What are some good forums

Top 9 WordPress Forum Plugins for Discussing Hot Topics

From chat rooms to forums and social networks to email, being online enables people to keeping in touch with each other and finding like-minded people who want to discuss certain topics.

Forums in particular are very appealing because of the logging of conversations, the formation of communities and the simple integration into websites. And there are a variety of forums to choose from online. If you like gardening, a quick Google search will find several forums for it, e.g.

The same goes for basketball, web design, email marketing and there is even a forum for men with long hair. In order to create your own forum, a WordPress forum plugin must be considered in order to integrate the community part into your current website.

WordPress forum

It is also possible to turn your entire website into a forum, but in that case you will most likely be using a WordPress forum theme instead of a plugin.

The cool thing about forums is that they have evolved over the years. The old forums with long threads and sometimes confusing dialogs still exist, but that's because the format seems to work. We have also started using various other forum formats, such as the question and answer layout on a website like Quora and Stack Overflow, or the top-down arrangement of voting on websites like Reddit.

The good news is that similar forum styles can be achieved using some of the WordPress forum plugin options listed below. We'll outline the best features of each plugin and talk about how much it will cost you. Some of the forum plugins are well known, but there are some that are worth looking into if you are interested in a forum overhaul or if you want your forum to look unique compared to the millions of other forums.

The world of forums is growing all the time, and you can be a part of it with your own WordPress forum plugin. So read on to find the one that's right for you.

Choosing the best WordPress forum plugin in 2021

Plugins need to be tested to find out if you like the user experience and the way you like it, how it appears in the front end of your website. This is especially true for forums as you have to manage the community and make the forum beautiful so people will want to come back and see more. That's why we've put together a short list in which we can guide you through the WordPress forum plugins and test them for yourself. However, we also recommend checking out the in-depth reviews compiled below.

  1. bbPress
  2. BuddyPress
  3. WPForo Forum
  4. Asgaros Forum
  5. DW Question and Answer
  6. WP Symposium Pro Social Network Plugin
  7. Discussion Board - WordPress Forum Plugin
  8. Sabai Discuss
  9. Forums from WPMU Dev

From setting up to managing the forum, the functions of these plugins make up the experience you will have on your website. Some of them are sleek and useful for smaller, simpler websites, while others offer robust feature sets for voting, user profiles, and messaging. Let's see how each one stands out.

1. bbPress

The bbPress plugin is one of the most popular WordPress forum plugins. That's partly because it has been around for a while, so there wasn't that much competition back then. However, bbPress also offers familiarity. The front end looks what you would expect, and it has a sleek and clear interface. The bbPress plugin is something like a visit to a McDonald’s instead of a burger restaurant. It won't blow your mind, but you know exactly what you are getting. This plugin works as it should, and it has the basic customization tools for customizing colors, creating keyboard shortcuts, and enabling a visual editor for the time users write.

bbPress WordPress forum plugin

The bbPress plugin is completely free so you can go to the website and not have to worry about random upsells popping up along the way. It's an open source project, so multiple developers are contributing to the plugin. For the user, open source means getting consistent updates often, and of course the plugin is free. The bbPress website also has some interesting resources for improving your forum.

For example, one page is filled with bbPress extensions while another has various themes that work well with the forum plugin. You can also find high quality documentation and a full blog. As you may have guessed, help is provided entirely through a forum.

What are the standout features of this WordPress forum plugin?

  • You don't have to pay for it, and you won't have to pay for it in the future. All renewals are also free.
  • Speaking of extensions, you can improve your forum with any of the 200+ extensions (they are technically plugins, but that's a bit confusing since bbPress is a plugin too). Some of the enhancements include basic user avatar support, attachments, social exchanges, breadcrumbs, and more.
  • bbPress is one of the easiest WordPress forum plugins to set up. It can be fully integrated into all serious themes and does not slow down your website.
  • It enables forums with multiple websites where each of your forums is managed from one dashboard.
  • The bbPress plugin has several customizable templates with simple but useful settings for changing things like colors and styles.
  • Full Akismet support is built into bbPress so you don't see spam going through the forums.
  • It's the closest thing to a traditional forum, and it's doing as it should. If you need this, it's a quality product.

2. BuddyPress

BuddyPress often comes up in the same conversation as bbPess, and that's because both are the best solutions for online communities. Oh yes, and both are being developed by the same development group. BuddyPress is a little different, however. It is used to create a social network or online community where users can create profiles, join groups, and send private messages. The BuddyPress interface allows you to send friend requests, and you can create special groups for things like sports teams, companies and schools.

BuddyPress WordPress forum plugin

Similar to bbPress, BuddyPress is free and open source. The interface is easy to navigate and it shouldn't be a problem launching it on your website. It is really a small social network packed into a plugin that you unpack and begin to turn your website visitors into a real community of people. The great thing about it is that you can combine bbPress and BuddyPress to offer a standard forum area along with an area for people who want to build relationships on a more social level.

