Allow users to add their RSS feed to their profile with the external blogs plugin!


The first plugin that will be released on BP-Tricks is a great plugin created by Marshall Sorenson (most people might know him as MrMaz the BuddyPress core developer) which allows members to attach their external RSS feed to their profiles. This is a great way of adding meaningful content to your BuddyPress activity stream and it can be used for numerous (awesome) occasions. Readers of BP-Tricks can start using this plugin before it get’s added to the WordPress repo. See it as a nice gesture to give you our early visitors something extra!

[button link=""]Download the External Blogs Plugin[/button]

So how does it work?

Every user now has a new page on their profile where they can fill in a RSS feed to attach to their profile.

external blogposts Allow users to add their RSS feed to their profile with the external blogs plugin!

They just fill in a valid RSS feed url and press the submit button and that’s it! New posts are now added to their profile stream automagically! How easy can it be?

How does the plugin work?

The plugin checks the feed of the user every 60 minutes OR when someone visits their profile directly. This way the entries are always up to date! When a feed is added for the firs time it fetches the three latest feed items and imports them to the user’s activity stream.

Can I customize some of these settings?

Yes you can! You can do this by editing your wp-config.php file in your domain root folder. settings are very easy to change so don’t worry about messing things up! Just open up wp-config.php and add one of the following lines of code:

define( 'BP_MEMBERBLOGS_MAX_FEEDS', 1 ); // the maximum amount of feeds a user can add. keep at 1 to avoid spam problems
define( 'BP_MEMBERBLOGS_INITIAL_POSTS_TO_FETCH', 3 ); //initial amount of posts loaded from feed.
define( 'BP_MEMBERBLOGS_MAX_POSTS_TO_FETCH', 1 );  //Max amount of posts the fetch at once.

Are there any known issues?

Not that we are currently aware of. But if you find anything be sure to let us know!

Can I make the plugin even more awesome?

Of course you can! If you have added additional features to this plugin please let us know so we can add it to the plugin.

Is there a Demo available?

Just like BP-Tricks uses the BP-Slick Theme for it’s design, we use this plugin to add relevant BuddyPress posts from across the community to the Stream. If you create something awesome, why not use it? For me that’s the biggest advantage of running a tips and tricks community on BuddyPress about Buddypress. You can eat your own dogfood! Just check out the Stream to see the plugin in action!

Writing about BuddyPress on your blog? Why don’t you add your feed to the Stream by clicking on “Add external feed” under the “My Profile” panel in the sidebar navigation

That’s about it for now. We hope you enjoy using the plugin and that it can increase the activity in your community!

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Something about bowe

BuddyPress fanatic, WordPress Theme designer and MultiSite community builder. Proud co-founder of PressCrew. Loves to use awesome in every sentence. Often described as a Dutch Treehugging Hippie.

49 Responses to Allow users to add their RSS feed to their profile with the external blogs plugin!

  1. Puanthanh October 26, 2010 at 9:53 pm #

    Can we make a list of users external blogs’ and use as directory?

  2. Dave Woodbridge October 27, 2010 at 11:23 pm #

    I don’t see any new pages appearing on profiles when I activate the plugin – is there anything else I need to do?



  3. bowe October 28, 2010 at 8:27 am #

    Hi Dave,

    The RSS setting page should appear on settings > external blogs. on your profile page. Are you sure it’s not there?

  4. Puanthanh October 29, 2010 at 12:07 am #

    How to show the feed in templates such as the profile page?

  5. bowe October 29, 2010 at 1:49 pm #

    You can show the external posts on someone’s profile by visiting someone’s profile and choosing “External Blog Posts” in the activity filter. They are all added as stream items so you don’t need a template to easily list/view them :)

  6. Greg Fielding November 9, 2010 at 6:34 pm #

    Great plugin.
    Any way to get the links to open in a new window?
    And, any way to add a excerpt?

  7. bowe November 9, 2010 at 8:57 pm #

    Hi Greg,

    Glad you like it! The entry for new items is added through the following file: wp-content/plugins/external-member-blogs/bp-member-externalblogs.php

    Open up the file and find line 270.

    then add “target=”_blank” to the link that takes you to the blog post. That should do the trick! If you need more help let me know!

    The excerpt is being added automatically, so that should work fine :)

    • Melody March 9, 2011 at 6:21 pm #

      “Open up the file and find line 270.
      then add “target=”_blank” to the link that takes you to the blog post.”

      I’m not a coder and would like to know the complete code to open external link in a new window on line 270. Thanks!

