Getting Started With Elgg

Social Networking made easy!

Elgg is a powerful social networking engine that schools and companies are using as a tool for private or public communication.

Elgg was founded in 2004, and has won several awards. With elgg, you can build your own community portal within minutes, and it has a lot of features available out of the box. File sharing, micro blogging, blogs and personal profiles are just few of the many features it currently has. In this post we will cover the following:

Install a Plugin

Best Third Party Themes



Elgg 1.9

Beyond the basics!

First version of elgg

First version of elgg

Install a Plugin

One of the main features of Elgg is that extra functionality can be added and for free by the use of plugins. There are thousands of plugins available for you to download and use at the Elgg Community.

The installation process is pretty straightforward, for demonstration purposes, I will install the event calendar plugin. A wide variety of plugins can be obtained from here.

Before proceeding with the installation, make sure that the plugin that we are about to install is compatible with the Elgg version installed on your site, otherwise, it will cause major problems if you don’t check this.

Download the plugin. Once downloaded, unzip the plugin:

After unzipping the plugin, with an ftp manager connect to your site and copy the plugin’s main folder to the mod folder of your Elgg installation:

Log into your Elgg site as an Administrator and go to the Administration Dashboard.

On the Admin Dashboard sidebar menu, go to menu “Configure > Plugins”:


Search for the event calendar plugin and activate it:


And the plugin will be activated. This procedure also applies for installing a theme, so if you want to install a theme, you can do these same steps.

Best Third Party Themes

Elgg allows you to customize it looks and feel with themes. Several themes are available for free at the elgg community, but most of them are very basic and don’t offer a good design. I am going to present you the five best themes for elgg, which are easy to install, customize and use.

Insignia Premier

Insignia Premier

This is a designer theme, available for free at the elgg community for free. It is easy to customize, and it comes with an editor to add content to the front page of your elgg network. It is a responsive theme, which makes it compatible with mobile devices.

Download Insignia Premier Theme

Sociable Theme

Sociable Theme

The most important feature of Sociable Theme is that it is fully ajaxified. The theme will decrease server calls and you will get a fast and beautiful network. It also comes with an editor, to change content of slides and menus.

Download Sociable Theme

Classy Theme

Classy Theme

Classy Theme is a powerful and lightweight theme for elgg 1.8 It comes with Google Translate, which will give multilingual support by using Google Translate. There are no other themes available that will make your network available in multiple languages.

Download Classy Theme

Basic Light Theme

Basic Light Theme

This is one of the best themes for starters. Basic Light comes with Ajax integration to reduce server load. Also it comes with three skins that you can use, and also a sidebar menu editor which will help you add more links to the sidebar menu. I recommend this theme if you are new to elgg.

Download Basic Light Theme

DarkGrey Theme

DarkGrey Theme

Darkgrey Theme is a stylish Elgg template with a clean and modern design. Darkgrey has grained background and transparent boxes, as well as an editor, where you can change some of the details of the theme. It is easy to use, and it will give you a very professional design for your network.

Download DarkGrey Theme


Keeping track of the page views is very important, especially when you are starting a new project, such a small community portal. Some basic statistics are available by default, which is good but not the best. Even though you can still get statistics using awstats, you would like to get detailed statistics about a user, several users or group activity.


Advanced Content Statistics 

You can keep track of the number of wire posts created, files and photos uploaded and Albums created. You can also see whether if it is a user, group or just metadata the one that is creating content.


Activity Report

Besides content reports, you can also get daily, monthly and even yearly reports. Not only that, you can also see at what time you get the most activity in your elgg network.

Users Report

Users Report

Unlike the basic new users report available by default in elgg, in this report you will be able to see when new users signed up, total of users and most used email domains.

Download Advanced Statistics Plugin


Spammers are being more aggressive lately, especially with elgg sites. Elgg 1.7 is no longer secure against spammers, due to the fact that developers are no longer working on anti spammer tools for 1.7

Right now there are two tools that have been very successful in the fight against spammers. The tools are Akismet and Spam Login Filter for elgg 1.8


akismet elgg arvixe

Akismet for elgg 1.8 is the most effective tool against human spammers. This plugin will prevent them from publishing spam content. Read more

Spam Login Filter

anti spam login filter elgg

This tool prevents automated bot spammers from using your elgg network. Not only that, it also filter false positives and you can block users by country, IP or email domain. Read more

Facebook/Twitter Connect for elgg

Although Twitter and facebook connect for elgg 1.8 helps your users to easy registering into your elgg site, the problem is that there have been reports of spammers taking advantage or Facebook and Twitter connect for elgg 1.8 to bypass the anti spam filters. If you plan to use any of these, be very careful and review every new user.

Elgg 1.9

According to the elgg road map, elgg 1.9 was due months ago. However due to bugs there has been a delay, and not even a beta version is available.

Elgg 1.9 will have a completely new notifications system, which aims to help users to get updates instantly. Themes and plugins for elgg 1.8 will remain compatible, because there won’t be major platform changes like before.

Right now it is safe to develop your network using elgg 1.8 It is getting constant security updates, bug fixes and new plugins are being released every week for the 1.8 version.

Here at Arvixe, will continue to give to support to elgg 1.8, as long as it continues to receive security updates and bug fixes.

Beyond the basics

Elgg out of the box will deliver you a network ready to use without doing so many changes. You will find here at the Arvixe blog, many articles about elgg plugins, themes and security that will help you to enhance your network and give your users an outstanding experience while using your site. If you follow our advices, you will get a powerful social networking engine without many hassles.

Looking for quality Elgg Hosting? Look no further than Arvixe Web Hosting!

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Author Spotlight

Rodolfo Hernandez

I like photography and reading books. Currently working for Arvixe as Elgg Community Liaison. Elgg Security Expert Web Security Expert CEO of UDP SW Social Web

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