The Ultimate Guide To Setting Up And Running A bbPress Forum

How To Setup bbPress

The first thing you need to do when setting up bbPress is to make sure that your website is a WordPress based website. bbPress is a plugin for WordPress which is installed and then activated to give the features of a forum inside WordPress. bbPress uses custom post types which allow you to integrate it very easily with the rest of your website.

Where To Host bbPress

I have used a few hosts in the past and some have been good, some have been not so good. I currently use JustHost for a couple of my projects and they have proved to be a fairly reliable host. Generally speaking you get what you pay for, although the hosts recommend by are Bluehost, Dreamhost and Laughing Squid, so you would like to think they would be good hosts for your WordPress and bbPress website.

To keep things simple, if your current host has no problems hosting your WordPress site then bbPress should be no problem at all.

How To Install bbPress

Installing bbPress is incredibly simple, just follow these instructions.

  • Login to your WordPress admin area (
  • Click on Plugins
  • Click on Add New
  • In the search box type bbPress and click search
  • A search list will appear with bbPress at the top, click Install Now and then click Ok.
  • Then click Activate Plugin and you should see some more options appear in the menu to the left, including one called forums.

Troubleshooting Your bbPress Installation

If your installation didn’t quite go to plan then check out these tips to help you get your installation working. If it did, then click here to skip this section.

When installing bbPress It Asked Me For FTP Details?

If you do not have the ftp details to hand then you will not be able to install the plugin. If you have them setup in an FTP client but can’t remember them, then you can upload the plugin manually to your /wp-content/plugins folder and then go back to the plugins page to click install.

Help I Don’t See Any bbPress Menu Items!

This can happen every so often, if this does happen then the following can help to fix it.

  • Click on Tools and then forums.
  • Tick “Remap existing users to default forum roles” and then click Repair Items.

If you have any other issues installing bbPress then leave a comment below so I can help get it fixed for you, i’ll try my best. Now that you have bbPress installed it’s time to look at designing a great forum structure.

Designing A Forum Structure

When creating a forum it can be easy to just yell “charge” and storm ahead and create loads of forums for all types of topics, I would suggest taking your time coming up with a great structure for your forum, you will thank me in the long run. You should always try and think about what your most popular topics are and base your forum around those topics.

Research Your Competitors Structure

It doesn’t hurt to take a look at your competitors forum and see what they are doing, it might give you some good ideas and it might even tell you what is not quite working on their forum at the moment. They may have created a section on the forum which seemed like a great idea but has opened them up to some unwanted spam.

What Do Your Users Like Already?

It’s an obvious one but creating a forum fit for your user base is definitely the way to go. Don’t try and make a forum for your user base AND hopefully new users you will get in the future, make it for your current user base and then expand as necessary.

Some Standard bbPress Forums/Categories

Some of the standard forums you might see are things like, Website Help/Support, General Chat and Technical Support. Technical support could refer to the product or service you are currently offering your customers.

How To Create The Forum Structure Using bbPress

Now that you have the design of your forum structure sorted, let’s get to work actually creating that structure. Here is an example structure for you to think about when reading the following information on creating a forum structure. This will help you visualize what I am saying.

Forum Category One
- Forum One
- Forum Two

Forum Category Two
- Forum Three
- Forum Four
- Forum Five

Forum Category Three
- Forum Six

Generally speaking the structure above would serve most forums very well. You have your parent forum/category and then child forums underneath that category. It’s simple and easy for users to navigate and allows you to keep certain topics separated from each other.

There may be instances where you want a forum without having a parent category or you want to have a forum inside one of the child forums. This is perfectly fine but I would suggest thinking about if it’s really necessary to do something different than the rest of your forum as it can be confusing for the user.

How To Add Categories

Adding categories to bbPress is as simple as adding forums. Follow the instructions below to add new categories to a bbPress forum.

  • Click Forums
  • Click New Forum
  • Type a title for the new category for example “Forum Category One”.
  • To the right hand side change Type from Forum to Category.
  • Then click Publish and you have your new category.

Once you have added all your categories then you can go ahead and add forums to those categories.

How To Add Forums

When you are ready to add forums follow the instructions below, they are very similar to adding categories with just a couple of differences.

  • Click Forums
  • Click New Forum
  • Type a title for the new forum for example “Forum One”.
  • To the right hand side make sure the Type is set to Forum.
  • Make sure the Parent is set to the category this forum will belong to for example “Forum Category One”.
  • Click publish and then check the front end of your site, you should see your newly created forum sitting underneath the forum category.
    • If you would like to know about customizing the look of your forum then I suggest taking a look at the bbPress starter theme on

      How To Add Super Sticky Topics

      Super sticky topics are great for frequently asked questions or rules. I would suggest having one topic for the rules of the whole forum and then if needs be you can have non global stickies for specific forums if you want more detailed rules or posting suggestions.

      To add a forum wide sticky follow the instructions below.

      • Click topics.
      • Click New Topic
      • Give the topic a relevant title for example “Forum rules: Read before posting!”
      • Write out the topic content underneath the title.
      • To the right make sure the Forum (Parent) is set to where you want the topic to go (If you are doing a super sticky this doesn’t really matter).
      • Finally if you are doing a super sticky make sure that the Type is set to Super Stick (obvious right?).
      • If you are creating a rules topic then you might want to consider setting the Status to closed as well, if not then you can just leave it as open.

      Great now we know how to create our forums and add super stickies to the forum too. Next we will take a look at user login and registration pages.

      Setting Up User Registration And Login Pages

      We have our categories, forums and sticky topics, great… but how do users actually register and post a reply or topic of their own your forum? That’s what we are going to achieve in this next section of the guide.