  8. Greg Fielding November 11, 2010 at 6:04 am #

    Thanks Bowe – made the change and it works great. I added nofollows as well…

    I did find an error though. If you add a feed then later delete it, the feed still imports. There is no way to import no feeds after you’ve chosen one – the old one stays there and actually re-populates the field on the settings page.

  9. bowe November 12, 2010 at 10:13 am #

    Hi Greg,

    Please redownload the plugin:

    It should be fixed :)

  10. nahum November 15, 2010 at 11:15 pm #

    for anyone who couldn’t get the settings page to display on the menu….(from the above comments) I also couldn’t get them to appear and it turned out I had another bp plugin occupying the same nav position ’40′ , I changed my other plugin’s position to ’50′ and it worked.

  11. Greg Fielding November 17, 2010 at 5:26 pm #

    Any way to over-ride the settings for an individual user?

    I want my members to have 1 feed, but my admin to have perhaps 5-10.

  12. Greg Fielding November 17, 2010 at 9:42 pm #

    Ok..opening in a new window isn’t working. Here’s what I’ve got:

    $activity_action = sprintf( __( ‘New external post %s from the blog %s for the member %s’, ‘buddypress-memberblogs’ ), ‘‘ . attribute_escape( strip_tags( preg_replace( ‘/\s+/’, ‘ ‘, $post['title'] ) ) ) . ‘‘, ‘‘ . attribute_escape( $post['blogname'] ) . ‘‘, bp_core_get_userlink( $user_id ) );

  13. bowe November 17, 2010 at 10:02 pm #

    Code can’t be pasted in comments yet.. can you put it on pastly so I can take a look? Remember that old entries do not get updated, so you’ll see when it works when a new entry is added to the stream.

    About overriding the settings:

    Certainly something that will be added to this plugin, we have some plans for extending it in the near future. I’ll ask @MrMaz to add it in a future version..

  14. Greg Fielding November 17, 2010 at 11:00 pm #

    Sorry about that Bowe…

  15. Guillaume November 18, 2010 at 8:53 pm #


    Great plugin !
    I before adding nex feed url, I want to check if the feed does not exist yet. How could I make this ?


  16. bowe November 19, 2010 at 9:06 am #

    Good question. That is currently not possible. The plugin only checks to see if it’s a valid url, so checking the url for duplicates is not yet possible. We’ll add this to the list of features though :)

  17. Mike Henry Sr. November 28, 2010 at 12:08 am #

    It’s a great plugin. Thanks! I would also like to be able to remove the feed too.

    • bowe November 30, 2010 at 10:19 am #

      Hi Mike,

      Please redownload the plugin, you should now be able to remove a Feed by leaving it blank :)

  18. Roman December 2, 2010 at 2:10 pm #

    seems really nice and could be used for various occassions.
    in my case i would like to have the feeds posted in a special groups stream and not in the man activity. is that possible?

    best regards

  19. Roman December 6, 2010 at 9:12 am #

    yeah, really great plugin! Im looking for something else even so:
    Short scenario description: scientists of different fields forming workgroups. Collecting and presenting really different scientifical articles (rss) to each other. Those rss have to be structured.

    We are using the external group blog plugin until now, which allows to add rss-feeds to a certain group. In our case the possibility to classify rss-feeds by certain groups is really necessary and a must have. even though this is not going far enough. im looking for the possibility to allocate external rss-streams to sub-blogs or sub-forums of a certain group so that the flood of information is again more structured. Any hint? May is put it on xmas-wishlist, or am i on the wrong track with your extension, because its very user dependent and not group-organized?

    sorry for the long text! again: great work (including that page ;) !

  20. Tyler January 7, 2011 at 6:30 pm #

    Experimenting with this plugin, I found that imported the most recent item in the external feed, and that’s it. A new post went up this morning, but the corresponding item in the activity stream hasn’t appeared yet, even on visiting the profile page.

    Any thoughts on what might cause that?

  21. bowe January 8, 2011 at 4:47 pm #

    Hi Tyler,

    That’s weird! The plugin is active here on bp-tricks and it fetches new posts fine.. Could you try with a different feed which is updated often, and see what happens? This problem has not been reported before.. What type of feed is it?

  22. Ipstenu January 12, 2011 at 5:12 pm #

    I added this to my theme’s functions.php file to restrict it to editors only:

    So far, looking okay. :D

  23. Mike Henry Sr. January 22, 2011 at 4:34 am #

    I’m having a similar problem to @tyler. On our site, it has only updated each author a single time.

  24. Ipstenu January 23, 2011 at 7:07 pm #

    Okay, if your feed has characters like & or : in the URL, it doesn’t work right. Interesting.

  25. Mike Henry Sr. January 29, 2011 at 5:17 pm #

    What makes loader.php run? I don’t see any cron job or anything that would make the script run. I just uploaded the plugin. Do I need to add something somewhere to get this cron job created?

