Buddy Press – Initial thoughts post-installation

Murder by Death


Ok, I’ve got Buddy Press installed and here are my thoughts as I flip through the settings (which are both directly off the plug-in itself, and sprinkled throughout the other Admin menu settings).

Plug-in settings and Admin Settings:  This has 3 tabs (the last one is just a credit page).
Components: the only two I didn’t turn on are Friend Connections, because we’re a small group anyway (though if everyone would want it?) and Site Tracking, which will “Record activity for new posts and comments from your site” – I left it off because it says “tracking”, though it might be something else entirely.

Options: There are heaps of settings here, all of which I turned on except for “Allow registered members to invite new members to join this network.”  I left this off because it was mentioned earlier that we’d want invites to be at the consensus of the group.

Pages: This tab allows us to associate pages to 3 categories:  1. Members (might be our “about me” problem solved?); 2. Activity Streams, and 3. User Groups.

Users Menu:  It adds several additional tools to this menu, but all save the last one are concerned with User Registration, which we have turned off for the site because – private.  The last setting though is Site Notices, which are notices shown at front end of your site to all logged-in users.  That could be really handy.

It also adds a new tab to Users Profile called Extended Profile.  This is very simple at the moment (just name and avatar), because we need to add custom fields for it under the Profile Fields sub menu.  This might give us an About Us option that we’ve been discussing.

Groups Menu (in Admin):  Allows us to create groups: Public, Private, Hidden.  If nothing else, this might make planning for future games easier, as we can create private groups for discussion.  There’s also a “Group Type” screen where it looks like we can create new group types (beyond hidden, public, private?).  Not sure what that’s about.

Emails Menu (in Admin):  This looks to be a list of templates you can use to send various emails, or that are used as notifications for users if they choose to received them.

I think that’s it – at least that I’ve been able to find.  I noticed that there’s a new notification thing on my Admin tool bar, which I’m hoping will work.

How to see the Admin Toolbar: Under User profile, look for the checkbox that says “Show Toolbar when viewing this site” and check it.  Save settings.

Private vs. Public and our Euro friends

Murder by Death


So far, the limited conversations about this site that have centered around privacy and visibility is that everybody is for making the site private.  Since this current test site is my personal domain, I’ve already taken all steps to make it as inaccessible to the public as possible and I’m comfortable with its current status.

But once our Euro friends who fall under the GDPR laws join us, it’s a different ball game, as, if I understand this correctly, the law states that all users must list their real names/addresses, unless the site is private.  My current settings would count as private, in my opinion.

Currently, it’s possible to make posts and pages private using the Visibility function, but the glitch with that is setting that to Private makes the post or page visible only to administrators (handy on the future perm. site for administrators to basically PM each other).  The other option is Password Protected and that just seems a bit too much, asking everybody to enter a password to read the posts.

The only way to make the entire site private is through a plug-in, which is free.  It will enable whole site privacy, and as they say on the site: “Now, whenever anyone who isn’t registered and logged into your site comes to see it, this is all they’ll get: the login screen.”  (source: https://www.websiteplanet.com/blog/how-to-make-wordpress-private/)

Do we want to do this?  We can still ask new members to join us, but they won’t be able to approach us blindly; they’ll have to come to us through another member.

Thoughts?  Personally I want our Euro members, TA, Lillelara et. al to be able to join us without stressing about GDPR.  If that means I publish my personal details along with everybody else’s on my privacy page, or make the entire site visible to members only, so be it.  But this is definitely a discussion for the committee.

New Plug-in: Default categories

Murder by Death


When Christine set up the details of the site layout, she created a category for everybody who is here (so far).  Once that user creates a post and assigns it to their category, it automatically creates a link in the left menu that will show all that users’ posts aggregated onto one page.

The hitch(es) are that Administrators have to remember to create the category when the user is created (at the moment it’s just me, but eventually will be Christine and whomever she assigns an Admin role), AND the user has to remember to assign their category to their posts.

I found a plug-in that eliminates half that need to remember.  It’s called Restricted Author, and it allows you to set a default category on a per user basis.  (You can also restrict authors to certain categories, hence the name, but I’m not using that feature.)

