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How to Add a Forum in WordPress with bbPress

Do you want to add a forum in WordPress with bbPress?

Forums are a great way to boost user engagement and build a community around your site. This can keep visitors coming back to your WordPress blog and grow your audience.

In this article, we will show you how to add a forum to your site with bbPress.

Adding a forum in WordPress using bbPress

Why Add a Forum to Your WordPress Website?

A forum allows visitors to sign up, start threads, post replies, and connect with each other. When people engage with your content, they are going to spend more time on your site, so a forum can increase your pageviews and reduce the bounce rate.

An active forum can help build brand loyalty and get you more repeat visitors. If you make money online blogging with WordPress by showing ads, then an active forum can also increase your income.

If you run an online store, then a forum is another way to support your customers. Many people prefer to post their questions in a forum instead of calling customer service staff, so a forum can improve the quality of your customer support.

Forum members may even help each other out by sharing their own solutions, which will improve the customer experience without any extra work from you.

With that being said, let’s see how you can add a forum in WordPress with bbPress.

How to Add a Forum in WordPress With bbPress

The easiest way to add a forum to your WordPress website is using bbPress. It is the best WordPress forum plugin and has everything you need to create, moderate, and maintain an online discussion board.

A forum created using bbPress

bbPress also works with any WordPress theme. In fact, many of the best WordPress themes come with custom bbPress styles. For more information, see our expert pick of the best WordPress themes for bbPress.

How to Create a New Forum

First, you’ll need to install and activate the bbPress plugin. If you need help, then please see our guide on how to install a WordPress plugin.

Upon activation, go to Forums » Add New.

Creating a bbPress WordPress forum

To start, type in a name for the new WordPress forum.

This will be visible to visitors, so you’ll want to use a title that describes what the forum is about.

For example, the following image shows three forums called Entertainment, General Chat, and Music, on a page known as the forum index.

WordPress forums created using bbPress

The title will also be used in the forum’s URL, so it’s smart to think about SEO and include relevant keywords where possible.

You can also add an optional description by typing into the main post editor. This description will appear on your site’s forum index page.

bbPress WordPress forums

By default, bbPress forums are public, which means everyone can see the forum, including people who haven’t registered with your WordPress website. This can encourage people to sign up and join the conversation.

However, sometimes, you may want to restrict access to a forum. For example, you might create a private forum for students who’ve purchased your latest online course.

To create a forum that only registered users can access, open the ‘Visibility’ dropdown and choose ‘Private.’

Changing the bbPress forum visibility settings

Note: The ‘Visibility’ dropdown also has a ‘Hidden’ option that only gives moderators and bbPress keymasters access. This setting allows you to remove a forum from your site without deleting its contents, similar to setting a live post back to ‘Draft.’

Create Forum Moderators

Next, you may want to add moderators. This WordPress user role allows people to edit and delete posts by other users, edit your forum, and manage the forum tags.

To give someone the moderator role, simply start typing their username into the ‘Forum Moderators’ field. To add multiple moderators, simply separate each name with a comma.

Adding moderators to a WordPress forum

If the person doesn’t already have an account, then check out our guide on how to add new users to WordPress.

Organize Your WordPress Forums

If you are creating multiple forums, then you may want to organize them into a parent-child structure. For example, you might create a ‘Customer Support’ forum and then have a separate child forum for each WooCommerce product.

By default, bbPress creates each forum as a parent forum. To turn it into a child, simply open the ‘Parent’ dropdown and choose the forum that you want to use as the parent. This is similar to how you create categories and subcategories in WordPress.

Child and parent WordPress forums

When you are happy with how the forum is set up, click on the ‘Publish’ button.

You can create more forums by repeating the process described above. When planning your forms, it may help to think about the keywords you want to rank for.

By encouraging members to talk about particular topics, you may be able to improve your WordPress SEO by including lots of relevant keywords in an organic way.

For example, if you want your website to show up when people search for ‘best home gym equipment’, then you might decide to create a ‘Home workouts’ or similar forum.

How to Add the bbPress Forum Index to Your WordPress Website

bbPress creates a forum index automatically, which contains links to all your forums. To see this ready-made page, simply add ‘forums’ to the end of your site’s URL, such as www.example.com/forums.

