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I am a grey-haired professional programmer, quiet conversant in PHP, MySql, HTL, CSS which means I can tweak things or code plugins if need be, but I’d like something off the shelf as far as possible.

I am trying to create a social site for ex-pats to help them adjust to their new country. Preparing to get there, legal/visa issues, employment opportunities, accommodation, shopping, plus social stuff.

The demographic is mainly girls in their 20s, so a social angle is important. Integration of FaceBook, Flikr & the like might be nice. What I am thinking of is

  • main content provided by me and a few moderators
  • a Wiki to which everyone can contribute
  • forums for discussions
  • small ads/freebie
  • user registration (which may limit access to certain parts of the site)
  • groups of friends, with shared .. stuff (photos, discussion rooms, etc)
  • per user blog
  • per user photo album
  • mailing lists

As I said, I was originally set on Drupal, which also has some pre-configured distros, but I didn’t find one yet that really matches my needs.

Do you have any suggestions?

  • Hello, and welcome on Drupal Answers. This is an SE site about Drupal. If the question were, for example, "Which modules should I use to create a community based site? the question should better suit this site, even if the question should be detailed about the requirements and the features you want to implement. A question that asks which CMS you should use is off-topic, and the answer would be, "You should be using Drupal, to answer here." – kiamlaluno Aug 16 '11 at 17:34
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    This is a crazy-huge request, but basically, everything besides mailing lists and per-user photo albums can be provided by core. For mailing lists, try SimpleNews, and for photo albums, you could use custom Views with imagefields and a 'gallery' content type. For groups of friends, Organic Groups is a safe bet. Drupal should handle your requirements in spades. – geerlingguy Aug 16 '11 at 17:40
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If you mostly want to configure, a distribution is probably your best bet. Looking at your requirements, I'd say take a look at Drupal Commons. It will get you most of the features you need, and you can turn on/off features as needed. The rest of your feature set can be added with specific modules.

  • You can't actually turn off functionality in Drupal Commons, as there are circular dependencies in the way it is packaged. But if you like everything included, it's a fine starting point. – tim.plunkett Aug 16 '11 at 20:04
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    That's actually not true. Drupal Commons has features (blogs, wikis, shoutbox, etc.) that administrators can toggle on and off trough the interface. In addition to doing this globally, group managers can toggle certain features on and off per group. – Chris Pliakas Aug 17 '11 at 1:20
  • Although I accepted this as the answer, I abandoned Commons as it seemed far too slow to me (because it's trying to do lots of complex things). When I posted elsewhere about speed I was told it was because I have shared hosting, but 1) it's max 20 sites per server and 2) I was getting PHP 30 second timeouts when trying to install DC on localhost on my own powerful and otherwise idle PC – Mawg Nov 14 '11 at 23:27
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this book is about how to build a comunity with Drupal 6

http://book.drupalfun.com/

I guess that will give interesting suggestions about steps, modules, integrations, configurations and some "best practices". (review the 'Table of contents' to see list of modules and other topics).

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We use Commons for many of the features you've described. And yes, features can be turned off, although Commons does have some core module dependencies (as most distributions do).

The only requirements I see in your list that would require additional work are the per-user photo album (you can do this with views) and mailing lists (there are a number of good mailing list integration modules that provide integration for the biggest mailing list apps, including PhPList, MailChimp and ConstantContact).

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