Admins still have to create the category when they create the user and make sure it’s assigned to them as the default, but now whenever any of us create a post, it will automatically assign that post to our category.

NOTE:  The category is only set upon saving the post (either Publish or Draft), so when you first open “new post” the category won’t be checked.

Book Plug-ins we’d have to purchase: Ultimate Book Blogger vs. Book Library

by Murder by Death


One of the best features of BookLikes, and one of the reasons we ended up at GoodReads, is the book database.  Being able to post book reviews with book covers and book information that other readers could access, as well as being able to track the books on our shelves.

When I had to create my own book blog, murderedbydeath.com, I was unwilling to compromise on the book database and started doing some hard-core searching for something I could easily use in my posts.  I found Ashley @ Nose Graze.  She writes two seperate plug-ins: Ultimate Book Blogger and Book Database.

Both plugins allow for the writing of reviews embedded with book information.  Both create searchable archives of reviews.  Both get the basic job done in slightly different ways, offering slightly different perks.

The biggest difference between the two on a nuts and bolts level is that:

book database allows the users to manually build a book database that allows for custom taxonomies, different editions tied to the same record (not different covers though), re-read tracking, and reading stats.

Ultimate Book Blogger allows you to pull data from Google Books or Goodreads using an API, which means you can search by title, author, or ISBN for the book(s) you want to embed in your review, allows you to choose what book info to display, but doesn’t keep the book information anywhere but in your post.

UBB also offers spoiler tags, a wrap-up function that seems to be about what you’ve read this month or year and a currently reading widget I use on my regular blog.  Book Database offers a block, for those that like the block editor (or have made your peace with it) that allows you to place a book info box in your posts that might not be reviews.

The features we probably don’t care a whit about are also small and easy to ignore: Book Library allows purchase tracking and tracking of signed editions.  Not sure how useable that is for a group like us.  UBB has giveaways, blog tour and author bio stuff I don’t think this group has any interest in.

As I said, I have both and I use both and unofficially, I’ve discovered that UBB’s currently reading widget works just fine with Book Database’s books.  I don’t know how, but it does.  I think a few more of the widgets do too; I have a recent reviews widget on my site too and it pulls from book database.  What I don’t know is if the crossover would work with multiple users.  Both plug-ins support multiple uses though.

Both cost $35/annually, OR $35 one time.  The one time only gets you one year of updates and support, and then you’re on your own with compatibility issues, etc. When mine came up for renewal this year, I got a 30% discount on each for renewing early.  UBB has a few add-on features that cost a bit more.  The only one that’s ever caught my eye is one for tracking reading challenges, though I haven’t bought it yet.

For those that want more in-depth information, with screenshots, I recommend checking out Ashley’s pages here:

UBB: https://shop.nosegraze.com/product/ultimate-book-blogger-plugin/
Book Database: https://shop.nosegraze.com/product/book-database/

She also created a feature comparison chart, which I’ve appended here for anyone wanting a side-by-side comparison.

From her site:

How is this different from Ultimate Book Blogger? Which one should I choose?

There is admittedly a lot of crossover between Ultimate Book Blogger and Book Database. Some of the differences are more subtle.

In short, Ultimate Book Blogger is geared towards book bloggers and all the features a book blogger might have on their site. It has a lot more settings and more niche options like support for book giveaways and blog tours. It’s also a very public plugin—geared towards people who want to publicly publish reviews and associated content.

Book Database has a larger focus on maintaining a personal library of books and keeping track of your reading statistics. Its calendar view also provides a great way to keep up with upcoming releases. Book Database can be beneficial to people who have no interest in publishing public content; you can simply use it to track your reading progress and books you own and/or are generally interested in.

Feature Book Database Ultimate Book Blogger
Book storage Books are stored in their own database in a dedicated admin menu. Books are stored directly with posts.
Log owned editions Supported Not supported
Log books read Supported Not supported
Reading & reviewing analytics Supported Not supported
Embed book information in posts Supported Supported
Public review archives Supported — one archive with filtering options Supported — multiple different archive types available
Fetch information from Goodreads Not supported Supported
Blog tour support Not supported Supported
Giveaway support Not supported Supported
Related content feature Not supported Supported
Book author bios Not supported Supported
Public Widgets Not supported Supported