build a forum

How to Build a Forum On a Subdomain

Do you want to build a forum and you want it to be on a sub domain of  your existing website/blog because you ain’t ready to purchase a separate hosting for it?

I once setup a forum on a sub domain for testing reasons and It was easy and simple and an example of a sub domain is

If that’s exactly what you want to do on your own domain, then you’re in luck today.

We’re going to discuss it step by step and I want you to read carefully and understand every bit of it.

Let’s look at the things we’ll cover :

  • Creating a sub domain in cPanel
  • How to install WordPress to a sub domain
  • Installing bbPress on a sub domain
  • Conclusion – (Optional)

Creating a Subdomain in Cpanel – Step 1

Before we build a forum on a sub domain,we’ll need to create a sub domain where the forum will be built on.

The easiest way to create a sub domain is to use your web hosting account’s cpanel.

  • Log into your cPanel
  • Go to the Domains section and click on Subdomains.
  • Type in the name of the sub domain and select the domain to create it under. It will automatically create a folder for the sub domain in your public_html folder.
  • Click the Create button. You will then see a message stating it “has been created.”

Wow! Now, that you’ve created your sub domain, we’ll now install WordPress to it.

How to Install WordPress to a Subdomain – Step 2

So, since we’re building a forum on a sub domain, and we’re building it with “bbPress”, we’ll add a second installation of WordPress to your sub domain.

Install WordPress Using Softaculous

After you create the sub domain, you’re ready to install WordPress. To do this, follow these steps:

  1. In the SOFTACULOUS APPS INSTALLER section of the cPanel home screen, click any of the options under Categories. The Softaculous installer page appears.
    It does not matter which option you click under Categories. All of them start the Softaculous installer.
  2. In the Search text box, type WordPress and then press Enter.
    Alternatively, you can use the navigation pane on the left side. To do this, click Blogs, and then click WordPress.
  3. Click Install. The installation page appears.

Note : Do not install WordPress to your main domain name or it will overwrite and everything and unless you were backing your website up, you’ve totally lost your old blog.

Always back up your blog contents in case of mistakes like this.

So, when installing the new WordPress, select the sub domain you just created, that’s where it’ll be installed to.

Having installed WordPress, we’ll now look forward to creating your long-awaited forum with “bbPress”.

How to Install bbPress On Your Subdomain – Step 3


To install bbPress on WordPress, follow these steps:

  1. Log in to your WordPress site as the administrator.
  2. In the left-hand pane, click Plugins.
  3. Click Add New.
  4. In the Search text box, type bbPress, and then click Search Plugins.
  5. In the Name column, locate bbPress, and then click Install Now.
  6. Click OK to confirm the installation.
  7. After WordPress finishes installing the plugin, click Activate Plugin.


After you install the bbPress plugin, you can create a forum and configure it. To do this, follow these steps:

  1. Log in to your WordPress site as the administrator.
  2. In the left-hand pane, click Forums, and then click New Forum.
  3. Under Create New Forum, type a name for the forum in the text box. WordPress displays the permalink URL to the forum.
  4. In the large text box, type a description for the forum.
  5. Under Forum Attributes, specify the forum settings that you want.
  6. To publish the forum, click Publish.

To spice up the whole thing and make your forum look interesting, we’ll be adding BuddyPress to it.

BuddyPress is a free software package that can be plugged in to WordPress to create a social networking website. For newcomers, think of BuddyPress as an out-of-the-box social networking website, complete with an administration area that lets you manage the site. BuddyPress is a plugin for WordPress.

1. Install BuddyPress

  1. Log into your WordPress dashboard and go to Plugins > Add New.
  2. Search for “buddypress”.
  3. BuddyPress should be the first result. Click “Install Now”.
  4. After WordPress finishes downloading the plugin, click “Activate Plugin”.

2. Activate BuddyPress components

  1. Go to Settings > BuddyPress > Components.
  2. Activate the components you plan on using. Do not activate all of them unless you need them all!
  3. Click “Save Settings”.

3. Attach pages to BuddyPress components

  1. Go to Settings > BuddyPress > Pages.
  2. BuddyPress should have automatically created and attached pages to your components. If not, or if you want editable pages for the “Register” and “Activate” components (not necessary) first create the pages at Pages > Add New and then return to here and select your new pages for each component.
  3. Click “Save Settings”.

