Wwwebber's Blog

Searching for Social Network Script: Part I

Posted in phpfox, social networking script reviews I by wwwebber on December 20, 2008

I was recently asked to develop a custom script for a private tutoring company. I decided that the requirements would best be suited by first obtaining a social networking engine and then doing some heavy modding. So the first question was: what’s the best social networking script out there: a seemingly simple choice. I mean I’ve shopped around for scripts before–it wasn’t too hard, for instance, for me to decide that I like Simple Machines Forum much more than phpbb.

However, it took me literally about 15 to 20 hours of research to come to a decision on which social networking script was right for me. There are several scripts to choose from: Boonex, Dzoic, phpFox, abledating (aparrently a scam),abk-soft(also apparently a scam) and others.

After a few hours of reading social network script reviews in various forums and on many sites, I found myself utterly confused. How could the same script (be it phpFox or abledating) get such positive reviews by one website and such horribly negative reviews by another? As it turns out, there is cut throat competition among the scripts, some have referred to this as the ‘script wars’ or the ‘dating script wars’ since these social network engines often are used for the dating sites that seem to be ubiquitous on the internet. It soon became obvious to me (and others from the comments I read on webmaster forums: 1 , 2 ), that the big players in the social network script wars are spamming the internet with positive reviews about themselves and negative reviews about their competition.

If, like me, you find yourself reading forum posts by people who either absolutely love or absolutely loathe a particular script. You have to ask yourself are these people spammers who wrote the script that they love?

Suggestions reading reviews about any social networking script

    • Does the review have any affiliation with the script?
    1. For instance The site :http://www.abledatingreview.com provides very positive reviews for the able dating software (aka abk software). My hunch is that http://www.abledatingreview.com is just a fake site created by the very people who make the abledating software suite.
    • Regarding posts made in forums like DigitalPoint or SitePoint, you have to try to become a Private Investigator of sorts. Your goal is to determine how credible the post is becuase you’ll read lots of questionable reviews. : If you read a forum post, pay close attention to
    1. Is the user who wrote the post banned? (sounds obvious, but I had never trained myself to look at whether the forum poster was banned, and several of the reviews were written by people who were banned)
    2. How many posts has the user made? And what do the other posts of this user say? If someone on a forum, has only made 4 posts which are positive about 1 particular script and negative about all the others–and this sort of spam is exactly what you’ll find on the forums– well, I think you can connect the dots about the credibility of that user’s reviews!

    Other factors you might want to consider before purchasing a social network/dating script

    1. Real world example sites: Can you find real examples of sites that use the software? One of the reasons I went with phpfox is that I found several sites that use the software, and those sites loaded quickly and looked good. (Just do a search ‘powered by phpfox’) I couldn’t find any sites powered by abledating, abk-soft, another strike against that company. I did find some sites that use boonex such as http://www.4ppl.com/ .
    2. Is the source code encoded? Phpfox is not. Boonex is not. I can’t remember about Dzoic but I read that abledating is encoded. (again, research on your own about the last two, as I can’t remember at this point) If the source coded is encoded, you better like the way the script works out of the box or be willing to pay the script creators to do any mods.
    3. Mod Community: If you are not a programmer, you probably want to research whether or not there’s an active community of people who you can pay to mod the script. I think Boonex has that. PhpFox also has an active community of modders
    4. Quality of Code: If you are a programmer (and even if you’re not), you want to have well designed code and a well-architectured script. Being a programmer and the guy who was going to go under the hood and customize whatever script we went with, my biggest fear was that I would lay out $400 bucks or so and then get completely crappy code. On this front, I can only speak to phpfox’s code: it is indeed very well written with a sophisticated architecture. It uses OOP, smarty templates and a highly modularized, template-based system that, at first, might seem overwhelming, but soon enough is obviously powerful in the flexibility that it gives programmers. They’ve done a great job separating code from design. Everything is object oriented! (yea!). If you’re thinking about using boonex, you should be able to see its source code since you can get a free version. If it’s not a free script like Boonex you, unfortunately, probably have to cross your fingers and wait to see what the code that you purchased looks like!

    After I spent a good deal of time trying to find the best social network script, I decided to go with PhPfox a company that I have no other affiliation with (other than being a satisfied customer). That said, please remember that PhpFox is the only social networking script that I have athorough and direct knowledge of. For all that I know, Dzoic or SocialEngine might be great. What I would urge you is to take the advice in this post. If you don’t, you may end up like some of the people on digitalpoint who were very angry that they laid out several hundred dollars for a partially functional and encoded script from a company that did not offer refunds or technical support.

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