Using plugins with BuddyPress; a general introduction


So you have your BuddyPress site up and running, and are loving every bit of it.. But chances are that you would like to extend BuddyPress with some new features and some specific things which are not (currently) included with it. That’s when plugins come into play; the absolute best part of WordPress (MultiSite) and thus BuddyPress!

There are three types of plugins you can use on conjunction with BuddyPress;

- BuddyPress Plugins (duh)
- WordPress Plugins
- MultiSite Plugins (when you’ve enabled MultiSite)

The above means that you have a huge pile of plugins to choose from! Now before you go plugin crazy and download every single plugin ever created, please let me explain the things you need to keep in mind.

BuddyPress Plugins

BuddyPress plugins1 Using plugins with BuddyPress; a general introduction
found at

These plugins are written especially for BuddyPress and are meant to directly enhance/improve your BuddyPress installation. These plugins are installed in the same way as normal WordPress plugins and are uploaded to wp-content/plugins and activated through the plugin manager. These plugins do not affect the blogs on your network but only your main BuddyPress blog/site. They really add something to the core functionality of BuddyPress and will not do anything on regular WordPress site.

Some good examples of BuddyPress plugins are:

- BP-Links by Marshall Sorenson: a link/media submission plugin for BuddyPress that adds an entirely new directory which lists links submitted by members.
- BP-Groupblog : Adds Blogging functionality for Groups on MultiSite installs and uses the BuddyPress Group API to do so.
- External Member Blogs by us!:Allows users to attach an external RSS feed to their profile which is imported to the Activity Stream
- BuddyStream: Let’s users connect with other social networks and sync their activity to the Activity Stream.

Pitfalls and Potential Problems

Compatibility: Since BuddyPress is so actively developed the main problem is usually incompatibility with older or newer versions of BuddyPress. Always check if the plugin you wish to use is compatible with your current BuddyPress install. In general most plugins are compatible with 1.2.x.

Templates: A lot of plugins require you to move certain folder to your active theme folder, be sure to check if that’s the case with your plugins by reading the readme.txt file. If you forget this you get a dreaded 404-Page not Found error!

Regular WordPress plugins

WordPress plugins Using plugins with BuddyPress; a general introduction
found at:

These are written for the WordPress platform and this means they are written for single WordPress sites. regular WordPress plugins are uploaded to /wp-content/plugins/ or directly installed through the Plugin Manager. They will not add anything to your BuddyPress functions and are purely meant to enhance WordPress functionality but in turn might improve the BuddyPress experience as well. An example:

You download the great WP-FB-AutoConnect plugin from Justin Klein which allows users to sign-up through Facebook. Since BuddyPress profiles are the same as regular WordPress profiles, this plugin is extremely useful for BuddyPress as well. I advise to always keep an eye out for great WordPress plugins even if you only use BuddyPress functionality for your community.

If you are using BuddyPress and have MultiSite enabled as well, you can also use WordPress plugins to enhance the blogs in your network. A good example would be installing a social sharing plugin (to let users share posts on social networks easily) and activating it sitewide. This plugin can now be used by all the users in your network and these types of plugins can be great to add to your network!

Pitfalls and Potential Problems:

Compatibility: Not all WordPress plugins play nice with BuddyPress. The problems that might occur are javascript conflicts, which breaks the Ajax functionality for BuddyPress (usually lightbox plugins or sliders), or caching/performance plugins that prevent the Activity Stream from working properly.

Plugins which add widgets or improves/extend general WordPress functions have a high chance of working on your BP site. Always take the time to test a plugin on a test site or local site and make sure nothing goes haywire. If you use plugins which embed jQuery by default, see if you can disable it, because BuddyPress loads it by default.

MultiSite Plugins

multisite plugins Using plugins with BuddyPress; a general introduction
found at:

These plugins are specially written for WordPress MU and are meant to add functionality to your entire MultiSite network. These plugins can be activated on the plugin manager page, or sometimes need to be dropped into /wp-content/mu-plugins/

Some general examples of MultiSite plugins are:

– Sitewide plugins: popular tags across your network, featured blogs, latest sitewide comments, sitewide stats etc
- Admin improvements: Improve the admin interface, hide elements, replace logo’s or add a custom RSS feed to the admin dashboard
- Monetizing plugins: Pay to blog, Subscription plugins, Advertising plugins

Of course there are many more but so you can see the main difference is that they add functions to your entire MultiSite install and not to individual blogs. MultiSite plugins can not be activated on single WordPress installs and can usually be configured trough the Network Admin panel.

