There’s a lot of different plugins out there which can turn WordPress into a fully fledged forum, one of these is bbPress which was initially released as a standalone piece of software. With further updates however it’s now a plugin which is capable of setting up an entire forum on your website without the need to make any major changes.
It adds additional options to the admin menu where you can manage your forum, users etc and as far as compatibility is concerned bbPress allows you to import entire forums from other forum engines easily while being compatible with most WordPress versions. After all, it’s built by the community just like WordPress is.
Go to your dashboard and hover over the plugins button. A menu will popup at the right, click “Add New”.
Search for “bbPress” in the search bar at the right side. You may also be able to find bbPress in the featured plugins list because it’s one of the most used WordPress plugins out there.
Click the “Install Now” button to make sure your website starts downloading the plugin to install it afterwards.
Activate the plugin on the next screen.
As you can see from the screenshot below. It adds three new tabs to your admin panel at the left side when you’re in the dashboard. You can manage forums, topics and replies from the dashboard itself. Many moderation options are available from the front-end as well.
This was a tutorial on how to install bbPress through the WordPress dashboard, for instructions on how to do so with a .zip file acquired from the plugin page on WordPress’ website, take a look at our tutorial on installing WordPress plugins in general.
Reasons to use WordPress forum plugins
One of the major reason people prefer to use WordPress plugins for running a forum instead of completely installing a separate forum engine such as phpBB comes down to the fact that WordPress already has everything required to set up a forum. Whether it be users who can register on your website or simply being able to manage said users, WordPress is able to provide the background necessary for running a forum so why would you not use it?
Being able to manage everything from a single dashboard is highly advantageous as well, let alone the fact that you’re probably already familiar with the WordPress dashboard itself.
It’s also a much better experience for users as they don’t have to manage multiple accounts to use the main website & the forum as is the case with using a separate engine for the forum.
Other forum plugins
BuddyPress allows you to turn your website into more than a forum. It turns it into a complete social website which is capable of doing what any social network should be able to. From advanced profiles, private messages and friend lists to user groups and bbPress itself.
Definitely not a forum in the traditional sense but it still gives your WordPress website a brand new look when it comes to discussions and user experience. Do check out their plugin page over here.
Some of the useful features are hidden behind a payment wall so you’ll have to conjure up a few extra bucks before you can use the plugin to its fullest.
There’s still a lot of different plugins out there, names like SimplePress, Muut, Bublaa Forum and Comments, etc. are still fairly commonly used. As free as WordPress is, you should definitely try most; if not all of these plugins before finalizing on a single one to use.