WordPress/Buddypress: No Joy Yet as Ning Replacement

What I want to do:

Create a website with a few static pages linked as URLs (syllabus, grading policies, Engrade) preferrably in iframes, a forum with a series of topics (Week 1, Week 2) for students to post their thesesand a place where each of six groups has a forum/place where they can post text and images for display as they present.

Trouble I’m having:

In trying both Buddypress and other WordPress themes, there seems no way to have different groups where they can post images easily (preferably URL-based with resizing).

The plug-in Comment-Images Comment Image Embedder allows images to be embedded from URL only, but only in Comments on the main posts, not as replies in forums.


The plug-in Comment Image creates a box for upload, but again, only for Comments on the main post, and only jpg.


The plug-in Forum Attachments for Buddypress allows images to be added, but only from the hard drive, in forum replies.


Obviously I am trying to replicate Ning, which let me create six groups easily, and have each of them be able to add images using either URL or upload and then resize them by dragging the corners.

I have tried three different Buddypress themes and two regular WordPress themes. I have a week to put my class somewhere.

21 comments to WordPress/Buddypress: No Joy Yet as Ning Replacement

  • Jim

    I was thinking maybe something in bbPress integrated through BuddyPress might help, but no plugin for this there either. Are you setting up the BuddyPress groups with Forums? You might just want to do the group discussions, etc. with something like a P2 theme, a little more chaotic, and twitter-like, but it could be an interesting experiment.

    Or use the comments of a straight blog post as a place for a forum/discussion with reply, etc. Just thinking about it, I’m not sure. Never used Ning so don’t see exactly the image url resizing feature too clearly, but I know the feeling of being so close, yet….

    • Thanks, Jim. Just tried P2 and while it has a cool menu for adding to a post, the rest is the same (no easy images when replying), so they’d have to be blog authors, and that’s not really what I wanted to do.

      I do indeed think I’m back to just using comment replies to a blog post, but that won’t make it easy for a group to work together. I hate to go back to an LMS just to do this. Feels like a total failure.

  • I’ve been tackling Buddypress myself for the last few days on a new site I set up for my grade 7/8 class. I’m at My site is still a few weeks away from acquiring any users and I’m sure I’ll run into more problems as we get going. I looked yesterday for plugins to tackle dealing with images. I’m sure you must have looked at this list: already. I found a few things on there that will deal with images, but they require kids having external accounts, something I would like to avoid. I haven’t looked yet for premium (ie. pay) plugins either.

    I’ll keep looking and if I find anything I’ll post it back here. I hope you’ll post your solution if you find anything.

    • Thanks, Clarence. Yes, I will post if I solve this. I will give it a few more days, but class starts soon and I need a set-up that won’t require ongoing maintenance and problem-solving — for me, this would not be a good semester for that!

  • Hi Lisa – For inline images based on URL, you might consider oEmbed: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/oembed-for-buddypress/. I think that this plugin will automatically recognize image URLs and embed the media accordingly. (Video and audio too.) That, in combination with Forum Attachments for BuddyPress, might do the trick.

    • I looked at that one, but it says it only embeds from its lists of sites (ie Flickr, Photobucket) — are you saying it takes any image URL?

      • Oops, you’re right. I’ll have to think about it.

      • OK, so here’s a possibility. Put the following in bp-custom.php or functions.php of your theme: http://pastebin.com/xGjMy8Dn

        That replaces any instance of a image URL (ending in gif, jpg, jpeg, png, or bmp) that is set off by spaces (so a comma-separated list won’t work) and replaces it with a paragraph containing the image alone.

        Not perfect, but it might get you part of the way there.

        • Thanks for the code, but I’m thinking that might add another layer — it seems easier, but in combo with the other two ways of adding images….I just don’t want to confuse them. I’ll keep it in my back pocket.

          I have been trying the Atahualpa theme, using the Categories as if they were tabs (it looks that way, which gave me the idea). Static pages are tabs at the top. Communication areas (categories) are at the bottom of the header image. Students could use these as drop down areas, so they know where to put the weekly homework and where the group areas are.

          The only difficulty is that, since it’s a blog, the main page shows all the post, which will be confusing. I removed the Home tab to prevent deliberate clicking on the full page of posts. I could link from the syllabus to each separate area (a real time-sucker). Might be other ways too…

  • While not perfect, this might be a starting point. At least with a site like flickr you could work with billions (yes – billions) of CC images.

  • Bob Bell (B-ob

    Might be missing the point but…
    How about using your blog as the main page and having each group create their own WP blog. The groups could then use “pages” for their posts and link the page URL and a brief abstract within a comment on your main class page.
    Once the blog is up (simple format) the student would simply have to click on a page, title it, paste the text from word processor, and upload the image. Click on finished page to publish, copy the URL and paste in the comment.
    Sounds more complicated written than in action. Might be better than trying to do all the requirements in one virtual setting.

    • Thanks for the idea, Bob, but the groups aren’t like that — they aren’t set, but change throughout the semester. Having each student have their own blog just to post a weekly sentence, then have to aggregate them for everyone, seems very large for my needs.

      The other option I considered was making them all Authors, but when I tried a sample and logged in, it also presented the WP interface, which I may be accustomed to but they aren’t.

      • Lisa,

        there is a GroupBlog plugin for BuddyPress, so each student wouldn’t have to create their own blog. It’s just one blog for the group, and each member of the group is automatically an author.

        I agree with you on front end vs. admin interface posting. You might want to take a look at something like gravity forms (paid plugin) – that’ll let you build a front end form that allows posting to the blog. There is also some work with QuickPress (free) I think to give front end posting.

        I don’t know how either of these will play with GroupBlog, you might have to get your hands dirty on the integration.

        Cheers, Roger

        • Ah, interesting idea! No paid plug-in, I don’t think, but I’ll take a look at GroupBlog and QuickPress — thanks!

  • Bob Bell (B-ob

    Some shots in the dark….


    Talks about replacing NIng…

    James (12 yrs old) has made a test site that could replace ning
    its using the latest version of mambo its free under gnu licence.
    take a look at


    • Yes, I have been investigating grou.ps and am currently trying to migrate last semester’s Ning there (not happening yet, but they’re being helpful). But they do have ads.

  • […] a fully-fledged CMS-killer, but for some this model could be interesting as a Ning replacement (see Lisa M. Lane’s recent attempts to do just […]

  • Hi Lisa,

    Still think wikisaces will meet your needs. Discussion pages for forums. easy to create group pages and to upload pictures.

    only issues to me are if it needs to be closed and if the discussions page feels right for your needs.

    I just noticed you were rethinking wikispaces. did not show up on my tweetdeck mentions, but after reading your exact requirements on this blog thought i would post again. if thereare minor hurdles to overcome let me know and maybe i might know a way forward


    • Thanks, Steve — I think you’re right. Looking for free and ad-free though, and it looks like Wikispaces is only ad-free if you pay.

      • OK Lisa – Will be good to see what your final solution is. I like the blog, ple network approach that you are aiming for. Just to say i hardly notice ads on wikispaces – i am wondering if i’m paying and don’t know about it 🙂

  • CR

    Take a look at Open Atrium (http://openatrium.com/). Open Source, built on Apache/PHP/MySQL/Drupal — it might do the trick. Multiple groups, single admin for users, static (or shared) documents, blogs, discussions (called case tracker), profile pages, etc.

    Uploading images as attachments is easy. Including images inline requires some HTML.

    Good luck.