9 Best WordPress Forum Plugins in 2023

Forums are a great tool to foster discussion and connection on the internet. With some of the best WordPress Forum plugins out there, it is easier than ever to create your own online community.

In this post, we’ll provide you with our list of the most helpful WordPress forum plugins to help you get a forum up and running on your site.

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Key Features of the Best Forum Plugins (What to Look For)

For those looking to create an online community, WordPress is a great platform to build on. When looking for a forum plugin, it needs to be able to do the job well. Look for these features of the best forum plugins:

The Best WordPress Forum Plugins

Most would agree that the two most popular WordPress forum plugins are bbPress and BuddyPress. Although these plugins are free and provide a core foundation for building forums, they are often used with other themes and plugins to get a more polished design and user experience. Some of the best membership plugins and LMS plugins have built-in forums using bbPress and BuddyPress integration. So, we’ve expanded our list to include other plugins and themes that can help you build online communities with the tools you need.

Here they are:

1. Answers by Creative Minds (CM Answers)

Answers by Creative Minds (a.k.a. CM Answers)  is a Q&A-style WordPress forum plugin designed to help you build engaging communities around answering questions. Its forum-like layout and functions focus on questions versus topics—making it perfect for creating a Stack Exchange/Quora-style forum. The basic free version has enough features to start, but the pro version is what makes Answers a great choice for building forums.

Key Features for CM Answers:

Not only is CM Answers a great tool for building a Q&A-style forum, but it also offers unique features that set it apart from other forum plugins. For instance, website owners can use it to replace the commenting system on regular blog posts (without the need for a comment plugin). And, the forums can be monetized which is an ideal choice for thought leaders and bloggers who want to create a paid community around their offerings.

CM Answers is for you if you…

CM Answers Pricing: $39 per year

ForumEngine is a WordPress theme that makes it easy to turn your site into a discussion forum. Yes, theme. We’ve included it for those who may want a complete forum solution (or website) without having to build and design one yourself. A theme may be of particular interest to those who want to run a community forum on a separate WordPress installation on a sub-domain or in a root folder (eg. community.example.com or example.com/community).

Key Features of ForumEngine:

One of its standout features is its detailed styling function, which gives you complete control over the look and feel of your forum. That, and individual users can customize styling their way with a front-end styler.

ForumEngine is for you if you…

ForumEngine Pricing: $49 per year

bbPress is an incredibly popular WordPress plugin that makes it easy to add a forum to your site. Developed by some of the same team behind WordPress.org (the open-source project)—bbPress has an air of familiarity that is classically WordPress. We like that it seamlessly integrates with membership plugins like MemberPress and Paid Memberships Pro so that you can easily add a forum to your membership site. It even integrates with Lifter LMS to create a community forum for your online course as well.

Key Features for bbPress:

The key feature and advantage of bbPress are that it is completely free and open-source. This means that you can go to the website and download the plugin without having to worry about any upsells or hidden costs. And since it is developed to the highest standards, free and open source feels pretty good.

bbPress is for you if you…

bbPress Pricing: Free

Asgaros Forum is a lightweight and straightforward WordPress plugin that makes it easy to add a forum to existing websites. It’s designed to provide all the basic features of a forum without getting bogged down in unnecessary features and bloat, making it an ideal choice for websites that need a small and simple forum.

Key Features of Asgaros Forum:

One of the great features of Asgaros Forum is its moderation tools. Moderators have deep visibility about who is online (in real-time), which makes it easy to keep an eye on what’s happening in the forum. Additionally, the plugin offers a simple admin page with topic/user monitoring, usage reporting, and moderation tools.

Asgaros Forum is for you if you…

Asgaros Forum Pricing: Free

wpForo is a comprehensive and user-friendly forum plugin for WordPress. It allows site owners to easily create modern forums where their users can participate, ask questions, answer, up-vote, and subscribe to topics. This plugin brings everything you need to run an efficient and professional community, including a powerful and beautiful forum with unique features. The core features of the plugin are free, but if you need more, some affordable add-ons allow you to integrate WooCommerce memberships, GIPHY, private messaging, and many more.

