3 Options to Consider while Choosing a Community Software for your Website

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What is a Community Software?

A community software is a web based software that serves as a skeleton which enables you to create a membership site. Where members can interact with each other, share file such as: Music, Photos, Videos etc. Community software enables each member to have a personalized page known as the ‘user profile’ or ‘dashboard’, it also have an interface where users can see and participate in activities by other users.

Why do I need a Community Software?

Before asking this question, I would like you to confirm what you really wanted; if all you want is a blog where you can share tips and talk stories, then consider using a wordpress cms or blogger.com, but if you need a website where people can register and become members who can share and interact with other members of the site, then the best way to achieve that is using a community software.

While most of us remain very familiar with the idea of building a community site on wordpress, the essence of using a community software for your website cannot be overlooked. Installing a community software goes beyond the use of a piece plugin as we do in wordpress or embedding a forum script in a webpage, while this method has a lots of limitations, a good community software makes you the master of your community site, granting you the maximum control over your website, ranging from customizing layouts and impeccable  administrative options to managing your users accounts.

List of Community Software to Choose from

The recent years has seen the development of various kinds of community based open source software, but we are are going to take a look at the ones we have considered outstanding over the rest.

#1. Oxwall

Do not expect the most fascinating appearance when you visit the oxwall homepage but surely, it is no mistake that they are topping our list. The simplicity of the oxwall homepage probably represent the utter simplicity and unbelievably flexible and easy to use PHP/MySQL nature of the social networking software.
Oxwall is used for a wide range of projects starting from family sites and custom social networks to collaboration tools and enterprise community solutions.
Whether you are a freelance developer willing to streamline your work for client projects; an individual willing to create a community site; or a brand planning to set up a destination for your customers – Oxwall is for you. The software offers indisputable user experience with full administrative control that made it stand out among it’s competitors.

Features of Oxwall

  • Photo, Video sharing: This gives members the ability to upload photos and share videos from youtube with other members of the website.
  • Blogs, forums, wiki: Your members can create their own blog post, start article (like in Wikipedia.com) and discuss in the forum boards. The boards to create and forum layout all depends on you -the admin
  • Groups, events, friends: Oxwall makes you, your own master, so you can make your members master of themselves. With oxwall community software, your user can follow and add other users as friends, create and manage groups, create and manage their own events.
  • Comment, tag, rate any kind of content: Like every social networking software, oxwall create an interface called wall, where a member can input text which are later updated as “status”. This “status” can be liked, commented and shared by other members, each member have control on who sees their status and can delete their own “status” if so desired.
  • Privacy and profile customization: This gives your members maximum control on who and how people see their profile. A member can decide to set his profile public (that is visible to every member of the community) or private (that is visible to only friends or particular group of people), members can as well control what kind of messages they receive from the community to their email box.
  • Live Chat: If you ever dreamed of having an IM such as the one you have on facebook, then oxwall is just the software for you. Members of the community can chat with their friends within the community (you can disable the friends plugin if you want members to chat with everyone online).
  • Built-in SEO: The oxwall community software has an in-built search engine optimization features, making it easier for people to find you via search results.
  • Proven performance: The structure of oxwall software is ultra light and simple to use, “Your site is worthless if users don’t know how to use it.” said the website homepage.
  • Plugin & Theme Support: This probably what makes oxwall totally exceptional, so as to prevent users from having exactly the same copy of website on the web, the oxwall community software provide uncountable number of themes to choose from and plugins to add “the little extra” to your community website.
  • Multiple languages available and 100% user area translation support: Oxwall software supports the use of various languages and offering free translation for each language.
  • For developers: Structured and evident core code. Makes it for developers to develop plugins with all the documentation and examples. 

What’s More?

The oxwall software is a free and open source with an unobtrusive credit logo place on the footer of the page. You can read how to remove the oxwall footer credit without violating their policy. Most of it all is that it is totally customizable, view some oxwall custom modification codes from our blog.

