All websites that are present on the internet have one common goal – they wish for a large number of visitors to their website. Websites strive hard to increase viewership, to develop a wide readership base. They may or may not intend to monetize the website at some point of time.
So, how do you get visitors to come to your website and spend some time on it ? It is a given that content must be top quality to catch and hold a reader’s interest. Beyond that, one sure fire method to maintain readers interest in the website, is to get them involved in discussions in topics of relevance to the website or to the post. Adding a forum is a great way to start and get a conversation going. It will encourage repeat visits from users.
This brings us to bbPress. bbPress is open source forum software designed for WordPress. The plugin can be used to add forums to posts and pages, for readers to leave a comment or start a conversation. It is ideal for setting topics, receiving comments and allowing discussion among readers.
bbPress has over 300,000 active installs and there are hundreds of awesome WordPress theme built to support this awesome forum plugin. Here are our favorite ones.
The authors have kept bbPress small and light so that it functions efficiently. But there are a number of great add-ons that you can add to get bbPress to work just the way you want. Pick and choose add-ons, so your forum can have the handpicked features that you want for it.
WP User Avatar
You must have noticed a small sized constant image that always shows up against the names of persons on the internet, especially in forums and author pages. We call this image as avatar. WordPress normally uses Gravatar to upload these images.
With WP User Avatar, you can upload any photo from your photo library, just the same as your post. Your very own default avatar can be set up and you can disable Gravatar avatar. A standalone avatar can be uploaded to the front page, and contributors and subscribers can upload their own images of specified dimensions and specified file size. A shortcode that will work with all themes can be used in posts.
A premium version is also available which can crop avatar and use webcam to get avatar images instantly. You can also upload the avatar to Amazon S3 or Dropbox.
Rating Widget allows users to rate posts, pages and comments by embedding thumb and star ratings in them. It is the most popular Five Star Review System. The free version allows unlimited ratings upto 1 million page views per month, but comes with the branding of Rating Widget.
You can customize the widget and use it with any types of browsers. It can create any number of ratings and with the review editor, you can customize the rating and place them where you want in your post or page. You can add a ‘Top Rated’ widget in your sidebar for top blogs or posts. You can create and manage ratings right from your WordPress dashboard.
The Starter version which is free from branding, will allow 50000 page views per month and upto 1000 ratings, unlimited votes and email support. The Professional version has a Management Dashboard and throws in analytics. You can identify visitors by IP and it is ideal for voting contests. It comes with SSL/ HTTPs support, 250000 page views per month and 3000 ratings. The Business version adds full moderation, real time analytics and fraud alert.
To encourage active participation, websites often award points or changes or rewards to users. MyCRED is an adaptive points management system that helps to manage a points program. You can build a reward system with this plugin and allow users to accumulate reward points for posting comments.
You can adjust the points manually at any time. Also, it supports multiple point collection programs. It immediately logs any addition or deduction of points and the user can visit the log to keep track of the points. You can set limits or conditions for points.
It supports many popular plugins and has many in-built add-ons that can carry out more complex functions like points transfer or converting the points to purchases at stores. Some premium add-ons are also available.
Anti-Spam by CleanTalk
Clean Talk scrutinizes the filled in forms and user behavior to screen spammers. This plugin, once installed sends the details of to Clean Talk services and an assessment is made whether the message should be allowed or marked as spam. Also, it build a list of email addresses used by spammers or spam bots.
It detects spam with with 99.9982% accuracy and automatically email addresses, domains and IP addresses then sends it to the blacklist. It protects all forms like contacts, comments, and registration. Also, you can also check existing users and comments.
You can enable an advanced option named ‘Spam Firewall’. It allows you to block spam even before it reaches your website by preventing the webpages from loading. It will block requests from bad IP addresses.
This plugin is a complete anti-spam solution for login, comments and contacts of WordPress sites without having to go through CAPTCHA.
Content Aware Sidebars
Content Aware Sidebars is a plugin that will help you to create any number of sidebars to display almost any type of content. You can also display specific sidebars to specific users. Moreover, you can create dynamic and custom sidebars which will merge with or replace the host sidebar. Furthermore, you can create complex content, and display some sidebars only to logged in users.
You can accommodate the publishing schedule in the sidebar. You can also display the sidebars according to conditions. A good example of this will be the specific author posts. It only be displays itself for specific readers to see.
bbPress – Moderation Tools
If you are using raw bbPress to run a forum, chances are, you might be dealing with loads of inconveniences. To stop it, you need to add a bunch of bbPress plugins to run it as smooth as butter. One amazing solution to halt spam and bots is by installing and activating bbPress – Moderation Tools. The plugin adds more features to your default forum settings that will help you get rid of as much spam as possible. Moderation Tools will have an especially great impact on your forum if you are currently cleaning loads of spam regularly. All of a sudden, it will stop and keep your forum operating flawlessly.
