P2 Anew!

If you’re a long-time member of WordPress.com, you might remember when the Prologue theme was introduced with great excitement back in 2008. In Matt Mullenweg’s blog post about it from that time, he described it like this:

Prologue is a new WordPress theme that’s probably best described as a group Twitter, ideally for 3-15 people to let each other know what they’re up to. It has comments, permalinks, RSS feeds, Gravatars, XML-RPC, everything you’d expect. The front page shows the latest update from each person.

Several iterations later, P2 (seen above) matured into the internal workhorse for Automattic, WordPress.com’s parent company, replacing email correspondence, Skype and IRC with hundreds of P2 sites and hundreds of participants per P2. In the WordPress.com community forums, volunteers regularly recommended P2 to members as a forum, since it was the only WordPress.com theme where members could create new posts from the front/homepage of the site and display comments there as well. Then, last year, WordPress.com quietly retired P2 as a theme that could be activated on any existing WordPress.com site1 and turned it into a standalone product using the Block Editor.

Say hello to P2 v2020!

WARNING: Turn your speakers down first! And while glitzy, I’m not sure what the message is.

The latest iteration of P2 uses the WordPress.com backbone and for the moment can only be run here on WordPress.com. For some this may prove a disadvantage as the P2 Privacy settings, user roles and commenting permissions are the same as on all free, Personal and Premium WordPress.com sites, without the ability to install plugins or use custom code. (Eventually the plan is to make the new P2 available to standalone WP sites as well.) On the plus side, WordPress.com has unmatched security and unparalleled uptime, as well as all backend updates being handled directly by WordPress.com’s Happiness Engineers.

Why would I want to use P2?

“Ideally for 3-15 people”

Do you:

  • Have friends and/or family living around the world and want an easy way to keep in touch and share photos that doesn’t involve email or messaging (or involving the FB)?
  • Volunteer with a group and need to coordinate efforts or broadcast updates?
  • Need to coordinate a project with your team where asynchronous communication is the norm?
  • Have a team that needs a convenient way to keep past communication available for new people joining your team?

P2 is ideal as a small to medium group or team site, whether it’s your club or family, your apartment building or neighborhood, your coop, your work group, your student group, or one-on-one communication with clients but still being able to temporarily bring in 3rd party consultants. P2 can handle it all, including sites with hundreds of members, like the official P2Feedback site.

P2’s unique features include:

Features not yet available, but needed going forward:

  1. The ability to @ a specific sub-group of members
  2. The ability to limit commenting on a Public P2 to only members of that P2 (a must!)
  3. The ability to turn off Likes globally (they can be turned off per post)
  4. Notifications of pending Contributor posts (another must!)
  5. A subscription/follow widget (workarounds are available)

While P2 is free, allows an unlimited number of members and has no advertising, there is also a paid upgrade available and in the snapshot below you can see what’s on offer per plan:

P2 Plans as of March 2021 (Additional plans in the works)

Managing the P2 Life

All new P2 sites are Private by default, limited to invited members only, and you may wish to keep it that way depending on your site’s purpose. If you choose to make your site Public, it will be visible to both casual site visitors and search engines. As an example, a Public site might be your neighborhood P2 that needs to be viewable by everyone in your neighborhood, but only 3 or 4 members publish new posts, while everyone else can view and comment.

Once the number of members on your P2 gets past 20 or so, it takes a firm plan to keep things workable.

From a member2 perspective, using @ mentions, following specific posts (you are automatically subscribed to posts you start), subscribing to a daily digest of posts (rather than individual posts) and using the search feature can all help you maintain focus. If you are logged in to the WordPress.com website, you will also receive notifications in your browser via the notifications bell in the Admin bar.

From an Administrator perspective on a public P2, I recommend inviting your new users in the Contributor role until you get to know them, as contributors need to have their posts approved prior to being published. After a trial period, Admins or Editors may consider elevating Contributors to the Author role so they can publish their own posts and media.

PRO TIP: If you have a lot of people to invite to your P2 at once, regardless of user role, you can create and share a link with them rather than needing to send individual email invitations.

