7 Surprising Results From The 2013 BuddyPress Codex Survey

The results of the BuddyPress codex survey are in! 178 BuddyPress developers participated in the survey and the information they provided will help the team to prioritize short-term and long-term tasks for improving the BP Codex. Community developers @hnla and @mercime are spearheading the effort to improve the BuddyPress codex for the BP 1.9 release.

While this survey is packed full of fascinating results, I’d like to highlight just a few of them here:

Nearly 50% of BuddyPress sites are in languages other than English.

Respondents hailed from 36 different countries and results show that 56% of BuddyPress sites are built using English as the language and the other half is comprised of various languages from around the world. The top 10 include: 1) English (56%), 2) Spanish, 3) Italian, 4) French, 5) German, 6) Dutch, 7) Swedish, 8) Portugese, 9) Chinese, and 10) Greek.


It’s clear to see that BuddyPress is an international community. We’re spread out all over the globe! If you’re a BuddyPress plugin developer, you need to localize your plugins. Hopefully we can include some more detailed references on localization when it comes time to revamp the codex.

Only 15% of BuddyPress sites surveyed make use of the Friends component.

When you think about social networks, oftentimes the friends component is what you might assume would be the most important. This survey reveals otherwise:


I was surprised that the Groups component wasn’t activated on more sites, as it is probably the most flexible and has the most extensions. These numbers might indicate that many people are using BuddyPress for its more robust profile and account management capabilities, rather than for its social features. Not one of the social components reached more than 20%.

90% of BuddyPress developers surveyed are male.


Do these numbers surprise you? I would have imagined there would be a few more female developers who responded, but perhaps the survey did not reach them. However, these numbers really should not deter female developers from getting involved. From my experience attending BuddyCamp Vancouver, the BuddyPress community is made up of some of the nicest people you will ever meet. Even in the support forums you will find that people are generally very welcoming and helpful to new developers. BuddyPress is still a relatively small community and it’s easy to start getting involved and making a difference.

People prefer to learn BuddyPress through written tutorials.


This has been my suspicion for awhile and now it is confirmed. Developers are not looking for fancy video tutorials and they are only marginally interested in books and in-person training when it comes to learning about BuddydPress. They want written tutorials, references and guides that they can quickly scan and come back to when needed.

39% of BuddyPress sites are installed within a WordPress multisite network.


Perhaps this one isn’t much of a surprise, given that in the beginning you could only use BuddyPress with WordPress multisite. After BuddyPress was made to be compatible with single site WordPress installations, one would have thought that they would become the vast majority, since it’s the easiest way to set up WordPress. But it appears that usage on multisite vs. single site is almost 50/50. What this tells me is that blogs are still a very important aspect of BuddyPress social networks.

What does this mean for the codex? We absolutely need more documentation on using BuddyPress within a multisite environment.

The biggest complaint about the codex is that the documentation is incomplete and difficult to navigate.


It looks like the largest task at hand will be to fill in any bald spots in the codex and improve the navigation. It’s not so much that the content is unclear or outdated but rather it’s just not there at all. Creating new sections and adding to existing ones will probably be the main focus in improving the codex.

35% of BuddyPress developers surveyed are willing to contribute to the codex.

Wow, that’s an amazing response from the BuddyPress community developers who are ready and willing to help make the codex a more useful resource. Many thanks to @hnla and @mercime for all their hard work in analyzing the responses from the survey and providing these handy graphs for these results. By far, one of the biggest complaints about BuddyPress is the lack of documentation. With all the capable volunteers stepping forward, things are about to change for the better.


13 responses to “7 Surprising Results From The 2013 BuddyPress Codex Survey”

  1. My biggest complaint about BuddyPress was that the code and structure is like unwrapping Christmas lights while having a kid scream in your ear and pull on your leg.
    Too much of the interface and how it looks is hardcoded. At least in my humble opinion its very difficult to try to make it not look like BuddyPress.

