Mar 18 2010

Building Community Sites with WordPress: 15 Plugins to Get Started

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Most bloggers would love to see more of a sense of community among the regular visitors to their blog. Sure, discussions sometimes take place in the comments of various posts, but it all seems a bit disorganized and they never really get off the ground. There has to be a better way to create a real sense of community on a WordPress blog.

paperchain

The good news is that there are plenty of great plugins out there that can help you get your visitors more involved in your blog. Some are simple: they let your users submit content they think is useful, or make it easier to have a real discussion in comments. Others are more complex, on par with full-featured social networks like Facebook. All of them can help you create a community surrounding your blog and your content.

Encourage User-Generated Content

Even if you post on your blog every day, sometimes it would be nice to have some help. So why not ask your regular visitors to submit content they think your other visitors might find useful? Of course, they can do this already by emailing you or adding a link in the comments, but then you still have to do most of the work. The plugins below will simplify getting these user submissions to a publishable state on your blog.

content

Community Submitted News

Community Submitted News lets any visitor to your blog submit content. All content is sent to a moderation panel and nothing is made public until it has been approved by an administrator (which prevents spam postings from being made live). It’s a great idea if you have an active community surrounding your blog but don’t always have time to write original content. It also gives your blog’s readers a more active role in content creation.

WordPress Wiki

WordPress Wiki was created by the same developers who created the WP e-Commerce plugin. It’s a full-featured wiki plugin for WP that lets you specify certain posts or pages as editable as wiki pages, while leaving other pages or posts in their traditional, un-editable format.

FV Community News

FV Community News is another plugin that lets users submit posts from other blogs to your site for inclusion. It includes a moderation panel and works within a widget on your site. It also has built-in spam protection and give administrators the ability to edit submissions.

TDO Mini Forms

The TDO Mini Forms plugin lets your subscribers or even non-registered users submit or edit posts and pages. Submissions are kept in “draft” form until approved by an administrator. The same can be done with edits. It can even be configured to work with Akismet to filter out spam submissions.

Encourage Interaction

Even if you’re not interested in setting up a social network surrounding your blog, wouldnt’ it be nice to see your visitors able to better interact with each other, and for you to be able to interact with them more easily? Whether this means setting up a forum or just making it easier for discussions to take place in your comments, the plugins below will help.

discussion

Gigya Socialize

The Gigya Socialize plugin lets you incorporate social APIs (like Facebook Connect, Twitter, Google, Yahoo, LinkedIn, and MySpace ID) to your site and let your visitors become more engaged. Visitors can invite friends from their preferred social network. It also lets you publish status and newsfeed updates directly to your social networks.

WP-Forum

Adding a forum to your blog is an easy way to increase interaction among your visitors. WP-Forum is a simple discussion forum plugin. It can be used with a single WP blog or with WordPress MU.

Threaded Comments

Adding Threaded Comments to you WP blog lets you turn the comments section on every post into a discussion, where users can reply directly to other users and have their response appear directly under the original comment (rather than just in chronological order). It’s a great option for encouraging your visitors to engage not just with you, but with each other as well.

Comment Per Paragraph

Comment Per Paragraph is actually a WP theme, but it has some valuable features that can really add to the interaction on your blog. Basically, this theme lets your visitors comment on each paragraph within a post, rather than just at the end of the post. It makes commenting or discussions on specific points within your post much easier and more user-friendly.

Digress.it

Digress.it is a plugin that lets your visitors add notes in the “margins” of a blog post, much the same as one would in a book. The difference here is that these notes are visible to everyone, and anyone can add a note. It can be used in an educational setting, to annotate a post, or even to offer criticism.

Feedback by Paragraph

Feedback by Paragraph is another plugin that lets users leave comments on individual paragraphs within a post. Comments are shown in a Thickbox pop-up. Comments here respect settings of individual posts as far as who is allowed to post, and moderation policies are also honored. The fact that paragraph-level comments are kept separate from the main content is a nice feature that makes it easy to implement without requiring any kind of redesign.

