How To: Add a forum to WordPress with the bbPress plugin

bbPress has been around for ages, it was a standalone forum script from the creators of WordPress. The other day it took a big leap forward and became available as a standard plugin for WordPress so now you can use it to add-on a forum to your existing blog. It’s still currently in beta version but its functional and available to download from the repository now so I thought Id take a look at it and show you how to install in your site.

Install The Plugin

Download the bbPress plugin, then upload it to your wp-content/plugins folder via ftp. You can download a free ftp client called Filezilla for this purpose.

You can also upload the plugin directly, via your wordpress admin panel by clicking Plugins > Add New > Upload > Install Now.

You will also need to enter your ftp settings there as well, your webhost will have provided these when you signed up.

Once the plugin is uploaded, visit your plugins page and click “activate” next to both of the plugins. You will now see some new menu items – Forums, Topics and Replies.

Activate the Theme

bbPress includes a new version of the Twenty Ten theme, go to “Appearance” > “Themes” and activate it.

Adding the Forum

The first step is to create your forum by going to “New Forum” and naming it, you can add a description as well if you want. You are able to add as many forums to your site as you like. Once you have added this, you can add some child forums – these will act as the categories that people can post in. Again hit “New Forum” and name it, before you hit “publish”, change the drop down box that says “parent” to the forum name you just created.

Add in as many forums you require for categories :

Adding some Widgets

You will need some links on your blog that point to the forums, you can do this with widgets that have been included with the theme. Visit “Appearance” > “Widgets” and you will see a range of bbPress-specific ones you can add :

Once you have added a configured the widgets you require, click “Save” and visit your site. You will see a link to the forums now.

Adding your first topics

If you follow the forums link in the widget you set up before, you will see the forums home page which will list all the forum categories you created. You can create a topic in this main forum or click one of the child categories and create a topic in there :

There you have it – a nice easy way to add forums to your site. In future posts I will look at more advanced options and how you can go about theming the forum to match your existing site design.



Oliver Dale is the founder of Kooc Media, An Internet Company based in Manchester, UK. I founded WPLift and ThemeFurnace, find out more on my Personal Blog. Thanks!

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14 thoughts on “How To: Add a forum to WordPress with the bbPress plugin”

  1. I’m actually a fan of installing bbPress in the root directory of my site. And use the forum like a standalaone website.

  2. Is bbpress 2.0.2 compatible with wordpress 3.3.1. The wordpress plugin area for bbpress installation shows 3.2.1 or higher however the compatibility of bbpress is restricted to 3.2.1. I am just confused if the new version of bbpress 2.0.2 will work with wp 3.3.1 

  3. Trying to make bbPress forum a standalone page on my website. Can’t seem to figure it out. No help with bbPress Forum either or YouTube. May try your idea to use a widget for now, but would REALLY like to see my Forum as a standalone page as you mentioned. Using Twenty-Twelve Theme in WPress.

  4. I installed bbpress but how do I get it to show up as a menu item? I added a new page but how do I configure that new page to show bbpress and not the text I typed?
    Any idea?

    I am wondering if adding and configuring a menu item is so difficult in wordpress how difficult would other things be? Joomla is ages ahead and better than wordpress. How did wp find so many takers with no documentation and basic things almost not doable. Entire web is filled with this question and I can’t find an answer after two years. WTF.

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