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11 Best WordPress Forum Plugins for Discussion Boards
Looking for the best WordPress plugin to create a forum or a discussion board on your WordPress site?
Discussion boards and forums can help you improve the user engagement in your site, making it easier for you to build an online community.
Whether you are looking for a powerful forum plugin to handle a huge community or a simple plugin to handle small discussions, this post is going to give you an insight into the best forum plugins. Let’s get right into it, shall we?
The Importance of Creating A WordPress Forum
It’s great for customer feedback and user feedback
Having a forum on your site helps you communicate with your customers and visitors. If there is anything they don’t understand on your site, they can discuss it in your forum. You can help them out by answering the questions.
A WordPress forum will help you develop customer/user loyalty
If a certain customer or user gets insightful content in your forum, they will come back for more. Not to mention, members that are experts in a certain topic will help out those that are asking questions. Through this, customers/visitors can build a long-lasting relationship amongst themselves. This also develops loyalty.
It’s great for SEO
Multiple search engines rank websites, based on the quality content they provide to their users. If you have an active forum that is very insightful, your site will have more chances of ranking higher. Needless to say, members will also use different keywords that might be crucial in SEO.
Best WordPress Forum Plugins
Released in 2019, ForumWP is a modern WordPress plugin that allows you to manage forums from your WordPress admin dashboard. You can easily determine who will have access to your forum by creating a private, public, or hidden forum.
Your forum members also have a profile that displays their replies and the topics they participate in. Members can easily sort replies from the oldest to the newest or the other way around. ForumWP has a profile hovercard that shows your forum members the user profile of anyone who replies to a certain topic/thread.
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This plugin has a topic page that shows users the number of likes, views, and replies that a certain topic gets.
ForumWP pricing starts for free per year or you can switch to the Pro version which starts at $120 for 1 site, billed yearly.
Forum WP features a search bar, which can be used to find various topics.
Apart from that, this plugin also packs:
- Different forum styling options that allow you to change the color, image, and icon of forums.
- Sub replies.
- Registration forms and login modals that let members log in to their accounts without leaving the page they are browsing.
- Reply modals for quick replies.
- Fast and lightweight
- Theme styling can be inherited
- Additional features are available at an affordable price
- Limited documentation
- Live chat support is not present
PeerBoard helps you provide social proof, engage customers, build loyalty and improve conversion. It is a flexible and customizable community and forum plugin built for WordPress. Our plugin gives you everything you need to build a professional community — no technical knowledge required.
You can download the PeerBoard plugin for free on WordPress.org.
- Reward customer contributions with badges and special privileges.
- Powerful Built-In Tools from rich user profiles to an intelligent newsfeed.
- Easily embed the plugin in your WordPress website without coding.
- Automate any of your group management with PeerBoard’s API or Zapier.
- Facilitate in-depth conversations with multi-level discussions.
- Simple to install and set up
- Has a versatile admin panel
- Fully responsive design
- Lots of user and admin tools
- It’s free to use
- None found
With more than 300,000 active installations, BBPress is one of the most popular forum plugins on WordPress.org. Actually, it was launched in 2004 as the original WordPress forum plugin. This plugin is easy to install and set up. Not to mention, it is lightweight and fast.
Since BBPress was designed by some members that developed WordPress, it has a clean code. It also integrates smoothly with various WordPress themes.
BBPress has an open license. You can download it for free on WordPress.org
- A built-in Akismet that deals with spam messages.
- Multiple customizable templates and various customization options that make it for you to style forums.
- Multisite forums that can be managed from a single dashboard.
- Has social sharing options, attachments, and avatar support
- Installation is straightforward
- Easy integration with any WordPress theme
- Has over 200 bbPress extensions
- Open source is free to use
- Support is not reliable
- Addons are made by different developers so expect that some are outdated
- Compared to full fledged forum CMS like Vanilla Forums, bbPress isn’t rich in features
BuddyPress was developed by the same developers that built BBPress. This plugin was designed to help you build a social network on your WordPress site. Users can easily create a profile, send private messages, and join different groups.
Think of it like Facebook. Members can also send a friend request to other users. They can also view what their friends have been up to. Features such as mentions and favorites are also available.
Like BBPress, BuddyPress has an open license. You can download it on WordPress.org
- Integration of BuddyPress and BBPress to create a diversified forum
- An option that lets the admin send a message to the whole online community.
- Notifications alert the user/admin when another member of the online community interacts with him/her.
- A tool that helps you add custom fields on profiles.
- An activity stream that keeps members updated.
- Integration with WordPress themes and plugin are easy
- Free and open source
- Third party plugins for BuddyPress are available for extensive functionality
- Advanced features may lacking
This plugin has two versions: a free version and a premium version. Since Simple: Press has been here for around 12 years, it has various functionalities that can help you build a superb forum.
For starters, it has cookies that allow you to track guests visiting your online forum. This plugin also features email notifications that alert the admin about new posts. Simple: Press also helps you create clean SEO-friendly permalinks.
