Although WordPress is without a doubt the best blogging platform on the market, how suitable is it if you’re looking to create a site based on user-generated content? It’s an odd question, to be sure, but it’s one that’s been at the back of my mind for some time now. Is WordPress usable if you’re creating a content hub rather than a simple blog?
The short answer is yes – just look at WPeddit if you’ve any doubts. The long answer…yes and no. It’s complicated. If you’ve got the right plugins and enough programming knowledge, you can use the WordPress platform to design just about anything. The problem with that, of course, is that this doesn’t necessarily mean it’s well-suited for the task. At the end of the day, there are plenty of software platforms specifically designed for user-generated content, it could save you a great deal of trouble to simply use one of those.
For argument’s sake, however, let’s say you’re dead set on using WordPress for user-generated content. How might you go about it?
Your first step – after determining the type of content you’re going to manage – is to set up submission forms through which users can upload their content to your site. Gravity Forms is the perfect plugin for the task, and can be used and implemented without any coding whatsoever. As an added bonus, it can also automatically create new posts whenever a user submits something.
Depending on the volume of submissions you’re expecting, you can either handle post moderation yourself or simply leave things up to your users. In the case of the latter, you could potentially implement some sort of ratings system into your site, similar to what you’d see on Reddit or Digg. Readers should be able to like/dislike posts and report any offensive content that might pop up (I can all but guarantee that something will eventually).
Assuming this isn’t something you want to code yourself, there are several plugins you might consider; GD Star Rating and CasePress Upvote, are both excellent choices, though I’m certain there are more out there if you know where to look.
Now, once you’ve figured out how your user content is going to be uploaded and managed, your next step is to track down a theme that’ll work with your blog’s new functionality. P2 works quite well for this. As a general rule, you want users to be able to access your submission form from your blog’s main page, without making things too cluttered or confusing. Again, WPeddit is a good example of how to achieve this.
WordPress is one of the most versatile platforms on the market. Though it’s not necessarily built for user-generated content, it’s definitely possible to use it as such with the right plugins and enough programming knowledge. That said, I’d avoid rich media such as video and the like – WordPress definitely tends to work better with blog posts and text uploads.
I’ll leave you with a few additional plugin recommendations for a user-generated WordPress site: BuddyPress basically allows you to turn WordPress into a social network, while FV Community News simply allows your visitors to add their own posts to your blog and User Submitted Posts essentially does exactly what you’d expect.