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How to Add a Forum in WordPress with bbPress

Bulletin boards and forums are good old reliable tools to build online communities.

While there are plenty of open-source forum software, integrating a third-party forum with WordPress can be a mess. That’s where bbPress comes in.

In this article, we will show you how to easily add a forum in WordPress with bbPress.

Adding a forum in WordPress using bbPress

What is bbPress?

bbPress is a forum software built the WordPress way. It runs on top of WordPress, which is the best website builder in the world.

Just like WordPress, bbPress is extensible, and you can install add-on plugins to add more functionality to your forums. It is also very light-weight and faster than other popular open-source forum software.

What You Need to Make an Online Forum with bbPress?

If you already have a WordPress website where you want to add a forum, then you can skip this section. On the other hand, if you are just getting started then continue reading.

First, you’ll need to sign up for a web hosting account. This is where you will store all the files for your online forum.

You’ll also need a domain name. This will be your website’s address on the internet and what users will type in their browsers to find your online forum.

Normally, website hosting costs $7.99 per month and domain name would cost you around $14.99 per year.

This is a lot of money if you are just getting started.

Luckily, Bluehost has agreed to offer WPBeginner users a discount on hosting with a free domain name. Basically, you’ll be able to get started for just $2.75 per month.

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Bluehost is one of the biggest WordPress hosting companies in the world and an officially recommended WordPress hosting provider.

Once you have signed up for hosting, you can follow our guide on how to make a website for complete installation instructions.

After setting up WordPress, you will be ready to install bbPress and start your own online community.

How to Install bbPress

bbPress is available as a WordPress plugin. You can install it like you would install any WordPress plugin.

Simply log in to your WordPress admin area and go to Plugins » Add New . Search for bbPress and then select bbPress from results.

Install and activate the plugin. Upon activation, you will see the welcome screen for bbPress.

Welcome to bbPress

Creating a Forum with bbPress in WordPress

Once installed, bbPress adds Forums, Topics and Replies menu items in your WordPress admin.

Add new forum

First, you need to click on Forums » Add New link from the menu. This will take you to a screen similar to the WordPress post edit area.

Provide a title for your forum and enter a little description of it. Then press the publish button.

Forum title and description

You can create as many forums as you need for different discussions and topics.

Displaying bbPress Forum in the Front End of WordPress

Now that you have created a few forums, it is time to display those forums on the front end of your WordPress website.

Create a new WordPress page. Give this page a title, like Forum, Community, Support Forums, etc.

After that, simply paste the following shortcode in your page:

[bbp-forum-index]

Don’t forget to click on the publish button to save your changes and make your forum page visible on your website.

You can now visit the page in a web browser to see a preview of your forums.

Forums page preview

Next, you need to help users find the forum on your website. To do that, let’s put a link to your forum page on top navigation menu.

Go to Appearance » Menus and add the forum page to your navigation menu.

Add forum link to navigation menu

Users can now access the forum index page by clicking on the link in the main menu.

Integrating bbPress with your WordPress Theme

In most cases, you would probably want to open your forum for new registrations. To do that, you need to open your website for registrations.

Simply go to Settings » General, and check the box next to “Any one can register” to allow registrations on your website.

Open your forum for user registration

Don’t forget to click on the save changes button to store your settings.

Now that your website is open for registration, the first thing that your forum participants would look for is a registration page.

Let’s make one.

Simply create a WordPress page, and give it a title, e.g. Register. Add shortcode [bbp-register] and publish the page.

Making aa bbPress registration page

You can now preview this page. It will show a user registration form to all non-logged in users.

Another page your users would need is the lost password recovery page. This is where they will be recover their lost passwords.

Create another WordPress page and give it a title e.g. Lost Password. After that, add this shortcode [bbp-lost-pass] and publish the page.

Lost password page

Finally, you need to add a login form to your website so that forum users can easily login from anywhere on your website.

bbPress comes with a handful of widgets and one of them is a login form widget.

Go to Appearance » Widgets and simply drag and drop Login Widget to your sidebar or any other widget area.

You will be asked to provide the URLs for the registration and lost password pages you created earlier. After entering them you need to click on the Save button to store your widget settings.

Login widget settings

Now a login form with links to registration and lost password recovery pages will appear in your sidebar. Logged in users would see their usernames and a logout link instead of the form.