Turn WordPress Into a Social Network

If you want to go all in and create a social network on your WordPress-powered site, the plugins below are the place to start. They range from very simple plugins that basically just let you set up user profiles to full social networking packages that let your users do almost everything they can do on mainstream social networks like Facebook or LinkedIn.

network

BuddyPress

BuddyPress is a powerful set of social networking plugins for WordPress. It’s quick to install and set up, and can be as complicated or simple as you want. One of the nice features about BuddyPress is that you can turn on or off specific features whenever you want, making it as powerful or simple as you need.

Mingle

Mingle is a simple social networking plugin for WordPress. It works with most WP themes, and lets you set up profile pages, friend lists, profile page posts (like status updates), profile activities, social comments, and email notifications. It’s not as full-featured as BuddyPress, but it’s also simpler to set up and works with a wider range of themes.

Customize Your Community

The Customize Your Community plugin lets you not only change your WP login page, but also makes it so subscribers to your site are redirected to a profile editing page rather than the WP backend. It changes the way your registration, login/logout, and lost password pages look so they no longer contain any WP branding information. Users with roles set to anything other than “subscriber” will still see the traditional WP backend, though login/logout pages, etc. will show the customized design.

Community Blogs for BuddyPress

This plugin lets you create group or community blogs with multiple authors within BuddyPress. Administrators on a BuddyPress site can use the plugin to give a member registered user status to any blog they choose within the site (or multiple blogs). It’s a great option for extending the collaboration features of a BuddyPress site.

Profiler

Profiler creates user profiles for every registered user on your blog, including Gravatar images. It also creates a members directory and can be used with the User Photo plugin and the Whisper plugin.

Conclusion

Think through the kinds of social interactions you’d like to take place on your blog and then find a plugin that will help you foster those interactions. The above list isn’t exhaustive, so if you know of other great WP plugins for building community around your content, please add them in the comments below!

Further Resources

About the Author

Cameron Chapman is a professional Web and graphic designer with many years of experience. She writes for a number of blogs, including her own, Cameron Chapman On Writing. She’s also the author of Internet Famous: A Practical Guide to Becoming an Online Celebrity.

Comments and Discussions
  • Great Plugins! Not the usual and the obvious. Well done thanks. I’ll use them in the future for WordPress projects :)

    • Tester, 28 September 2010

      testing purpose

  • Max - The IT pro, 18 March 2010

    EXCELLENT blog post dude. I will have to look into some of these plugins. Does BuddyPress sloooow down a WP site though? Just curious.

    Cheers!

    - Max “The IT pro”
    MaxTheITpro.com

    • certsquare, 26 January 2011

      they can do this already by emailing you or adding a link in the comments, but then you still have to do most of the work. The plugins below will simplify getting these user submissions to a publishable state on your blog.

  • Max - The IT pro, 18 March 2010

    EXCELLENT blog post dude. I will have to look into some of these plugins. Does BuddyPress sloooow down a WP site though? Just curious.

    Cheers!

    - Max “The IT pro”
    MaxTheITpro dot com

  • Mithu Lucraft, 18 March 2010

    Thank you so much this is a really helpful post. I spent a day last week looking at Buddy and trying to decide if it was suitable for a work blog I’m proposing, but these plug-ins give so much more scope for us to tailor exactly what we need

  • adone, 18 March 2010

    Nice read. Thanks for this info.

  • JC, 18 March 2010

    Great list…some plugins I didn’t know about that I will be trying out. THX!

  • JF, 18 March 2010

    This is WordPress abusement!

    C’mon, if I wannna build a social network like community, I choose elgg.org to build it…

  • Jesse, 18 March 2010

    But what is the best way to get your site’s community to reach out to the rest of the world?

