The best free social script? There is no such a thing

Few months back, I was (and still I am) desperately looking for the best free social script that delivers the best, most prominent out of the box social elements that have the extreme extensibilities and customizations. The journey was longer and steep than I previously thought.

First came the candy age of Buddypress sitting lackluster over Wordpress. The plugin is an abandoned one by its own incubator, Andy Peatling. If you frequent to, you can still peep into Andy Peatling's boastings about's early flourishing stats. However it didnt grow into the big levels that Andy first expected and he left without notice. After Andy's hiatus John James Jacobs, the notorious dev with the bad mouthed smart ass, took the helm and soon convinced his pupils/cult that "Buddypress will never gain momentum". The progression slowed and the development of many promising and sexy buddypress third party plug ins either slowed down or totally abandoned. Buddypress as a version is still stuck in 1.*******'s

Then came the elegant age of Elgg. It was the Apple of all free open source social scripts, but lacks customizations. The devs prefer to call it a "Framework"

I am still on the go and finally decided to share my observations with the world. So from here onwards, I, on a random basis (as time permits), as I encounter the close contact of the third kind (that ultimate free social script which delivers everything) that may not exist, post logs that collectively can be titled as "One idiot's untimely and premature, entrance into the social fray with a free script that never existed"

Log No1: The Drupal Commons's mutual community site is a total mayhem. Its not a place with all that social ware hustle and bustle. Mysteriously and seriously, no activities are carried out.

Log No2: Of all solutions OxWall and Elgg had the most aesthetics

log No3: Elgg wasnt stable.

Log No4: Non provides a related content option like the one easily available on established forum scripts

Log No5: Oxwall has the divine ability to import and export users and user data from an existing Oxwall installation to another fresh installation. No other scripts provide that.

Log No6: The depository stores the best free social themes I have ever seen

Log No7: Few pros and cons of Drupal Commons so far

1. Questions module is built out of the groups entity and is independant. That must be the reason why an anonymous can create a question within a group but non of blogs, discussions or any other node. It sucks where a user is able to create a Question from his own profile. That kind of Questions go nowhere but public. No groups are assigned and goes astray.

2. when viewing/creating group nodes, user is taken away from group image and delicate group tabs. It can be confusing

3. Cannot use the first column. Three columns are not scaled well specially where viewing featured stuff and group directory

4. User signature is built up for cave men. No considerable settings for admins

5. Heavy. Installation requires an astonishing amount of PHP memory

6. Wont run smooth on a shared hosting environment. A very realistic and down to earth road map, strategy and a plan will be required before launching your project.

7. Non of the nodes can be easily identified seperately. All nodes bear same traits. No matter what, blogs, events, docs, pages, discussions are almost non distinguishable

8. Forums are seperate. Exclusive of groups. Cannot implement the advantage of "Advanced Forums" plug in within a group

9. Group home page content stream is reportedly built up to mystify user. Only a title and a teaser is visible where non bear any traits to which breed they belong, blog, docs, discussion etc

10. Elgg had the best group lay out of all. Even Buddypress is an exception. A group image and its relevent tabs are visible everywhere within a group and most importantly, in a group home page, discussions, pages and everything else that belong to a group are presented delightly with elegant widgets.

11. I still cant figure a way around, GROUP STICKY DOESNT WORK!

12. Cannot have more than 9 options for a poll

Next, I will be back with pros of Drupal Commons experienced as an end user

In the mean time, you can have a look at what lies in the Buddypress and Elgg grave yards

"Buddypress vs Elgg; a case study"

Log No8: I must do a major revelation on bbpress forum script. The forum script is used to deliver buddypress's forum group component in two modes.