In my opinion, comments on a public P2 should be moderated in order to assist in eliminating human-generated spam. While Akismet, WordPress.com’s anti-spam plugin, is excellent at catching most spam, the currently available P2 Discussion settings allow anyone to comment on a public P2 site if they are logged in to their WordPress.com account. (This is a little different from regular WordPress.com discussion settings which also allow site visitors to comment without being logged in to WordPress.com.) There are two comment moderation settings that can help:

The first setting requires every comment to be manually approved by an Admin or Editor of the site before it will appear. The second setting holds the first comment by a visitor in moderation to be approved by the Admin or Editor, but any subsequent comment by that same username/email will be approved automatically.

On a private P2, the understanding is that you know who you are inviting to your site and this should lessen the possibility of spam posts or comments. In this case, P2’s default discussion settings work best.

If it becomes necessary, a site owner or Admin can remove or downgrade other Admins, Editors, Contributors or Authors on both Public and Private sites and should previously innocuous commenters go sour, the full range of comment moderation is available to site Admins and Editors. On a Private site, unruly members or viewers can have their site access revoked.

Other P2 specific settings:

On P2, comments are nested 10 levels deep and Infinite Scroll is enabled by default.

Notifications

Administering a P2 site, whether Public or Private, means managing Notifications. By default, you will receive an email each time someone:

  • Accepts your invitation to join your P2
  • Requests access to your Private P2
  • Follows your site
  • Publishes a new post
  • Posts a new comment
  • Posts a comment that is pending approval (set up in Discussion settings)
  • Likes your post (on by default and currently can only be changed on a per-post basis)
  • Likes your comment
  • Replies to your comment
  • Mentions your @ username

If you have the WordPress App installed on your mobile phone (available for both iOS and Android) you can also opt to receive notifications there. This comes in handy for very active websites or new websites that need nurturing at the start. You can even opt to receive browser notifications while logged out of WordPress.com. Regardless, as a P2 site owner, as you become familiar with your and your members’ work flow, you’ll soon understand how you can best adjust notifications to suit your needs.

Where can I get help?

As an internal work tool, WordPress.com/Automattic heavily invested their efforts to document both how a P2 works technically and also how to get the most out of a P2 and created two guides available to everyone: P2Help and P2Guides. In addition, any newly created P2 comes with a convenient “infopost” right on your site’s front page to get you started.

Click to see full P2 starter post

P2 v2020 is an ongoing project and the P2Feedback site is the place to discuss issues and ideas with other P2 site owners alongside Automattic employees, as well as troubleshoot issues specific to P2.

So, think you have a group that would benefit communicating via P2? You can get started from here


Credit and many thanks go to Thiago for his prompting and for presenting me with some interesting P2 puzzles to solve.


As always, the information in this post is correct as of today’s date. Changes are inevitable.

Footnotes:

1If you are currently using the old P2Breathe theme on your WordPress.com website, you should be able to continue using it. Be forewarned, however, do not activate a different theme on your P2 site as you will not be able to return to the older P2 theme.

If you run your own WordPress site, the old P2 theme is still available to you in the WordPress.org Theme Directory and, while still popular, the theme itself has not been updated in 2 years.

2Member: any person in a designated User Role on your P2. For the purposes of this post, site visitors, followers and subscribers are not members.

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Published by JenT

Helping you make the most of your free WordPress.com website. Are you still struggling with the Block Editor? Check out my Block-Aid tutorials at wpcommaven.com

15 thoughts on “P2 Anew!

  1. It would be nice if this would supplant FaceBook, at least for families and/or groups of friends.

    I might try and set this up for our families and see if anyone would use it. Currently, texting is all the rage (I hate texting; I’m forever muting conversations) and I doubt if I can convince people to use it, but it may be worth a try. Although, 3GB seems kind of skimpy in this day and age. Plus, there’s an antipathy to change or trying anything new running rampant in the people who would most benefit from it.