  • robert, 18 March 2010

    you can thread comments under the discussion settings. why use a plugin when it is already a WP feature….

    • Danny, 19 March 2010

      Because not everybody has 2.9.

  • Andy, 18 March 2010

    A nice post. And thanks for the mention of Feedback by Paragraph.

  • Matthias Matz, 18 March 2010

    cool plugins for wp i love it

  • Clayton Correia, 18 March 2010

    awesome…I’m working on a wordpress community site right now. I’ll be checking some of these out for sure. Thanks!

  • Sid, 18 March 2010

    Wow lovely article .. bookmarked .. :)

  • Sid, 18 March 2010

    Ill definately use them on my site \m/

  • HD, 18 March 2010

    Another great post

  • Yorik, 18 March 2010

    Very cool article! Many plugins I had never heard of…

    @Max the IT pro: A little bit of course, because there is more stuff to display, but really it’s almost unnoticeable… Buddypress is very fast, just as WP

  • freetao, 18 March 2010

    useful article ?

  • max, 18 March 2010

    really useful post. thanks again.

  • Jordan Walker, 19 March 2010

    Great article and resource for community driven sites.

  • Marcelo Pinheiro, 19 March 2010

    This is great. Thanks for the suggestions.

  • Flow, 19 March 2010

    perfect – a few months ago i have to search these plugins by myself, so sad that this post comes “too late” thanks for sharing!

  • Justin Carroll, 19 March 2010

    I’m a big fan of BuddyPress, but have yet to use it. I think it’s tough to for a company to try and execute a social network in addition to something like Facebook. But I think BuddyPress can make it easy to facilitate.

    Also, bigger plugins like this would do well to hire a designer and lay down some incredible GUI interfaces to showcase all their plugin does. The average person doesn’t read everything and then make a decision – they like to see it in action as a means to reading about it.

  • sam collett, 20 March 2010

    WOW I found this page so timely – just today we are building a site in WP. Your article has been sooooo much help I am really grateful. Thanks for sharing

  • RedKoala, 22 March 2010

    thats what I was looking for, big thanks

  • Tom Colvin, 24 March 2010

    What a fabulous post. As a long-time WP blogger, I find this one of the more valuable posts about the platform. And definitely useful to me NOW, as I’m exploring setting up a community site soon.

  • jim, 27 March 2010

    This article would be so good, only trouble is, over half the plugins are not compatible with the latest WordPress, and who wants to run an unsecure community site?

    If your gonna write a “top X” blog post (as you do, a lot), maybe do a little bit of research first instead of just thinking about the SEO or the profile building?

  • Tutorialslk, 19 April 2010

    Thanks for the info…!!

  • Wonderful Site! I wanted to ask if I might be able to quote a portion of your pages and use a few items for a term paper. Please email me whether its ok or not. Thanks

  • farketmez, 16 May 2010

    Very nice plugins

  • wiper blades, 08 June 2010

    ok very good info!

  • XcrY, 13 June 2010

    10x very much. Inspiring work for me .

  • wolfy, 15 June 2010

    Thank you so much for this very helpful.

  • Tech & IT News India, 19 June 2010

    Good share, Thank you for a useful post.

  • Thank you for sharing. Have a good articles in your blog.

  • CJ, 29 June 2010

    WP-FORUM has know security issues and allows you entire site to be compromised. Just an FYI. Developer no longer answers requests.

  • Egypt Excursions, 01 July 2010

    really nice plugins … i wish you’d create the same topic for the Drupal

    thank you

  • mysuperwoofer, 19 July 2010

    Link Building is one of the most significant aspect of the off page optimization process and is a major determinant of the popularity of your site. For search engines, back links or links pointing to your website indicate that you are ‘hot’ in the online marketplace.

  • BJ, 02 August 2010

    I haven’t read it all yet but i will when i have more time..

    Thanks for the great info and great list of plugins.

    BJ

  • ireal, 22 September 2010

    Great info for a newbie like me, thanks a lot.

