bbPress is the forum creation WordPress Plugin for WordPress sites. It is used by many users and is worked on by the same teams at Automattic. Forums are used all over the web to increase the amount of continued reader/follower interaction. Almost any type of company can benefit from adding forums to their site. You can you use them for support of a product that you sell, and as a way of having other people in the community around your site help each other. You can also use forums to bring your discussions out your comments and into a single place where it can be more structured.
After installing the Plugin, 3 new buttons will be added to your Administration Panel sidebar menu. Click on the Forums button to take you to the New Forum Panel.
Once you’ve opened up your new forum you’ll notice that you have an empty list where it says “no forum found” as a list item. To get started with creating a new forum you’ll need to click on the button on the top left of the screen.
This will open the “Create New Forum” panel.
This is where you will now give your forum a title, a description, and pick various forums attributes. The different forum attributes are:
- Type – where you have the option to use either forum or category. (These are for forum layout organization.)
- Forums – these can have topics, and can be a parent to other forums.
- Categories – these can only have topics, and can’t be parents to other forums.
- Status – where you can have an open forum or a closed forum.
- Open status means that you can add new topics and posts.
- Closed status means that new content can’t be added.
- Visibility – you can control which users can access your new forum, there are three different visibilities
- Public – This means that there are no restrictions, anyone will be able to see it
- Private – This means that only registered users can look at your forum
- Hidden – Only Admins and Moderators have privileges to look at these forums
- Parent – Parents can be organized into groups of forums and categories by selecting the parent it will make it nested under that forum/category
- Order – This is the order you would like them to be on your page, starting at zero and the number getting larger as you descend
This is what the Forum panel will look like after you create your first forum.
Inside forums you have topics which are the grouping of replies that pertain to the same information. You can add multiple topics to one forum. The forum acts like a notebook, and let’s say you have tab dividers in that notebook, those would be like your topics, and replies would be your pages.
Just like the “new forum” panel, there is a very similar layout to the new topic panel. Like the new forum panel there is a place to give your topic a title, a description, and topic attributes.
The topic attributes are type, status, and parent forum:
- Type – this is the type of topic you want it to behave as
- Normal – it will move itself down the page as new topics are added after it
- Sticky – means that it will continuously be stuck at the top of the forum until you un-stick it, even if new content is added after it
- Super Sticky – This make it stuck to the top of all forums
- Status – This is the current status of your topic
- Open – this means that it is currently open for new replies
- Closed – this means that no new replies can be posted
- Spam – this means that the topic has been marked as spam
- Trash – this means that this is currently out of the flow of your topics, and cannot be seen
- Pending – this means that it is also outside the flow of your topics, but it’s not going to be deleted. It’s most likely used for topics that will be later published
- Parent Forum – this is the form that the topic will be listed underneath
- Author Information – this is the information on who created the topic
- ID – this is how the author its tracked in bbPress
- IP – this is what IP address the author was on when this topic was created
You can give topics tags, which work the same as giving a post a tag on your WordPress site. Tags are for grouping like content across multiple topics.
Now that you know about the forums and topics, now you need to know what replies are. To reply, this is done from the front end of your site. Once you’ve navigated to the front end up your site and located the forum and the topic you want to reply to, you simply enter what you want in the text area. Then give it any tags you wish, and check the box if you’d like notification when someone else comments on the same topic. Then click the submit button.
Now that you know what all the panels and attributes are and do. Go set up your new forum and see what it brings to your site.