Simple: Press isn’t available to use for free. They offer different pricing options depending on your needs and preferences.
- 1 site – $199/year
- 5 sites – $358/year
- Unlimited sites – $644/year
- Forum badges and ranks.
- Sub-forum support to multiple levels.
- Forum statistics.
- Support for WordPress shortcodes.
- Timezone customization options that make it possible for different members to set the correct time.
- Multiple options allow you to create a public or forum.
- Gives more than 70 add-ons by upgrading to the Pro version
- More advanced features on by purchasing the premium add-ons
- Has SEO features and permalinks
- Support is available for standard WordPress
- The design is outdated
- The free plugin doesn’t allow you to do more.
If you are planning on adding a simple and lightweight forum to your site, this might be a suitable plugin for you. It allows you to add a forum using a short code, keeping things simple and neat.
What’s more? Different users can easily create profiles and send messages to other members. Asgaros Forum also has a functionality that helps moderators to see the number of users that are online. This plugin also features a mobile theme that makes it easier for multiple users to access your forum from mobile devices.
Asgaros Forum is a completely free plugin. You can download it on WordPress.org.
- A stats page that shows you detailed reports/insights.
- A feature that allows guests to participate in your forum. You can turn this option on or off, depending on your preferences.
- Support for different types of files.
- WordPress multisite compatibility.
- Easy and lightweight
- Ideal for beginners up to professionals
- The plugin is compatible to different sites
- You can see the performance of your forum by their Forum Statistics
- Lacking on extensions
WPForo Forum has a modern design that features neatly organized threads, dazzling colors, and multiple layouts. Since this plugin is multilingual, it allows you to translate any language to Polish, Russian, Czech, and Swedish.
This plugin has built-in SEO functionalities that help your forum run smoothly. It is also integrated with Akismet and antispam systems, making it easier for you to avoid spam messages. WPForo Forum also features a section that shows members the number of views and votes that a certain thread gets.
While WPForo Forum is a free plugin, it has various premium add-ons that can be used to extend its functionality. Such add-ons can be acquired at an extra cost. They can help you create a messaging system, add custom fields, and feature polls in your forums.
WPForo Forum is available on WordPress. Premium add-ons have different prices. They are available on WPForo’s official website.
- Notifications that keep different users updated.
- Three different layouts: A question and answer forum layout, a simplified forum layout, and an extended forum layout.
- BuddyPress integration that improves social networking in your forum.
- A drag and drop editor that helps you edit various elements in your forum.
- Has paid addons available to extend the plugin’s functionality
- Integrated with BuddyPress
- Built in SEO
- Might be a bit overwhelming for beginners
- The free plugin only offers basic features
WP Discussion Board
WP Discussion Board helps you build a simple, minimalistic, and modern forum. It has a login and registration form that allows users to create accounts in your forum. Once a user registers, he/she can create posts using another form.
This plugin also has a feature that helps you verify accounts by sending a verification email. You can easily reduce the number of spam registrations through that. You also can determine the maximum number of times that a certain user can repost to minimize spam messages.
Discussion Board has a pro version that packs more advanced features.
Discussion Board Lite version is available on WordPress.org. If you are looking for more extensive features, they also offer different plans.
- Basic – $49/year good for 1 site
- Pro – $89/year good for unlimited sites
- Ultimate – $199/lifetime good for unlimited sites
- An admin approval option that allows you to approve or reject a new account.
- WYSIWYG editor.
- A feature that allows members to follow different topics.
- Different discussion boards where multiple topics can be discussed.
- Shortcodes that help you display various topics and forms.
- Multiple layouts and different customization options that let you style various elements on your forum.
- Clean and modern user interface
- Setup is easy and quick
- The core plugin is available for free
- The free version only offers limited features
DW Question And Answer
Just as the name implies, this plugin helps you create a Q&A forum like Stack Overflow and Quora. DW Question and Answer has a voting system that allows members to vote for the most helpful answers. The best answers are ranked at the topmost part of a thread.
Trolls and unhelpful answers are ranked at the bottom part of each thread. This plugin also has shortcodes that can help you insert a forum on different pages in your WordPress site. It also supports multiple languages such as Vietnamese, Catalan, Thai, and Czech.
The core plugin is available for free. They also offer the Pro version at Codecanyon which costs $39
- Has a filter that groups questions into different categories such as open, resolved, closed, and unanswered
- Sort questions based on the number of views, the number of likes, or the number of answers they get
- A feature that allows you to create a private forum for private questions and answers.
- Add-ons that can be used to enable social sharing functionality and add leaderboards.
- Support is reliable
- A CAPTCHA system is present to prevent spam.
- Need to purchase the premium version to experience its additional features
WP Symposium Pro
Just like BuddyPress, WP Symposium Pro helps you create a social network on your WordPress site. Once users complete the registration process, they can create their own profiles and add friends to their friend list. This plugin has an activity wall that shows multiple members what their friends have been up to.
