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10 Best WordPress Forum Plugins (Compared)

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Are you looking for the best WordPress forum plugins?

Forums and discussion boards are a great way to boost user engagement and build a community around your site.

In this article, we will share some of the best WordPress forum plugins you can use to build a community around your website or business.

Aside from the basic forum features, we also made sure to find solutions with advanced functionalities like question/answer boards, custom social network features, and more so you can build the community of your dreams.

The Best WordPress Forum Plugins

Why Create a Forum on Your WordPress Site?

Online forums are effective community-building tools where your website visitors can participate by posting questions, sharing solutions, new ideas, etc.

Your forum could be a Q&A (question-and-answer) platform, discussion board, knowledge-sharing space, or a problem-solving support zone.

There are multiple advantages of adding a forum to your website.

First, your WordPress forum software will help users engage and participate on your website. When they participate, they are more likely to come back, buy your products, and recommend them to their friends and family.

Second, a forum is one of the most common and effective ways to provide support to your customers. When your customers have a technical or generic support question, they can hop into the forum and check to see if the issue is already posted. If it is a new problem, then they can post and get their problem solved.

Lastly, it gives SEO value to your website when a unique issue is discussed and the thread becomes popular.

Forum threads often outrank other types of content in search results. Sometimes, user-generated content makes more sense than formal posts on your blog.

You will need a WordPress website to use these plugins. If you want to start a new website, then you will need a domain and web hosting.

We recommend using Bluehost because they are an official WordPress hosting provider.

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That being said, here are the best plugins to add a forum to your WordPress website.

1. bbPress

bbPress

bbPress is hands-down the best WordPress forum plugin. It is a sister project of WordPress.org, which means it is built the WordPress way and uses the WordPress core software to power your forum.

bbPress is easy to set up, moderate, and maintain. It is also fast and clean. Anyone can easily create a forum in WordPress using this plugin. If you need detailed instructions, we have a tutorial on how to set up bbPress in WordPress.

Pros

  • Built for WordPress, bbPress utilizes the same WordPress core and follows the same coding standards.
  • It integrates with any WordPress theme without painful modifications. There are also some excellent WordPress themes for bbPress that you can use.
  • Hundreds of bbPress extensions are available to do just about anything you want.
  • Since it doesn’t have a lot of bloat, bbPress is fast and lightweight.
  • You can easily create multisite forums and maintain them from one dashboard.
  • It is free, open-source software, so you can use it unlimited for free.

Cons

  • It is not as feature-rich as full-fledged forum CMS like phpBB and Vanilla Forums.
  • The core plugin has only the basic features, so you need to install additional extensions for more power.

2. BuddyPress

BuddyPress

BuddyPress allows you to build your social network within WordPress. Just like bbPress, BuddyPress is also an official WordPress plugin. It follows the same coding practices and standards as WordPress.

With BuddyPress, you can create a full-fledged online community with user profiles, activity streams, user groups, messaging, and networking options.

Like Facebook and other social networks, users can add friends, send private messages, create groups, get notifications, and more.

Best of all, you can use BuddyPress and bbPress together to create a feature-rich online forum.

Pros

  • It easily integrates with any WordPress theme and plugin.
  • There are hundreds of third-party BuddyPress plugins and extensions to extend the functionality.
  • It lets you easily create a complete social network with activity streams, user profiles, social connections, groups, etc.
  • It is free and open source. Download BuddyPress for free and use it on unlimited sites, and also get regular updates.

Cons

  • The core plugin lacks the advanced features necessary to build a full-fledged online community. To extend its power, you’ll need to depend on third-party plugins.

3. ForumEngine

ForumEngine

ForumEngine is a WordPress theme that turns your WordPress site into a discussion forum. It is a powerful theme built specifically for creating a forum in WordPress. The theme shows the forum threads right on your website homepage.

With ForumEngine, you can create forums where users can interact in many ways, like posting topics and questions, replying, liking, or disliking a topic. And Ajax Live Search lets users quickly search for any topic in the list.

It also provides a private space for users to access and manage all their activities in the forum.

Pros

  • It is a full-fledged WordPress forum theme, so you won’t need to install any plugins to create a forum in WordPress.
  • It provides plenty of styling options to change the appearance of your forum and make it look attractive.
  • There are plenty of widgets for adding forum statistics, categories, hot topics, etc.
  • It allows you to display advertisements and earn extra income.