  • Fink, 28 September 2010

    BuddyPress is quite hard to implement into an existing theme, in my experience.

  • jocuri gatit, 06 October 2010

    I like games. Your post is very usefull. I have a gaming site. I wish you continued success with your site

  • agung budidoyo, 09 October 2010

    i think that list too much, as a beginner blogger I must be too difficult to handle all of them.

  • dori girsang, 11 October 2010

    wowww.. good info , CTRL + D

  • Tobias, 23 October 2010

    I love Mingle, great for profile information and such. BuddyPress seems the most allround community plugin.

  • Brett Widmann, 03 November 2010

    Great set of plugins. Thanks for sharing the info!

  • matuse, 12 November 2010

    Plugins are a huge time saver. Thanks!

  • agri dagi, 16 November 2010

    Thats what I was looking for, big thanks..

  • Pstories, 21 November 2010

    Thank you . i already used Mingle , it’s very good plugin

    thanks …..

  • Charles, 09 December 2010

    Great Plugins! we will bookmark this for our psdtowordpress.co.in client projects. WordPress is growing popular day by day and plugins like this makes it more strong.

  • Karan, 12 December 2010

    Very nice post… very useful… Thanks a lot.

  • Frank Hamm, 20 December 2010

    Great collection, thanks alot

  • John Greer, 30 December 2010

    Very interesting, I was looking for information on how I could encourage community submitted content, I think I have a starting point, but still looking thanks for the info

  • ObatAntiRokok, 07 January 2011

    nice post! keep sharing

  • Bikash, 07 January 2011

    Must say Great! I’ll use these plugins and come back again to give another great comment for you!

  • daily proxy list, 11 January 2011

    very useful information. thanks. :-)

  • Carmen, 14 January 2011

    Great Plugins! we will bookmark this for our psdtowordpress.co.in client projects. WordPress is growing popular day by day and plugins like this makes it more strong hotel.

  • Antonio, 14 January 2011

    i think that list too much, as a beginner blogger I must be too difficult to handle all of them empresas.

  • Pepi, 14 January 2011

    perfect – a few months ago i have to search these plugins by myself, so sad that this post comes “too late” thanks for sharing!

  • Aneeza Mubbashir, 19 January 2011

    Thanks for the ideas. There are some great examples here.

  • Ajitah, 20 January 2011

    Very good posting list. I will add some to my gaming blog ajitah.com. Thanks

  • Raj, 24 January 2011

    With all these plugins its so easy to make a complete portal for my clients. love the collection, thanks cltr+d plus added to my feed reader.

    Thanks

  • J Nicholson, 26 February 2011

    The list is great and the info is fantastic!
    Thanks for the tips.

  • Vratnica, 14 March 2011

    Some useful plugins in the article.
    Just something we need for our web project in the moment.
    Thanks!

  • Noemi, 30 March 2011

    Thanks!!!

  • Lunedi, 03 April 2011

    Will this work for WordPress.com blogs, or is this just applicable to self-hosted WordPress blogs? Thanks.

  • Ed, 11 May 2011

    wow! thanks for this list of plugins.

  • joseph adediji, 12 May 2011

    nice plug-in list. I will try some on my blog.

  • santosh, 28 May 2011

    Nice and useful information Thank you so much for posting and sharing this article

  • chithara, 15 June 2011

    This post was really helpful. I used some of the plugins listed here in chithara. Thanks for sharing.

  • Aminu, 13 July 2011

    Very useful post. thanks

  • hadi setiono, 17 July 2011

    thanks cameron, it very helping me to finished my project

  • nagz, 03 August 2011

    Very nice post. Some of the plug-ins are must to use in wp Blog. Thanks for sharing.

  • Denver, 11 August 2011

    These are very useful information. I been trying to use multiple plugins to turn my site into social network, I’ll try some of these suggestions here.