      Create A Registration Page

      A registration page is key to running a forum, it must be easy to get to, simple to use and most importantly work correctly. Good news, bbPress provides us with a simple and easy to use shortcode for creating registration pages.


      That’s it, it’s as simple as including this shortcode on a WordPress post or page and then making sure you link to that page from your website. You may want to link to the page from your main menu or sidebar.

      Create A Login Page.

      Once a user has registered they will need to be able to login, luckily creating a login page is as easy as creating a registration page. Use the following shortcode to create a login page.


      Perfect, we have a registration and a login page, again you will need to make sure you link to the login page from somewhere.

      Lost Password Page

      A nice touch is to add a lost password link on the login page, to do this you will need to create a lost password page and then link to that page from the login page. Use the following shortcode to display a lost password page, note down the url of that page and then go back to your login page. Add a link to your newly created lost password page.


      Awesome! Users can now register, login and request a new password if they have forgotten or lost it.

      Advanced User Experience Tip

      Something which is quite common with forum software is to change a forum register/login link to a view profile link. Here is a snippet which achieves this.

      <!--?php if ( !is_user_logged_in() ) { ?--></pre>
      <form class="bbp-login-form" action="<?php bbp_wp_login_action( array( 'context' =><br /> 'login_post' ) ); ?>" method="post">
      <fieldset><legend><!--?php _e( 'Log In', 'bbpress' ); ?--></legend>
      <div class="bbp-username"><label for="user_login"><!--?php _e( 'Username', 'bbpress' ); ?--></label>
       <input id="user_login" tabindex="<?php bbp_tab_index(); ?>" type="text" name="log" size="20" value="<?php bbp_sanitize_val( 'user_login', 'text' ); ?>" /></div>
      <div class="bbp-password"><label for="user_pass"><!--?php _e( 'Password', 'bbpress' ); ?--></label>
       <input id="user_pass" tabindex="<?php bbp_tab_index(); ?>" type="password" name="pwd" size="20" value="<?php bbp_sanitize_val( 'user_pass', 'password' ); ?>" /></div>
      <div class="bbp-remember-me"><label for="rememberme"><input type="checkbox" checked="checked" name="rememberme" value="forever" /> id="rememberme" tabindex="<!--?php bbp_tab_index(); ?-->" /> <!--?php _e( 'Remember Me', 'bbpress' ); ?--></label></div>
      <div class="bbp-submit-wrapper"><!--?php do_action( 'login_form' ); ?-->
      <button class="btn button submit user-submit" id="user-submit" tabindex="<?php bbp_tab_index(); ?>" name="user-submit" type="submit"><!--?php _e( 'Log In', 'bbpress' ); ?--></button>
       <!--?php bbp_user_login_fields(); ?--></div>
       <!--?php if ( !empty( $register ) || !empty( $lostpass ) ) : ?-->
      <div class="bbp-login-links"><!--?php if ( !empty( $register ) ) : ?-->
       <!--?php endif; ?-->
       <!--?php if ( !empty( $lostpass ) ) : ?-->
       <!--?php endif; ?--></div>
       <!--?php endif; ?--></fieldset>
      <!--?php } else { ?--></pre>
      <div class="bbp-logged-in">
      <h4><!--?php bbp_user_profile_link( bbp_get_current_user_id() ); ?-->
       <!--?php bbp_user_display_role( bbp_get_current_user_id() ); ?--></h4>
      <div class="logout-link-forum">
      	<li><a class="btn" href="<?php echo bbp_get_user_profile_url( bbp_get_current_user_id() ); ?>">Edit Profile</a></li>
      	<li><a class="btn" href="<?php echo wp_logout_url(); ?>">Logout</a></li>
      <!--?php } ?-->

      Your forum should be up and running, with categories, forums, a registration page, login page, forgotten password page and ready for users to start adding topics and replies. The only slight downside is that with any forum there will be people who want to leave unwanted messages also known as spam.

      Dealing With bbPress Spam

      Dealing with spam is something that comes with accepting most kinds of user interaction. You can try and circumvent the spam or stop unwanted users from registering if you like, but in my experience the only true way to effectively deal with spam is to recruit some moderators to your forum. Moderators can remove spam or even mark it as spam for you to remove.

      There is a couple more ways to deal with spam to stop automated registrations and posting on the forum. I will cover these in more detail in a future post, stay tuned!

      Promoting Your Forum

      Now that you have everything setup and users are able to interact it’s time to get some users to visit your new forum, this is probably the most difficult step when trying to create a forum. Below is a bit of advice to get you started, it’s not a comprehensive list to marketing a forum but it’s a good start.

      Forum Directories

      Forum directories can be a good place to submit your forum as users can be looking for your forum using these directories, without submitting your forum they could never find it. Do a search in google for forum directories. I wouldn’t waste any money on this I would only submit to free forum directories.

      Your Website

      Of course the biggest place to advertise your forum is your website. If you already get some good traffic to your website then it’s worth while putting a nice call to action to get people to join your forum and get posting.


      If you have fans on facebook or a facebook page then mention your forum on Facebook, it’s great for getting people onto your forum and interacting. It can be difficult to try and get people who use facebook a lot to come off facebook and use something else, but it’s worth a shot.


      Like Facebook, twitter is a great place to promote your new forum. Send a quick tweet out to your followers and you might just get some of them visiting your forum. Twitter can potentially be better than Facebook because of the limit on characters you can put in a tweet which means your not competing with twitter as you would with Facebook.

      Go Create A Great Forum!

      After reading this guide you should have a great base created for your bbPress forum and be able to create new forums and categories whenever you like. So it’s time to get get ’em and start creating an amazing forum for your visitors. Good luck!

      As with all my guides and posts, if you have any problems then leave a comment below.