Cons

  • It is a forum-specific theme, so it is hard to create a regular business or eCommerce site with this. You can integrate it with your WordPress blog, but it doesn’t have options to display products, etc.
  • It is a paid theme. Free options like bbPress and BuddyPress may be better if you have a limited budget.

4. wpForo Forum

wpForo

wpForo is a free WordPress forum plugin with plenty of design and customization options. It features three design layouts for your forum: Extended, Simplified, and Question and Answer layout. Each layout has a unique design and features. Plus, there are six sets of forum color styles, including dark style.

Using this plugin, you can easily create modern forums where your users can participate, get support, and contribute. Users can post questions, answer, vote, subscribe to topics, receive notifications, share topics on social media, etc.

Pros

  • Available for free with options to extend functionalities by purchasing paid addons.
  • Built-in features for search engine optimization (SEO), XML sitemap, caching, antispam, and more.
  • Smooth integration with BuddyPress to allow more social networking features.

Cons

  • Only basic features are granted in the free plugin. You will need to pay for advanced features like ad management, polls, user custom fields, private messaging, etc.
  • The plugin settings are a bit complex for first-time users.

5. Asgaros Forum

Asgaros Forum

Asgaros Forum is a simple WordPress forum plugin you can use on your live website. It is the best forum plugin for anyone who is looking to add a lightweight forum page to their existing sites with ease. It is super easy to set up and adds a feature-rich discussion board in WordPress.

Pros

  • Simple and lightweight forum plugin for beginners as well as professionals.
  • Simple yet powerful options are available for content management, members, and permissions.
  • Forum statistics to let you see how well your forum is performing.
  • Multisite compatible plugin.

Cons

  • It doesn’t have extensions to add more functionalities.

6. Simple:Press Forum

SimplePress

Simple:Press Forum is a good solution for adding a forum to your WordPress site. It comes with both free and premium versions, so you can choose the option according to your needs.

Using Simple:Press Forum, you can create unlimited forums, forum groups, sub-forums, and private and public forums easily. You can also lock and pin any forum. To let you manage the users, it has a powerful user group and permission system. Your users can create extended profiles with timezones and a lot more.

Pros

  • Fully integrated into WordPress, it supports WordPress registrations and logins.
  • Supports both standard WordPress and multisite installs as well.
  • More than 70 premium plugins are available to extend its features.
  • Creates SEO-friendly permalinks and includes many SEO features.

Cons

  • The free version is fairly basic. You will need to purchase a premium plan to add advanced functionalities.

7. CM Answers

CM Answers

CM Answers allows you to create a powerful Q&A (question and answer) discussion forum in WordPress. The basic free plugin has enough features to quickly set up a Stack Exchange-like forum on your website.

It enables users to post questions, answer questions, vote, upload files, subscribe to categories, send private messages, etc.

As the admin, you can customize questions and answers, filter out unwanted content, and manage the users. If you want additional features like anonymous posting and payments, you can buy the plugin addons.

Pros

  • Integrates seamlessly with most WordPress themes.
  • Users can vote on questions and answers.
  • The Premium version has many more features, including the ability to choose the best answer, profiles, comments, social media logins, and more.

Cons

  • Your forum is limited to a Q&A format.
  • Most useful features are available for the premium version.
  • Some reviews on the plugin’s page indicate that users found it difficult to use.

8. WPForms

Is WPForms the best form builder plugin for WordPress?

WPForms is the best WordPress contact form plugin on the market. It lets you create any type of form in WordPress using a drag-and-drop form builder.

Unlike other forum plugins, WPForms allows your users to submit their questions using a simple contact form. It also comes with a save and resume feature that lets users save their long entries and continue later.

Pros

  • It is known as the most beginner-friendly plugin for creating a contact form, survey form, and more.
  • Free and pro versions are available. The WPForms Pro version is affordable and worth every penny you spend.
  • Hundreds of ready-made form templates, dozens of addons, and unbelievable flexibility.
  • Smart conditional logic displays fields to users based on their answers.
  • Instant notifications allow you to get back to your users right away.

Cons

  • Though it serves the purpose of helping your visitors, it isn’t a direct forum plugin.

9. Discussion Board

Discussion Board

Discussion Board is a free plugin you can use to create a forum. It is easy to install and set up the plugin, so anyone can build a forum in WordPress without touching any code.

Using this plugin, you can allow a front-end registration and login system to attract more users. To avoid spamming, it has options to restrict reposting, moderation of comments, etc.