Similar to sites like Facebook, BuddyPress has an activity stream where you can see what your friends are up to. Favorites, mentions, and all the cool features you would normally find on a social network are included here. The best part is that you can customize it for your own brand and develop a social website for your niche.

What are the standout features of this WordPress forum plugin?

  • BuddyPress is free and development continues.
  • Hundreds of BuddyPress compatible plugins are developed every day. For example, you need a BuddyPress system with registration options. There is a plugin for that. Maybe you want to integrate BuddyPress with LearnDash - a plugin covers that too.
  • The plugin turns part of your website (or the whole system) into a complete social network. You get tools that users can use to create profiles, send private messages, and make friends.
  • BuddyPress has been translated into various languages ​​around the world. Therefore, you shouldn't have to worry about which country you live in.
  • The activity stream is the main hub for most BuddyPress sites. Fortunately, it's slim and has options for comments, favorites, and deletions.
  • The plugin has a tool for expanding profiles. So if you want to add your own custom fields, that's entirely possible.
  • Notifications are included for both admins and users. That means the users will get notifications when someone interacts with them and the admin will have the option to send messages to the whole community.

3rd WPForo Forum

WPForo Forum is a free WordPress forum plugin, but the company makes money selling add-ons. This collection of add-ons has options for items like custom user fields, ad management, polls, private messages, and more. If you hit the add-ons page, you'll find that most of these extensions sell for $ 11 to $ 95.

We like the WPForo forum plugin for those interested in a more modern design compared to bbPress. The colors seem lighter, the threads are well organized, and it's quite difficult to get confused as a user. There are only a few layouts available to start with, all of which have a modern and attractive design. Multiple translations are also available, from Swedish to Czech and from Polish to Russian.

wpForo Forum plugin

The good news about the WPForo forum is that it is designed for both small and extremely large forum communities. It also has built-in SEO and cache functions so you can reach the right people on Google and your forum always runs the fastest. Both Antispam and Akismet are integrated into the forum plugin, so that part of the notorious spam in forums can be blocked. One of the main reasons we like the WPForo forum so much is the large, colored counter areas that tell users how many votes, responses, and views each thread has.

What are the standout features of this WordPress forum plugin?

  • It's a more modern forum layout than bbPress and some of the other competitors.
  • Users can vote and provide answers to questions.
  • The profile system is pretty advanced, with membership ratings and badges to add credibility.
  • The forum management system comes with a drag & drop editor, so you don't have to play around with settings or code settings.
  • Users can subscribe to specific topics and then receive notifications when the topic is updated.
  • WPForo Forum offers three layouts: one with an expanded forum, another with a simplified forum, and a final one with a question and answer format.
  • The developers are constantly developing more plugins to be compatible with the WPForo forum. For example, there is a plug-in for extended attachments and another for blog postings.

4. Asgaros Forum

The Asgaros forum is a good choice if you want a sleek forum page on your current website. The forum is added by inserting a short code on the desired page. Therefore, it is quick and easy for the administrator. The structure is simple and elegant, with a powerful editor and notification system. Users create profiles and then land on your member list. Users can also perform actions such as uploads, searches, and notifications.

Asgaros forum plugin

The Asgaros forum is a completely free plugin. The developers have a donate button on the website if you want to support their work. As for the other functions, the moderators can see who is online at any time. The plugin also works with widgets to add various modules to the side of the forum. The Asgaros forum is a multisite compatible plugin and offers your users a mobile theme with which they can chat on their mobile devices.

What are the standout features of this WordPress forum plugin?

  • The subject and mail management is as simple as it gets.
  • Guest contributions are allowed, but you have the option to turn this off.
  • Use of the Asgaros forum is free. There are no upsells along the way.
  • The statistics page is a great way to see how well the forum is performing. In addition, you can use the admin tools to ban and search for different users.
  • Many file types are supported for uploads to the forums.
  • WordPress' multisite functionality works great for those who have a website network.
  • It's a light, traditional forum layout with a touch of modernity in the design.

5. DW Question and Answer

Try the DW Question and Answer plugin if you're thinking of starting a community like Quora or Yahoo Answers. In this configuration, it's still a forum - with threads and conversations - but it's worded like a Q&A. Typically, these types of websites have voting systems so that the best answers come to the top. This is the main difference from a regular forum, as they mainly contain a huge list of all the answers. DW Question and Answer gives you more control over quality, as the trolls and people with questionable answers are sent to the bottom of the page.

DW Question & Answer

DW Questions and Answer is another free open source project. It also has some additional free plugins for things like transcripts, social sharing, and leaderboards. Dozens of languages ​​are supported, including Thai, Catalan, Vietnamese, and Czech. In case you want to quickly insert the forum into a specific page of your website, shortcodes are also available.