Pitfalls and Potential Problems

Compatibility: Not all WPMU plugins work with BuddyPress installs, and once again make sure to test that out before you install the plugin. Uninstalling a plugin is a lot harder than installing, and most of the time it requires removing database tables created by the plugin, which can be a b*tch! Most of the time the plugin description mentions something about BuddyPress compatibility so be sure to read that!

Performance: keep in mind that plugins that are running on all your blogs in your network might take up a lot of memory. Especially plugins that aggregate content sitewide might cause your server to stress out. So I advise you to only use these types of plugins if you really need it


*BP fanboy mode ON* So many options, So many possibilities. If you’re not using BuddyPress and thinking about running a social network you must be kinda crazy to not seriously consider this amazing social network plugin for WordPress! *BP fanmode OFF*

It took me quite a while to figure out the differences between the types of plugins I could use, and getting the most out of the available plugins can greatly improve your community. I advise everyone to keep an eye out for new plugins and set up a test environment to test them out without running any risks!

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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.

10 Responses to Using plugins with BuddyPress; a general introduction

  1. nahum November 18, 2010 at 10:13 pm #

    I would add/suggest to just go ahead and go multisite!. When you talk about the flood gates opening once you do install BP and then plugins, and then custom post types, and then XYZ, I can imagine how cluttered a single wp dashboard would get, once you’ve discovered the possibilities of BPWP. Not to mention the all the potential collision courses of all the plugin sets you mentioned all trying to perform on a single install.

    Go multisite and just put BP on one site, your blog on another and any other cms type of site; videos, sections, etc. to their own site – all the while keeping the plugins spread across their respective sites. For me its much more manageable, it’s lighter in terms of managing plugins. MU fanmode OFF* just set up your single install and be happy.

  2. bowe November 19, 2010 at 9:04 am #

    MultiSite can be a pretty good solution and I think the topic BuddyPress and MultiSite even deserves it’s own trick :) There are many things you can do with MultiSite and BuddyPress which might be harder to do on a single install.

    The approach you’ve taken can do wonders for certain communities and allows you to set up dedicated blogs for several subjects (videos, music etc) but for certain communties it can be overkill as well. Thanks for the suggestion :)

  3. Haroun Kola March 11, 2011 at 9:36 am #

    Wow, so many different things to keep in mind. Thanks for a great article though :)

  4. Andrew Behla September 26, 2011 at 6:10 pm #

    HI Bowe,

    Would you be up for helping with the update to the canvas child theme for buddypress? The community could sure use your help: If you can vote on the update that would be awesome too!

    • Laurent September 27, 2011 at 3:55 pm #

      Like Andrew said, we are some people using Buddypress for Canvas (by Woothemes) crying all day long at the moment… Hope you can help…

  5. Bowe September 28, 2011 at 8:29 am #

    Hi guys,

    Sadly I won’t be able to update the Canvas BP theme due to the work on our own WordPress/BuddyPress framework called Infinity. That will be going into private beta today, and I’ll sent you both an invite to check it out :-)

  6. Johan October 7, 2011 at 2:02 pm #

    Hi Bowe,

    Forgive me for writing here, but I can;t find any other place to do so!

    I haven’t been able to attend to my site for quite some time and last night saw there were any number of updates/upgrades of which BuddyPress was one.

    can you please take a look at my site. You will see the menu isn’t in a coloured bar any more, the widget area is on the left instead of the right and the Profile gives a http:// address instead of the menbers name.

    Please help!
    Thank you

    • bowe October 11, 2011 at 10:53 am #

      Hi Johan,

      That is because BP-Slick has not yet been updated to BP 1.5. Some functionality is now broken. I’ll try and get it fixed asap! Give me a few days to get everything setup again :-)

  7. Johan October 11, 2011 at 11:36 am #

    Thanks Bowe! I will wait.

  8. Johan October 11, 2011 at 5:40 pm #

    Hi Bowe, Thanks for the Infinity invite! I thought I would try it on a new site, but now when I try to get into my WP-Admin I get the following:

    Warning: require_once(/home/fidofa5/public_html/ [function.require-once]: failed to open stream: No such file or directory in /home/fidofa5/public_html/ on line 105

    Fatal error: require_once() [function.require]: Failed opening required ‘/home/fidofa5/public_html/’ (include_path=’.:/usr/lib/php:/usr/local/lib/php’) in /home/fidofa5/public_html/ on line 105

    Can you please tell me what to do so I can get back into my wp-admin?

    Thanks very much!


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