Elgg and BuddyPress are two free and open source social networking platforms. Both allow users to set up and configure groups. While the process of setting up groups and the results appear different, they have many similarities.
Elgg puts all the group configuration options on one page.
Of note, you may make the group membership Public or Private and set access to Public, Logged in, Private, friends collections, or any other groups. You may enable Pages (the collaborative writing tool), a forum, and a file repository.
BuddyPress, on the other hand, brings you though a number of short steps. In the first step, you are prompted to name and write a description of the group. The second part allows you to configure the group settings.
Next, you upload a group avatar. The final step is the Invite Friends pane.
One important distinction between these two platforms are the access and membership control options. With BP one has 3 radio button options appearing on the Group Setting pane. Elgg, on the other hand, is somewhat more granular. Membership may be toggled Public or Private, while you more options for access.
More options appear if you have made Collections of Friends.
An Elgg group page with no content appears as below. It features a forum, pages for collaborative writing, and a file repository which can also function as a rudimentary gallery. Other features are available depending upon which modules are installed in the Elgg site. The page below is from a site with most of the plugins from the Elgg core developers. If the messageboard mod is enabled, it appears in the groups. Other plugins such as Kevin Jardine’s Event Calendar are also configured to show up in groups. Note that you also have an option to invite friends to the group.
A basic BuddyPress group is shown below. By default, it features a forum and the wire. I understand there is a gallery in the works, but it has not yet been released as beta along with the other BuddyPress Components. Like Elgg, BuddyPress does have add ons, some of which, I am sure, will impact and augments BP groups.
If you scratch the surface, BP and Elgg groups are very similar. BP’s Active Forum Topics functions much like Elgg’s Latest Discussion. Elgg’s Messageboard and BP’s Wire appear to function similarly. Both have member lists displaying icons, as wells as, group forums.
The differences include Elgg’s finer granularity of access control. Elgg groups also have more options at the moment with Pages and a file repository. BuddyPress developers plan to release a gallery component in the future. I know that group features in Elgg can be extended through plugins, and I assume the same is true for BuddyPress. Elgg, having been released for several months, appears to have the upper hand in modification options. I would expect to see more BP mods once it has been formally released.