Login form preview

Managing bbPress Forum Settings

Unlike other popular forum software, bbPress has a very simplified configuration page. To manage settings for your bbPress forums, go to Settings » Forums page.

Forum settings page

The default options on this page would work for most forum websites. We’ll take a look at all of them, just in case you want to change anything.

The first option you would see here is to ‘Automatically give registered visitors the participant forum role’. You can select a user role or uncheck the option to manually assign user roles to each user when they register.

The next option adds a 10-second delay between subsequent forum posts to prevent forum flooding and spam. You can increase or decrease the delay period here.

The Editing option allows users to edit their forum posts 5 minutes after they publish them. You can uncheck this option but that would prevent your users from correcting spelling errors or edit their posts if they missed something.

After that, you’ll find the forum features section. From here, you can turn forum features on and off.

Add remove forum features

Below that, you’ll see forum display features. From here, you can select a bbPress template, number of posts and topics to display on forum pages and inside the forum RSS feed.

Forum display settings

Finally, you’ll see options to select URL slugs for different sections and forum pages. Slugs are the SEO friendly URL names used by WordPress.

Change forum URL slugs

The default URL slugs are meaningful and SEO friendly out of the box but if you need to change them, then you can do so here.

Don’t forget to click on the ‘Save changes’ button to store your forum settings.

User Roles in bbPress

WordPress comes with its own user role management system which allows you to assign users roles with different permissions.

bbPress extends the WordPress user roles by adding its own five pre-defined user roles with different capabilities.

1. Keymaster – The website owner or the WordPress administrator is automatically assigned the Keymaster role when they install bbPress. A Keymaster can delete and create forums, can create, edit, delete all posts, topics, forums.

2. Moderators – Users with moderator user role have access to moderation tools, which they can use to moderate forums, topics, and posts.

3. Participants – This is the default user role, participants can create and edit their own topics and posts, they can favorite and subscribe to topics.

4. Spectators – Spectators have a read-only access to public forums, topics, and posts.

5. Blocked – When a user is blocked all their capabilities are blocked. They can still read publicly viewable topics and posts, but can not participate in the forums.

Extending and Promoting Your bbPress Forum

Now that your bbPress forum is all set up and running. It is time to learn how to extend and promote it.

Let’s start with the appearance first. bbPress works with any WordPress theme and themes can also add custom styles to bbPress.

All top WordPress themes come with custom bbPress styles to make your forum look beautiful.

For more choices, see our pick of the best WordPress themes for bbPress.

Next, you would want to add new features to your forum so that you can quickly get new members and grow your online community.

The following are some of the plugins that will help you grow your online forum much quickly.

1. RafflePress

RafflePress

RafflePress allows you to create viral giveaways and contests in WordPress. These interactive contests and giveaways are a sure-fire way to instantly get a ton of new users to your online forum.

See our guide on how to create a viral giveaway contest for more information.

2. MemberPress

MemberPress

MemberPress is the best WordPress membership plugin. It allows you to make money online from your forum by adding subscription layers to your online community.

For more information, take a look at our guide on how to make a membership website.

3. MonsterInsights

MonsterInsights

Want to know which forum topics and discussions are more popular on your website? MonsterInsights helps you easily track all your website traffic using Google Analytics.

4. WPForms

WPForms

WPForms is the best WordPress contact form plugin. It allows you to easily create beautiful forms for your website. You can also use it to create custom login page, user registration page, or to add surveys and polls to your bbPress forum.

We hope that this article helped you learn how to add a forum in WordPress and how to install and configure bbPress. You may also want to see our complete WordPress SEO guide to help you get even more traffic.

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Reader Interactions

190 CommentsLeave a Reply

  1. a helpful page thank you. I’ve got a bbpress forum set up but I’m feeling confused about the difference between categories and forums. If I’ve got lots of categories set up inside my forum, I can’t see how to add topics to them. Can topics be added to categories?

    • Topics should be able to be added to a category if you’ve added categories to your forum. Categories are subsections to help organize the content

      Admin

  2. Hi, thanks for this article, but my users can’t login because my email function is not working.
    What do I do?

  3. I set everything up , and login widget, and when click on register I got blank page with this link listed in bar: about:blank#blocked
    ? Do you know how to fix this and what id blocking the option to register. I set in setting the option that everyone can register as subscriber.