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With the notification and voting system, the DW plug-in for question and answer provides a pleasant surprise, especially when you consider how many forums are being converted to this type of question and answer system.

What are the standout features of this WordPress forum plugin?

  • The forum is organized with questions and answers. This is combined with a voting system so that the best answers are shown first.
  • The shortcodes will help you get your forum on a page within seconds.
  • You can also create a private question and answer area for an internal company discussion or for a specific segment of your userbase.
  • Several add-ons are available for download. For example, one of them will add a leaderboard to your forum, while another will enable social exchange.

6th WP Symposium Pro Social Network Plugin

The WP Symposium Pro Social Network Plugin is similar to BuddyPress in that it also turns your WordPress website into a social network. This includes a full forum and activity wall, but you get various other elements that can only be found on social networks like Facebook. After it is installed, users will come to your website and create profiles. You can manage these profiles and add friends with whom you want to communicate. E-mail notifications are sent in the event of actions. So if you like something on a friend's page or you send them a message, they'll get a message explaining the action.

WP Symposium plugin

Since forums are so useful for discussing games, clubs, dating, and technology, it sometimes makes sense to expand the conversation part and add the more advanced social profiles. One of the reasons the WP Symposium Pro stands out is because of its collection of customization tools. Creative changes are usually done through shortcodes, which is where you add the shortcode to a page and customize things like colors, fonts, buttons, and more.

If you want to improve your social network, there are various other extensions available to you. For example, one of the following features may be needed to round out your social network, and an upgrade is all it takes:

  • Forum subscriptions
  • private messages
  • groups
  • Selective sharing
  • YouTube and image attachments
  • Galleries
  • Profile security

Many of the premium features are included in the Pro version of this plugin. WP Symposium Pro is $ 29, and that price includes reasonable developer support.

What are the standout features of this WordPress forum plugin?

  • The pricing isn't all that bad.
  • The plugin extends the functionality of your forum to a powerful social network. You still get these forums, but there are so many more.
  • There are far more unique features in WP Symposium than some of the other WordPress forum plugin options. For example, selective sharing and YouTube video attachments are hard to find anywhere else.
  • With the help of shortcodes, WP Symposium is one of the more easily customizable forum plugins.
  • You can fine-tune the access and permissions for your forums.
  • Custom fields are available for forum posts and replies.
  • You can specify your likes and dislikes, but you can turn them off if you want.

7. Discussion Board - WordPress Forum Plugin

The Discussion Board WordPress Forum Plugin offers a minimalist, modern forum that can be placed anywhere on your WordPress website. The one-click installation makes things easy for beginners, and the user registration process takes over what we all know and love about forums, but makes it a little more practical. A front-end form is displayed for these registrations, and then users can post topics via another simple form. That seems to be fueling the discussion forum's popularity as we see rave reviews and multiple users turning to the forum instead of the more familiar options.

Discussion Board plugin

This WordPress forum plugin has a lite version with standard forum functionality. This version would most likely work for the majority of organizations. The Pro version starts at a reasonable $ 29 and goes up to $ 49 depending on how many websites you want to use it on.

As for the features of the Pro version of the plugin, here's what to expect:

  • Media uploads.
  • User profiles.
  • Support of categories and tags.
  • Multiple discussion forums for different topics.
  • Topic status (as resolved and open).
  • The ability for people to follow specific topics.
  • Board permissions and admin permissions.
  • A complete WYSIWYG editor.

As you can see, the ability to have multiple discussion forums is only available in the Pro plugin. So the free version is most useful for small organizations and schools that only need a forum. However, the $ 29 price tag is a small price to pay for additional features that may be needed.

What are the standout features of this WordPress forum plugin?

  • You can get a simple forum for free, or you can take advantage of some powerful features for just $ 29.
  • The Discussion Board plugin has one of the clearer, modern interfaces.
  • User management is a breeze, and forum users can log in with a simple form from the front end. The registration forms are also uncomplicated and therefore a little easier to use than before.
  • Spam reduction is built into the forum so that junk posts and bots that could make the forum less attractive to normal users can be excluded.
  • Three layouts are included in the WordPress forum plugin, and most of the customization is done through the WordPress Customizer.
  • You also get various shortcodes for items like lists, registration forms, content, and more.
  • The Pro version has tools for setting the status of posts (ideal for customer support) as well as permissions for the board and topic tracking.

8. Sabai Discuss

At $ 23 (one time payment) and having some impressive reviews on CodeCanyon, Sabai Discuss is actually one of the only WordPress forum plugins I would recommend on CodeCanyon. The good thing about Sabai is that the developer is very responsive and willing to help users before and after the sale. As for the forum plugin itself, Sabai Discuss provides a discussion stream like a standard forum, along with a question and answer tool. So you could turn your website into something like Reddit or Quora. Or you can choose to stick to a standard forum layout.

