bbPress Forum plugin – Create Engaging Forums with WordPress

A common aspect that symbolizes the success of a website is the level of user engagement on it. The more a user stays engaged on a website because of its features or information, the more valuable it is for search engines. One of the best ways to enable higher user engagement on your site is to make users interact with each other through a forum.

Featured Image Credit: Freepik

Online forums are known for in-depth user interactions over diverse subjects. They provide a medium for users to connect and interact with each other over specific lines of thought. If you create an online forum, you can increase the user engagement in your site as well.

Just as WordPress is the first preference that comes to mind if you are starting a blog or a business website, bbPress WordPress plugin is the first preference for creating a forum website or adding a forum to your existing site.

bbPress is the easiest and the simplest way to create an online forum. Let’s dig deeper to know more about the highly useful bbPress – WordPress forum plugin.


With more than 300,000 active installations, bbPress is the most popular WordPress forum plugin to add forum functionalities to a website. Using this plugin, you can convert your entire website into a fully-functional forum or create a forum section in it to enable user interactions.

It’s a free, open-source plugin that is performance-optimized (won’t slow down your site). It was initially developed as a support forum segment for by Matt Mullenweg, one of the founders of WordPress.

It then grew as a solution for the limitations of forum software of that time in terms of performance and features. Since that time, bbPress has maintained its value being a forum solution, overshadowing its identity as a WordPress plugin.

bbPress Demo

Since it’s an open-source plugin there are no premade bbPress demo sites available. But if you want to see how it works, you can see the bbPress support forum. Also, the support forum of runs on a customized version of the bbPress WordPress plugin. These are a good alternative to a bbPress demo.

bbPress Examples

You can see more bbPress examples so that you can get an idea of how bbPress can be customized and extended. Since its a widely used forum plugin there are so many sites that you can see. Some of the diverse and best-known bbPress forum examples are,

  1. Angry Birds Nest – Forum
  2. UTE Hub Forum
  3. Wedding Bee Forum
  4. Advanced Custom Fields Support Forum
  5. One More Thing Forum

bbPress Themes

bbPress comes with minimum styling and the look and appeal of your bbPress forum may vary as it tries to sync into your site’s theme to the extent possible. You can even add custom codes to set it in line with your website’s design.

If you want to create a stylish forum that matches your brand without having to alter a piece of code, then you need to use bbPress themes. These bbPress themes are specially designed to create a WordPress forum created using bbPress.

Many popular multipurpose WordPress themes come with built-in bbPress support and allow you to customize bbPress forums to an extent. For example, the famous Avada theme has Avada-bbPress integration and it allows the theme styling to be applied to the forum. Also, the WordPress theme repository has some free bbPress themes.

How to Use bbPress

To create a forum with bbPress, first, you need a WordPress website. bbPress is not a standalone software and it is a WordPress extension. So it can’t work without a WordPress installation. So if you don’t have a WordPress site, follow this article to create a WordPress website.

In your WordPress site, go to Admin Dashboard and here so the following,

  1. Go to Plugins –> Add new
  2. And search ‘bbPress’ using the search bar
  3. When you find bbPress click ‘Install’ and after it is installed click ‘Activate’

Setting Up bbPress

Once the bbPress plugin is activated it will take you to a welcome page, here click the ‘Go to Settings Forum’ button that you find on the bottom of the page. Here you can change the forum settings to your preference.

To create your first forum, in the Dashboard go to Forums –> Add new. Give the forum a heading, description, and choose the type of forum it is and then click the ‘Publish’ button. Your first bbPress forum will be created. For more details on setting up bbPress, you can see bbPress documentation and tutorials.

bbPress vs BuddyPress

If you’re to WordPress, you might have heard two terms – bbPress and BuddyPress. Many people think these two plugins are the same because of their phonetic structure, but they aren’t. Both plugins help build community websites. But they do it quite differently from each other.

BuddyPress adds the ‘social network’ features to WordPress websites, allowing users to create profiles, join groups, send private messages and more.

On the other hand, bbPress creates a forum on the site as a part of it or a whole forum website.

Since many of the features that come with BuddyPress is useful for forums as well. Integrating bbPress with BuddyPress is quite easy with the built-in bbPress-BuddyPress integration feature that allows BuddyPress groups to have their own forums.

Learn more about BuddyPress plugin

bbPress Features

The core bbPress plugin comes with some basic but essential forum features for creating an online forum.

  • Has a forum-wide search and can add a ‘Topic Tags’ to easily sort and filter results
  • Can subscribe to Forums and Topics to receive email notifications
  • Bookmark favorite topics
  • Has reply threading feature to create nested replies
  • Allows to automatically embed any Instagram photos, YouTube videos, Twitter tweets, Vine videos, and Imgur images directly into topics and replies
  • Also, comes with bbPress shortcodes to include forum elements into your posts and pages

The features of the core plugin can be extended with bbPress add-ons and extensions generally known as bbPress plugins.

Best bbPress Plugins to Add More Features to your Forum

There are hundreds of extensions for bbPress but we have filtered and present to you only the best bbPress plugins. Some of these bbPress plugins are paid, you can consider them the unofficial bbPress pro plugins.

GD bbPress Attachments

An important aspect of an online forum is to allow users to share attachments to their replies when communicating with others. You can enable this function using the GD bbPress Attachments free plugin.