  4. I have a host gator site , one of the default pages is a blog page. I am interested in converting this blog page to a forum page. Can I get a quick overview how this can be done ?

    • You would edit your menu to link to the forum page of your could not set a posts page if that is what you’re wanting to do.

      Admin

  5. Hi

    Is it possible to just give access to a specific group of members? The members only should be able to read and write within the forum.
    n
    Christia

  6. I have a WordPress blog and recently put another registered domain in as an add on domain. How do I install WordPress bb on this add on domain.

  7. Hi
    I want to create a forum but I want to use buddy press is it better than bbpress or which theme will be perfect for it and my last question is should I use subdomain for my forum
    This article is last updated since 2013 I hope you will write a new one also using other plugins and themes
    Please reply

  8. The details above were really user friendly and immensely easy to follow. I have successfully configured my web site using your instructions. Thank you so much for such articles. I would additionally wish to learn how to add user account login and registration on my store or blog page. Waiting to hear from you soon.

  9. Good but i am running entertainment blog before so i want to add a forum page there , please how can i display the forum in my entertainment landing page so people will just click on the forum name then will now refer them to forum where registration or log in will take place

  10. I already have user registration on my site, how can I set up bbpress so my registered users dont have to register again for the forum.
    Thanks

  11. I can start off by saying, thank you so much for this nice piece of information.

    I like bbPress but I love Question2Answer. This is the reason why I am unable to decide which one would be more community driven.

    Feature wise I think question2Answer rocks but support and Integration wise bbpress is the best. Could you write your view on this so that I can analyze and make a rightful decision?

  12. Very simple and easy tutorial i have followed all this procedures but if i click the registar button it shows nothing found on the page.

    Please how can i add the registration?

  13. Hi!

    my Page uses WP-Members to limit some Content to registered users only

    If i show the forum pages only to “members” – do they need to register to bbPress again to post/create?

    thanks

  14. is there a wp plugin that can show thumbnails of post content previews in the admin panel?

    I am familiar with the plugin ‘Featured Image Admin Thumb’,but it is not what I need.

    I am looking for a similar concept, however I need to preview the actual post content via a thumbnail so I can quickly review actual post content.

    Any suggestions?

    Thanks!

  15. Am grateful for the article, God bless you. After following this article to create a forum with bbpress, my register page and lost password page comes empty, What should I do please.
    Thanks

  16. The instructions are very clear but registration doesn’t work. If I visit my site and try to register I get the following error:

    “Authorization Required

    This server could not verify that you are authorized to access the document requested. Either you supplied the wrong credentials (e.g., bad password), or your browser doesn’t understand how to supply the credentials required. ”

    I’ve been working on this problem long before I came to this site. I’ve been to bbpress support forums. People say it’s a server issue and to contact my host. I’ve been to my host and they are no help. They referred me to the bbpress forums. I told them I had been to the forums and then they asked me

    “Is bbPress a plugin which requires outgoing connection from the server to it’s API?”

    I think they asked that question because they knew I wouldn’t know the answer and it would end the conversation. Do you know the answer to their question?

  17. Hello. Thank you for this super clear explanation.
    Somehow I don’t get the email with my password.
    Have I done something wrong ?

    And also is it possible to change the language?

    Thank you

  18. I’ve followed the instructions but oddly enough when someone registers they have acces to the wordpress dashboard (and see the black bar above the site). I only want them to have access to the forum. Where did i go wrong??

  19. Thank you for this information. Is there an additional plug-in or way to create forum categories.

    Category A
    Forum 1
    Forum 2

    Category B
    Forum 3
    Forum 4

  20. Actually it’s hard to build something unique using a theme. I couldn’t sort it out.
    A friend of mine showed me a good theme, I tried it out and managed to create something. Turned out that it required a bit more effort to create a good site.

  21. EXCELLENT post. This article made the difference for me. I literally followed it step by step, and got my forum up and running in less than 15 minutes. No video needed, in my opinion.

  22. This really helped thanks. Eternally grateful. Setting up my forum was a breeze and it was just because of your grand simple and thorough help. Thanks again.

  23. Hello,

    I am using pilotpress to run a membership site and I would like to include a forum without people having to re-log in (as they have done it via pilotpress). Do you have any suggestion for doing this integration?

