Symposium is first of all a fully integrated wordpress forum, complete with posts digest and notifications. But that’s just the start. Symposium is also a ‘social network’ application that offers logged in members connectivity through an internal email system, facebook-like wall, configurable profile page and activity stream. It also offers external connectivity with your usual social networks, RSS facebook etc …
I may have left out some finer features, but you can also add other modules onto the framework such as galleries, groups and other goodies.
Simon Goodchild runs and develops the core plugin and it has to be said is a first class support, both here and on his own support forum (which is run on Symposium). He’s clearly determined to make Symposium a major feature in the WordPress arena.
Symposium is not for everyone and it must be said, if you’r on a low powered shared server, you may find it slow and clunky. In my experience, it also does not play nice with some themes using jquery/ajax etc, plus some plugins will conflict if they also use these dependencies. There are options to symposium to tweak these scripts that can help compatibility… you have to experiment.
If you are looking for your own fully featured social network plugin, this would be the one of choice, but don’t think you can tack it on to your already plugin heavy webssite and see it fly. It really deserves its own wordpress install and a well optimised theme and server to really shine.
Having said that, symposium is a beautiful piece of software that offers true social features for wordpress and also plays well with buddypress if you want the whole 9yds.
It gets full marks from me and many others, not only because of the slick and functional features, but also the quality of consistent updates, developer support and community backup.
Just as an update to what has been said here, WP Symposium has come a long way in the 11 months since this thread began. There is a feature to WP Symposium that is much more resource hungry than the core. But that feature can be turned off. It is what is called the “Panel”. Simon is aware of it and has promised there will be some changes to it.
However, if you want a chat option, which is basically what the Panel is most known for, there are other chat plugins out there that don’t use your server to offer members that option.
As far as theme compatibility, yes, those that rely heavily upon ‘jquery/ajax etc’, do sometimes conflict, but given the alternative of ‘BuddyPress’ that plays nicely with only a select few themes designed specifically for it, WP Symposium is a charm.
Configuration of WP Symposium is probably as easy as one could expect. Options are available to turn off certain features to make it more compatible with shared hosting. There are also options to turn off the use of some of the fancy stuff like jquery/ajax.
Overall, I support and recommend WP Symposium. It is a good project with ample support. In fact, I find better support from WP Symposium than I do WP.. Just thought I would throw that in for laughs..
In all seriousness, if you want a social networking plugin, I would go with WP Symposium. I almost always works for most configurations and with a much greater number of themes than BuddyPress.
Oh, and as far as other plugins, I have forty some different plugins on one of my sites and it plays just fine with the others. There have been a few exceptions, but overall.. as with any plugin, or set of plugins, the nature of WP development lends the opportunity for conflict. It’s just the nature of the business.
I would add that on one site I have several plugins that use jquery/ajax, the plugin ‘Plugin Organizer’ allows for stopping plugins from loading on a page by page, post by post basis. Those conflicts I have had between WP Symposium and other plugins have been easily resolved by simply not loading whichever plugin on certain pages or posts.
Basically, if there is a problem there is a way around it.. That’s one of the great things about the WP world.
Just look and there is probably a solution. You just have to know what you are looking for.
As far as a social site goes, in my opinion, if you are serious about developing a social network, you don’t want to stay in a shared hosting environment anyway, unless it’s a cost issue. And really, with the options available in today’s hosting world, VPS isn’t any more expensive, well, almost.. So, I would recommend at least VPS to start. If you grow, move to dedicated server(s). It’s just the way I would suggest putting together a social network. You get what you pay for, if you are serious about it.
And, for those who are wondering about WPMU (multisite), WP Symposium (WPS) has updated to work with WPMU. AND it’s getting better every day..
I agree with much of what you have said above, but I did stop using symposium some months ago. Its reaction time was the main culprit, plus it did not play with some of the themes I was using. Too much loading time for the scripts and processes, plain and simple.
WP is a full and dynamic market of software, if you don’t catch the wave straight away, people will just move on to something else.
Yes, I agree.. if you don’t catch the wave, people move on.. Unfortunately, to their own disappointment most of the time.. But that’s the way it is in the McDonnalds world we live in today.. Give me now or I go somewhere else… lol
However, there are no other really comparable set of plugins that do as much as WP Symposium in such a little time of development..
As I say all the time, if you are wanting a social networking website, the other plugins and themes have to play with the social networking software. It’s a matter of whether or not a person is serious about it.
If you were in the forums at WPS, there is more and more activity in the development and more effort to confront the issues that do arise from the conflicts that do come up with most all configurations of nearly all plugins when you bring them all together under one project.. But, as you said in your post above ‘Symposium is not for everyone’ and that is a good thing.. I would hate to think we were all the same and all of our tastes were the same.. lol
If the panel is deactivated (which runs the chat function) load times are (based on my evaluation using software to measure the load times and which plugins cause the delays) no more from Symposium than they are from WP core and other plugins, which add together to make total load time.. Again, it depends on what plugins you use.
Recent blogs from very experienced people that use WP, are saying more and more.. you don’t really need all those plugins. But who really listens anyway, right?
As far as the Themes, I find that not that many really have issues with Symposium. And regarding Symposium vs. Buddypress, with Symposium you don’t have to modify files to make it work with themes that aren’t made specifically for the plugin such as is required with the majority of themes when dealing with BuddyPress.
But, it’s all personal preference, isn’t it?… (rhetorical)
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