As the forum admin, you can set limits to the size of the attachment, number of the attachments per reply for your forum. This plugin also supports multiple languages to enable global access.

bbPress Private Groups

Private Groups is a bbPress private forum plugin to create a private forum for specific user groups. It allows you to create unlimited private forum groups and allocate each user to these groups.

bbPress Login Register Links

This is a free bbPress registration plugin that helps to add Login and Register links on forum and topic pages.

bbPress Admin Bar Addition

Managing a forum site becomes a tough task if you do not know much about WordPress backend management. Things become simpler with knowledge of using the admin bar to your convenience and having this plugin installed on your site.

bbPress Admin Bar Addition plugin adds more features to the admin bar to ensure easy access to different parts of your forum. Unlike [most of the other plugins which are intended to benefit the end-users, it is dedicated to the admins and moderators. Some of its prime features include action hooks, icon colors, and filters.

bbPress Moderation Tools

One of the main concerns of people running raw bbPress forum websites is to deal with spam, which tends to cause inconvenience. bbPress moderation tools are the plugin you need to help you prevent spams and bots from acting on your site. It makes the default settings of a forum feature-rich to make it fight back to the spam.

If you need to clean considerable spam manually on your forum, use this plugin and make your forum flawless against the spam.


Another way to avoid spam from hitting your forum is to activate CAPTCHA on your bbPress forum. This plugin works best to add a layer of protection to your forum.

It is easy to install and activate by creating an account with Google reCAPTCHA, set the parameters the way you want, and it is done.

MyCred for bbPress

Active participation of users on forums is essential to make it attract their attention. However, retaining users to discuss things on a forum isn’t as easy as it may sound. For your forum, you must offer rewards for diverse site activity to the users to make them come again.

MyCred is a WordPress points and rewards plugin that can help you encourage participation on your bbPress site in the form of reward points. It is more like a reward management system that allows users to gain points for activities such as daily visits, viewing content, publishing content, posting comments or clicking on links.

Being the site admin, it is in your hands to adjust the points for each activity at any time or set conditions for the same.

WP User Avatar for bbPress

It feels good and satisfying to a user when he sees his picture getting displayed against his name on the Internet forums. To be more specific, this picture is called the user avatar.

While WordPress generally uses Gravatar for uploading the images, you can use the WP user avatar plugin to allow users to upload any photo from their photo library. Alongside this, you can disable Gravatar’s avatar as well.

Also, a premium version of this plugin is available with which you can add the feature to use the webcam to upload and crop avatar images online.

Content-Aware Sidebars for bbPress

In online forums, the sidebar holds significant space that can be utilized to display a wide variety of content to the users. For instance, you can view related questions and interactions relevant to a specific question searched by a user in the forum. Similarly, you can display banners to target users towards particular information or product.

Using Content-Aware Sidebars is a WordPress Sidebar plugin, that lets you create several sidebars to display the kind of content you want on your bbPress forum. It comes with features with which you can display uniquely designed sidebars to some users, while there can be dynamic sidebars for others. Also, the sidebars can be made to vary for logged-in or guest users.

Spam Protection for bbPress

One typical user behavior found in online forums is of spamming for link building or marketing purposes. You might have seen answers to a specific question in forums that are added for the sole purpose of spamming. It is not easy to block users by checking their answers manually. However, you can create a spam-free forum using this Anti-Spam WordPress plugin by CleanTalk.

Once installed, this plugin examines the forms and comments from users to screen spammers. It assesses messages and notifies if they need to be allowed to display in the front-end or marked as spam. When in function, it also creates a list of email addresses of spam users to prevent them from doing any activity on the forum.

bbPress Integrations

bbPress has smooth integrations with some of the most popular WordPress plugins. Some of the plugin integrations are:

 LearnDash-bbPress Integration

A significant part of offering online courses on diverse subjects is to enable users to interact online to discuss their doubts and concerns. With LearnDash-bbPress integration, it is possible to add forums to online courses. This integration also ensures content protection in a way that the users enrolled for specific courses can only view the forum content or post new topics. The forum content can be blocked entirely for others.

Also, there is no limit to associating as many forums as needed for an online course.

MemberPress-bbPress Integration

If you want your forum’s content to be made available only to the paid members, you can make this happen with MemberPress-bbPress integration.

MemberPress plugin that can help you create and manage subscriptions and grant paid access to the topics and replies on your forum. Since this plugin is compatible with several third-party plugins, such as Stripe, Mailchimp, and others, you can get access to many complex functionalities for your forum with this integration.

bbPress-WooCommerce Integration

You can integrate bbPress and WooCommerce to convert your forum into a paid forum. You can even restrict content with membership plans for your forums using the WooCommerce Membership plugin.

LearnPress-bbPress Integration

If you want to create a community for instructors and students to interact and discuss their experience with LearnPress-bbPress integration is a good solution. With LeanPress-bbPress integration you can create a forum for your courses, also manage topics and replies of the forums.

bbPress-Elementor Integration

You can use bbPress shortcodes on Elementor to create a forum page with Elementor and Elementor Pro. For fully customizing your forum with Elementor you can use Element Pack pro, which is an add-ons pack for Elementor that can forum widgets to integrate bbPress in the Elementor Page builder.

GamiPress-bbPress Integration

One way to avoid the boredom that users might feel on using bbPress forums is by rewarding them for their activities. This is possible with the seamless integration of the GamiPress plugin into a bbPress forum.

Using this plugin, you can offer rewards for several activities, including new forum creation, new topic creation, replies on a topic, favorite topics, and more. Also, the configuration of specific types of points like credits, gems or coins is easy. There is no need to award or deduct points to the users manually with the help of this plugin.

bbPress vs WPForo

One of the major drawbacks of the bbPress plugin is that there is no pro version and so you don’t get the premium support that comes with the pro version. So you have to depend on the WordPress community for support or hire a developer. If you want a plugin with a pro version and premium support you might want a bbPress alternative you can go for WPForo – WordPress forum plugin.

If you want to know about other WordPress forum plugins you can here.


Let me know your thoughts about this post in the comments section.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *