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How to Make a Forum With a WordPress Website

How to Make a Forum With a WordPress Website

Forum has become a must have on a website, for which gives visitors freedom of expression and allows site owners read people’s mind with ease. Thus, there is an increasing number of webmasters tend to build a forum on their WordPress websites. In this case, we make this guide on how to achieve that goal step by step. Here is the sample site made by following this guide.

forum sample site

First of all, you are required to pitch on a forum software to start with. There are numerous options designed for forum building, such as bbPress, phpBB, miniBB, and so on. Thanks to the great popularity in the market, bbPress is selected in this guide as an example.

Briefly, bbPress is a free forum software designed for a convenient creation of a forum. It enables easy integration and high level of usability for every user. No matter for a beginner or an experienced webmaster, it is not a big deal to master this powerful forum software. And also, more and more hosting providers tend to release bbPress hosting service.

Install bbPress

The bbPress installation is operated via WordPress dashboard, so you are required to log into the backend at first. Find Plugins in the menu bar and proceed to Add New.

install bbpress

Tap bbPress into the search bar and then click Search to check if there is the targeted software. Find out bbPress and install this plugin.

install bbpress

The final step is to activate the plugin. And then, click the Go to Forum Settings in the bottom and start to create your first forum now!

install bbpress

Create New Forum

And now, you are in the face of a bunch of forum settings. Just leave the default settings and customize them later. Here, you need to go to Forums > New Forum.

create new forum

Enter an attractive name in the blank, which can be whatever you want. And then, a permalink consisting of parameters is generated automatically. You are allowed to change it into a custom one. For example, we name our first forum as General Discussion and then customize the permalink. Once finishing it, you are required to enter forum content including a brief introduction about this web page.

create new forum

Move to the Forum Attributes on the right side to check if there is something to modify. If not, click Publish and proceed to the next step.

Note that, the status should be open. If you check “closed”, then no one can access to your forum. The Visibility allows three options including public, private and hidden. “Public” means that all people can visit the forum; “private” means that only logged in users have the right to enter your forum; “hidden” means that no one is allowed to see the forum except for Administrator.

Besides, the Parent option is used to sort multiple forums on your site. So far there is only one forum being created. Hence no option is shown in Parent. The Order is used to manage the forum ranking on the forums page. Here, we suggest you to comply with the settings shown as below.

create new forum

And now, your first forum is created! We are going to create a page and make it associate with the existed forum. Go to Pages > Add New and fill in page title and the code [bbp-forum-index] as below. Then click Publish and create this page.

create new forum

Go back to Pages and find the newly created page. You are required to click Quick Edit and uncheck the Allow Comments. Click Update to confirm this operation.

create new forum

Here, we are going to create a link that can direct to the My Forum page and add it to menu bar. Turn to the sidebar and go to Appearance > Menus. Enter menu name in the appointed blank, which can be whatever you like. Here, we take Main Forum as an example and then click Create Menu.

create new forum

And now, you are required to select My Forum page and add it to menu. If you add multiple pages the menu, you are allowed to drag the items into the preferred order. If not, click Save Menu.

create new forum

Enter the Manage Locations and then set Main Menu as your top primary menu. Then Save Changes.

create new forum

Add Some New Topics

Once settling down a new forum, you are required to add some new topics so as to initiate discussions. A good topic contributes to a part of your success because it arouses visitors’ to your website. Firstly, go to Topics > New Topics and enter any topic as you want. For instance, if you are a hosting resource site, the topic “how to make a decision between Linux and Windows hosting” can work great. We have shown an example as the following screenshot.

add new topics

Note that, you should turn to Forum option under Topic Attributes and select General Discussion, which is the associated page to your forum. And then, click Publish to complete this step. You are able to add more topics by comply with the steps mentioned above.

add new topics

To manage the created topics, you should go to Topics > All topics to view the published topics as below. There are six options available to edit a topic including Edit, Trash, View, Close, Stick and Spam. If you want to place the topic on the top of the forum page, then use Stick to realize it.

add new topics

Reply to the Initiated Topic

To allow visitors get an accurate answer, you can deal with the question by yourself. Go to Replies > New Reply and enter your solution in the blank. We give an example as below.

reply to topic

Of course, you can also do it from the front end. Click Pages and enter My Forum. Do it as what we have shown in the following screenshot. Click Submit to finish this step.

reply to topic

Allow Users to Participate in Your Forum

Once having a rough idea about how to suppose a topic and then reply to it, you need to allow more people to participate in the discussion by following the instruction below.