4. Configure BuddyPress settings

  1. Go to Settings > BuddyPress > Settings.
  2. Select the settings you desire, such as Group creation, Account Deletion, etc.
  3. Click “Save Settings.”

Option: Allow new users to create accounts on your site

  1. Go to Settings > General. Select “Anyone can register” under Membership.
  2. Go to Settings > BuddyPress > Settings. Make sure “Show the Toolbar for logged out users” is set to “Yes”.

5. Set up user profile fields

  1. Go to Users > Profile Fields.
  2. Add all profile fields you want to collect during initial user sign ups into the “Base” profile group (you can rename this).
  3. Create new profile field groups for collecting information after signup. Add the desired profile fields to these groups.

Conclusion –

Forums like,, etc are powered by

Discourse is one such popular forum software that is quickly becoming the favourite choice of several websites. The software’s integration with WordPress was one of the widely requested features.

Keeping such requests in mind, Discourse has recently released an official WordPress plugin that makes the integration really easy.

Features of WP Discourse Plugin

The WP Discourse plugin enables you to use Discourse as a community engine for your WordPress blog.

As you install and configure the settings for WP Discourse plugin, you will explore several features of the plugin but here’re the main highlights of what you can achieve with the plugin.

  • Ability to publish selected posts as Forum topics on Discourse
  • Use Discourse for comments and discussions for WordPress posts
  • Define category and format of posts on Discourse
  • Set author of published posts on Discourse
  • Ability to configure which comments from Discourse can be displayed on the WordPress posts
  • Enable SSO to use your WordPress blog as the Single Sign-On provider for your Discourse forum

Installing Discourse WordPress Plugin

You can easily install the plugin by searching for WP Discourse within your WordPress dashboard. Follow the quick instructions below.

  • From your WordPress dashboard, navigate to Plugins > Add New
  • Search for ‘WP Discourse‘.
  • Install and activate the WP Discourse plugin.

Discourse WordPress Plugin Search

Alternatively, you can download and upload the ‘wp-discourse’ folder to your ‘/wp-content/plugins/’ directory and activate the plugin from your WordPress dashboard.

Configuring WP Discourse Plugin

Once you have installed and activated the WP Discourse plugin, head over to Settings > Discourse where you will need to configure settings to connect your WordPress blog with your Discourse forum.

Discourse WordPress Plugin settings

Common Settings

First, you will need to fill in the values for common settings that establish the connection between two platforms.

You will need to fill in the settings for ‘Discourse URL’, ‘API Key’, and ‘Publishing username’. You should also have already set up your Discourse forum at this point.

  • Discourse URL: The base URL of your Discourse forum
  • API Key: Found under Admin/API of your Discourse forum – (Go to /admin/api to locate the key)
  • Publishing username: Any administrator username on your Discourse forum. (The default administrator username on your Discourse forum is system and if you haven’t changed that you should be fine with leaving system as username here.)

See the screenshot above for common settings.

Publishing Settings

Next, Publishing Settings allow you to choose your category and the ability to publish all new posts to Discourse.

Discourse Publishing Settings WordPress Plugin

You can also opt to publish the full post for content rather than the default excerpt and define post types to publish to Discourse in this section.

Comments Settings

You can choose to replace WordPress default comments completely or add Discourse forum discussions in addition to your WordPress comments for Discourse published posts.

The settings in this section also allow you to define and configure other comments related features.

SSO Settings

SSO Settings allow you to enable single sign-on between your WordPress site and your Discourse forum. Check the box next to Enable SSO and fill in the SSO Secret Key for the single sign on to work.

Single Sign on SSO settings for Discourse WordPress Plugin

You should also configure the SSO settings for your Discourse forum available under – Admin\Settings\Login section.

Then SSO Secret Key settings here at WordPress blog should match the value for SSO Secret that is entered on your Discourse forum settings.

That’s a long one right? Well, you can now setup your forum and build a forum on a subdomain easily.

If you need help, Feel free to contact me and I’ll personally help.

Author: Joy Okoro

Hey, I'm Joy, a writer and a self taught blogger who loves to explore the innovation of blogging related things.

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