    It’s a form of “it took me a long time to get comfortable with what I’m using, and anything new sounds too complicated” . . . come to think of it, I won’t even try because I already know the answers I’ll get.

    But, thanks for the info . . . if I’m ever running a project involving others (highly unlikely) or acquire some friends (even more unlikely) I’ll keep this in mind.

    1. It would be nice if this would supplant FaceBook, at least for families and/or groups of friends.

      Entirely agree and much easier to set up privacy settings than the convoluted hot mess that FB is. Our family used the old P2 to plan a family vacation.

      there’s an antipathy to change or trying anything new running rampant in the people who would most benefit from it.

      Also, entirely agree. I’m trying to wean my group of ex-co-workers off of WhatsApp and it would be easier to pull teeth-they’re all much too invested. I did manage to convince my adult photo course of the P2 benefits.

      About the 3GB, there is a space upgrade in the works, but think of it this way. Every time you upload those 4 MB+ photos right out of your phone, unless you and your site visitors are on wifi, it’s a huge data drain. This site, which has an upgrade and has been around for a very long time, has barely scratched that 3GB limit.

      1. 3G for a single person website may be a storage-manageable capability, but for a group website, with no other granular configuration features in the upload tools, seems little to me.

      2. Didn’t Jon reply to you on P2 Feedback that an expanded storage plan was in the works? I agree that if the purpose of the site is image intense, more storage will *eventually* be needed. At the same time, anyone who regularly works with images knows how to optimize them for the web and if one does, it can stretch out that free 3GB for quite some time. disperser posts optimized images on his site with links to an offsite 3rd party. It seems to work quite well for his purposes. Granted that involving a 3rd party service isn’t optimal, but anyone who posts images directly from their camera or high-MP* phone camera without optimizing is not being considerate of their viewers. (*Edited to correct MB to MP.)

      3. Yes, we will have a way to buy more storage (in fact, this has already been done for 10 P2´s).

        I agree with all that you said, but this is for us, not for those who never had a website or only participated on the internet via “social networks” or, more recently, via WhatsApp. Many P2 users are like that. The ideal would be control of the site administration over the upload “power”, but as this is not possible, without deeper changes, a little more storage can avoid sudden problems.

      4. P2 is really an anomaly as far as WP goes. IMHO the whole front end/back end posting is especially confusing to new users of P2 and more seasoned P2 users seem to expect the full back end editor options to be available on the front end, where the whole idea was and still is to simplify matters. It’s a delicate balance that is going to be difficult to maintain going forward. Again, my opinion.

  2. I loved this review!

    I have 4 P2’s. One is the intranet for a small publisher (7 members); two are study spaces for groups of students (one with up to 20 members, and the other from 15 to 30); the latter, however, is a public forum, still in a testing phase.

    The forum will have between 100 and 150 members . I believe that P2 is fully capable of handling this number of members with a proactive moderation. Today, after meditating a lot on my experience in moderating forums since 2004, i am comfortable with external comments from people who have at least a WP.com account (but, really, the ideal would be comments only by members).

    In principle, the members of my P2’s are always “authors”.

    It is good to remember that one of the most innovative tools of the new P2 in the “world of WP.com” will be the private messages.

    I also highlight the interaction in the official community, which I think surprised even the staffs.

    Thanks, JeT.

    1. You’re welcome! Thanks for pushing me to write it, Thiago. 🙂 I admire how you’ve been very active on the official feedback site. It’s a challenge to keep up with all the new things. 🙂 I entirely missed the possibility of private messages. That will expand P2’s usefulness tremendously but technically it is a challenge in itself.

      I’m curious to know why you opted for Authors rather than Contributors. Is the P2 Private?

      Forum community Staff are aware of P2, but I think for resolving P2 issues the feedback site or direct support contact is probably more efficient.

      1. I opted for authors instead of contributors, both in public and private P2´s, because I would not like to be part of a debate site where each comment of mine had to be approved. This stops the flow of ideas.

        Particularly, I would like a mechanism that avoids the uploading of files by the authors (for me they would only have free writing), but we work with what we have…

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