The voting system moves the answers up and down to show all users the best answers. You also get flexible access control that could come in handy if you don't want some users to see all of the forums. When you combine that with the user reputation system, you have a serious forum experience from the very first moment. The coolest thing about voting is that much of the website moderation is done for you.

Sabai Discuss plugin

In addition, Sabai has a system for reporting abuse. Therefore, it is possible that the forum's regular users can report if they think that another user is not abiding by the rules or is not treating people in the forum with respect. Another reason to consider Sabai is that you can add multiple instances of the forum throughout the website. You also have the option to do this with your website network, which can come in handy when you have multiple sites. Finally, Sabai is aimed at users who want a new age design. It's fully responsive and flat, and moves away from the forum designs of bygone digital ages. Overall, it is more likely to please those with modern websites as the user experience feels up-to-date and it looks like a forum from that decade.

What are the standout features of this WordPress forum plugin?

  • The one-time fee of $ 23 gives you a wide range of tools, along with great customer support and a modern forum.
  • You get five shortcodes and nine WordPress widgets that add flexibility to your forum design process.
  • The email notifications are sent automatically. The plugin comes with 10 of these email notification templates so you don't have to write them yourself.
  • The forum can be specifically integrated into point systems such as MyCRED and Cubepoints.
  • Over 40 permissions can be configured to prevent some users from viewing content.
  • The reputation system recognizes those who make the best contributions to the forum. The voting module ensures that only the best answers make it to the top of the forum.
  • The search bar has an intelligent suggestion function with which you can move quickly in the forum and find the right topics. Most of the other WordPress forum plugins on this page have a search bar, but without the smart suggestion.

9. Forums from WPMU Dev

Update: This plugin has been retired since May 2019 and is no longer supported by WPMU Dev. The code has been published on Github for those technical types who want to split and maintain it for their needs.

The last solution on our list is called Forums by WPMU Dev - but just because it's number 9 doesn't mean it's the worst. In fact, I would argue that the forum plugin is one of the best one can find. The only part that is tricky is that you have to sign up for a WPMU dev membership. For developers, this decision could be a breeze. After all, you only have to pay $ 49 a month to access almost every type of plugin you need. This includes plugins for security, marketing, SEO, backups, and more. Not only that, the Development Membership also has some great themes to use on various client websites.

With the thought of creating a forum or two, it's hard to swallow the $ 49 a month price tag. If you're looking at the competition, a forum typically costs less than $ 50 (one-time fee) or you can download it for free. Regardless, I don't want to skip the WPMU Dev plugin forum as the developers love it and you get so much for your membership.

Forums from WPMU Dev

The forum plugin allows you to set up a forum on any of the pages of a network. The forums can be embedded in any post or page, and there are no limits to the number of forums that can be created. The reason I like the forum plugin so much is because it is easy to use. The styling options are great for adding the right colors and designs while embedding is done with some basic code. There's even a tool to set the maximum number of forums if you want to limit the size of your community.

What are the standout features of this WordPress forum plugin?

  • The customization tools are amazingly simple. You can set the frame size, change the colors and customize the fonts in a single adjustment area.
  • The simple embed code makes configuring the form a lot easier. In addition, the embed code can be placed on any page, post or website in your network.
  • Since WPMU Dev's forum plugin is supposed to work well with WordPress Multisite, there are website-specific forums for it.
  • With the plugin, the number of topics per page, the number of posts per page or the number of forums on the website can be limited.
  • It has a fast, powerful forum search bar that helps you find the right topics.

Which WordPress forum plugin is right for you?

WordPress forum plugins are still very popular and are needed for generating conversions that both small and large organizations need. When you're ready to finish your search, you might want to use a proven plugin like bbPress, or maybe you're tired of that interface and want to use something a little more modern like WPForo. On the other hand, some companies and communities are more interested in social networking. In this case, plugins like BuddyPress make the most sense.

If you're still having trouble choosing the WordPress forum plugin, here are some thoughts to help narrow down your search:

  • Most Affordable WordPress Forum Plugin: bbPress.
  • The best value: WPForo.
  • If you want to build a social network with your forum: BuddyPress or WP Symposium Pro.
  • For a more modern and cleaner design: WPForo or Discussion Board.
  • The best WordPress forum plugin for developers: Forum from WPMU Dev.
  • The best plugins for creating a question and answer style forum: Forum from WPMU Dev: DW question and answer and Sabai Discuss.

And that's all we have to say about the WordPress forum plugins! If you have any questions about our selection or would like to express your opinion on any of the plugins discussed, please feel free to let us know in the "Comments" section below.


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