OneSangha, a Buddhist Social Networking Site and Forum
I’ve owned the onesangha.org domain for a while. In 2008, I made an attempt to get a group Buddhist blog going there drawing on people from a number of different traditions. For a variety of reasons, that blog never had more than a couple of posts, mostly because the other authors were just a bit too busy.
I’ve spoken about E-sangha here before and all of the problems that Buddhist forum had during the last few years (almost entirely problems of their own creation). As it turns out, E-sangha died a final death sometime in this last year. While the Zen guys have created the Zen Forum International, there hasn’t been any large scale replacement for a non-sectarian Buddhist web forum. All current efforts are organized around specific groups, traditions, or commercial enterprises. For example, the Karma Kagyu have a very active group on ning.com but it is limited to their own people. Tricycle magazine has an active site as well but it is a vehicle to support the magazine, its content, and community.
In the last few years, social networking has continued to move to the forefront of the daily activity of people, bringing more people into active participation online. Because of this, I think that this is actually a great time to have some sort of social networking site as well as something that can replace the aforementioned E-sangha. To this end, I’ve repurposed the onesanghga.org domain to create the, simply named, OneSangha community site.
The site is built using Buddypress, an add-on to Wordpress that allows one to integrate social networking into a wordpress-based site. Additionally, Buddypress supports BBpress, a web forum software made by the same people. I’ve used Wordpress for my blogs for years, which makes it pretty easy for me. We’re also using it (and probably Buddypress) on the Mozilla Quality site that I work on for work.
Buddypress is based around the concept of “groups” within it. People create their personal accounts and then join or create groups on the site. These groups act as a gathering place for activity, host personal updates and forums. There is also the possibility of adding a group blog to each of the groups through plugins. This means that each interest group, tradition of Buddhist practice, or organization can create its own group, such as “Kwan Um School” group or a “Avatamsaka Sutra” group.
The site also allows users to tie into twitter (which I use quite heavily), pulling their tweets into OneSangha and being able to post from OneSangha into twitter under their accounts as well. I’ve added RSS feeds for groups and posts, which will also make it much easier to read content when not on the site, which has been difficult with other forums in the past.
Right now, the site is very much in an alpha stage. There are all of six or seven users and two groups in existence on it. I’m encouraging people to make accounts, log in, create groups, and play around with the site. I’m also continuing to add useful plugins to enhance the existing functionality.
I’ll probably need to add some sort of text advertisements or something similar on the pages simply to pay for the hosting fees but I’m hoping to keep such things pretty low-key and as unobtrusive as possible.
Please come check it out if you are looking for a Buddhist social networking site and web forum. Please give me feedback on what you like or don’t like (leaving aside Buddhist teachings about preferences for the moment). If you are interested in helping out in some fashion, please let me know as well. The theming, look and feel, etc. are all pretty basic at this point.