Pros

  • The Discussion Board theme is specifically designed to go well with the plugin. You can also use this plugin with any theme you like.
  • It comes with plenty of handy shortcodes for displaying forms, lists of topics, etc.
  • A paid version is available to add more options and possibilities.

Cons

  • The free version lacks powerful options. You will need to purchase their premium plan for many useful features.

10. SeedProd

SeedProd WordPress Website Builder

SeedProd is the best WordPress theme and website builder plugin. It allows you to create a custom theme that you can use with any WordPress forum plugin on this list.

It comes with hundreds of page templates and website layouts that you can import in a single click. SeedProd also integrates with many popular forums and Q&A plugins like bbPress, BuddyPress, and more.

Here is an interesting and related guide on how to create a question and answers site in WordPress.

Pros

  • Create a forum website from scratch and not just the forum landing page.
  • A beginner-friendly website builder that requires no coding skills.
  • Many other features, including ready-made coming soon pages, maintenance mode pages, and more.

Cons

  • You will need to buy the SeedProd Pro plan to access the theme and website builder.

Which Is the Best WordPress Forum Plugin?

bbPress is the best WordPress forum plugin on the market. It is fast, beginner-friendly, and flexible, allowing you to easily add a forum to your WordPress site. The plugin works with most WordPress themes and plugins seamlessly.

BuddyPress is also a great alternative, and it helps you build a social community. It is powerful and easy to use for beginners. There are dedicated BuddyPress themes for WordPress that make it even more simple to create a forum.

There are many other free and premium WordPress forum plugins on the list. Each plugin has different features, giving you the flexibility to choose the right forum software for your WordPress site.

However, if you want full control over your forum website, we recommend SeedProd. It is the best WordPress website builder to set up your forum using the drag and drop feature. SeedProd works with all WordPress forum plugins out of the box, including bbPress, BuddyPress, and more.

Important Advice on Building a Forum Website

Regardless of your choice of online forum software, you will need extra hosting resources to run a successful online community.

You can install all these WordPress forum plugins on a shared hosting plan. You can even run a forum quite effectively on the same starter hosting package.

If you are just starting and want to test the waters, we recommend using Bluehost. They are one of the top hosting companies in the world and is an officially recommended WordPress hosting provider.

However, as more visitors use your forum, it will slow down your website and may even crash it. In that case, you will need to upgrade to a managed WordPress hosting plan.

We recommend using SiteGround. They are an officially recommended WordPress and bbPress hosting provider.

Our second choice would be WP Engine. They are one of the top managed WordPress hosting companies in the world.

We hope this article helped you find the best forum plugins for WordPress. You may also want to check out other WordPress guides to choose the best software and set up your forums.

Best WordPress Guides for Online Forums

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Editorial Staff

Editorial Staff at WPBeginner is a team of WordPress experts led by Syed Balkhi with over 16 years of experience in WordPress, Web Hosting, eCommerce, SEO, and Marketing. Started in 2009, WPBeginner is now the largest free WordPress resource site in the industry and is often referred to as the Wikipedia for WordPress.

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Reader Interactions

49 CommentsLeave a Reply

  1. Syed Balkhi says

    Hey WPBeginner readers,
    Did you know you can win exciting prizes by commenting on WPBeginner?
    Every month, our top blog commenters will win HUGE rewards, including premium WordPress plugin licenses and cash prizes.
    You can get more details about the contest from here.
    Start sharing your thoughts below to stand a chance to win!

  2. Paul Titmuss says

    According to WordFence, bbPress has been abandoned by the authors and according to the WordPress plugin repository, it hasn’t been updated in over 2 years. Therefore, I am not sure that this should be a recommendation any more, unless anyone knows differently??

      • Paul Titmuss says

        Your article clearly states: ‘…if a plugin hasn’t been updated in more than two years, then this often means that it has been abandoned. In that case, you shouldn’t install the plugin since the developer is not actively maintaining it.’
        Therefore, bbPress shouldn’t be included in your list of recommended plugins, should it?!?!

        • WPBeginner Support says

          You are correct that it has not updated for 2 years but is still working from our testing and support is being provided for the plugin. We will keep an eye on the plugin to check if we need to remove it but for now the plugin is still a good basic solution for adding a forum to a WordPress site.

  3. Richard says

    Thank you for the article. If I install bbPress is it better in a subdomain or in a folder something like this: mysite/forum or /community?