1. One can install the bbpress tweaked version that comes with the buddypress core
2. Or he/she can simply install latest bbpress version within Wordpress admin panel and enable buddypress to have there own groups while keeping it at as a side wide forum at the same time

Thats where the Origin of The Phoenix begins. THE BBPRESS SCRIPT HAS A MAJOR FLAW THAT NOT ADDRESSED EVEN AT THE MOMENT OF WRITING (its been couple of weeks since I first noticed it and brought to the attention of folks at THE PAGINATION OF THE FORUM THREADS AND FORUM DIRECTORY DOESNT WORK! when I kept insisting on a solution (once a while), a leading dev harshly instructed me to digg into the code and solve the problem on my own

Log No9: Here is the mighty Permission Structure of Drupal Commons. You can assign to any user role or grab from any user as it necessitates. (anonymous user, authenticated user, community manager, content manager and site admin are the available user roles)

actions_permissions module

execute Add badge

execute Add post to the specified groups

execute Approve user subscription to the specified
group (og_approve_user_action)

execute Ban IP address of current user

execute Block current user

execute Block the selected users

execute Bookmark this (flag_nodes)

execute Change the author of a post

execute Delete comment

execute Delete node

execute Delete term

execute Delete user

execute Demote from front page

execute Demote user from an administrator in the
specified group (og_demote_user_action)

execute Deny user subscription to the specified
group (og_deny_user_action)

execute Display a message to the user

execute Download archive of selected files

execute Example: Empty rule set working with

execute Execute a VBO programmatically

execute Execute arbitrary PHP script

execute ImageCache: Flush ALL presets for this
node's filefield images (imagecache_flush_action)

execute ImageCache: Generate ALL presets for this
node's filefield images

execute ImageCache: Generate configured preset
(s) for this node's filefield images

execute Make post private to its groups

execute Make post publicly visible

execute Make post sticky

execute Make post unsticky

execute Make sticky (node_mass_update)

execute Mark as read

execute Mark as unread

execute Modify node fields

execute Modify node taxonomy terms

execute Modify profile fields

execute Modify user roles

execute Pass objects as arguments to a page

execute Promote post to front page

execute Promote to front page

execute Promote user to an administrator in the
specified group (og_promote_user_action)

execute Publish (node_mass_update)

execute Publish comment (comment_publish_action)

execute Publish post (node_publish_action)

execute Rebuild derivative images

execute Redirect to URL (system_goto_action)

execute Remove badge

execute Remove post from all groups

execute Remove post from front page

execute Remove post from the specified groups

execute Remove stickiness (node_mass_update)

execute Save post (node_save_action)

execute Send e-mail (system_send_email_action)

execute Subscribe user to the specified groups

execute Unblock the selected users

execute Unbookmark this (flag_nodes) execute Unpublish (node_mass_update)

execute Unpublish comment

execute Unpublish comment containing keyword(s)

execute Unpublish comment containing keyword(s)

execute Unpublish post (node_unpublish_action)

execute Unpublish post containing keyword(s)

execute Unsubscribe user from the specified
groups (og_unsubscribe_user_action)

execute Update URL alias

execute Update URL alias

execute flag as spam (flag_nodes)

execute unflag as spam (flag_nodes)

Activity_log module

administer loading arbitrary CSS and JS files for
cached messages

configure preferences for which activity types
appear in activity streams

view all activity messages

view own activity messages

Admin module

use admin toolbar

Aggregator module

access news feeds

administer news feeds

Block module

administer blocks

use PHP for block visibility

Blog module

create blog entries

delete any blog entry

delete own blog entries

edit any blog entry

edit own blog entries

Bulk_export module

use bulk exporter

Chart module

administer chart

Comment module

access comments

administer comments

post comments

post comments without approval

Commons_core module

view content rss feeds

view group content rss feeds

Contact module

access site-wide contact form

administer site-wide contact form

Content module

Use PHP input for field settings (dangerous - grant
with care)

