Beginner's Guide for WordPress / Start your WordPress Blog in minutes

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.

→ Click Here to Claim This Exclusive Bluehost Offer ←

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:


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 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 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


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 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.

If you liked this article, then please subscribe to our YouTube Channel for WordPress video tutorials. You can also find us on Twitter and Facebook.

Disclosure: Our content is reader-supported. This means if you click on some of our links, then we may earn a commission. See how WPBeginner is funded, why it matters, and how you can support us.

The Ultimate WordPress Toolkit

Get FREE access to our toolkit – a collection of WordPress related products and resources that every professional should have!

Reader Interactions

190 CommentsLeave a Reply

  1. 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.

  2. 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…..

  3. 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 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 site.


  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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??

  7. 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?

  8. 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?

  9. 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.


    • 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.


      • 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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.


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

  13. Are there any GOOD/RELIABLE ways to allow forum users the ability to add/embed/play multimedia files…specifically images and audio? I have looked at reviews of rtMedia, but it seems very flaky.



  14. Hi there! I’ve found your site to be very helpful in my discovery of which forum plugin to use. I’ve gone with BBpress…but seeing that it has issues with my template. The only issue is that you are not able to type anything to the topic text area…everywhere else you can. I know it’s my theme because when I change it to the default it works. Any ideas if this is an easy fix or not or do I need to scrap this forum plugin and move on to the next? I appreciate your time. Thank you!

  15. i own a website, which is not with wordpress, how do integrate the forum to this website?

  16. Thank you so much for not presuming I would know anything about forums.
    This was such an easy walkthrough and I have managed to create a forum on the site.
    Thanks again

  17. Hi there,
    This was a great run down but I am looking for a way to export all my users and tidy it up. I (stupidly) loaded a whole lot of users with their first name as a username and all other users that were previously loaded use their email. I want them all to be emails and I want to email everyone (through my mail chimp) to tell them about the forum changes. Your advice or direction to your knowledge base would be appreciated.

  18. I have a question for you all-
    Should i implement forum on my website or not,basically what is the need of forum? Does it increase my ranking or serps?

  19. Hi

    I have installed the bbPress as your instructions but when I try to access the forum page it redirect me to site home page, my site already have an member area via Wishlist Members plugin. Any help will be appreciated. thanks :)

  20. I need a members only forum for a dog group. We have installed bbpress. Can I make it so only club members can access the forum?

  21. People have to login to the site where my forum will live. Can I make it so there does not need to be a second log in to use the forum? So basically once they are logged into the site, they can access the forum.

  22. Great Post, Thank you!. Forums are a great way to create original, unique content. I think many of us overlook the power that forums can create for a quality website.

  23. hi i have installed this on my wordpress site which is using a sitemile auction theme. My web developer has installed Vanilla forum for another part of my website. How can i use bbpress around the vanilla forum so that they are 2 seperate forums.

  24. Hi.. I have installed bbpress plugins.But when i am logging to admin panel it’s redirect me to my home page(logged admin bar displaying) instead of dashboard.Deactivate the plugin all is ok.
    what i have to do for fixing this problem?

  25. Hi, nice tutorial and an easy beginning for me. Can you tell me how i can add a forum as a page to easily access it?

  26. I installed this plugin and I like it. But there is another question. I want de forum only visible for logged in users. But I can’t set it in the menu. If a user is logged out, you stil can see the forum in the menu. I set all of the forum and category to private, but it is still showing in de menu. Iff you click on it, you’ll get an 404 page. I just want it visible when a user is logged in.
    Is it possible?

  27. Thank you this was great! I have created a forum. What if I want to create a new Forum Category? instead of “[bbp-forum-index]’ is there another code I can enter to start a new sub-forum on my website but on the same main page?

  28. I created the forum that you say it in the forum prencipale with the shortcode nothing is written only this: Your Account Has the ability to post unrestricted HTML content. I think this plugin is not good for me, what can I do? thank you ..

  29. A reverse blog is so similar to a forum that I thought someone with bbPress might be able to help me make a reverse blog. I think the only difference is the number of comments is limited in a reverse blog. I would like to make it so that visitors wouldn’t have to click on a topic title to see more material, so that the page has the feel of a blog. Can anyone show me examples of this – and how to make one?

  30. Man this made adding a forum to my website really painless and simple! Thanks for the advice! my website is if ya wanna check it out. Can’t wait to grow my forum! :)

  31. Thank you for this very simple instructions. I have been struggling with trying to create a forum for weeks now but with this I did it in less than 20 mins…on a phone no less!!!

  32. Hello

    Thank you for this usefull information, my only concern is that users can access the WP dashboard, is there a way to let users create an account, without them having access to the WP dashboard ? maybe a seperate permissions plug in ?

    I’m looking forward to your answer ,
    Kind regards ,Kevin

  33. Wow, this article was incredible. I had no idea how simple it was to create a discussion board in WP. I was dreading it. Now it’s done and I have a simple but functional discussion board on my website!

    Julie Hassett

  34. So pleased I found this blog. The directions, and images, above were excellent and helped a lot!

    The standard registration for bppress seems to require only a username and email address.

    Is it possible to add First Name – Last Name as an extra requirement?



Leave a Reply to akash Cancel reply

Thanks for choosing to leave a comment. Please keep in mind that all comments are moderated according to our comment policy, and your email address will NOT be published. Please Do NOT use keywords in the name field. Let's have a personal and meaningful conversation.