Key Features for wpForo:

One of the reasons why many users prefer wpForo over other forum plugins is its modern design. Other forum solutions can tend to look dated (plus forums are hard to style anyways). It includes four major layout styles for site admins to use and six styles (sometimes called skins) that individual users can use to customize their experience (including dark mode!).

Engage your community even more with gamification and reward points to users for getting likes and up-votes using MyCred plugin integration.

wpForo is for you if you…

wpForo Pricing: Free with Paid add-ons available

WP Discussion Board – WordPress Forum Plugin is a user-friendly and practical solution for those looking to add a forum to their WordPress site. With a simple setup and a form-driven front-end design, this plugin is accessible to users with no prior WordPress knowledge.

Key Features of Discussion Board:

The Discussion Board offers a minimalist and modern forum that can be placed anywhere on your WordPress website. The user registration process is streamlined and effortless. Overall, Discussion Board is easy to look at which isn’t the case with every forum plugin out there.

Discussion Board is for you if you…

WP Discussion Board Pricing: Free; Paid plans start at $49 per year

BuddyPress is a powerful plugin developed by the same team behind bbPress and WordPress. It goes in a slightly different direction than bbPress in that it can transform your website into a social media network. BuddyPress can work with any WordPress theme to help you create an online community complete with user profiles, messaging, and networking options. It’s ideal for business owners and bloggers who want to build a community around their content and product.

Key Features for BuddyPress:

Forums are often great for creating community. BuddyPress goes the extra mile and brings social networking functionality directly into a WordPress website. It offers an exciting alternative to traditional forums and comment plugins with less emphasis on “staying on topic” and more emphasis on community engagement.

BuddyPress is for you if you…

BuddyPress Pricing: Free

Sabai Discuss is a premium WordPress plugin that offers a unique take on forums. It combines the best of both worlds by offering both a discussion stream and a question-and-answer tool, making it ideal for those who want to create a community-driven Q&A website, a discussion forum, a knowledge base, or even a helpdesk portal.

Key Features for Sabai Discuss:

One of the standout features of Sabai Discuss is its attractive and easy-to-read interface. It’s designed to look like a Q&A platform like Quora or Stack Overflow, and it does so in a way that’s both functional and visually appealing. This makes it a great choice for those who want a forum that feels modern and engaging.

Sabai Discuss is for you if you…

Sabai Discuss Pricing: $24 (LTD) with 6 months of support

Simple:Press is a feature-packed WordPress forum plugin that offers a sleek and customizable interface. Its threads are clean and have simple colors that complement your website’s content. The free version is fairly basic, but you can enhance its functionalities by purchasing a premium plan. Ideal for businesses that are planning for very large and complicated communities.

Key Features for Simple:Press:

Simple:Press touts itself as an enterprise solution. If you are looking for a robust and complex community forum, Simple:Press aims to be the ideal plugin for your needs.

Simple:Press is for you if you…

Simple:Press Pricing: Free; Paid plans start at $199 per year

Our list of the best WordPress forum plugins provides you with a glance into what’s available to you as you build your online forum. Should you want to monetize your community, you can consider using bbPress with a membership plugin like MemberPress or Paid Memberships Pro. Or you can use CM Answers or Simple:Press .

If you are after a forum theme, check out Forum Engine as it is a complete forum built into a theme instead of a plugin.

Plugin Price Free Option
🥇 CM Answers $39/yr ✔️ Visit
🥈 ForumEngine $49/yr Visit
🥉 bbPress Free ✔️ Visit
4 Asgaros Forum Free ✔️ Visit
5 wpForo Free (Paid Add-ons) ✔️ Visit
6 Discussion Board $49/yr Visit
7 BuddyPress Free ✔️ Visit
8 Sabai Discuss $24 (6 months support) Visit
9 Simple:Press $199/yr ✔️ Visit

When choosing any plugin on WordPress, it is important to look at features and pricing carefully. This means paying very careful attention to what is (and isn’t) offered with each pricing tier. WordPress offers many great free and cheap options for forum plugins. Enjoy building your community.

Featured Image via M. Ageng sumantri / shutterstock.com

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