You can also add the forum index to any area of your site, which gives you more control over how it looks. For example, you might want to design a custom page using a drag and drop WordPress page builder like SeedProd, and then embed the forum index.

You can add the index to any page or post using the [bbp-forum-index] shortcode.

For more information on how to place the shortcode, see our guide on how to add a shortcode in WordPress.

How to Add Forums to the WordPress Menu

To help visitors find your forum, we recommend adding it to your site’s main navigation menu.

To update your site’s menu, simply go to Appearance » Menus. In the dropdown, select the menu that you want to edit and then click ‘Select.’

The WordPress menu settings

If you want to add a link to a specific forum, then click to expand the ‘Forums’ section.

You can then check any forum in this section and click on the ‘Add to Menu’ button.

Adding a forum to your WordPress menu

If you’ve created lots of forums, then there might not be enough space in the menu, even if you are using a custom navigation menu or a dropdown menu.

In this case, you can add a link to the forum index so visitors can choose the forum they want to visit.

Simply click to expand the ‘Custom Links’ section and then add the index’s link to the ‘URL’ field. Remember, this is simply your site’s domain name with ‘/forums’ on the end, such as www.example.com/forums.

You’ll also need to type in the ‘Link Text,’ which will appear in the menu. Visitors will see this label, so you’ll want to use something descriptive.

Adding custom forum links to a WordPress menu

After that, click on the ‘Add to Menu’ button.

When you are happy with how the menu is set up, click on ‘Save Menu.’ Now, if you visit your site, you’ll see the updated menu in action.

A WordPress menu with a forum link

How to Allow User Registration on Your WordPress Forum

Even if you’ve created a public forum, people will still need to register before they can post. This means you’ll need to allow user registration on your site if you haven’t already.

After that, you’ll need to create a registration page so visitors can sign up for your forum.

bbPress comes with a built-in user registration form that you can add to your site. Simply open the page or post where you want to place the form and create a new shortcode block.

You can then add the following shortcode: [bbp-register].

Adding a bbPress shortcode to your WordPress website

For step-by-step instructions on how to place the shortcode, please see our guide on how to add a shortcode in WordPress.

You can now publish or update the page to make the form live. If you visit the registration page while logged into your account, then you’ll see a ‘You are already logged in’ message.

Viewing the forum registration page as a logged-in user

Try visiting the same page in your browser’s incognito tab or when logged out of your WordPress account.

Now, you’ll see the user registration form instead.

The bbPress user registration page

Next, you’ll need to give visitors a way to recover their accounts by creating a password reset page. Simply open the page or post where you want to add the bbPress password reset form or create a new page.

Then, create a shortcode block and add the following code: [bbp-lost-pass].

Creating a password recovery page for your WordPress website

When you are happy with how the page looks, click on ‘Publish’ or ‘Update’ to make your changes live.

To see the form in action, simply log out of your account or visit the password recovery page in an incognito tab.

A password recovery page for a WordPress forum

Finally, you’ll need to add a login form so that registered users can log in to their accounts and post on your forum.

Thankfully, bbPress comes with a ready-made login widget that you can add to any widget-ready area. This allows visitors to access their account from any page on your WordPress blog or website.

To add the widget, go to Appearance » Widgets. Then, find the area where you want to show the login widget and click on its arrow to expand.

Adding the bbPress widget to WordPress

After that, go ahead and click on the blue + and search for ‘bbPress Login Widget.’

When the right widget appears, drag it to the area where you want to show the login form.

The bbPress login widget

This form can also redirect visitors to your site’s registration and lost password pages, so make sure you add these URLs to the widget’s fields.

After adding this information to the ‘Registration URL’ and ‘Lost Password URL’ fields, click on the ‘Update’ button.

The WordPress widget editor

Try visiting your site while logged in, and you’ll see a ‘Log out’ link plus your username and user avatar.

If you visit your website while logged out, then you’ll see the login form with links to the registration and password reset forms.

An example login form for a WordPress forum

Managing bbPress Forum Settings

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

Forum settings page

The default options on this page should work well for most forums. However, there are a few key settings you may want to change.

