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10 Best WordPress Forum Plugins for Discussion Boards

Last Updated on October 14th, 2020

Published on October 13th, 2020

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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

1. ForumWP

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. FroumWP has a profile hovercard that shows your forum members the user-profile of anyone who replies to a certain topic/thread.

This plugin has a topic page that shows users the number of likes, views, and replies that a certain topic gets.

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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.

ForumWP pricing starts at $99 per year.

Get ForumWP

2. BBPress

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 setup. 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.

This plugin also gives you access to 200 extensions that can help you improve your forums. Some of the functionalities that these extensions offer you include social sharing options, attachments, and avatar support.

BBPress also packs:

  • 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.
  • Free extensions.

BBPress has an open-license. You can download it for free on WordPress.org

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Get BBPress

3. BuddyPress

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.

What’s more?
You can integrate BuddyPress and BBPress to create a diversified forum where users/members can link up with one another.

Moreover, BuddyPress also packs:

  • 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.

BuddyPress has an open-license. You can download it on WordPress.org.

Get BuddyPress

4. Simple:Press

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.

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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. The free version also packs:

  • 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.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg, the pro version gives you access to more than 70 add-ons that can help you extend the functionality of this plugin. These are some of the advanced features that premium add-ons offer you:

  • A messaging system that makes it easier for members to send private messages to multiple users.
  • A functionality that allows members to upload media on various posts.
  • A tiny MCE editor for quick replies and quick posts.
  • The ability to turn blog posts into discussions and forum topics.
  • BuddyPress integration.
  • Members can use canned replies to make a quick reply to a post.

The only setback of this plugin is the outdated design. However, it has various themes that can help you improve the style.

Simple:Press premium prices start at $109 per year.

Get Simple:Press

5. Asgaros Forum

If you are planning on adding a simple and lightweight forum on 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.

Moreover, Asgaros Forum also features:

  • A stats page that shows you detailed reports/insights.
  • A feature that makes 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.

Asgaros Forum is a completely free plugin. You can download it on WordPress.org.

Get Asgaros Forum

6. WPForo Forum

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.

Furthermore, WPForo Forum packs:

  • 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.

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.

Get WPForo Forum

7. Discussion Board

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. These are some of the features available on the pro version:

  • 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.

Discussion Board Lite version is available on WordPress.org. The premium version pricing starts at $29.

Get Discussion Board

8. 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.

This plugin also has a filter that groups questions into different categories such as open, resolved, closed, and unanswered. You can also sort questions based on the number of views, the number of likes, or the number of answers they get. DW Question and Answer has a search bar that makes it easier for users to key in a certain question.

Apart from that, this plugin also has:

  • A CAPTCHA system that prevents spam.
  • 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 leaderboard.

DW Question And Answers pricing starts at $99 per year.

Get DW Question And Answer

9. WP Symposium Pro

Just like BuddyPress, this plugin 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 also sends email notifications to different users to alert them of certain actions. If a friend sends a message to a certain user, this plugin notifies him/her through an email. It also features multiple premium extensions that help you extend the functionalities of your social network.

Besides that, this plugin also packs:

  • 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.

Wp Symposium Pro is available on WordPress.org.

The premium extensions are available on their official website and have different prices. For instance, the Target Content Pro extension costs $10, while the extended VIP support extension costs $39.99.

Get WP Symposium Pro

10. Sabai Discuss

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.

This plugin also features a search bar, making it easier for users to find answers to various questions. Users can also filter the search results. Once a certain question is resolved, you can close off the discussion to retain the most relevant answers.

Sabai Discuss plugin also has a feature that allows guests to participate in various discussions. Since this plugin has a spam moderator, it can help you combat spam in your forum.

In addition to that, Sabai Discuss also offers you:

  • Multiple email notification templates for sending email alerts.
  • Shortcodes.
  • 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.

Sabai Discuss is $24.

Get Sabai Discuss

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.

Over To You

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.

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Colin Newcomer is a freelance writer and long-time Internet marketer. He specializes in digital marketing, WordPress and B2B writing. He lives a life of danger, riding a scooter through the chaos of Hanoi. You can also follow his travel blog.