BuddyPress Launches: May A Thousand Social Networks Bloom (Someday)

picture-153BuddyPress, the side project of blogging powerhouse WordPress, has just hit version 1.0 and has officially launched. It’s basically a social layer that you can lay on top of your WordPress (MU — more on that below) blog to give it some of the social network features that you’re already familiar with from larger social networking sites.

Here’s what version 1.0 features: Extended profile, private messaging, friends, groups, “the wire,” activity stream, blog tracking and forums. Yes, that’s a lot of stuff in a first version — and it looks great (see the screenshots below). All of these features should be relatively straightforward from their names, except “the wire,” which is basically like your Wall on Facebook. People can go to that area and leave messages.

And slated for release in 2009 are yet more features, including: Status updates and photo albums. Sound familiar?

While WordPress founder Matt Mullenweg is quick to point out that BuddyPress is not meant to be yet another stand-alone social network in your life, his post about it seems to poke directly at the larger networks like Facebook and MySpace. “I mean all your friends are already on Myspace, but if you wanted to start something new maybe with more control, friendlier terms of service, or just something customized and tweaked to fit exactly into your existing site, then BuddyPress is a great framework to use. Maybe even someday you’ll be able to connect your BuddyPresses to each other and to the existing monolithic social networks,” Mullenweg writes.

That reads a lot like, “hey a lot of people are pissed off by the big social networks terms of service issues, and their set ways of thinking, why not use BuddyPress?” And depending on how well this impressive feature set works, some people just might. It’s also worth noting that in an interview he did with us a couple weeks ago, Mullenweg described BuddyPress as “Facebook-in-a-box.”

But there’s also a catch to BuddyPress for the time being: To install it, you have to be using WordPress MU, the multiple-user variety of the blogging software that is a bit more complicated to set up and is used much less than traditional WordPress. But Mullenweg’s comment that BuddyPress “currently requires” WordPress MU, would seem to indicate that eventually it will roll out to the larger WordPress community as well.

BuddyPress has been in development for over a year, and was originally called “ChickSpeak.” This name is much better.