By default, a member can only post to your forum once every 10 seconds, which helps protect against spammers and bots. However, you can make the delay longer or shorter by typing a different number in the ‘Flooding’ field.

The bbPress settings screen

Out-of-the-box, bbPress lets users edit their posts for 5 minutes after publication. This gives members a chance to fix any spelling mistakes or other obvious errors.

You can give forum visitors more or less time by typing a new number into the ‘Editing’ box.

However, you’ll typically want to avoid giving members too much time, as they might go back and change a post someone has already replied to. This can make the thread difficult for other forum members to read and understand.

It’s also a good idea to look through the ‘Forum Features’ section, which has all the features you can add and remove from your forums.

Add remove forum features

For example, bbPress allows visitors to embed videos from popular platforms like YouTube and Facebook. However, if this affects your forum’s page loading speed, then you may want to try disabling the video embed feature.

You can also change how many topics and replies bbPress shows on each page by typing new numbers into the ‘Topics and Replies Per Page’ section.

Pages that have lots of content may take longer to load, but clicking through lots of different pages can be frustrating. With that being said, you may want to try different settings to see what works best for your forum.

Changing how many topics and replies appear on each forum page

If you do try different forum settings, then we recommend tracking visitors to your WordPress site to see how they respond to these changes.

If long threads with lots of comments do slow down your site, then you may also want to see our top tips on how to speed up WordPress performance.

Similarly, you can change how many topics and replies bbPress shows on your RSS feed.

There are some more settings you may want to look at, but this should be a good start for most WordPress forums. After working your way through the settings page, don’t forget to click on ‘Save Changes’ to store your settings.

Saving your bbPress settings

Extending and Promoting Your bbPress Forum

Now you’ve created a bbPress forum, it’s time to promote it and get lots of new members.

Let’s look at some plugins that can help grow your online forum more quickly.

1. RafflePress

RafflePress

There are many ways to build your audience, but a viral giveaway can give you instant results.

RafflePress is the best WordPress giveaway plugin on the market, and it allows you to easily run contests on your forum. It also comes with social media integrations for all the most popular platforms so you can introduce your forum to a wider audience.

Running a Twitch giveaway in WordPress

To learn more, see our step-by-step guide on how to create a viral giveaway contest.

2. MemberPress

MemberPress

At some point, you may want to make money from your forum by selling subscriptions. For example, users might buy a membership to unlock extra features.

That’s where MemberPress comes in.

MemberPress is the best WordPress membership plugin, and it has everything you need to monetize your WordPress forum. With MemberPress, you can create as many subscription levels as you want and accept payments using major gateways, including Stripe and PayPal.

For more details, please see our complete guide on how to make a membership website.

3. MonsterInsights

The MonsterInsights Google Analytics plugin

By monitoring your forums, you can learn more about your visitors. For example, you might create support forums for the different products on your online marketplace.

If lots of people are visiting a particular support thread, then this suggests all your customers are experiencing the same problem.

MonsterInsights is the best analytics solution for WordPress that lets you set up analytics in just a few clicks. With MonsterInsights, you can see all the actions people take on your forum, including which threads they visit.

To learn more about monitoring your forum, please see our step-by-step guide on how to install Google Analytics in WordPress.

4. WPForms

WPForms

Every forum needs a contact form so members can get in touch if they have any questions or want to learn more about your products.

WPForms is the best contact form plugin for WordPress. It comes with a ready-made contact form template that you can add to your website with just a few clicks.

WPForms also has a drag-and-drop editor, so you can completely customize the template without having to write a single line of code.

The WPForms drag and drop editor

For more details, see our guide on how to create a contact form in WordPress.

You can even use WPForms to create surveys and polls for your members so you can get feedback and find out how to improve the user experience.

We hope that this article helped you learn how to add a forum in WordPress with bbPress. You may also want to see our guide on how to track visitors to your WordPress website or check out our expert pick of the best quiz plugins for WordPress.

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.

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Reader Interactions

192 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 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

  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.

    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.

  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.

    Thanks,
    Doug

  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.

    Thanks

    Fred

  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
    Jackie

  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.
    Sallianne

  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?

    Thanks

    Phil

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