Building a Community Site with BuddyPress – Part 2


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Social Media Roadmap site bannerIn my previous post on building a community site using the WordPress plugin BuddyPress, I reported that having spent quite a lot of time checking out how BuddyPress worked and what others thought of it, I found the actual installation quite straightforward.

My problems started when I wanted to make the site private.

Not being a programmer, discussion threads on the topic, like this one, made my head spin.

As far as I could figure out from my research, the basic BuddyPress site is designed to be public, with the option to have private groups within the site.

But it looked also as if there might be a plugin to adjust that framework.

Obvious as it may be to some, but hadn’t been to me and something I wish I had understood at the outset, there are plugins for BuddyPress, which is as I say itself a WordPress plugins – plugins for the plugin. And at least one of those BuddyPress plugins is designed to make the site private.

The BuddyPress Private Community plugin seemed to offer what I wanted. The catch was that when I activated it the site became private, sure enough, but so private that when people responded to my invitations to join the site they could not see the registration page.

While I was figuring all this out, I was losing momentum with getting the site functioning.

My solution was to:

  • accept that the overall community site would be public
  • ditch (i.e. de-activate) the private community plugin,
  • set up a group on the BuddyPress site and
  • make the group private.

Setting up the group was easy enough, it appeared, but in terms of what I wanted it was not an immediately straightforward process, as I had to choose between a couple of different settings, with various privacy rules for each.

To create a group, you first click on the Groups tab in the navigation bar, then on the Create Group button alongside the Groups Directory heading.

The are four steps to creating a group, as shown by the navigation tabs displayed: Details, Settings, Avatar, Invite Members.

The first step is easy: just provide a group name and some details.

Then the fun starts. Under Settings you need to decide which of the Privacy options to implement.

The Privacy options, with their respective rules, are – Public, Private and Hidden:

Public group

  • Any site member can join this group.
  • This group will be listed in the groups directory and in search results.
  • Group content and activity will be visible to any site member.

Private group

  • Only users who request membership and are accepted can join the group.
  • This group will be listed in the groups directory and in search results.
  • Group content and activity will only be visible to members of the group.

Hidden group

  • Only users who are invited can join the group.
  • This group will not be listed in the groups directory or search results.
  • Group content and activity will only be visible to members of the group.

I toyed with choosing the Hidden option, but on reflection that looked as if it would be actually count-productive. My main aim was to provide participants in the webinars with a space to discuss ideas and developments without having those more publicly available, and to get access to resources I and others might choose to share just within the group and not more widely. And for openness, it was not as if the webinars were secret. In fact, anyone who wanted to sign up for the Roadmap webinar series would thereby qualify to be invited to join the group.

So Private it was – and is.


The default for BuddyPress is that admins can invite friends to join. I installed the Invite Anyone plugin which provides more options, including having a checkbox with a general invitation to join the site, so that you can at the same time invite the person (or not) time to join your specific group (or groups).

Some people seem to have been able to join without a problem. Others have found the process a bit confusing. So I made a short video to provide a step by step guide to responding to one of those invitations.

Other plugins

There seems to be no end of plugins for BuddyPress. I’m using a few.

BP Group Documents provides a document space in each group – invaluable for my purposes

SI CAPTCHA Anti-Spam – I read somewhere that membership sites can get bombarded with spammy signups, so this seemed like good insurance.

Invite Anyone – as mentioned above (it provides a range of options – I have it set fairly restrictively).

A Note on the Header Banner

For the moment I have left in place the default banner header on the Social Media Roadmap site. The BuddyPress Default theme I’m using comes with a very user-friendly Custom Header page, where I can either customize the default banner or upload another of my own creation (or commissioning).

Summing up

Although I had a bit of a learning curve, for now at least I’m happy with the decision to use BuddyPress as my community site platform. It’s fundamentally easy to install, once you have figured it out – and probably much easier for anyone technically savvier than I (which would not be hard to find). The fact that I can have a private group – or several – within the site is particularly attractive.

I am interested to hear of others’ experiences with BuddyPress. And of course clues to make it all work even better: that said, even what a lot of my friends would probably regard as some basic code-tweaking will probably be a turn-off for me.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Des Walsh
Des Walsh is an executive leadership coach, social media strategist and LinkedIn expert. He is passionate about sharing his understanding of the benefits of social media in a way that makes good sense for business.


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