Forums are a great place to discuss topics, ask for help, and share funny memes. No matter how they are used, they can be a huge asset to any website. Luckily, WordPress has plenty of great forum plugins to choose from.
Most importantly, they can help you build a dedicated user base. As a result, users will come back to your website to interact with one another instead of just your content, which can be a huge boon to your website.
Today, we are going to see what the best forum plugins on WordPress are to promote that interaction.
Our Picks for the Best Forum Plugins
When it comes to creating forums in WordPress, there are few plugins that can match the power and versatility of bbPress. The goal of this plugin is to allow users of any skill level to build forums in WordPress and it is free to use.
It even has its own free theme you can use to get the most out of it, but rest assured that it works with any theme.
With this plugin, forums are easy to create, and more importantly, maintain. The truth is that you will end up spending a lot of time maintaining your forums from low-effort posts, spam, and just general moderation. This plugin can help with all of that.
One of the coolest things about bbPress would be how well the community has received this plugin. There are a ton of free extensions for bbPress that you can use to add extra functionality to it.
For instance, one of them will allow you to make your forum a members-only platform.
Benefits of Using bbPress
- Supports Multisite Forums
- Lightweight Design Ensures Speed
- Completely Free To Use (No Premium Version)
- Built By The Same Team Behind WP Core
- Supports CAPTCHA Through Extensions
Drawbacks of bbPress
- The Core Plugin is Basic, You’ll Need to Install Extensions
2. wpForo Forum
The wpForo Forum plugin is easily among the best forum plugins for WordPress. It is extremely versatile in terms of function and design. As such, it is a great choice for any website looking to add a forum in WordPress.
The free version includes basic forum features, but the real power is available in the premium version.
This plugin has three main forum modes that include simplified, extended, and question-and-answer. Combining these with the other customization options available gives you complete control over how your forum will look.
In terms of usability, this plugin is great when you have the premium version. You can utilize a drag-and-drop forum design to move threads around as needed and offers popular forum features like polls and more. This is one of the best options for WordPress.
Benefits of Using wpForo Forum
- Allow Users to Earn Forum Badges
- Integrates With BuddyPress
- Make It Easy to Share on Social Media with Share Buttons
- Built-in Forum Caching System
- Supports Live User Notifications
Drawbacks of wpForo Forum
- The Free Version Is Very Basic And Lacks Common Features
Asking and answering questions is easily the most popular use of the internet, and that will probably never change. One of the best ways to make your site one of the best places to do this is to build a Q&A forum with Answers.
This plugin allows you to build a Quora-like forum in WordPress where users can post questions and receive answers.
It is a premium plugin that is full of awesome features that you can take advantage of. For example, one of the latest features is ChatGPT integration. You can set it up so that AI answers the question in certain categories on your forums.
Of course, there are more traditional features like notifications. You can receive live notifications when new posts are made on the forums themselves, or opt in to email notifications for specific posts, or entire forum categories.
Benefits of Using Answers
- Charge Users to Ask A Question
- Users Can Vote What the Best Answer Is
- Categorize Your Questions
- Allow Question Editing
- Include A Bad Word Filter
Drawbacks of Answers
- No Free Version or Free Trial
- No reCAPTCHA Option to Combat Spam
Asgaros Forum is an amazing forum plugin for WordPress that allows you to expand and enhance your community. It focuses on being an easy-to-understand system that allows developers of all skill levels to build robust forums.
When it comes to pricing, you’ll be pleased to know that this plugin is completely free. No premium version, or extensions.
As such, you get all of the features from the get-go. In fact, many of the features are similar to what you would expect from premium tools. This includes things like file uploads, polls, forum searching, polling, and more.
It also comes with some great shortcode options to help you place specific parts of your forums on pages.
For instance, maybe you want to create a page about a specific topic. Well, you can use the shortcode to include forum posts about that category.
Benefits of Using Asgaros Forum
- Allows Users to Mention Each Other
- Assign Moderator Role to Other Users
- Add Ranks and Levels to Your Forum
- Customize The Forum Appearance With Code
- Users Can Add Reactions to Posts
Drawbacks of Asgaros Forum
- Lacks Additional Functionality
5. Forum Engine
Forum Engine is a very unique entry on this list because it is actually not a plugin, but instead a full-fledged theme for forums. However, it comes fully equipped with a ready-to-use forum that is professionally designed.
As such, that gives it a pretty big advantage over some of the other entries on this list.
You might expect it to be a weaker option, but that really isn’t the case. It includes all of the features you would expect from a premium forum plugin like style options, a user badge system, live notifications, and so much more.
More importantly, this is all baked right into your theme so there are no compatibility issues or weird design quirks to worry about. It is easily one of the best forum solutions for WordPress even if it is only a theme.