    By the way, I tried this wp-symposium with my new site, this is nice for social community site.

    Thank you for this article

  • Larry Lewis, 17 September 2011

    what an awesome post, and a great help to me. I’m a UK blogger, yet my interraction with others from the UK in the blogosphere is almost non existent. I am just setting up a section on my new blog where i want to allow others from the uk to showcase their blogs, you have just provided me with some great tools. Thank you.

  • Frank Mulder, 06 October 2011

    Indeed, WP-Symposium seems like a new interesting plugin:
    http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/wp-symposium/

    • DoozieWD, 18 October 2011

      Hey Frank,
      Does symposium have security features in case members post explicit content or even explicit avatar pictures?

      I guess that’s a question for all of the community plug-ins, Im developing a community site to help certain people with requirements but worried about rude & explicit/spam members

      Your response is greatly appreciated

  • Michael, 15 November 2011

    Hi,

    nice to notice, that there is much more than BuddyPress!

    Love WordPress,
    Regards,
    Michael

  • Martin, 18 December 2011

    Thanks for the pointers – I was hoping Buddypress was going to fit the bill for a new project, but it might prove a bit overblown, so discovering Mingle could save a headache or two.

  • Peter Fisher, 19 December 2011

    Good Post. Quite interested in the community side of things.

  • San (Creative Rock Sider), 22 December 2011

    good information, thanks for you

  • Ayeni, 24 December 2011

    Thank for the plugins…good work

  • dr dp sharma, 02 January 2012

    I am facing a following problem. When i login into my website for modification following problem is shown in post.

    Fatal error: Maximum execution time of 30 seconds exceeded in C:\Inetpub\vhosts\dpsharma.in\httpdocs\wp-includes\general-template.php on line 1840

  • alin, 11 January 2012

    hi, very nice article..

    Can you suggest any plugin if I want to make my website a class room.

  • Slash, 13 January 2012

    Thanks for the article. These plugins is so easy to make a complete portal for my clients. Hope you could provide more of such good resources.

  • Mike @ LadLife, 22 January 2012

    Hi there, great list! –

    You should really check out a plugin called “Wp symposium” – It’s one of the best community plugins i’ve ever seen, Using it currently on my site “www.ladlife.com” – Have to sign up if you want to preview it, but it intergrates seamlessly with ANY theme. brilliant. regular updates too, and great support.. :)

  • Tania, 23 January 2012

    Thank you so much! I’ve been bouncing around on what to use on my site. These explanations are just what I needed to get a clear picture. Now the fun part begins :)

  • manish sharma, 29 January 2012

    very nice post and very well written..bookmarked..

  • Corky Swanson, 08 May 2012

    I know this is an older post, but lately CommentLuv has taken off as another great plugin to create community, especially among bloggers.

  • Jamie, 09 June 2012

    Thanks for all the plugins, is there any plugin for wordpress to let users comment with a simple rich text editor where they can also embed images.

  • Donatus, 27 July 2012

    Wow!! This is great will love to use most of this plugin cos am planning of creating a good discusion forum

  • Islam Muslim, 04 August 2012

    Thank’s for this (Building Community Sites with WordPress: 15 Plugins to Get Started) great tutorials. I was having a hard time with those.

  • Akash, 18 August 2012

    Nice post by the beautiful lady author. I would just like to add “why dont you people try to use DISQUS comment system, it seems to be good?”

  • april rose, 29 November 2012

    what ate the example of building community website?

  • cetakprint, 08 December 2012

    great topic…thanks a lot

  • Elina, 10 May 2013

    Thanks for sharing the list of helpful WordPress plugins.

  • WordPressCMSExperts, 28 August 2013

    Very efficient Cameron,

    While I was reading I feel something to do. Means your article content is efficient to do some action. Means actionable content. Really very good stuff.

  • Bram, 29 July 2010

    Same as you match ur logo as psdtuts and family…. cheeky monkey!

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