Recently we discussed the benefits of setting up a forum on your WordPress blog, taking advantage of the bbPress bulletin board plugin (although we also suggested some alternatives).
However, although a perfectly good example of forum software, bbPress is – like WordPress itself – just the barebones. Although quite functional, bbPress is missing various key features, some of which might prove extremely useful to many users.
In order to make light of these omissions, developers are able to build them on themselves in the form of plugins – as with WordPress. There are a surprising amount of plugins available for bbPress, and among these are some gems that you should certainly consider using.
Installing Plugins in bbPress
Before you go clicking the links below, however, a few words about installing plugins in bbPress.
Although there is a manual method of installation, the automatic route is probably best, similar as it is to installing plugins in WordPress. Note that in the past bbPress had a few quirks when it comes to plugin installation – thankfully, these have now been eradicated. However, you should still be backing up WordPress before installing bbPress or any of its plugins.
To find and install a new bbPress plugin, open your website’s admin screen and go to Plugins > Add new, and enter bbpress in the search box. The search results should return only bbPress plugins for you to browse through.
Using the Details button, check that the plugin is safe, mainly by looking at feedback which should be listed; if this isn’t the case, the plugin might be considered as rogue or dangerous and should not be used until you have further information – perhaps from using the bbPress forum to gauge reaction to the plugin.
The Install Now button will begin installation once you’re happy with things, so confirm your decision and when installed click the Activate Plugin button. A few moments later it should be installed, adding the required functionality to your bbPress installation!
Five Must-Have bbPress Plugins to Supercharge Your Forum
While there are many very good plugins for bbPress, the following selection should enable you to get around the obvious missing features and offer your readers an easy to use platform on which to enjoy discussions.
bbPress Moderation – you shouldn’t run a forum without moderation, and this plugin enables you to receive notification of new topics and configure the system so that new threads require approval. Subsequent posts can be replied to without approval, and this system enables you to prevent spammers and ensure that your forum stays on topic.
Ultimate WP Filter – although suitable for use on a WordPress blog without bbPress installed, this plugin will enable you to filter words that you consider to be unsuitable for your audience. Explicit words can be censored from comments, posts, titles, tags and from bbPress, replacing them with asterisks.
bbP Signature – one of the most common things you will find in a forum post is a short piece of text at the bottom of a post called a “signature”. This might be words of wisdom or a link to your member’s own website. The bbP Signature plugin enables 500 character signatures (maximum length) and enables signatures to be applied to all posts and replies.
GD bbPress Attachments – another common feature in forums is the ability to upload attachments – typically photos – so that other forum members can enjoy them. This feature isn’t currently available natively in bbPress but you can add it with this plugin, which makes use of the WordPress media library.
bbPress Threaded Replies – this last plugin enables you to restyle your bbPress forum slightly, introducing threaded replies that make it easy for your members to see who is replying to who, much like the comments section on your blog posts.
Building for Success – Carefully
As with any plugins, make sure that you run plenty of tests on your bbPress forum when adding any new features. You should also, of course, backup regularly when installing new plugins, just in case something goes wrong.
The plugins listed above should provide your bbPress installation with the expected functionality that your members will expect from visiting other forums, combined with some useful features that reassure them that they are visiting your blog.
Do you have any favourite bbPress plugins? Let us know!