WordPress.com Forum Options

globe & computers A forum is website where people with common interests interact and collaborate on an ongoing basis. Creating a successful forum to complement your WordPress.com blog isn’t easy. The time and energy commitments by the Admin at setup and time for ongoing management functions are signficant.  Ongoing Admin visibilty in forum discussions is needed too. Ultimately, vibrant forums require a critical mass of active members with an abiding passion for a narrow range of subject(s) to thrive.

Blogs aren’t forums and they aren’t wikis.

A discussion forum is hierarchical or tree-like in structure: a forum can contain a number of subforums, each of which may have several topics. Within a forum’s topic, each new discussion started is called a thread, and can be replied to by as many people as so wish.

Wikis are based on the idea that the crowd, collectively, has a greater sum of knowledge than just one individual. No one person owns or rules a wiki.  The wiki model is one where  all members are able to add and edit material to build a knowledge base is quite different than what Discussion boards and Blogs are structured to do. Read more > What’s a Wiki?

Three WordPress.com Forum Options

There is no forum that you can embed into a free hosted WordPress.com blog as there is no FTP access and we cannot install plugins. You have three options:

(1) Use the P2 theme which is a Twitter-like theme for groups on your current blog. Here’s a quick video tour of the best P2 features. Under the P2 theme Options, there is a check box that says “allow any WordPress.com member to post” so at minimum, the person does have to have a WordPress.com account.

(2) Create another blog use the P2 theme on it. Then add official users to that blog and/or post a follow blog widget. Create a custom menu on your main blog and include a custom link to the P2 blog in it. Here’s a link to a custom menu walkthrough.

(3) Register a forum on the internet and then create a custom menu in your blog and include a custom link to the forum in it.

ProBoards is the largest host of free forums on the Internet and the 2011 runaway winner for “Best Hosted Service”.  the editors of Forum-Software.org, a popular product review website, began hosting the “Community Choice” Forum Awards in 2006 and have watched a steady increase in submissions and voter participation each year since.   ProBoards has served a robust and reliable service, brimming with features, to an eclectic constituency that has steadily grown since it set up shop 12 years ago. As the most visited free forum service on the internet, ProBoards boasts activity levels matched only by major portals and web news outlets.

There are many free forum hosts with differing policies, features and terms of service. Be sure to read and compare them carefully before you make your free forum host selection.

Discussion

  1. Have you ever set up and operated an online forum?
  2. Do you have a forum in conjunction with your blog? Or are you a member of a forum operated in conjunction with a blog?
  3. Have you considered creating an online forum to complement your blog?

17 thoughts on “WordPress.com Forum Options

  1. I wasn’t aware of this article. I must have had a busy time during that month. I can’t imagine running my own forum and expect many people just wanting to chat up there…they would ask me: why wasn’t I on Facebook or Twitter.

    Anyway, the commenting feature on wordpress.com is a hassle. Maybe I’ll have to make a suggestion..

  2. Thanks! I will try ProBoards . I had a hard time finding a forum I can easily set up without needing wordpress.org or something similar to it.

  3. I saw this linked to at the help forum.
    I set up my blog basically looking for a distinct group of people, and have had several come by via the search engines, but very few of those people commented, though I have developed relationships through email.

    I set up a forum through Lefora and posted the link in a couple different places on my blog. WordPress is as close to social networking as I get, so I do not have a means to get the word out. As of this time, I am just talking to myself, but for one member who posted a couple different times… I try to post on it a couple times a week or so, in hopes that it can be found on the search engines.

    Overall, Lefora has a pretty good forum set-up, in my opinion. I was a member of a group there before making my own, so was familiar with it. It contains ads unless you pay to have them removed, but I use an adblocker.

    • thebirdingbunch,
      I haven’t tried Lefora and I thank you for sharing your experience with it here. My experience with forums is that there needs to be a critical mass of members who will publish regularly for the forum to become vibrant. I hope your members grow in number and send you my best wishes.

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  5. Hi TT – Thanks for this information. Do you know of any examples that do #2 or #3? I’d love to see what it can look like.
    Thank you!
    Liza

  6. Fascinating, thanks. I’d never really seen a forum defined before.

    FWIW: I’ve used the WP.com forums, and some Adobe users forums whenever I need help. Up till now, I’ve only thought of forums as a place you go to when you have technical problems with a particular software product or platform. Many thanks for some helpful perspective.

  7. Hey TT,
    I apologise for just dropping in a query here that’s off-topic, but is there any update on this commenting problem at wordpress.com? I have regular readers who never comment anymore because of the hassles wordpress gives them when they try to do so. They have to log in. They don’t want to, or they’ve forgotten their login names, etc.

    Is there any work-around for them that I can suggest in a post? It seems by perusing the forums that wordpress isn’t going to go back to the way it was.

    If there is no solution, I’m probably going to drop wordpress – or blogging altogether. It’s not a lot of fun this way anymore.

    Cheers,
    Ian in Hamburg

      • The only work-around that I can suggest is to tell them to click “change” if they are logged in, then put X. in front of their email address, so if they are jdoe@gmail.com they put x.jdoe@gmail.com.

        That way if they comment again and you have the “approve those who have already contributed” option set they have an easy to remember email address, and if you want to send them an email then you can easily do so.

        The only time it won’t work is if there is someone who really has the address x.jdoe.gmail.com who is registered on Worpress, which is not likely. Its a shame we have to use these silly work-arrounds to give us back old functionality.

      • Hi TT,
        I’d read through those, but thought there’d be an update with better news. I leave you with a link to another blogger who has noticed a huge drop in comments, and doesn’t like it. She’s not on wordpress.com, but uses wordpress to run her blog. http://www.clickclackgorilla.com/

        Have you also noticed a difference?

        • Yes, Ian I have noticed a difference but I’ve been attributing it to the fact that I have not been publishing as frequently as I did before my hubby got his new position. I’ve even felt that maybe I wasn’t posting interesting articles. Judging from what I’ve seen posted to the support forum there are comment issues and having to log-in is a turn-off to some commenters.

    • My solution is to ask people to use a fake email address. Then they can still include the link to their blog. It works. But the only way to tell everyone is to include this at the end of every post. A bit cumbersome. I’m also thinking of moving my blog to be a self hosted site.

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