Can WordPress replace a Yahoo Group?

One of the most requested features by professional associations and businesses building an online community is a WordPress site with the functionality of a Yahoo Group.

You an replicate most of the features of a Yahoo Group using WordPress Plug-Ins and AWeber.With Yahoo Groups, you can:

  • Member Directory
  • Event Calendar
  • Discussion Forums
  • E-Mail Notification of new posts
  • Respond to posts by e-mail

However, while you own the content, you don’t own the application which makes it hard to move in the future.

Here are a list of WordPress Plug-Ins you can use to replicate many of the features of the Yahoo Group.

Event CalendarWP-Events – A very simple plug-in that will allow you to create an events calendar with registration pages. Use the sidebar widget to will display X number of upcoming events.  Create a page of all or certain categories of events.
Discussion ForumsA simple solution is to use the built-in comments feature to drive discussions.  Within WordPress Settings, you can make it a threaded comment area.

Simple:Press is another WordPress plug-in that creates a forum area.  You can even set different member levels that tie into a Members plug-in.  Simple:Press is easier to customize and use than bbPress and BuddyPress.

Email New PostsSetup an RSS email broadcast using Simple:Press RSS url.

There are some WordPress plug-ins that will broadcast an e-mail notification, but they don’t work well.  It is not built in to the forum plug-in.

A free option would be to use FeedBurner’s Email Broadcast.  However, you cannot control the subscribers.  Someone that is not a member could be receiving this.

Another option is AWeber.  AWeber is an e-mail marketing service with a more advanced autoresponder and RSS Broadcast service than iContact, MailChimp, and 1ShoppingCart.

AWeber checks an RSS feed a minimum of every 2 hours.  On the client sites where I am using this solution, members usually receive the e-mail notice in 15 minutes of posting.

Post by Email ReplyThere is no secure solution for this.  The members will have to log in to post replies.

However, the best web strategy for membership sites is to have your members access your site as often as possible.  How else will they see upcoming events, new features, etc.

A Note About Using Email Accounts

On many host accounts, there is a limit of how many emails you can send per hour or half-hour.  Make sure you are familiar with this limitation.

Status of BuddyPress (up and coming)

BuddyPress has potential.  It has really cool features such as a member directory, forums, status updates, and friend connections.

However, this plug-in was originally created for WordPress MU and has been only recently re-written for regular WordPress (last half of 2010).

As of January 2011, I don’t recommend it.  It and its plug-ins are buggy and customizing the look and feel is very hard.  Take it from someone who invested over 20 hours learning the capabilities of this plug-in.

NOTE: There are many developers working on Buddypress to make it more robust and I think it will stabilize sometime in 2011. Just take a look at Studiopress’ own GenesisConnect for Buddypress.

Please comment if you feel differently.

5 thoughts on “Can WordPress replace a Yahoo Group?”

  1. Love this. I’m currently trying to put a web presence together for my artist’s association. This gives me hope. The sooner I get this done, the sooner I get back to my paints!

    1. Close, but no cigar… still. I would like to replace Yahoo Groups, but can’t find the mailing list functionality as a WP plugin, and AWeber doesn’t offer it either. All plugins I’ve found are one-way mailing — great for notices and newsletters. However, no replacement for the listserve function that allows members to email the group as well as admins, and to have archived messages. Apparently Mailman fulfilled that, but no longer exists. Any suggestions?

      1. Ricki Steigerwald

        I tried out Mailman previously, but it was clunky. I am not familiar with the email integrations now. Although AWeber integration is not ideal, it is proven and has been running over a year with one of my client’s sites.

        If you take the Private RSS Feed from Simple:Press or another forum, you can make a blog broadcast in AWeber. You can have members manually add themselves to the list to get notifications by having a sign up form in the dashboard and/or support area. If you are using Wishlist Member, DAP, WP-Member, etc. you can set it up so they are automatically subscribed.

        Although AWeber markets it as saying they will check the RSS feed a minimum of every 2 hours, most of the time I receive emails of forum posts within 15 minutes of posting. You can customize what is in the blog broadcast email and, therefore, would have a link to the forum post.

        If you only need a daily or weekly digest of forum post, Mailchimp, GetResponse, and other email services can do this for you.

        The part that is hard to simulate is posting by email. But, there is one problem with Yahoo Groups ability to respond by email. Members rarely have to go to the Yahoo Group site.

        There is a benefit to them going to the site. They are consistently looking at a list of upcoming events for them to register for, and other resources. With my two clients who use this setup, we have found that the resistance is minimal, especially if you are using OpenID login in which case many members are “perpetually logged in”.

  2. There is a wordpress mailing group plugin which functions like Yahoo or Google groups, I have found it to be the only wordpress based mailing group plugin. It can be found at

  3. There is now a native WordPress replacement for the “Respond to posts by e-mail” feature of Yahoo Groups.

    The plugin is called WP Mailster and can be found in the WordPress repository:

    The idea is you have one email address which group members send messages to and the plugin distributes/forward this to all the group members. And if the group members reply it again gets sent out to everyone. Pretty handy 🙂

    Hope that helps!

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