Content_permissions module

edit field_answer_count

edit field_answer_question

edit field_content_images
edit field_date

edit field_featured_content

edit field_featured_group

edit field_file

edit field_group_image

edit field_group_sticky

edit field_grouplink

edit field_location

edit field_notify_p

edit field_poll_body

edit field_question_locked_p

view field_answer_count

view field_answer_question

view field_content_images
view field_date

view field_featured_content

view field_featured_group

view field_file

view field_group_image

view field_group_sticky

view field_grouplink

view field_location

view field_notify_p

view field_poll_body

view field_question_locked_p

ctools_custom_content module

administer custom content

date module

view date repeats

date_tools module

administer date tools

digests module

receive digests

set custom CSS for digests

facebook_status module

administer Facebook-style Statuses settings

delete all statuses

delete own statuses

delete status messages on own nodes

delete status messages on own profile

edit all statuses

edit own statuses

post status messages to other streams

send messages to all users at once

update and view own stream

use PHP for context visibility

view all statuses

fbss_comments module

delete all status

comments delete

comments on own statuses

delete own status comments

edit all status comments

edit comments on own statuses

edit own status comments

post status comment

view all status comments

view own status comments

fbss_privacy module

send private status messages

view all private status messages

features module

administer features

create answer content

create discussion content

create document content

create event content

create group content

create notice content

create page content

create question content

create wiki content

delete any answer content

delete any discussion content

delete any document content

delete any event content

delete any group content

delete any notice content

delete any page content

delete any question content

delete any wiki content

delete own answer content

delete own discussion content

delete own document content

delete own event content

delete own group content

delete own notice content

delete own page content

delete own question content

delete own wiki content

edit any answer content

edit any discussion content

edit any document content

edit any event content

edit any group content

edit any notice content

edit any page content

edit any question content

edit any wiki content

edit own answer content

edit own discussion content

edit own document content

edit own event content

edit own group content

edit own notice content

edit own page content

edit own question content

edit own wiki content

manage features

filter module

administer filters

flag module

administer flags

forum module

administer forums

create forum topics

delete any forum topic

delete own forum topics

edit any forum topic

edit own forum topics

freelinking module

administer freelinking

homebox module

administer homebox

image module

create images

delete any images

delete own images

edit any images

edit own images

view original images

image_attach module

attach images

imageapi module

administer imageapi

imagecache module

administer imagecache

flush imagecache

view imagecache Featured

view imagecache Small

view imagecache Status_picture

view imagecache group_images

view imagecache group_images_featured

view imagecache group_images_medium

view imagecache group_images_showcase

view imagecache group_images_thumb
view imagecache member_list_image

view imagecache profile_pictures

view imagecache user_picture_meta

invite module

administer invitations

send invitations

send mass invitations

track invitations

withdraw accepted invitations

invite_stats module

view invite statistics

view own invite statistics

menu module

administer menu

messaging module

administer messaging

mimemail module

edit mimemail user settings

send arbitrary files - Warning: has security

node module

access content

administer content types

administer nodes

create my_review content (my_review was a custom content type I created)

delete any my_review content

delete own my_review content

delete revisions

edit any my_review content

edit own my_review content

revert revisions

view revisions

notifications module

administer notifications

maintain own subscriptions

manage all subscriptions

manage own subscriptions

og module

administer organic groups

og_aggregator module

access og_aggregator

administer og_aggregator

view all og_aggregator sources

og_features module

administer og features

edit all group features

edit own group features

og_subgroups module

administer groups hierarchy

edit groups hierarchy

page_manager module

administer page manager

use page manager

password_policy module

force password change

unblock expired accounts

path module

administer url aliases

create url aliases

pathauto module

administer pathauto notify of path changes

poll module

cancel own vote

create poll content

delete any poll content

delete own poll content

edit any poll content

edit own poll content

inspect all votes

vote on polls

quant module

administer quant

view analytics page

rules_admin module

administer rules

search module

administer search

search content

use advanced search

signature_forum module

administer Signatures for Forums

statistics module

access statistics

view post access counter

stylizer module

administer stylizer

system module

access administration pages

access site reports

administer actions

administer files

administer site configuration

select different theme

taxonomy module

administer taxonomy

upload module

upload files

view uploaded files

user module

access user profiles

administer permissions

administer users

change own username

user_badges module

change badge assignments

manage badges

user_relationships_api module

can have relationships

user_relationships_ui module

administer user relationships

maintain own relationships

view user relationships

userpoints module

administer userpoints

view own userpoints

view userpoints

userpoints_user_picture module

userpoints user picture views module

access all views

administer views

votingapi module

administer voting api

vud module

access vote up/down statistics

administer vote up/down

reset vote up/down votes

use vote up/down

vud_comment module

administer vote up/down on comments

use vote up/down on comments

vud_node module

administer vote up/down on nodes

see vote up/down node stats

use vote up/down on nodes

view vote up/down count on nodes

Log No10: Of all free social scripts I have tested so far, Drupal Commons was the one that came very close to my granny. She was such a smart piece of female born to a genuine classic gentlemen with true grits (without any tattooed tits on his but) and moved forward to bear a generation of craps like us who hook up adsense and wait till several pennies pour in.