  26. Greg Fielding February 11, 2011 at 5:59 pm #


    Having the same issues as the others. It works initially then stops. Strangely, if I go to a member’s profile and refresh the activity, the new posts show up.

    Somehow whatever is supposed to trigger the import isn’t working right.

  27. February 14, 2011 at 6:05 pm #

    Hey Bowe, Great Plugin, it’s a feature I’ve been looking for.
    Now I was wondering if we can associate feeds with a certain group or category – kind of how Digg member feeds work (they require you to choose a category). We would like members to choose a group or category where all feeds would post in. Please let me know if this is possible or something you may consider as a feature.

  28. Avi M February 16, 2011 at 9:51 pm #

    Ditto for me as well! First item was imported and then nothing.

  29. Greg Fielding February 28, 2011 at 1:00 am #

    Bowe and Marshall,
    It would be great to get the import properly refreshing every hour. This function could be a core element to my community if we could get it working right.
    Is there anything that I can do to help?

  30. Ali Dark March 20, 2011 at 12:42 pm #

    How and why you find time to create and maintain such awesomely useful stuff for the world is an amazing mystery. Thank you so much. Couldn’t find this in the WordPress plugin repository though – shame that.

    • Bowe Frankema April 5, 2011 at 11:11 pm #

      It will be added to the plugin repo in the future!

  31. Greg Fielding March 22, 2011 at 7:30 pm #

    Happy to donate to get this jump-started again. :)

  32. bowe March 28, 2011 at 11:54 am #

    Hi Greg,

    It’s weird it does not work for you (the cron/update stuff). Hopefully Marshall will be able to take a look at the plugin soon, we just need to finish up other stuff first. I’ll ask Marshall to take a look at this thread, and maybe give some pointers :)

  33. Greg Fielding March 29, 2011 at 8:40 pm #

    I actually tried using it on another project that is very simple and uses almost no other plugins and it works great. But considering that I’m not the only one with this issue, there is probably a common conflict – plugin, caching, hosting, etc.

    I’m happy to provide admin rights if Marshall wants to take a look.

    Thanks guys.

  34. Greg Fielding March 31, 2011 at 12:39 am #

    So, I just upgraded to wp3.1 and BP 1.2.8 and now it works perfectly. Thanks for a great plugin guys!

    • Bowe Frankema March 31, 2011 at 10:06 am #

      That is great news! I knew that the plugin was working here, but it always sucks if you hear it’s not working properly for someone else. My best guess is that that cron jobs where not coming through. I talked to Peter from the BuddyStream plugin and he told me that a lot of installs had this problem. Glad it works again Greg :-)

  35. Avatar June 14, 2011 at 8:28 am #

    Hello, we started working with this plugin, and now looking to extend it in a good way.

    I was wondering if we can associate feeds with a certain group or category – kind of how Digg member feeds work (they require you to choose a category). We would like members to choose a group or category where all feeds would post in. Please let me know if this is possible, something you may consider working on, or some hints on how we could work on it from here.

    Thanks for your good assist with this.

    - Jeff -

  36. John June 14, 2011 at 8:33 am #

    hi Bowe,

    great plugin! any chances to get some function to limit external posts titles in bp activities (have one for bp post titles, but have no skills to implement it with activities)?


  37. Christopher Terterian June 15, 2011 at 12:34 am #

    I keep getting this error with this plugin which says:

    Warning: strtotime() expects parameter 1 to be string, on line 35

  38. Jamie July 15, 2011 at 7:54 am #

    Hi Bowe, great plugin!

    I’m quite new to php, what would you say about new plugin “yd-buddypress-feed-syndication”, is it the same feature in other implementation, or there is something new in there?


  39. Joseph August 7, 2011 at 10:56 pm #


    I checked this for 1.5 compatibility and it does not work properly… will you please update it so it continues to work? Pretty Please…

  40. T. J. Brumfield August 12, 2011 at 5:06 am #

    I’m getting the same error as Christopher Terterian.

    Warning: strtotime() expects parameter 1 to be string, on line 35

  41. T. J. Brumfield August 12, 2011 at 5:33 am #

    Okay, I may have a fix, but I’m not a PHP developer. Replace line 35 with these two lines:

    $last_refetch = date( "Y-m-d H:i:s" , $last_refresh);
    if ( empty( $last_refetch ) || strtotime( gmdate( "Y-m-d H:i:s" ) ) >= ( strtotime( '+30 minutes' ) + strtotime( $last_refetch ) ) )

  42. Ranting September 7, 2011 at 5:33 pm #

    Hope this is updated for 1.5!

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