Go to Settings > General and find Membership option. Check the option Anyone can register. It is the key to determining whether visitors are able to ask questions in your forum. And then, click Save Changes.

all users to paticipate in forum

Go to Pages > Add New to create a new page as your forum registration page. You need to enter a proper name in the blank and add the shortcode [bbp-register] below the title. Then click Publish. Go back to this page via Pages > All Pages. Click Quick Edit and uncheck Allow Comments. Click Update to save the change.

all users to paticipate in forum

When new users come to your forum, the page in front of them should be like that. Once registering a unique name, people are allowed to say something as they want.

all users to paticipate in forum

For some users always losing their passwords, you can set a Lost Password Recovery Page as a solution. Like what you have done when creating the forum register page, you need to add the shortcode [bbp-lost-pass] in the blank and then publish it. Also, the Allow Comments option should be unchecked.

If you want to add the registration page and lost password recovery page in the sidebar, you can turn to a bbPress Login Widget. Go to Appearance > Widgets and select the Login Widget. Drag it to the Primary Sidebar and fill specific information into the blank. Note that, you should copy and paste accurate URLs. Click the Save button.

all users to paticipate in forum

And now, the login option is shown on the sidebar.

all users to paticipate in forum

By now, you have successfully built your own forum, on which all visitors are able to discuss with each other and learn whatever they long for. In fact, bbPress allows more possibilities and help you created a functional forum with ease.

What Else Can You Do with bbPress?

bbPress leaves users enough room to customize their forums by allowing multiple forums settings. Here, we would like to make a brief introduction on each forum user setting. Firstly, go to Settings > Forums.

forum user settings

  • Disallow editing after – It is designed for a limitation to post editing. If you set the time limit as 5 minutes, the users are allowed to edit the newly posted comments within 5 minutes or, they cannot modify the post any longer.
  • Throttle post every – It is used to set the interval time between two new posts, which is a great method to prevent spam comments.
  • Anonymous posting – This function enables users to publish a post or reply to a question anonymously.
  • Auto role – It is a method to cast a role to registered visitors automatically. The default setting is participant, which refers to the users who have right to initiate topics and reply to the questions. Besides, the Keymaster takes full control of your forum and the Moderator is second only to Keymaster. The Spectator is able to view and reply to a topic instead of creating one while Blocked means that the user cannot do anything on the forum.

The Forum Features include the customization for Revision, Favorities, Subscriptions, and so on. Make a decision which option should be check according to your own needs.

forum features

  • Revisions – Enable revision logging to each topic and reply.
  • Favorite – Users are allowed to Favorite the topics that arouse their interests. In this way, you can easily understand the preference of public.
  • Subscriptions – It allows users to subscribe to a topic or a forum. If there is something new published, users are able to receive a notification in real time.
  • Topic Tags – You can determine whether to add tags to a topic.
  • Search – It enables users to search something within your forum.
  • Post Formatting – Whether you need to add toolbar and buttons to the textarea, which make a big difference to HTML formatting.
  • Auto-embed Links – It allows users to embed the media from Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, and somewhere else in the topics or replies.
  • Reply Threading – It allows users to offer replies in a threaded view. In this case, all topics and replies are shown in a single page.

The next two settings including Topics and Replies Per Page and Topics and Replies Per RSS Page require you to determine how many topics and replies should be shown on each page or each RSS page.

topics and replies per page

The left settings are used to customize your forum root slug, single forum slugs and forum user slugs. You can modify the default settings according to your needs. In most cases, there is no need to make any change to them.

forum slugs

The final step is to click Save Changes button.

After looking through this in-depth guide on how to build a forum with bbPress, you probably cannot wait to put into practice right now. We hope that this guide can be a part of your success! In addition, there are some WordPress hosting plans friendly for bbPress worth going such as the recommendations in the following table.


Lucy has been a very experienced SEOer, technical writer, web developer, c# developer since 2002. Now she owns a startup in San Francisco, CA, focusing on running a couple of blogs to share knowledge and experience with global readers and deliver exceptional results to global sponsors by leveraging the power of Internet.