Those who where old enough in the Nineties surely will remember the popularity of discussion forums. These platforms are still widely used for sharing information and topic discussions, even though today social networks let users do these actions too.
The idea behind a modern discussion forum is still the same as it was twenty years ago or so: discussing specific topics and sharing information. These ideas evolved into external platforms that almost anyone can include on their own web site. One famous example is vBulletin, which powers LinuxQuestions and others.
When using WordPress for creating a site, the easiest and most effective software for implementing a discussion forum is bbPress.
bbPress is a lightweight plugin, fully open source and without most of the “bloat” present in other forum software. If this is not enough, you should just know that bbPress is developed by the guys who created WordPress, and this means that it is fully integrated with this powerful CMS, taking advantage of its user management system and having access to the WordPress plugin repository.
bbPress is developed for WordPress, and that also means that it is easier to customize your forum with some WordPress themes developed specifically with bbPress in mind, like Total WordPress Theme.
Of course, bbPress is for those who need a simple fix, for example a forum linked to an existing blog, or a support and discussion forum for clients of an e-commerce site. Users who want to feature something bigger or more centralized with advanced features should look for other forum software platforms.
bbPress is a plugin coming with user Roles, giving the website owner the ability to tailor user access to the website.
Managing bbPress user roles is the same as managing WordPress user roles:
As we can read in the bbPress documentation, the default bbPress Roles are:
- Keymaster – Can create, edit and delete other users’ forums, topics and replies. Can manage Tags, and moderate a forum with the moderation tools. Has access to global forum settings, tools, and importer.
- Moderator – Can create and edit forums. Can create, edit and delete other users’ topics and replies. Can manage Tags, and moderate a forum with the moderation tools.
- Participant – Can create and edit their own topics and replies.
- Spectator – Can only read topics and replies.
- Blocked – All capabilities are explicitly blocked.
Installing bbPress on a WordPress site is easy and almost automatic:
- Log into the WordPress backend
- Click on Plugins > Add New
- Type “bbPress” into the search bar and hit enter to search the plugins if you won’t see it on the featured plugins
- Click on Install Now
- Activate the bbPress plugin
After installation, bbPress will add menu items to the WordPress backend menu. Essentially, it will create three custom post types and will add them to the navigation menu. These types are: Forums, Replies and Topics. These are the basic items used to create and manage a forum.
It will also create a sub-menu in Settings > Forums.
bbPress is a lightweight plugin for WordPress which allows you to create and manage discussion forums for existing blogs and other sites. It is not robust enough for those who want to build a more forum-centric site, because it does not include the advanced features that can be found in other dedicated software. However, it is good enough for a WordPress based site, thanks to the full integration with the CMS and the availability of themes for bbPress.