Forum or Discussion Boards are definite way to make sure user engagement. But it takes great planning, commitment and time to attract your visitors to engage in your forum. If you are looking to add a forum to your WordPress site or thinking to build a strong community website with WordPress then picking up the right WordPress forum plugin is very important for the long term.

We did a comparison analysis for you to make this process simple.

WordPress is the number one blogging platform that can be used to create virtually any type of website you can imagine. WordPress is used even by the big corporations as a CMS (Content Management System) or a publishing platform.

WordPress has a great ecosystem and committed developer community with plugins for almost every functionality you want. That is also true for adding a forum to your WordPress site. Here we compared 10 best forum plugins from the market.

bbPress

bbPress was developed by the same team behind WordPress . So, it implies excellent coding standards and future support apart from being open source and free of cost. It was first released almost 8-9 years back with basic forum functionalities. The bbPress was aimed to be light weight, easy to use and integrate seamlessly with WordPress . It sometime gets criticized for lack of advanced functionalities.

Don’t get it wrong, it is quite capable with all basic forum functionalities. Also you can enhance it with the help of many useful plugins to make a very advanced community forum. If you need a basic forum which will integrate with WordPress user management and don’t need too many bells and whistles, you should consider using bbPress.

What we like:

  • Very light weight
  • Good community and support
  • Tightly integrate with WordPress
  • Developed by WordPress team

What we hate:

  • Lackluster
  • Basic feature

 

wpForo

This is probably one of the best forum plugin available for basic to advanced users. wpForo is a feature rich yet easy to use forum plugin which can also be used as Question Answer forum. You can use this plugin to build highly professional forum community in WordPress . Overall the default look and feel is very modern and responsive and it can be extended with multiple add-ons. wpForo has multiple layouts and drag and drop forum management functionality. If you are really serious about creating forum in WordPress , you should check it out.

 

What we like:

  • Suitable for small to large forum needs
  • Built-in SEO, anti spam and Caching functionality
  • Advanced user profile
  • Member Rating and Badges
  • Buddypress integration and Ultimate Member Integration
  • Set of tools for GDPR compliance

What we hate:

  • A bit overwhelming for the beginners
  • Feature like Ads management, polls nd private messaging are not available in Free version

 

Simple:Press

This WordPress forum plugin is available from 2006 and probably one of the first full featured forum available for WordPress when there was not much choices. The basic forum is free with default theme. Simple:Press has many advanced options for administrators like Merging forums, Flood control, Custom Icons for each forum, Powerful user group and permission etc. The list of features is pretty long.

 

What we like:

  • Many advanced features
  • Compatible with most free and premium themes
  • Advanced user group and permissions
  • Lock or Pin any forum
  • Custom Avatars

What we hate:

  • Free plugin has only basic functionalities
  • A bit out dated with today’s standard

 

ForumEngine

ForumEngine is created as a WordPress theme which will turn your WordPress website into a forum with a home page showing the forum activities. So in true sense it is not a forum. This WordPress theme uses inbuilt post and comments and turns into a forum structure. It is a unique concept to utilize existing WordPress functionality instead of creating a separate forum functionalities.

The users can create new topics or reply existing topics. They can also like or dislike the topics and manage their activities.

 

What we like:

  • Full-fledged forum without installing separate plugin
  • Theme based approach and light weight
  • Extensive options provided to customize style
  • Many standard widgets for hot topics and statistics

What we hate:

  • Forum only theme. Cannot be used blog with forum
  • Paid theme. Free version is not available

 

Discussion Board

This is a very user friendly forum plugin with simple one click install. Discussion Forum comes with excellent set of functionalities and very intuitive to use. This plugin also allows admin to assign default role to the users. The basic version is free and you can add more features with the paid version.

What we like:

  • Easy to setup
  • Basic functionalities are good for average users
  • Style customization
  • Multiple short codes available

What we hate:

  • Some basic features like Categories & tags, image upload, topic following are only available in paid version

 

Asgaros Forum

Asgaros Forum is extremely powerful and feature rich forum plugin for WordPress sites. It’s a light weight and very fast and integrate seamlessly with WordPress. Installation and setting it up is easy and it creates a new forum page automatically during installation. The forum looks very user friendly, intuitive and modern. It has a pretty extensive feature sets.

 

What we like:

  • Light weight yet Powerful
  • Robust set of features Ads management, Widgets, Guest Posting, SEO (Search Engine Optimized), RSS feeds, Easy customization and many more
  • Easy to use and intuitive design out of the box

What we hate:

  • Some basic features like Categories & tags, image upload, topic following are only available in paid version

Sabai Discuss

Sabai Discuss is a StackOverflow or Yahoo Answer type forum plugin for WordPress. It is a premium WordPress plugin and there is no free version available of this plugin. You can create a question answer discussion forum or help desk support or knowledge base type community with this premium plugin. The plugin is responsive with many useful feature including visual form editor.

What we like:

  • Responsive flat design
  • Search with keyword, Tag and Auto suggests, user reputations, upvote, roles and restrictions and many more

What we hate:

  • Premium plugin with no free version
  • The user interface is not unique and should have been better

Dw Question and Answer

It is completely free WordPress plugin even for commercial use. The look and feel is decent and can be used for help and support or feature request for your product or service. There are some important features like question answer follow, captcha, shortcodes, notification email and keyword search.

What we like:

  • Minimalist design
  • Completely free plugin with all important features

What we hate:

  • Advanced features are limited

AnsPress Question and Answer

Probably one of the best Question/Answer discussion forum similar to StackOverflow. The wide array of functionalities and overall intuitive design make it apart from the others. If you are looking for a feature rich WordPress plugin to create a serious Question/Answer forum, you cannot go wrong with it.

What we like:

  • Free plugin with lots of features
  • Advanced features like Voting, Beast & Featured Answers, Reputation/Points, Subscribers, Category, Tags, Flag, Notification, SEO and easy to customize

What we hate:

  • Might be overwhelming for some site owners

 

CM Answer

This plugin is also offers similar features like AnsPress. It can be used to create Question/Answer type forum community. The basic version if free and has many advanced features. Also the forum functionalities can be augmented with several premium add-ons.

What we like:

  • Integrates with BuddyPress and PeepSo (Premium)
  • Integrate Ads
  • Support for Payment gateway (Premium)

What we hate:

  • Many features like Mobile Responsiveness, Payment integration, Social media registration are only available as premium add-ons
  • The add-on prices are very high ($19 – $59)

 

Conclusion

Although every requirement is different and you should test all plugins in your local site before finalizing the one you want. We still think that bbPress should be fine if you want a light weight WordPress forum with a great online support while it is developed by the same team behind WordPress . But if you want more bells and whistles then you should go for wpForo. Also if you are looking for a Question and Answer type of forum then the winner is AnsPress.

Let us know which forum you think is the best in the comment section below.