#2 Simple Machine Forum (SMF)

 If you are looking for a simple community forum (without social networking facilities) where members can discuss various topics on different boards or category, then the simple machine community software is  definitely what you have been looking for.
Simple Machines Forum  ( SMF in short )  is a free, professional grade software package that allows you to set up your own online community within minutes.

Its powerful custom made template engine puts you in full control of the layout of your message board and with a unique SSI – or Server Side Includes – function you can let your forum and your website interact with each other.

SMF is written in the popular language PHP and uses a MySQL database. It is designed to provide you with all the features you need from a bulletin board while having an absolute minimal impact on the resources of the server. SMF is the next generation of forum software – and best of all it is completely free!

Features of SMF

 SMF is a very wide software covering a lots of amazing features, but having the reader’s interest in mind we shall consider a few of them.

  • Uses PHP, and a database system: MySQL, PostgreSQL or SQLite.
  • Comprehensive template system. 
  • All actions seamlessly require a session based authorization code.
  • Administrative actions require the user’s password (and do not rely solely on cookies.)
  • Major actions are time and IP locked, preventing ‘hammering’.
  • The number of login attempts from a certain IP can be limited and time locked
  • Advanced permission and user management.
  • Supports multiple languages at once.
  • Open and well-documented source code.
  • Tracking of new and old unread topics, not just from your last visit.
  • Designed for optimal performance and scalability.
  • Multi-media output: XHTML, XML, RSS, WAP
  • Multi-language support from a large community.
  • Package manager that automatically installs or uninstalls mods (also known as packages.) 

What’s More?

 The best place to find support on how to customize your SMF site is the SMF forum, here you meet other community owners who can help you solve any problem you encountered.

#3 Sharetronix

  Sharetronix open source based community software is micro blogging software (yes, like twitter.com)  that allows members to share any “144 characters” (update status) with other members of the community, the members of the community can connect with other members by following their update, in sharetronix, a member can only send a direct message to another member only if that member is his/her follower.  

Features of Sharetronix

  •  User Profiles: Each community member has a custom profile with detailed personal information, plus their network activity, groups, personal tags and more. 
  •  Status Updates: Every community member can post unlimited short status updates, ask questions, share media and more. Sharetronix supports link, video, image and file attachments with posts
  • Real-Time Dashboard: On the platform’s dashboard, users can follow all updates from their network connections in real time. members can also see who’s online, currently trending post tags and more. 
  • Groups: Create unlimited private or open groups to organize your content and make it easier for everybody to follow topics and conversations. Members with similar interests can connect with each other in groups. 
  • Security Settings: The community and personal security settings allows the members to better protect their profiles, posts and personal messages, while the community administrators can increase their communities’ privacy.
  • Multimedia: Sharetronix takes micro-blogging beyond simple text. You can attach links, pictures, videos and other files to your posts. Multimedia attachments make your network more attractive and more interactive, and therefore more engaging for users.
  • Business Cards: The Business Card feature allows you to quickly connect with and learn about a member simply by holding the mouse over their username. A user’s Business Card displays their groups, and allows you to follow, private message, or create a public post directed at (@) that user. 
  • Member mentions in status update and comment: Members are suggested when you type @ while you write a status update or a comment in both the post and the comment boxes. 
  • Content Tagging: Tag your messages with hashtags to make them easily searchable. Users can also save their favorite tags to be easily accessed from their personal dashboard at any time
  • Administration: With the powerful Sharetronix administration panel you can tune your network the way you want it. You can easily manage all your settings, users, groups and content from one place.
  • SEO Friendly: Don’t bother about advertisement: Sharetronix is SEO optimized and your content will be easily indexed by Google and other search engines. The front-end code is written according to the latest standards

What’s More?

The sharetronix opensource software is free, featuring a lots of themes and plugins to help you build your unique community.      

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