ELGG is an open-source platform for building a social networking website. It has many features right out of the box that require plug-ins to set up on other platforms.
Standard features of an ELGG website include:
- User Registration & Management
- Dashboard Interface
- Customizable Widgets
- Avatars & Profiles
- Friends & Groups
- Blogs & Microblogging
- File Storage & Sharing
- Message Boards
- Private Messaging
- Pages (Can belong to individual members, groups, or be used to build a wiki)
- Activity Stream
One thing that I really like about ELGG is the “out-of-the-box” experience. It’s pretty easy to install the program and then just start using the site. All of these features can be set-up in the administration panel in a few minutes and you will have a full-featured “just like Facebook” site ready to use with your community.
On the down side. ELGG is not that pretty right out of the box. You can dress it up with a template, but the selection of free templates is not as appealing as what you can get with other website software. (You can take a look at some of the free themes here.)
Of course, a good web designer can get you set up with a custom theme for your organization as well.
The biggest challenge with running and ELGG community is spam. There are some very aggressive spammers that fill flood your site with status updates and blog posts for products and services that are not likely to be any relation to your members. Keeping out the spammers often requires shutting down the membership registration module completely! There are ways to work around this problem as well, but it is likely to be your biggest headache if you are running and ELGG community website.