Before assessing the capability and dissecting the structure of CUNY commons, let me express my appreciation for CUNY common. The concept is perfect. I appreciate the thought behind it and how it makes knowledge produced in various CUNY institutions accessible to all CUNY students.
CUNY Commons is built on the concept of multisite. BuddyPress, a community-building plugin that allows having forums and groups on top of WordPress has been used. The lead developer of the project is Boone B. Gorges who is also the lead developer of the BuddyPress plugin and a former student of the Graduate Center.
Disclaimer!! All the assumptions I have made from here on are based on poking around CUNY Academic Commons on GitHub and the website’s source code. I could be mistaken, after all, I am human.
The folder of the theme for CUNY academic common(CAC) is bp-nelo. I assume this is a modified theme of the bp-default theme. The website is running on the latest BuddyPress plugin 10.6. This is great because it shows that CAC has been getting regular updates. CAC is open source and all the development is available on GitHub.
Looking at the repositories, the front end of the CAC interface is available in the cac-site-templates repo.
I assume CAC is using Reclaim Hosting, an educator-friendly hosting service. CAC provides users the ability to host their own site, this is a feature of the BuddyPress plugin. The users can set up their site with the shared hosting of CAC. This provides users limited access to the WP dashboard through abstraction. Users can add pages, change themes(themes that are available within Commons, the number of themes is growing!!), manage users just like hosting their own website with a hosting service. All these features are free for all CUNY students!! This makes CAC a great place to showcase coursework, and academic projects, or even make a portfolio.
Now comes the criticism! Throughout the semester, I faced problems receiving notifications from the common groups. This is most likely to do with the notification management system of the BuddyPress plugin. I assume this is a BuddyPress bug. Also, how about those distorted emails forwarded from the Commons? CAC uses wired URL masking, which does not play well within the forwarded message. Occasionally, the hyperlink embedded within the email turned out to be broken. I assume the WP Better Emails plugin has been integrated with BuddyPress for formatting HTML emails so that they can be forwarded to the users. Furthermore, I believe the issue with email formatting is not site-wide. It probably has something to do with group settings, maybe? The developer knows better! Anyway, it is high time that CAC fixes this issue.
The development progress and logs for CAC are available at