Growing your blog beyond publishing can be done quite easily by using WordPress Forums Plugins. Community growth greatly depends on ongoing communication and forums integrated into your WordPress blog through plugin or as an add on should be an option to consider.

Good news is – you have several choices, as with anything related to WordPress plugins but you have to make evaluation and decide which forum model fits better for you. And  I simply want to assist you in this post to make that decision or at least explain your options..

While one of the simplest ways to do it is by adding a third party Forums script, such as phpBB, SMF or any other and than merging it somehow with your WordPress blog is an option – I’m not here to discuss it. It requires work with scripts unrelated to WordPress and comes with its own unique set of challenges.

I want to talk about plugins that integrate seamlessly into your WordPress blog and provide the bulletin board or forums integrated into your blog and as such simplifying your administrative functions.

bbPress – WordPress Forums Plugin

This is one of the more known and developed plugins that provide bulletin board for WordPress and as name implies it was developed to be directly integrated into your blog. This plugin is also one of the more extendable and supported and provides you with an excellent opportunity to grow your community without too much overhead.

Click image above to see more details and download the plugin. Here is the list of features of the plugin besides the integrations into your blog:

We can’t list everything that bbPress can do, but here’s a few of our our favorite features.

  • Fast and light – We keep our code lean so that you get the best experience possible.
  • Simple interface – One of our biggest goals is to keep things simple and make things intuitive. Our dream is that you forget you’re even using the software.
  • Customizable templates – Not everybody likes the same pair of pants, so we allow you to dress up your forums however you like.
  • Highly extensible – bbPress can’t toast your bagels, but a plugin for it sure could!
  • Spam protection – A bundled Akismet plugin offers you an amazing weapon against spam.
  • RSS Feeds – You want feeds? We get ‘em; they’re everywhere

bbPress should be most definitely on your list if you are looking for a well supported and extendable plugin that integrates into your WordPress blog.

WP-Forum Plugin

This is the one I have personally used before on this blog and it worked great! I have removed it due to lack of participation at the time but installation and configuration was extremely simple and it also provides your blog with a community bulletin board that looks much like phpBB while completely integrated into your blog.

As far as I know latest version works with no issues with current WordPress core and should be painless ot install.

Features

  • Optional registration for posting and searching.
  • Mark threads as solved
  • Administrated through WP-admin.
  • Uses WordPress database for registration and users.
  • Spam words filter option. (Optional). The spam filter option gets the spam words from WordPress’s own spam filter and words can be added in the WordPress admin -> option -> discussion.
  • PHP 4 compatibility.
  • Moderator can be set individually for every forum.
  • Supports BBCode. (Optional)

If you are looking for a more traditional forums look and feel – WP-Forums is a great choice. One thing to consider when using it – create a Page Template that has no sidebar. In most cases it will be quite simple if you know how to do small changes to your existing template and css file but if not – it will work great with your existing theme.

Two WordPress Forums plugins are my personal choices and something I can recommend you consider if community bulletin board is part of your blog growth plan.