Geek review: wp-united, phpbb forum mod for wordpress integration

This article helps understand how to integrate a forum with wordpress. Over the next week I’m going to write a few posts about geeky technical things. First up is wp-united, and my views on forum integration with wordpress blogs, technically mostly, and a tour of the various forum software which can be integrated with wordpress.

Update December 2012: latest version has been updated to fix the problems I had outlined below.

Situation: I had a wordpress site which was getting so many comments on it (pwnwear, this one), notably including conversations between commenters, as opposed to just conversation between me and the readers, I wanted to add forums.  I had some design constraints which I set myself to do this properly, and a context in which I was making the decision.

Key challenge: is selecting forum software which satisfied my key requirements:  - to look good and integrate with wordpress.

I knew I was making a long-term decision too, because, and this is key, it can be very complicated to exit from one forum system and import into a new one. In many cases there are no automated importer tools, which can leave you stranded on the system you’ve got or required to script your own full-on extraction/normalising code.

Forum software to integrate with wordpress

These were the candidates at the time that I remember considering. Unless I state otherwise I have installed it and tested it.

When reading this, bear in mind whether you want these features or not:

  • user integration, for single-sign-on, so forums members can post on wordpress comments (most likely, this is why you want integration)
  • cross-posting from wordpress blog into forums, and then the handling of comments against that blog post as if it’s a single entity, so that you get a single conversation of comments and forum replies, and not two conversations; one on the blog side, one in forums.
  • theme integration, so the forum is automatically (or easily coded) to visually fit within the graphics and style of your wordpress forum.

Read the full article here for a commentary on all the forum contenders I considered, including phpbb, vbulletin, ip board, wp-united, drupal, joomla, bbpress.

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8 comments to Geek review: wp-united, phpbb forum mod for wordpress integration

  • rebecca

    so what are u using right now? I would like to integrate a forum with my site but Im failing miserably and i need help

    • Gravity
      Twitter: gravitydk

      I’m using a manually-coded HTML header and footer on the forums, which visually matches the blog.
      I have given up on user integration for the moment, so there’s no single-sign on.
      I found that all the community discussions with one another, over the last six months, have now moved to the forums, so I don’t gain as much from single-sign-on as I did when I first launched.

  • rebecca

    Oh OK. Thanks.
    What do you think I should personally use? I don’t want the forum to physically show on the blog. Its still can be separate. I just want that people who post on the blog have their messages show on the blogs and at the forum at the same time and vice versa. All that without forcing people to sign-in to any while still showing the same screename they choose at the time they post on both. Am I making sense?

    • Gravity
      Twitter: gravitydk

      Ah, sadly that’s the hardest kind of integration. Conceptually, you have three options.

      1) use wp-united with phpbb and enable it to handle comments, which will disable unregistered comments on your blog site. This didn’t suit my community, so was not an option,

      2) don’t use wordpress for your blog, but instead use a forum system, and create a portal using that forum software which highlights posts you want. Again, unregistered user comments will not work unless your forum software supports guest posting (and some do). This option means abandoning wordpress.

      3) try buddyPress and see if its social features and forums suit your purposes. It’s a social-networking oriented solution.

      • rebecca

        1) not interesting if unregistered people cant post
        2) not an option
        3) buddypress is not what i need at all. people need to resgister and create profiles. all that hassle for them i want to avoid.
        So for now I guess im gonna go with SImplePress . I just installed it. Its seems pretty robust. Even though that is not ideally wast im looking for it will do for now… I guess.
        Keep us posted!

  • Jhong
    Twitter: wpunited

    Hi GravityDK,

    I know you posted this a long time ago, but I just wanted to give an update on WP-United for you and your readers: It is updated now to v0.9.1, works with the latest WordPress, and is much easier to set up.

    Guest-posting on comments now is also allowed

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