    Thanks!

    Martin

  24. Thanks so much because you really help me, am so much in love with all your posts because the are all helpful and straight to the topic

  25. thanks for this article. please if i click on any topic on my forum it usually take me back or rather redirect me to my main home page.

  26. 1. Please i have a wordpress blog before now and i want to create forum as a category on the site.. Will that be a good idea?
    2. When i choose the option ANYBODY CAN REGISTER, will it not affect my blog too because i am the only one that wants be posting on the blog, while forum anybody can post or register.

  27. For my site I am using woedpress 4.5.1 version and Modern Blogger Pro child theme of Genesis. I have installed and activated bbPress. But bbPress has not added Forums, Topics and Replies menu items in my WordPress admin. So, I can’t make forums.

    Please help…..

  28. Thanks for this detailed info! I had a question which is perhaps not yet answered anywhere so far.

    I have a website hosted by Hostgator but it’s operated as a custom domain from my earlier blogger interface.

    I am interested to use my wordpress.org software which is lying idle in hostagtor to create a forum by using the method explained in the above article.

    Kindly advise, would this be possible without having a prior wordpress.org site.

    Thanks

  29. Thank you very much for this tutorial. Now i have built my forum. However i am not sure that should i noindex-follow my forum or index and follow my forum?
    Do let me know.

  30. Thank you for this clear, concise manual for setting up bbPress. Your instructions were far superior to the guide provided on bbPress website. I’ll be reading your blog regularly now.

  31. Hi, I installed the forum and it is ok when I use it with my log in, but when I want to register as a new user it shows only an empty page!.
    what can I do to solve this issue??

  32. Your post on How To Add a Forum…BBpress was very helpful and quickly got my forum all set up. A couple extra questions:

    – As shown, I added both a registration page and a lost password page, and inserted the proper shortcodes, and I added the login widget to my right sidebar. My understanding is that a new visitor to my site who wants to subscribe to & post on the forums, will see a username & login box in the right sidebar. plus the links Register and Lost Password. If they click Register and fill in their choice of User/Pass, will it then automatically be sent to my email for approval & verification?

    – AS Keymaster, when I want to start a new topic in one of my forums, I click on that forum title and it takes me to a page with an empty title & text editing box. Is that what subscribed users will see too, so that they may also easily get to start new topics?

    — On the Forums index page, how do we get the forum titles in that nice teal-blue color instead of black. It is taking the titles from Forums I created, and the WP text editor allows you to select text color for the content body text, but not for the title box?

  33. I have installed bbPress on my website. I want to allow automatic registration. I clicked on “anyone can register” and set this for “participant” level. However, my website still requires users to enter their name and email address and then wait for an email with a link to a long password, etc. This is too cumbersome. I assume this is the manual sign up. If so, how do I get rid of this? In the automatic registration, can users simply establish their own user name and password and automatically be registered?

  34. Hi, I have it set up but the people that are requesting membership are not getting the emails. plus when I approve them on the backside, they are not showing up under members.

    Also, do I need both bbpress and buddy press or just one? and which is the best one.

    Julie

    • For emails please see our guide on how to fix WordPress not sending emails issue. bbPress and BuddyPress are both different software. They can work together too. You need to set them up based on your requirements.

      Admin

      • Thank you. Which is the better software? also why am i not seeing approved members in the list?

        • They are two different things that can run separately/independently. bbPress is a forum and BuddyPress is more like social network and discussion. You can have both or just one. I started off with both, but now I am not so sure I need BuddyPress. Can’t answer the other question….since I am just now installing it.

  35. Hi, is it possible to create a forum where user access is only allowed by a certain subscription level defined in the membership rules of a WordPress site. For example a visitor purchases a level 3 subscription and by doing so they now have access to what is effectively a private forum.

    Hope that makes sense and thanks in advance.

  36. Hi,
    I have followed your instructions and all went well until I published my forum (index) page. The formatting is all wrong. I don’t know if it’s due to my theme or some other reason. For your info., I am using a 3rd party child theme on a Genesis Framework. Also, I have installed the “bbPress Genesis Extend” plugin, but that hasn’t helped.

    Thanks,
    Doug

  37. hello admin,i created the forum page succesfully,but when i post a new topic,its doesnt appear in the forum page. Any help?

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