a growing trend for people to go BACK to the likes of forum-based niche websites, which is better for everyone I think, but only if we can offer the same features and do them a little better.

The one thing you don’t have is facebook’s massive population of users, that’s understood… but that isn’t the goal. If you’re there for your friends, and you have an alternative that’s BETTER, then you could migrate your friends to it under the pretense of giving them more privacy on your own personally hosted server, domain name, and apps… such as buddypress. It came down to elgg or buddypress for me. Buddypress is a better candidate for me because WordPress has a larger support community than elgg… and elgg, while I feel is faster than buddypress, has some growing pains to get over (though I do think it will be the best candidate eventually, as it is designed to be a social network from scratch, whereas WordPress is designed to be a blog, first and foremost.) The MU wordpress and buddypress installs are hacks around a single-user blogging program doing their best to make it look like something else. To this day, even the best buddypress installations feel like their emphasis is on blogging, not status updates, group status updates, or forum posts. Of course I’d say this website is an exception… here I am posting in a forum, right? This does a great job of hiding the fact it’s built around a blog.. but this is also why I’m here, to learn how to make my own site better looking, more interactive, less “bloggy” and more intuitive, speedier, friendlier, and have all the latest updates accessible in the most simple manner possible.

When people blog, the activity stream currently says “____ wrote a new post. Here’s the name of it _____” and no further information. When someone writes a status update on their profile, however, you see the whole thing in the activity stream. The blog post, however, won’t even give you a snippet. Stuff like that bothers me. It makes me want to remove the blogging feature. Hopefully now you all have a better frame of reference where I’m coming from.

I love the arrowchat plugin too (though I did pay $125 for it, but I now have it for as long as I want to use it.) It’s just like facebook chat, but allows for the creation of group chats, site-wide chats, and see what I mean…it’s a bit better than regular facebook chat. There are ways to be a cut-above facebook without having to pay developers 24/7 to work on it… I firmly believe that all the talent is already here. I love the idea of seeing hundreds of them popping up everywhere. I really love the idea of an “out of the box” facebook killer, something like buddypress with all the proper plugins already included and enabled so even the beginners can easily figure it out. I love the idea of the user having more ownership and control over their own content, and the people who run your website aren’t being subsidized by advertisers who are looking for sneaky ways to get their ads in your face as often as possible. I like the idea of dialog and interaction with the user community BEFORE making changes, or after you make them, getting feedback and listening, and changing things accordingly. As opposed to “here is a new feature, deal with it, it’s not going away, it’s only going to get worse, and up yours, you’ve got nowhere else to go.” You get my drift.

Just takes a lot of learning on our part to figure out how. At least on my part, lots of learning is required, and that is why I’m here with you all. :slight_smile:

Thanks for hearing me out and letting me join this beautiful community of developers, beginners, and educators.