BuddyPress vs. Elgg: Development/Support Community

As many of you out there have noticed, when it comes to (hosted) Social Networking communities, you really only have two-and-a-half solutions: 1) BuddyPress, 2) Elgg and 3) Boonex/Dolphin. Clearly, this blog is titled “BuddyPress vs. Elgg” with no mentioning of Dolphin even though it has been in development for some time. Here’s why: If you’re looking for a hosted social networking platform, you clearly want it to be a white label solution. Boonex will charge you to remove their linkbacks on the footer of your networking site. Total Damage: $40/year or $100 lifetime. That may not seem too shabby but Dolphin without its plugins Ray/Orca — I know, were they high when they named this software? — is useless. So you’ll have to scrape up more dough because those modifications to make it a true social networking system will cost you an additional $40 per plugin per year (or $100 per plugin for unlimited upgrades). All in all, you could end up spending $1,000 for this system the way it’s configured in the demo. Still, it’s a relatively reasonable price, depending how you look at it.

So why isn’t it among the Big Two of social networking start-up sites? Development Community. Even some of the plugin developers charge upwards of 30 bucks for their plugins, which aren’t very polished sometimes. Worst of all, there is an absolute lack in support for this system, because the core keeps changing, which leaves a lot of people stranded after upgrades (ie. read: broken themes/plugins). Unfortunately, things don’t get better when it comes to Elgg. Most of their support is dried up and Google searches point to some issues dating back as far as 2005. Most surprisingly is the fact that no *actual, dedicated Elgg forum* really exists yet. If you try to search for anything specific, you’ll be presented with a long list of related tags, not actual search engine results — you know, the kind you’re used to on Google/Yahoo/MSN. As a result, some Elgg people have started bbPress forums while others are talking to each other via Google Groups.

Enter: BuddyPress. When it comes to the development and support community, BP is virtually unrivaled. I see posts as fresh as several minutes old. This is, no doubt, largely due in part by it being built on top of the most popular open source blogging system on the Web. And while some of BP’s posts are still unanswered, the thirst for continuous improvement is there. It has a large *fan* base, which translates into more support and less coding errors. Not to mention, I have never seen anybody as involved as Andy has in the production process; I’ve seen him comment on user issues outside of buddypress.org — amazing. Technically, BuddyPress ought to score big in this round then, but I’ll hold off on this simply because if you’re a knowledge PHP programmer, Elgg is still a very reliable, solid system.

BuddyPress: 1
Elgg: 0

10 responses

  1. burtadsit Avatar

    I looked at Elgg when I was integrating wordpress and phpbb3. Trying to build a community site out of those two apps. I needed a social component for that effort and found elgg. I also found Dolphin. Then I stumbled on BuddyPress.

    What made my choice clear to me was this. I’m going to spend 6 months of my life building the community site that I intend to use as a model for more local community sites. Exactly who and on what platform am I betting six months of my life on?

    Once I saw what Andy was doing with bp/wpmu/bbpress it was a no-brainer decision. This is the way social/community apps are going to be built. Beginning now, with us.

    I like living on the groundfloor. 🙂

  2. I’d actually disagree about Dolphin. Ray is only needed if you want chat & video — features that BP (and I think Elgg) don’t have. So instead you’re looking at $100 for a lifetime license. If the $100 is a deal-breaker, then you’re right — Dolphin isn’t a viable alternative.

    I should also mention Handshakes & Social Engine, two other low-cost commercial you-host white label products. They’re more expensive than Dolphin (and Elgg/BP), but again, if they’re closer to what you need, then the license cost might be worth it.

    Lastly, I *believe* (not 100% sure) that Elgg is NOT freely white label, i.e. you must keep the “powered by Elgg” notice unless you pay to remove it.

    FYI I’m not affiliated with any of the the above platforms — we just work with them a bunch.

  3. I guess I’m more of a fan of open source and transparency. If you’ve sifted through Dolphin’s forums lately (among other Dolphin forums out there), they’re a bit of a mess to say the least. Maybe paying customers get instant responses, but from some of the people who actually have purchased a license and are still having issues with the system, that’s quite a downer. I’m also not the biggest fan of sites that use domain privacy… always strikes me as a bit sketchy if your goal is to become a reputable company. As to Elgg’s terms and conditions, I actually didn’t see any fineprint about paying for an Elgg notice removal. Handshakes seemed pretty interesting (first time I’ve ever heard about was from you) but their demo’s currently down. At any rate, I’m not affiliated with any of the platforms either, but I just like to write =)

  4. @Burt: Ditto on everything including your last sentence. I like Elgg, but there’s more potential for BP.

  5. What about Drupal?

    It has a thriving developer community, a thriving support community, some amazing modules, and a clear focus on community and networking.

    It’s also open source, and all code on drupal.org is released under the GPL.

    It’s also a stable platform, and has a dedicated security team that audits core and contributed modules.



  6. Drupal really doesn’t have a dedicated community component to it like WordPress. It’s not a bad CMS by any means, but it’s nowhere near as hacked as the latter have been.

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