    • WPBeginner Support says

      That would be more of a personal preference question than what is better at the moment.

      Admin

  4. Moinuddin Waheed says

    I was looking for a forum plugin for my institute website. thankfully I found this article and now I can use any of the mentioned plugins for making a discussion forum for my website.
    in my opinion bbpress or buddypress any of the two will suffice my need.
    I just want to have an engagement with my audience so that it can help us increase interaction with the students.
    thanks wpbeginner for the list.

  5. A. W. Raihan says

    I was planning to build a website for the Forum topics niche, this blog post helped me to find the best ones that I can use, but I’ve a question can I implement Google Adsense code into the forums on any of the above-listed forums plugins?

    • WPBeginner Support says

      Unless we hear otherwise, there shouldn’t be a restriction on any of the plugins.

      Admin

  6. Jonathan says

    Is there not a forum that has facebook integration, so users can login and register with their Facebook account?

    • WPBeginner Support says

      For most of these plugins if you add a social registration plugin it will allow them to use that to create a user that way. Otherwise, you would want to reach out to each plugin’s support for what they currently support.

      Admin

  7. Steve says

    I’m looking for a forum that will allow me to create password protected threads/forums. So only certain members or people with the password can gain access. Any advice?

    • WPBeginner Support says

      The plugin options in this list do have assisting plugins and similar to allow this, it would all depend on what other features you’re wanting. If you check with the plugins’ support and let them know what you’re wanting they should be able to let you know how good of a fit the plugin would be.

      Admin

  8. Paul Barrett says

    Do any of these forum plugins allow posting or replying using email or do you know of one that does, please?

    • WPBeginner Support says

      Depending on how you are wanting the replies set up, you would want to reach out to the plugin’s supports for if they have that available.

      Admin

  9. Romno says

    Hi wpbeginner!,
    What do you suggestion in 2018? The bbPress is to outdated, the BuddyPress is not a forum. Others are for Q&A or doesn’t exists. Please let me know if you have any suggestion in forum world…

    • WPBeginner Support says

      Hi Romno,

      We would still recommend bbPress because it runs on top of WordPress, it is an official sister project, and it is quite easy to customize with the help of plugins.

      Admin

  10. Steven Rosenbaum says

    I like the comments on this blog, and they look clean on mobile as well. What plug in is being used for this comment section?

  11. Willie Kimani says

    Hi, is there a wordpress plugin that can enable me to have to forms but when i type in one form the other one replicates what im typing. or else can i be able to reflect certain parts of the form on another part of my page. kindly

  12. ASHOK says

    3. WP Symposium link not working
    shows error – Oops! That page can’t be found.

    Try searching from the field above, or go to the home page.

    • WPBeginner Support says

      Hey Ashok,

      Thank you for notifying us. We have updated the article with the new URL. Apparently, the plugin developers moved their plugin to a different URL on .org plugin directory.

      Admin

  13. Justin says

    Is there anything out there that simply takes the standard WordPress Comments and not only posts on that specific post, but on a community/social feed wall? Cutting out all the heavy extras in BuddyPress.

    Thanks,
    J

  14. Suleman says

    Have you tried any of the following, wpforo, muut, anspress, if so do you have a review if them ?

  15. someone says

    You could allow youtube to be fullscreen #justsaying, you can’t really see much on a 900-1000px width 2 column website with 1 inch paddings

    • Syaz Amirin says

      I know right! I can press the youtube button but I prefer to watch here BUT, the video resoultion is too small.

  16. Jasper says

    Thanks for the tips! Are there any forum plugins that come with an integrated listserv? I need a forum that users can access online in the typical fashion or choose to interact with strictly through email. I would super grateful if you could give me some suggestions.

  17. Travis says

    Is there a plugin that creates a single discussion page equivalent to a Facebook group page – not an entire forum?
    THANKS!!!

  18. Anand BV says

    Is there any plug in to insert the comment section on my home page? I have it as seperate page but I needed on the home page. Plz help!

  19. David says

    Hi there!

    2 questions:

    1) Are all of these forum options available also in other languages (especially for the front end)?

    2) Do you know if it is possible to display Google AdSense inside all of these forum options?

    Thank you
    David

  20. Maria says

    I want to add citation/references to my wordpress posts, ie. the resources i used to make a post. For that i need to add additional section at the bottom of my page. Is there any plugin available through which i can do the same.

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