The purpose of this post is to compare BuddyPress to Mingle for creating a WordPress social networking site. The reason I think this is an important post for anyone considering creating a community is both are long run investments in terms of time. Further, the success of your site will largely depend on a positive user experience. At the end I give my personal recommendation which one to choose. If you are serious about starting a social site, take my recommendation.

Therefore, I will look at three things:

  • The pros and cons of both WordPress platforms for a social networking blog or website.
  • I also want to address the set up and installation issues with WordPress MU and the WordPress Mingle plugin which runs on a standard install.
  • Examples of BuddyPress and Mingle WordPress and also a how set up Mingle tutorial.  With these I think you can make a better informed decision which one to use.

What is my experience with WP? I have been using various Automattic platforms for eighteen of my websites (many are test sites) for five years now. Therefore, I have kicked a lot of tires to check the various functionality and flexibility of core features and extends. I also write my own software, so I am somewhat technical.

reenactors social networking

Social networks are about like minded people congregating. I give a concrete recommendation on which software I would use.

BuddyPress and Mingles features and drawbacks

Mingle

Pros:.

  • The most important difference between WordPress Mingle and BuddyPress – I see WP Mingle as more of an extension of an existing blog or website. It is an add-on. In contrast, BuddyPress is a whole site design. Read my lips, it is very hard to start a social network site. Every guy out there wants to and has an idea, even me and I have many successful website.  The best way to have a successful social networking website is to take an existing website that has traffic and community via WordPress comments and extend this. Mingle can be useful for this extension. If you start with BuddyPress on a new website nothing will happen. Facebook was the first and lucky. It does not work this way now. Ask me about this in the comments if you do not understand, it is important so you do not waste your time.
  • I like Mingle because it works on my theme and feels more flexible in style and look than BuddyPress, which has a more blocky Facebook style.
  • Users can create profile pages.
  • Friends lists
  • The core part is a profile page and contact with other members though an extended Gravatar plugin.
  • Users can comment on and post on friend pages – Mingle is all about friends and interaction of friends.
  • Member directory and recent (or random) users displayed on sidebar
  • Email notifications
  • Very easy to use and simple to understand
  • I have not experienced any plugin or theme conflicts – for me this is the biggest point. With BuddyPress it does not work with my favorite theme, in contrast WordPress Mingle does.
  • You can use Mingle with a standard WP installation. This is the best feature. You can also use it with WPMU if you want, but you might as well use BuddyPress if you go through the trouble of installing it on your server
  • Actively being developed with an enthusiastic team/community, it could surpass BuddyPress in terms of functionality.

Cons:

  • Not been updated in years. The creator should just make it an open source project. Obsecenece is a huge neative. He has been focusing on something called memberpress.  Member press is a a plugin that allows you to accept payment for a membership or content site. Maybe this will go hand in hand with a new Mingle development kick but I am not holding my breath.
  • I am always afraid Blair Williams might some day lose interest in the project and not develop it as much, whereas, BuddyPress is supported by WP. I have no seen it updated in a while in fact. I have started to look at another alternative WP Symposium if the lag in development continues.
  • At this time little documentation. – Update getting better, I installed in the other day and it is fairly self explanatory.
  • This is not an official Automattic.com tool, so its development depends on Blair Williams the creator (this could be pro actually depends on how you look at it).

BuddyPress

Pros:

  • If you like Facebook.com or Linkedin.com or Vkontаkte.ru, you can have this with BuddyPress.  It has the same look and feel. Many large sites running off of BuddyPress, tried and tested.
  • Very professional clean look. The look and features are a like any major social networking site. I am confident using BP that there is strong support and everything will work now and in the future.
  • BuddyPress is a offical Automattic.com platform (it was a purchase).
  • Good support
  • Will most likely get easier with development as Andy Peatling is committed to the project.
  • Now a 5 minute install with a plugin.
  •  BuddyPress  MU or SU has come a long way. I use SU as it is easiest.

Cons:

  • Slight learning curve.
  • New themes and plugins.
  • WPMU with BuddyPress is an uncontrollable amount of spam. I have done every anti-spam method known and still robots find and know it is a WPMU BuddyPress site and I have moderate it unlike the standard install. I scraped my site and changed it to a standard install. Works great but no traffic. This is why I recommend INgle on existing themes and sites and not try to be a Mark Zuckerberg, Matt Mullenweg is a better web role model because he is organic and has developed his web presences and reputation over time.
  • If you have 1and1.com as a server you will get a error 500 unless you add this to the top of your .htaccess
AddType x-mapp-php5 .php AddHandler x-mapp-php5 .php

Mingle and WPMU installation issues

There are no installation issues with the Mingle plugin. You just go to add new plugin and install.  Once you are installed it guides you though the set up page.

Below is a basically all you need to set up. It is a simple drop down menu set up.

The BuddyPress can work with a standard WordPress install and a plugin.   It could be set up in just over 5 minutes.   It is now “out of the box” like other WordPress installs and takes databases.   Therefore, both Mingle and BuddyPress are very easy to install with a plugin.

The question is which one to use for social networking your site?  They both are very good and at this juncture of their development are very close in functionality.

I recommend Mingle if you want to extend an existing website with traffic to include a forum or social aspect. I recommend BuddyPress if you want to develop a large social networking website.

  • thepioneerwoman.com – is the best example of a BuddyPress website
  • WordPress Mingle is the best example of a mingle run website.

Here are two quotes from the developers:

Paul Cater (Mingle) was kind enough to reply to my e-mail and wrote me a comparison (summarized a bit):

WordPress MU is a multi-blog system (and can be used with a standard WordPress blog).  Mingle will let you turn your regular WordPress install into a social networking site similar to Facebook or MySpace with a single plugin (also). Mingle could be a simple, nice replacement, however, BuddyPress offers a few more features currently, but Mingle is well on its way to being a heavy contender.

Andy Peatling (BuddyPress) wrote:

BuddyPress  works on standard WordPress, it does not require WordPress MU. In fact, you can install BuddyPress in less than two minutes via the plugin installer. It’s really quite simple.

BuddyPress does not require special plugins or themes, many WordPress plugins work out of the box and there are now more than 125 BuddyPress specific plugins that will add new features to the platform. You can use your existing WordPress theme using the super easy BuddyPress template pack.

John Jacobs Jacoby is now in the development (also the bbPress developer). bbPress is also another option for creating a social site by the way.

BuddyPress and Mingle tutorials and examples

My review of WP social plugin and recommendation

  • Here is my recommendation. Use BuddyPress until Mingle development is turned open source or shows signs of life.  Or alternatively use wpsymposium.com which is being actively developed. WP symposium works.  You do not want to be stuck up with a huge site based on Mingle than years latter, that for some reason does not work if there is a conflict with WP development and your social plugin. You want to use BuddyPress. If you can not handle the design part hire someone off of elance there are a million programmers out there to help you design it. The main thing is creating a social site is easy, getting it with the critial number of participates interacting is the real trick.

I hope this post has been of some value to you.  Please give your feedback and any of your ideas or experiences regarding using BuddyPress compared to Mingle on your blog.

BuddyPress
offers a few more features currently but Mingle is well on it's way to
being a heavy contender.