  2. I wholeheartedly agree with the preference for written tutorials and code references over other training formats, especially video. I find it incredibly frustrating to have to watch 40 minutes of a tutorial, though a gob of stuff I already know, just to find the morsel I need to move on with my work day.

    Don’t get me wrong. I am incredibly grateful that so much info is available out there for free. Without it I never would have been able to make the transition away from maritime cargo operations to WP development back in 2007.

    But given a choice, I will go for the text tutorial that I can scan for the nugget I need over the video nearly every time.

  3. @Andreas Nurbo – It does take some CSS magic and knowledge of BP theming to transform it but it definitely can be done. Another reason why it will be awesome to have all these new additions to the codex. Developers will have an easier time of it in the future.

  4. @Sarah Gooding – The code is spaghetti. There is hooks upon hooks upon hooks. Its a mess. It went wrong from the start.
    To change the look of something should not require maginc or anything complex at all. It should be simple if its not simple something has gone wrong. The presentation layer should be decoupled from the functional code it self. In BP everything is highly coupled.

    I have not run into a BP site that when it comes to the BP related stuff did not look exactly like a BP site.

  5. @Sarah Gooding – If you can link to sites where the members areas (personal page, activity listing, etc) does not look anything like the standard BP that would be beneficial not only too me I think.

  6. Tanks for the effort. Of those only plazaa looked less like BP than usual. They had removed a bunch of the usual links. Also sketchers had removed some links. The rest was just the standard BP layout with different CSS.
    My requirements are pretty high. Personally went into a more custom code from the grounds up solution for the social sites I’m working on.

  7. 90% of BuddyPress developers surveyed are male.

    Do these numbers surprise you?

    There is something really important going on with this question.

    Today, we know immediately & intuitively, that the doors to technical computing roles are wide open to females, and the Welcome! sign kept nice & shiny. Yet there are just this side of ‘no takers’.

    What many will not know, is that deeply-entrenched & massive cultural & institutional biases at the beginning of the digital computing era, as “mainframe” computers became the foundation of modern banking & financial enterprise (half a century or so back) already existed in favor of females, for those roles.

    Many will know, that the word “computer” was common for generations, before the electronic, digital machine arrived …. and that this “computer” was in fact a human person. This goes well back into the 19th century, at least.

    Although it was ‘ok’ for a male (or at least ‘certain’ males) to be a computer, the standard, the norm, the expectation and the preference, was that computers would be females.

    As the early mainframe ‘big-iron’ computers were being integrated into large-scale corporate, academic and governmental settings, following World War II, managers sought to fill the new computerist employee positions with the females who had been performing the numerical & computational roles, traditionally.

    But ‘for some strange reason’, that didn’t happen. Experienced female computers moved on to other employment settings, and big-business et al had to scramble for under-qualified & inexperienced personnel, to interface with the new digital environment. They ‘ordered’ eg flunky mail-room males to sit down at what was a fairly elite task which would normally be unavailable to them, and learn it.

    Old photographs of elite scientific research teams often show a healthy female representation. Typically, their role was that of the computer. Likewise, photographs of 19th C business & office settings often show women proudly at their mechanical calculator stations. Typical secretarial training, for females, included computer skills … because it was expected of ‘girls’, and one would be uncompetitive, without the ability to meet that expectation/opportunity.

    But when the digital equipment came along, and stored programs became the means of harnessing the new computing-machine …. females fled. They were not pushed out, or displaced. They declined the new role that ‘everyone’ fully expected would be theirs.

    Why this was – and continues to be – the case, is an important mystery.

  8. This survey speaks to what I’ve been told or have read over the past few years, that the documentation of BuddyPress is its biggest failing. Hard to find stuff, the Codex is hard in all areas and sometimes, stuff just isn’t there to be read. Here’s hoping that the community can band together and crank that stuff out for BuddyPress developers of the future.

  9. OMG It’s so good to hear that the codex will be getting an overhaul, it is absolutely awful for a beginner to navigate and find stuff. Why the codex doesnt just follow the same format/design as the WP codex I don’t know. It needs clear explanations, easy searchability and organization, and good examples.


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