Benefits of Using Forum Engine
- Works Great as a Subdomain for Your Website
- Translation Ready with WPML Support
- Search Forums With Ajaz Live Search
- Excellent Mobile Design
- User-Friendly Design
Drawbacks of Forum Engine
- It’s a Theme Not a Plugin, So You’ll Need to Transfer Content to It
Discussion Board is another one of the best forum plugins for WordPress that is easy to use and brings a lot to the table. Although, you will need the premium version to unlock a lot of the features this plugin offers.
With that said, the main strength of this plugin would be its simplicity.
You won’t need any coding skills or have to go through a long setup process. Instead, everything is quick and easy from start to finish. When it comes to design, the base version is very minimal, which makes it easily fit into any website.
However, with the premium version, you can style the forum however you want and even features a WYSIWYG editor. Discussion Board also comes with a great selection of shortcodes to add certain elements anywhere in WordPress like a login option.
Benefits of Using Discussion Board
- Easily Change the Forum Colors
- Limit Posting By Time To Reduce Spam
- One Click Setup
- Set Stauses for Posts as Open/Closed, Answered/Unanswered, etc.
- Users Can Follow Topics
Drawbacks of Discussion Board
- The Free Version is Too Basic for Many
FAQs About Maintaining Forums
Absolutely! The internet is not exactly the nicest place, so you need to ensure that what is being said on your website is in line with your brand or business and avoid making your site a platform for hate speech.
As such, you’ll need a considerable amount of moderation. While software can help, at the end of the day, you are going to want real moderators that can understand sarcasm and the deeper meanings behind what is being said.
In some cases, you can assign users to be moderators to keep a public forum civil like how it is done on Reddit. However, if this forum is on a business site, it is very important to have a dedicated team to keep things considerate.
Yes, but only on a small scale. You see, forums are actually pretty resource intensive. As you get more and more users talking on multiple threads at once, it can become quite a burden to your website.
As such, without proper resources, your site could slow down to a snail’s pace. However, it can take some time to reach this point, thus it is perfectly fine to do this for a smaller website. But if you start gaining traction, you’ll need a better web hosting plan.
Gamifying certain elements of a website has become far more popular in recent years and the forum is no exception. In fact, it is probably one of the most common areas to do so.
What does this actually mean?
While you can do this in a variety of ways, one of the most common ways to gamify a forum is to add ranks that are tied to the number of posts. The more times you post on a forum, the higher your rank gets.
This encourages users to keep posting. This can be very helpful as the more active your forum is, the more users it will get. That said there is also a downside of some users making low-effort posts in an attempt to raise their rank.
Ultimately, gamifying your forums is quite effective, so it is recommended to do so.
This is a pretty tough question. As a user, there is nothing better than seeing a bunch of other people agreeing with your opinion or enjoying your jokes and being showered with likes, karma, or whatever system is in place.
On the flip side, it can be pretty upsetting to have your opinion ridiculed and receives tons of dislikes. However, these kinds of systems have a place on forums.
For example, imagine someone asking a simple question online.
The top response gets a lot of likes which helps users identify it as the correct answer to the question. While the wrong ones get downvoted to alert users it is not correct. This makes a lot of sense on a forum.
Thus, it really comes down to personal choice. You could also opt to only have a like system in place and not include a dislike option. This has been gaining a lot of traction to help remove the negativity some users feel on forums.
Take a moment and ask a question on Google. Look at the top results for that question and you will probably see several options for Reddit, Quora, and other forums. It is very likely that these questions will rank well on search engines.
Thus, deleting older content simply because of its age is not recommended. That said, if you run a business site and no longer support an old product, getting rid of all traces of it is sometimes necessary to avoid confusion.
In these cases, deleting your older content makes a lot of sense.
Forum signatures are short messages or images that appear at the end of a user profile on a forum. It can be as simple as just their name, or it can be a banner image, GIF, or like to another website.
This allows users to stand out on a forum and make their account more personal, but it is also a lot more information for your website to process. Again, Forums use a lot of site resources, and having to load extra images, GIFs, and whatnot under every forum post is going to take its toll.
If you have the resources, it can be a great asset, if not, it can be a hindrance.
Decorating your forum account with a cool avatar or setting a more professional vibe with your actual face is very important for some users. Avatars are stored on your website, while Gravatars are not. This means your site needs to connect to Gravatar’s server to get them.
As such, Gravatars can slow down a forum, which is best avoided.
Yes. Creating a forum on a WooCommerce-powered site is a great idea. This can be used to provide support for customers, gather more information on a product, or just about anything else.
Luckily, most forum plugins for WordPress are natively compatible with WooCommerce, so you’ll have no issue using both.
Build A WordPress Forum Today with These Plugins
As you can see, WordPress has a great selection of forum plugins to choose from. These plugins range from free to premium so it’s really all about finding what works for your website and what doesn’t.
As such, you should test them before implementing anything on your site and listen to feedback. After all, if users find it tedious to use a forum, or feel like it lacks basic features, they will probably not come back.
In any event, I hope this list helps you find the best forum plugin for your WordPress site.
Did you gamify your forum? Has adding a forum helped improve user engagement?