WP Symposium Pro is available on WordPress.org.
The premium extensions are available on their official website and have different prices.
- Sends email notifications to different users to alert them of certain actions
- Has multiple premium extensions that help you extend the functionalities of your social network
- Shortcodes that let you customize various elements such as buttons, text, and colors.
- A like and a dislike option that makes it easier for members to choose the most insightful posts.
- Posts and replies, which have custom fields.
- Gives you the option to buy the premium version or get the individual addons
- Documentation is available once you get started
- Shortcode available
- The official website is poorly executed. You cannot look for more details about the plugin per se
- Limited functionality on the free version
With Sabai Discuss, you can either build a Q&A forum like Yahoo Answers or stick to the normal discussion stream forum. It features a voting system that allows members to either upvote or downvote an answer. This makes it easier for other users to find the most insightful answers.
Sabai Discuss has a free demo if you ever want to try it first. Purchasing the plugin is available at codecanyon
- Regular – $24 for 6 mos
- Extended – $120 for 6 mos
- Has a search bar which makes it easier for users to find answers to various questions
- Has a filter for search result
- Allows guests to participate in various discussions
- Has a spam moderator
- Multiple email notification templates for sending email alerts.
- WordPress widgets for displaying highlights.
- A feature that allows you to restrict access to certain members.
- CubePoints and MyCred integration. This makes it easier for you to award points in your forum.
- Prices are reasonable
- Execution of question and answer format is superb
- Support is available
- You may want to pass on this one if you are looking for a more traditional forum
Which WordPress Forum Plugin Should You Choose?
Most WordPress forum plugins have different features suitable for different types of forums.
If you are looking for a plugin that has a modern interface and superb premium features, ForumWP might be a suitable option for you. It has various customization options that will help you design a stylish forum. With this plugin, users can easily search for the topics they like.
BBPress might be a suitable choice for you if you are looking for a free plugin that will help you design a simple forum. While it doesn’t have a modern-looking interface, it packs various features that will help you manage your forum easily.
If you are looking for a plugin that will help you create a social network in your forum, opt for BuddyPress. Members can easily know what their friends have been up to, and they can easily make more friends in your forum.
DW Question And answer might be appropriate for you if you want to feature a Q&A forum on your site. The best thing about this plugin is the upvote and downvote feature that makes it possible for users to vote for the most insightful answer.
Here’s a quick list to help you find a suitable plugin:
- Most appropriate plugin for a modern-looking forum: Forum WP.
- Free Plugin: BBPress.
- Most suitable plugin for a social network: BuddyPress.
- Most appropriate Plugin For a Q&A forum: DW question and answer.
Most forum plugins listed in this post will help you build an outstanding forum. They have multiple features that make it easier for you to manage various users, threads, and the user interface of your forum. These plugins also have varying features that allow you to either build a Q&A forum or a discussion board.
If you have any questions regarding WordPress forum plugins, feel free to ask the questions in the comment section below.
4 thoughts on “11 Best WordPress Forum Plugins for Discussion Boards”
Hi guys thanks for this post, I’ve just spent 2 weeks looking around for the best WordPress forum plugin and I ended up using Forym (available on Codecanyon for $26). It’s the most customizable forum plugin I could find and it blends into my theme perfectly! Definitely worth checking out! forym.xyz
I’m bbPress fun, and have created hundreds of forums for my clients during last 5 years. Now it’s time to check new plugins…
For me, the ForumWP by Ultimate member is not a good option yet. There are many free forum plugins which are far better then this paid plugin. This plugins has very few features and people report lots of issues in their support forum.
The only issue of bbPress is the look and feel. It can be fixed by bbPress WordPress themes.
I also checked the wpForo plugin. This one really surprised me. I couldn’t bereave it’s free. wpForo is a professional full-fledged forum plugin with the best design and forum layouts I have ever seen in WordPress plugins. So many features and AJAX powered smooth user experience. I’ll recommend this plugin to my clients for sure.
I like the Asgaros too. In case if customers ask for a very simple and light discussion board I always recommend this plugin.
Simple:Press is out of my selection. this plugin killed itself a few years ago. I don’t like their support politic. I’d not recommend this plugin at all.
The Discourse is just a super forum system. I like Discourse very much and I use it mostly in non-WordPress projects. With WordPress it’s better to use native forum plugins not integrated forum software.
Also I recommend take a look on CodeCanyon forums. Just go to WordPress >> Forums Menu and you’ll find many nice forums like Sabai Discuss, QaForum and others… If you go for paid forum plugins, these are better then other paid solutions. I’ve already tested those on my customers websites.
Thanks for your reply Victor!
I did a project with WordPress and a forum.
I tested all existing forum plugins that I can find on the wordpress plugin sites.
Finally, I decided to use the phpBB as my forum as it’s more powerful than all existing forum plugins.
Then, I used “WordPress w3all phpBB integration” plugin to make sure login and registeration could be synced between wordpress and phpbb and this plugin works great.
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