Setting Up the CyberSalonAZ Network
Step 1: Install WordPress
Cheryl purchased the cybersalonaz.com domain name and installed WordPress to her existing Dreamhost server. Mary Jane Onnen donated $20 to pay for two years of domain name registration. Installation of WordPress can be quite simple, as most hosting companies have 1 click install. However, Cheryl decided she wanted for the site to be as secure as possible, so she did a manual install through sftp. You’ll have to talk to her about what all she did.
Step 2: Create a Network
Cheryl created the network in WordPress 3.1 and chose to use the subdirectories option. She basically followed the directions for doing so on the WordPress Codex page (Create a Network). I think this can probably be the most challenging step, but if you follow directions it’s not hard. When you set up a network in WordPress, you have the option of either using subdirectories or subdomains for the network blogs you create. For example, in my setup for my class, all my students have their own blogs. I had to decide what I wanted the URL to their site to look like:
- Sub-domains — like
- Sub-directories — like
Cheryl chose subdirectories because it was easier to set up. When I chose subdomains on my ENG101online site, I had to open a help ticket for my hosting account to ask them to set it up for me. Keep that in mind if you like that option.
Step 3: Install Plugins
We both installed BuddyPress, Achievements for BuddyPress, FeedWordPress, BP Posts on Profile plugins, and set the Akismet API key for the spam filter. If you’ve ever installed plugins on a WordPress blog, you know how easy this is. The hardest part was finding the right plug in. When I did a search for BuddyPress, there were so many plugins that the main plugin didn’t even show up on the first page of results. One I found it though, it was 1 click install. So quickly I’ll explain these main plugins and our reasons for installing them. First, BP adds the social networking features to the WordPress network we set up. To simplify what it is, let’s just say BP is Facebook added to your WordPress. It adds member profile pages, groups, activity streams, friends and friendship requests.
Next is the Achievements for BuddyPress plugin. I’m most excited about this plugin, so of course we had to install it right away. If you’re not familiar with the concept of gamification or social gaming, I’ll be posting more on this later. It basically turns your site into a gaming site where members can earn points, awards and badges for doing certain activities or actions that are determined by the site administrator. As an example, I set up an “event” achievement with the condition of: “The user rejects a friendship request from someone.” When a user performs this event, he automatically earns a badge called the “Asshole Badge.” I just used a image I found on the internet for the badge. I also set it up so the asshole earns 5 points for his efforts.
Connecting our existing individual blogs to the site is important, so we installed the FeedWordPress and BP Posts on Profile plugins. The first is an Atom/RSS aggregator for WordPress. You set up feeds that you choose, and FeedWordPress syndicates posts from those sources into your WordPress posts table. So most of our members have personal blogs where they currently blog about technology and education, and we can now grab the RSS of those existing blogs and have those posts post to the new site’s main page. It’s a really cool plugin in that it automatically maps up with existing users who have the same user name or email address if is listed in the RSS feed. The BP Posts on Profile plugin takes those aggregated posts and displays the posts on the members profile page. So when you’re looking a members profile, there is a posts tab. In that tab, it displays all the posts they have posted.
Lastly, Cheryl set up Akismet by plugging in her API key. As most already know, Akismet protects your blog from comment and trackback spam.
Step 4: Choose a Theme
I chose a BuddyPress theme I purchased for my ENG101online course. We’re not sure it’s the best theme for us yet, but for now we are working with it. It’s called BPSlick and I purchased it for $30. It was the best looking BuddyPress theme I’d seen, and it was recommended by Boone Gorges when we attended his workshop at Wordcamp Phoenix in January. There aren’t many BP themes out there yet -not nearly as many as there are for WP. Cheryl created the purple header to match in Photoshop.
Step 5: Play & Learn
Play with it and learn how to do whatever it is you want to do with your own social network. My first need was: How do I get a RSS feed for a Twitter list? Twitter provides an RSS feed for user tweets, but not for lists. I searched high and low and found that I can do it with Yahoo! Pipes! Yep, Pipes. Check it out: http://pipes.yahoo.com/pipes/pipe.info?_id=fb60de5ff93e81319e3c5fa207b9b276 Someone already created the pipe, so all you have to do is type in your username and the name of the list you want the feed for. Sweet! I created a page on the network called Tweets and I posted the feed to Twitter list: @soul4real/Maricopa.