WordPress Forum plugins

Some customers might ask you for a forum besides their WordPress install. Than you will have to filter through plenty of plugins, test, evaluate and spend solid amount of time until you find the right one. Here I’ll share my experience of going through different forum plugins. Some of them are quite minimalistic, easy to setup, others are huge, heavy, with dozens of configurations. To cut it short – use bbPress, for a small build; install Simple:Press if you want to build something complex, with different user roles. For the details…


WP Forum Server

WP Forum Server – WordPress plugin page

user groups doesn’t have enough options
post editor is bad – just few buttons, buttons work by adding shortcode around text, no pop up windows for adding images, or links
a lot of negative replies in WP support forums
user bio info is showen as signature and I couldn’t find a fast way to change it
SEF permalinks only in paid version (yes, this plugin is not completely open)
still have Lorem ipsum text on their offical web site – if their web site is not complete, what can you think about the plugin
the support forum has bugs itself
+ BUT the notification sys is working. You can successfully get e-mail of follow-up replies.


Mingle Forum Plugin

Mingle Forum Plugin – WordPress plugin page
Actually WP Forum Server is build on the base of Mingle. With the small difference that:

+ Mingle is free
+ SEF permalinks work (and you don’t need to pay for it)
+ users can edit their own signitures, rather than having displayed bio info from profile
+ users can have a list of topics they are subscribed to and change it (remove some, add others)
+ notification sys is working
+ there are a lot of answers in WP Support forums
+ for the lazy one – video tutorials at youtube
BUT, custom user groups and post editor are not that powerful- they are the same as in Forum Server


Forums – WordPress plugin page (not supported anymore)

Demo forum and Support
The first thing you will notice about this plugin is that it looks like phpBB and actually its based on myBB bulletin platform, which has:

+ a big list of plugins to download for your forum
+  custom user groups have a lot of options to chose from
+ mass mail function
+ advanced options as cache manager
+in general there are tons of options
This might seem like the best plugin until now if you are going to build a large scale forum.
BUT there isn’t WordPress user integration. That means that your users will have to do separate account for the forum and won’t be able to log in with the account from WordPress.  Yet, there might be a plugin, but by default, there isn’t such functionality.


bbPress

bbPress – WordPress plugin page
This plugin is developed from the same folks who made WordPress. If I’d have to say 3 words for it, I’d say: simple, neat, functional. It’s really good.

+ it has e-mail notification for follow-up replies
+ many of the topics in WordPress Support forums are marked as [resolved] – which means that it’s easy to find help
+ already familiar environment for creating forums, and topics – it’s the same as creating pages and posts


Simple:Press features

Simple:Press – WordPress support forums
This is my favorite – just see the features page. As I said in the beginning of the post – there are two types of forum platforms – light  and heavy. Simple:Press is from the heavy weight category, no matter that it’s called Simple:Press. It has many options to help you customize your forum to the level you want. 

+ the permalinks are SEF
+ the editor is intuitive, with a lot of options. When you add an image you can chose vertical and horizontal space around it, border, size, alignment
+ when you add a link, you chose title, to open it in new tab or in the same
+ you can add more admins and chose what settings they can change
+ you can add members to newly created user groups. Then when you create a new forum, you can specify what are the rights of that user group for that specific forum – no rights, read only, standard, full access, moderator…
+ in the settings section, you decide which options should be visible. If you want to keep it simple you can disable most of them: Display Most Ever Online, Display Forum Statistics, Display Top Posters, Display New User List, Display Admins and Moderators…
+ the support for the platform is very strong – you can check the forums on the official web site, or in WordPress forums – everywhere there are many questions and answers written
+ when creating new posts in your site, you have the option to link them to the forum, by automatically creating a forum post

might seem perfect until here, but there is a small BUT.  When you subscribe to receive e-mails for followed up replies – you actually just receive notifications on the forum itself. There are no e-mails send, but I think I read that it will be possible to receive e-mails thanks to an plugin in the newer version (5). You should think about it – if you have many users, and everybody subscribes for e-mail notifications, you might be flagged as spam source.

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