Some of you will be surprised that why exactly is the post not about the linux web server setup for WordPress blogs. The reason is that one of my very good friend Shridhar Pare, owner of Xisto Network gave me a visit. As you can imagine we had long discussions about web, web hosting and forums where the knowledge lives. This is one of the reason that why I’m writing about Forums and not writing about hosting.

In my earlier post, I’ve discussed that how bbPress should be a plugin for WordPress. While going through my Google Reader, I came across a post by Dougal Campbell where he asks the question that if users like the idea of using WordPress itself as forum! Even Justin Tadlock has dwelled upon this idea before and has created a mockup about his idea [via Patrick Daly]-

I’d thought about this before and I completely believe that it would be fantastic to use WordPress as the forum. It is easily possible to create a theme for WordPress that looks like a forum, P2 Theme is a great example where the full editor is made available directly in the theme, which is one of the major features of forums. Lets see that how WordPress can provide the major features and where it lacks -

Forum Features that WordPress can provide

  1. Forums post can be made through WordPress posts.
  2. Categories can be the Forum sections.
  3. Comments can be the forum replies.
  4. Member profiles is part of WordPress by default.
  5. Fantastic editor that lets users easily share photos and embed videos [remember: WordPress 2.9.2 has oEmbed support]

Of course, there are other features that you can have with the help of plugins that are available for WordPress and here are some of them that will always be useful in case you decide to use WordPress as forum -

  1. Akismet can help protect you from Spam posts.
  2. W3 Total Cache can ensure that there will be less burden on server.
  3. Gravatar can be used in place of Avatars.
  4. All in one seo pack can take care of the SEO of the forums.
  5. Then there are plethora of plugins related to social media that can help you in building forums.

Forum features where WordPress lacks

  1. There aren’t possibilities of creating private forums.
  2. Membership level management is not as powerful as one would like
  3. Private messaging systems

Well these are some of those features that aren’t in WordPress and the trouble of all this will only be experienced by those forum administrators who have larger forums otherwise major features are already covered by WordPress. There are plugins like SimplePress and BuddyPress that can give you more advanced forum features, in fact SimplePress is a plugin that converts WordPress into a good forum system. I haven’t played around with it so I wouldn’t be in a position to comment on the performance of it however, with the long list of features, I was certainly impressed.

What do you think about using WordPress as forums? Will you prefer your favorite CMS for running forums or will you prefer to use commercial solutions like Invision Power Board, vbulletin etc or will you be interested in using an open source solution for the forums?

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Looks like most of the Automattic team is busy playing around with WordPress and of course, thats good for the future of WordPress. However, as WordPress has started to become popular as CMS, its limitations as compared to other enterprise level CMSes are coming up. Although, most of limitations are easily countered with the huge list of Plugins it has!

Forums are important part of any website and bbPress fills the gap that has been left in WordPress CMS. bbPress is one of the decent projects from Automattic team, however its future looked pretty gloomy as there was hardly any development on it. Lesser development on bbPress doesn’t make it the favorite choice for all the clients. As a design agency, we prefer to use WordPress and would love to stick to solutions provided by Automattic team. Good news is that from last few months, talks have been going on to ensure that bbPress project lives and that talks have been going on where Matt himself thought of converting it in a Core Plugin.

Reasons for making bbPress as Core Plugin

  1. Why make more plugins for bbPress – Making bbPress as a plugin for WordPress will ensure that in the forums (plugin one), webmasters will be able to make use of the existing plugins of WordPress. For e.g. if I want to show blog’s popular posts in the forums, then I won’t have to worry as there are plugins that show popular posts on WordPress and they can be easily used in the forum too. However, it’ll be a pain to achieve the same result when it will be stand-alone bbPress.
  2. Easier Theme interoperability – Of course, when we’ll have one theme developed for WordPress, it’ll work with bbPress (plugin one) too. In short, this all will result in lesser development time.
  3. Use of powerful features of WordPress – There are many features of WordPress that are not part of bbPress and all of that will become simpler if bbPress can be converted as plugin. It’ll be easier to upgrade bbPress with WordPress automatic plugin upgrade feature. Media library is also a powerful feature of WordPress, that can be utilized in bbPress (plugin one).
  4. Integration will be easier – bbPress as plugin will integrate pretty easily with WordPress and there will be no extra configurations required. Same users will be able to post in the forums and will be able to post on blog as well. This will surely help in creating better communities.
  5. Better role management – Role management system will also improve tremendously. All the user management features required for the plugin will eventually make WordPress more powerful as CMS too. This will certainly help in establishing WordPress as the top choice for small to medium businesses.
  6. Solid foundation for TalkPressTalkPress, a hosted service for online forums (powered by bbPress). If bbPress as core plugin becomes success then embracing TalkPress for the world will be far more easier. It surely will act as stepping stone for TalkPress’ success.

What are you thoughts about bbPress and what it should really come out as. Will you like to see bbPress as stand-alone software or would you like to see it as a core-plugin for WordPress? Please share your views with us.

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Most of our readers, must be aware of bbPress. For those who don’t know about bbPress, let me enlighten you. It’s a light-weight forum software that is available for free and is from the makers of “WordPress “. It competes with phpBB, Vanilla, SMF and other open-source forum softwares. I prefer bbPress over others as this forum software is by Automattic team and syncs well with WordPress.

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bbPress and WordPress are both from Automattic Inc., so it’s doesn’t take rocket science to figure out that they can be integrated quite easily with each other. It’s one of the advantage of choosing bbPress over various other free and commercial forum softwares. In this guide we’ll tell you that how you can easily integrate bbPress with WordPress.

After you’ve setup bbPress on your web host, the next major step is to integrate WordPress with it. Although, it may not be necessary depending on the way you run your blog. If you are the sole writer at your blog then you may be simply leave the integration part. You can treat both sections as two different websites.

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WordPress is without a doubt the best blogging platform ever built however, there is one section of the internet which is one of the oldest way of building the community and that is forums. Forums are amazingly good when it comes to user generated content and the sense of community flows around them much more than the blogs.

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