WP Symposium is a free WordPress plugin that performs many of the functions that BuddyPress currently does, but in a different way. Symposium offers a forum, wall posting, groups, and photo albums as well. The plugin itself is currently in beta, and it’s not recommended for use on any public websites.
The most notable difference between Symposium and BuddyPress seems to be Symposium’s goal of requiring no additional templates to function. For instance, adding the
[symposium-forum] shortcode to a page will add the forum to that page. For the technical amongst us, that means that output is produced for the plugin’s components only, letting the user insert it into pages themselves.
According to the website, the current timeline has member profiles and messaging coming in January and media library enhancements by May.
The plugin itself can be downloaded for free from the WordPress Plugin Directory. Progress on the plugin can be followed on the WP Symposium blog. Any issues found should be reported to their support forum (which is running WP Symposium, of course).
Have you used BuddyPress to run social websites? Would you consider an alternative like WP Symposium?