How to Configure bbPress Forums for WordPress

 So, you’ve installed bbPress on your WordPress site, and you’re ready to start setting up forums. Here’s a few tips to help you configure bbPress with maximum ease. In particular, let’s make sure visitors can find your new forums.

Check Your Software Versions

For this article, make sure your copy of bbPress is version 2.0 or higher. The older 1.0 series had major structural differences.
This article reviews the following software:

  • bbPress 2.3.2
  • WordPress 3.6

Check the version numbers for bbPress and WordPress. If either are significantly older, make sure you upgrade before using this information.

Creating a Forum Is Easy

Creating a new forum is pretty easy. With the standard administration theme, just look at the top administration menu and click +New -> Forum.
And most of the settings are self-explanatory. (For details and screenshots, see “Getting Started With bbPress” (bbPress codex).

“Hey! Where’s My Forum?”

But after you make the forum, add a couple topics, get bored, and click elsewhere on your site, you face a problem. Where did the forum go? Why isn’t it on the menu? How will you ever find it again?
Relax. This is just how bbPress rolls. Other plugins will automatically insert themselves into your theme. (BuddyPress, for instance, adds a helpful Groupsentry to the menu.) With bbPress, you’ll need to add widgets manually.

Add bbPress Forum Widgets to Your Sidebar

And this is also easy, because bbPress provides several excellent widgets. Just click them into place.

  1. On the administrator side menu, go to Appearance -> Widgets.
  2. You’ll see all available widgets for your site. The bbPress widgets helpfully include (bbPress) in the title. Drag each desired widget to the desired “widget area”. (Usually, this means the “Main Widget Area”, which is usually a sidebar.)
  3. Forums List is a good, basic widget to offer your visitors. But consider the other widgets as well, such as Recent Topics and Recent Replies. These widgets can show casual visitors in a glance that your site fosters active, current discussion. (Meaning, your site is actually alive.)“More on Widgets at the bbPress codex”

Add a “Forums” Link to Your Menu

If you prefer a menu link to your forums, that’s easy too.

  1. If you haven’t already done so, enable Permalinks. On the administrator side menu, go to Settings -> Permalinks, choose a format besides the default, and save. This will give you a link to your forums at /forums/. (You can change this default slug at Settings -> Forums…but somewhere in the future, a confused site admin loses a tuft of hair.)
  2. On the administrator side menu, go to Appearance -> Menus.
  3. If this is the first time you’ve edited a menu on this site, follow these steps to save your first menu.
  4. Now add the link to your forums page. Click the Links box on the left to expand it, replace http:// with /forums/ (or your nefarious custom slug), and click Add to Menu.
  5. Click the blue Save menu button.

Other Initial Setup Steps for bbPress

  • Make sure you set Permalinks to something other than the default. (Go to Settings -> Permalinks.) Human-readable permalinks will help visitors and search engines find your forums and topics.
  • Take at least one look at the list of settings at Settings -> Forums. You can leave most (or all) of these set to the defaults, but it’s good to look them over. For instance, consider whether you want to allow anonymous posting.
  • You’ll probably need to set up a separate spam protection module.

Configuring bbPress to Work with BuddyPress

If you’re also running BuddyPress, you’ll want to configure bbPress to work with BuddyPress.

More bbPress Features With Plugins

bbPress will probably do everything you need out-of-the-box. But if you need a special feature, someone else may already have coded it as a bbPress plugin. Take a look.

For More Information

With a minimum of setup, bbPress can help you build active, friendly communities. Enjoy!