If I had a £ for every time someone complained at BuddyPress or moaned about this or that shortcoming, I’d probably be quite rich and typing this from a desert island. To me, it sometimes feels as if BuddyPress were a poor puppy, tossed out into the world and kicked as an easy target. In the words of Chris Crocker: ”Leave BuddyPress alone!”.
In an attempt to redress this imbalance, I am going to roll out a few of the old chestnuts levied at BuddyPress and try to prevent the puppy kicking with some counter points. I will state from the outset that this is not meant as a deep analysis, but rather just my responses to the nay sayers. I might be a member of the BuddyPress-pompom-cheerleading-fan-club-squad and don’t hide it, but keep in mind that BuddyPress pays most of my bills so it kind of deserves my defence, to some degree. That said, I am certainly not blind to where it needs a little nudge to get better.
“It doesn’t scale”
She swallowed the cow to catch the goat,
She swallowed the goat to catch the dog,
She swallowed the dog to catch the cat,
She swallowed the cat to catch the bird,
She swallowed the bird to catch the spider,”"
- There was an old lady
Scalability it is not a simple, linear issue. There are many factors that need to be considered and BuddyPress itself is but one. I’ll gladly state for the record that I am not a statistics junkie and have not got any massive figures to throw out there. But lets get a bit of sense to that statement; how your site scales cannot be the issue of a single plugin and when it comes down to it, BuddyPress is exactly that, a WordPress plugin.
A high membership number for instance may also not tell the full story with non active users and many communities don’t even publish their figures. However, BuddyPress does run some heavy sites such as Enterprise Nation (64 000 members) and My Telegraph (128 579 members) and there have been recent tickets focusing on scalability and performance.
At this point I think it’s worth to give BuddyPress a “get out of jail card”. One of the biggest issues with BuddyPress and WordPress can come not from core itself but from the theme or plugins you are running on top of them. Don’t always look to blame the core first, stop to think about all the functionality you have piled high on top of that before aiming and shooting. You may also have to look at your hosting solution which is crucial to your site’s performance.
I will give the nay sayers this but I will also put a cushion up around the puppies’ behinds as you line up your boot. With 1.6 there is a new feature called profile privacy and it is so important that it simply can’t (as far as I can see) be the only step; it’s step one of a move to get more privacy into BuddyPress.
I do have a confession to make of once upon a time giving a swift sneaky kick to BuddyPress over spam protection. I know only too well of the frustration, despair and bashing my head on the desk that finding a working spam solution for BuddyPress can create. You could perhaps argue that core should have some solution rolled in but as I’ve said privacy and spam solutions are very much at the early stages with BuddyPress.
“The sites all look the same”
You’re not even trying are you? Those are 2 year old arguments and you’re not bothering to look at the rainbow of BuddyPress sites out there right now. Never one to not bring on a little photo montage of amazing BuddyPress sites… you asked for it!
Sites featured in picture:
- Feel the Yarn
- Hoboken Mommies 24 7
- Startup Weekend
- Little Sketchers
- Coming of Age Now
“Oh, but Faceboook…”
Social networks are focused on the one. Communities are focused on a shared purpose. Communities are not social networks but we can look to them when designing communities.
A social network is not a community. Where BuddyPress excels is with its ability to build communities, specifically niche communities. This is a completely different thing to Facebook. Can we once and for all stop flogging the dead horse that is comparing BuddyPress to Facebook? BuddyPress can and should learn from Facebook – if it didn’t it would be ignoring a good lesson in social networking. It shouldn’t try and mimic or be directly compared to it though.
“The themes, they hurt my brain”
Ok, you’ve got me, let me just line up the cute furry little behind of the puppy whilst you take a swing. Theme creation in BuddyPress at this point sucks. It may be small comfort to hear that it really was a whole lot worse. For now, take the strain by making a child theme of BuddyPress default or using the template pack.
The good news is theme independence is on the BuddyPress roadmap and it’s right around the corner in that roadmap. It’s really an exciting time to be working with BuddyPress themes.
“Nobody answers my support question so I’m going to ask again in CAPITALS with exclamation marks!!!!!!!!!”
You know when, as a kid, you were told to always ask politely for things? The same thing works for online support. Nobody gets paid to answer your questions in volunteer support forums. The people answering questions are all giving up their own time to help and, they despite popular belief, do not have endless piles of time just to cater to your every whim.
Do you make money from BuddyPress? Ok then, when was the last time you answered a forum support question on BuddyPress? If you answered “yes” to the first question and your second answer was “not recently”, you have just highlighted a big problem with not just BuddyPress but with open source in general. If you gain, give back – it’s a simple yet effective formula.
“It’s not… toilet trained”
It’s worth mentioning that whilst BuddyPress has been around for a while it could still be very much considered a not mature project, if only because of the vast scope that such a project encompasses. As it matures so do those areas many currently point to as weaknesses. Along with the BuddyPress maturing process, so will the plugins and themes on offer accompany it and bolster functionality outside of core even more than what they already do.
It takes a village to bring up a community solution
BuddyPress development is so slow.
- Mr. Moaner McMoany
BuddyPress is an open source project. It is created by volunteers and at the heart of it are a handful of core contributors. It relies heavily on the people who help that team with patches, support, documentation and testing. I don’t deny it has been a slow development cycle at times, but it is also true that on many occasions not that many hands were helping; “many hands make light work” isn’t a saying for no reason.
You don’t have to be a developer to help with the release cycles of BuddyPress, either. In short, stop moaning and get involved. It doesn’t take hours a week – just a small time donation can add up. Get involved in the BuddyPress developer blog and chat and be part of the solution not of the problem. Nobody likes a moaner.