What Moderation Tools does, it unlocks new spam detection rules which you can set for your forum. For instance, you can set custom rules to hold posts for admin moderation in the case of unapproved users posting links, guest posting and all posts below the English character threshold to name a few. You can even set all post to be put in pending mode for you to approve manually.
bbPress Admin Bar Addition
bbPress Admin Bar Addition is a simple to use plugin that adds new features to the admin bar for your convenience. With this easy access to different sections of your forum, admins and moderators will have a more pleasant and comfortable experience using the platform. Bear in mind, the plugin is mainly intended for admins and webmasters. It is fully compatible with different bbPress plugins and also supports different themes. In other words, implementing the tool will be no sweat.
Some of the features of bbPress Admin Bar Addition are five action hooks, ten icon colors, seven filters and full internationalization. Of course, you can quickly translate it due to compatibility with the terrific WPML plugin. To add more features and functions to your default bbPress toolbar, here is the right plugin for you to put into play.
bbPress No CAPTCHA reCAPTCHA
To add another layer of protection to your thriving forum, bbPress No CAPTCHA reCAPTCHA is one of the plugins that will do the trick. When you are just starting out, there will be very little spam hitting your forum. However, as soon as you start making some moves – even the slightest – you can expect to receive spam on a regular. To avoid as much of it as possible, bbPress No CAPTCHA reCAPTCHA introduces Google’s No CAPTCHA reCAPTCHA to any bbPress forum. All it requires is to install and activate the plugin, create an account with Google reCAPTCHA, set parameters and you are ready to roll. Yes, it truly is just as simple as it sounds.
bbPress WP Tweaks
bbPress WP Tweaks is a handy bbPress plugin that enhances the sidebar section of your forum. First thing’s first, if you would like to use this tool successfully, you first need to choose the right forum wrapper file which supports sidebar. From then on, you select the right action, like replace, prepend or append. Last but clearly not least, you decide which sidebar to target with this action. Have in mind, if you do not choose any and leave as none, your forum will display only the regular sidebar.
As far as the features go when it comes to bbPress WP Tweaks, there are quite a bunch of goodies that you can benefit from. You can add users widget, login and register links, descriptions and related columns for users for easier access.
bbPress Search Widget
From the name itself, you already know what you are getting with bbPress Search Widget plugin. It takes the search feature of your forum to a whole new degree. In fact, there are a whopping thirteen different options that you can use to make the usability and navigability of your forum way more comfortable. To get things moving forward, all you need to do is to drag and drop bbPress Search Widget to the desired location in the widgets area of your web platform and that is pretty much it.
Let’s now take a peek at some extra amenities of this fantastic search widget. Everyone using the search function will have a breeze finding the topics and replies they are interested in. It contains three filters for search label, customizable button text and it is also 100% translatable. You do not really need to be a pro to use bbPress Search Widget; it is for everyone as it does not require you to know how to code.
GD Topic Polls for bbPress
If you are interested in adding different polls to your forum, GD Topic Polls for bbPress is the bbPress plugin you should consider using. In fact, it is not only you – the owner – who can create polls for whatever topic imaginable, your members can get involved as well. The plugin is quick and straightforward to set up without the need to do any programming work. On the other hand, if you are a developer, GD Topic Polls offers loads of different customization features to alter the tool accordingly.
Core traits of GD Topic Polls include but are not limited to creating polls with new and existing topics, poll description, one answer for each user and more. Also, you can set roles that are allowed to create polls and end the poll automatically when the topic closes.
GD bbPress Attachments
If you want to add an attachment to forums or replies, you can do so through the WordPress media library. You can set limits to the number of attachments and the attachment size for each forum. Also, you can display the images as thumbnails and embed the attachments in the topics and replies.
You can see the attachment count for the topics and replies in the admin panel. In the individual edit pages, you can view the list of attachments and the upload errors. GD bbPress Attachments supports about a dozen languages.
The premium version of this plugin is GD bbPress Toolbox Pro, which displays an attachment list in the admin panel and offers control over attachments. You can also use Font Icons. This version has many other bbPress related features.
GD bbPress Tools
GD bbPress Tools adds a number of functions to your bbPress software. With this plugin, a user can affix his signature or a quote, a reply or a topic.
The plugin supports 30 BBcodes, and allows a user to view search results. It integrates with the toolbar menu and allows additional custom views. The premium version has a few additional features like a few more BBcodes, email notification control and powerful attachment features.
There are some add-ons that are not so popular, in the sense that the number of active installs is about 1000 or less. They have not been updated for close to a year, but they serve a very specific function and have earned a star rating close to 5. So, I do feel that they deserve a mention here.
- bbPress Topic Count – You can use this plugin to show the total count of articles, replies or posts or any other class under the avatar of the author. You can keep tabs how active or inactive a particular author has been.
- bbPress Private Groups – With this plugin you can put different users into groups and different groups into different forums. You can mark the forums as Private or Public individually. Group titles and description will be visible, but the access restricts only to members. Likewise, it directs others to a sign in page. This is an awesome plugin and we use it on our forum.
That’s my list of handy and useful bbPress plugins. Do you have any to add to the list that has helped you with your forum ? Do share it with readers here.