Open Source Social Software

This week, a bunch of us from the Emerge project were invited to contribute to the OSS Watch expert workshop on profiling communities. I was asked to present, and as part of my talk looked at the current state of Open Source social networking platforms and tools. I’m hoping to follow up with an evaluation matrix of the platforms, but in the meantime, I’m happy to pass on brief details of the sites and services I looked at. This isn’t an exhaustive list by any means – I’m happy to report that there is plenty of choice if you are looking to invest time, energy and resources in using open source tools. This list represents  examples of what’s currently available & is not an endorsement of any particular product or company 🙂

Open Source Social Networking Platforms

All in one solutions for community hosting, providing user profiles, tools sets & supporting collaborative activity. 

Developed by Barnraiser a Swedish based registered not-for-profit organisation. AROUNDMe is suite of three social tools, designed to help users create their own OpenID-based services and tools for individuals and groups.

Social networking engine Elgg coming soon in two flavors – Classic Elgg and the soon to be released Elgg 1.0. Elgg, developed by the UK-based company Curverider.

One of a suite of tools from Australian based company BoonEx, who offer hosted options. A test platform is available at

US-based Michael Hartl and Long Nguyen’s company, project and product Inoshi. The Insoshi open-source social networking platform grew out of RailsSpace.

  • LovdbyLess

Like Insoshi, Lovdbyess is built with ruby on rails, by US-based developer team Less Everything, to provide a free, open source basic social network  platform that additional specific functionality can be added to.

E-portfolio social networking software developed for the education community, and including a résumé builder/digital CV. The Mahara project is based in New Zealand, with partner organisations in Japan and the UK.

Open Source Social News

Stand alone and built to work with existing content management platforms, these tools allow users to share content published online, and comment on there own or others contributions.

A Digg clone built over Drupal

Newscloud is an OS Media Platform, designed to support communities around news and discussion. Information about downloading and developing can be found here.

An OS content management system providing an interactive website for users to submit, vote and discuss web-based content.

Open Source Social Bookmarking

Open Source Video Sharing

Open Source Microblogging

Open Source Virtual Worlds

Extension of Sun Microsystems’s open source Project Darkstar and Project Wonderland

A Virtual Worlds Server which can be used for creating and deploying 3D Virtual Environments. Compatible with the Second Life client.

Open Source Lifestreaming

& many more at:

Projects to watch/Upcoming 

Open Source project creating plug-ins to turn WordPress Multi-User into a social network platform.

The Open University’s project is already picking up fans, and leaning towards OS. Fingers crossed.

adding social elements including profile pages and friending to the popular wiki software

14 thoughts on “Open Source Social Software

  1. Thanks for the wonderful list!! I wasn’t aware of all the opensource virtual world apps/platforms. Wow! And of particular interest to me is Buddy Press. That’s one project that looks very promising for those of us having groups of students contribute to one blog and yet, want a little something more. Nice work!

  2. Thanks for the excellent links Yish – certainly not trying to compete, really just trying to provide something that’s reasonably accessible to people new to OS social software, and run through the variety of apps out there 🙂

  3. Considering that there are now so many social networks catering to such a wide range of niches, my biggest problem is finding ones relevant to me and related to my specific interests or product niches. Google seems to be inefficient and returns alot of irrelevant results. A good resource that I use to find them is this search engine for social networks called

  4. Hi David. Checked out your site but the results were only so-so for a search on ‘Open Source’, a lot of groups etc in there rather than actual platforms and applications. My ad rates are very reasonable however.

  5. Nice list, Josie. What are your thoughts on how this software has evolved, though? I’ve been thinking about it, and it feels like there’s so much more progress to be made. I’ve written a post on what would happen if/when trends like emphasis on collaboration, increased bandwidth availability, and structured contact data all collide. I think that’s when we get True Social Software:
    I’d love to hear your thoughts.

  6. I like your post very much – really thought provoking, especially for me as someone working outside of a FLOSS software community structure. Comments are switched off though! Would love to talk with you some more about the idea of a ‘true’ SS – is it useful/how useful is it to have one? What does it prohibit? etc 🙂

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