It was a master piece of software. But I have not concluded yet. I am a grown up kid and I always try to take down to earth decisions. A social network is not a mere script. You have to have a solid theme (a conceptual one, not a posh one thrown at a bare bone CMS). To conquere, you should come first, see it first, serve it first (well), gather a bunch of devs and user loyalty (within Facebook premises, at initial stages, around 2000 developers were involved at a time when bebo only had a meager 50. In the mean time plentyoffish has only one loyal employee) and then conquere onwards. Without a proper business module in mind (an executable one), even at the very inception, you will never going to sustain it (Facebook's display advertising revenue declined 12% in the Q2, 2012). Facebook's initial investment, as one leading tech blog calculated, was a whopping $300 millions.

Finally, can these scripts really handle 100,000 logged in users online once? To get there you will probably need a custom one.

Log No11: It seems like whole the world is waiting for the Drupal Commons distribution On D7. The very last instance I remember something like "whole world is waiting for with such craze" was for Google's Nexus One on ICS in collaboration with Samsung. It utterly failed to impress.

Its a universal truth that we get older with our dreams (dreams that never come true). If one script can turn things around for someone, its a wonder out from Neverland

Log No12: "WordPress 3.5 (due out December 5th) will include full retina (or HiDPI) support. Ten years from now there will be a content management system and a blogging tools that is tablet-native that works more beautifully on a tablet than a desktop. Whether that’s us or not depends on how much attention we pay to these things" these are the words from one of the visionaries of our time, Matt from the recent Wordpress convention. Buddypress is mobile friendly from the very nature of it and even most buddy themes bear mobile lay out traits though they dont scale that well all the time. Commons have to go a mile or two in this regard

Log No13: One more weak point of Buddypress was its link coloring principle. All links bear one color. The downside of this is that when you enable users to have a forum signature, the external links in those signatures even are colored with the same color of side wide internal links. When I raised awareness at about this, one Hugo Mod didnt get it. He argued that links should be distinguishable to navigate with. But when I interpreted my issue clearly he commented that I took a cheap shot at him. But I didnt have an intention to buy a cheat bullet. But you know when a bunch of volunteers do "Open Source", tools become so cheap!.

Log No14: One phrase glued my eyes when I began the hunt was, "BuddyPress does have serious scalability issues for the sake of frequent Ajex calls it makes" but to date I dont have seen how one look like, LOL

1 comment:

  1. Here is an interesting recent comment from Digitalpoint

    PHPFox all the way.

    I have tried PHPFox, Dolphin 7, Social Engine, BuddyPress, Elgg and Joomla Community
    Builder Extension. PhpFox is by far the best, it offers
    scalability, stability. If you want to customize your social
    network with PhpFox
    then you will need to
    have knowledge of PHP,
    CSS, HTML and Smarty Templates. PhpFox is my
    favourite of all the
    scripts. Don't use Dolphin 7, the code is written
    untidy and it receives A
    LOT of spam. I lost my
    whole site when doing
    an "upgrade" from one
    Dolphin version to another. Basically,
    Dolphin sucks. You will
    encounter lots of
    problems. Social Engine
    contains loads of
    bugs and I don't think it's great with
    scalability if you have
    lots of users. BuddyPress is good
    and it's free. BUT it takes a good amount of
    work to get a site
    customized and running
    to how you want it to
    run if you want to do a
    lot of customization. Elgg is alright and it's free. I would rather use BuddyPress because it has better community support. Don't even bother with Joomla Community Builder


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