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Setup a Forum on your WordPress Website Using Simple:Press Part 1 – Introduction to Simple:Press

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Good morning everybody and welcome to this special seminar on how to setup a form on your WordPress website using Simple:Press. Simple:Press is an exceptionally powerful forum plugin and it is the forum plugin that I use here on BYOBWebsite.

Benefits of Simple:Press

Out of the box, it gives you a lot of power and flexibility for controlling who can see what on your forum, controlling who can post and setting up social integration so people can chat together and build community. So, it’s an exceptionally powerful system.

Individual Forums within the Forum System

For example, it allows you to build a very large and complex forum system with a system of forum groups with individual forums. As an example, I have this one forum group here called Lesson questions & comments. It is supposed to be about the courses that I teach here on the site.

Great for Support

You are probably all familiar with how the forum works but it allows people to create their own posts and ask questions. It allows other people to answer those questions all the rest of that sort of thing. It’s a very compelling tool for support. In fact, we rely on it very heavily.

Hide or Show Content Based on Type of User

It also gives you the ability to hide or show content depending upon what kind of a person is viewing it. So for example, I have this Web Designer Bootcamp forum here and Finish Your Site in 4 Weeks forum here. These are two small group coaching classes that I teach but if you are looking at the forum you won’t see these unless you were in one of these classes.

Google isn’t indexing them and they’re only accessible by people who are members of the class. In addition to that, you can set some things up. For example, I have free members who I allow to ask questions in certain places and then paid members.

So while all the world can see these forums and their content only paid members can post to them. I can also set up things like General Site Support Questions. This is actually a forum where free members can post questions.

Different Permission Levels

There are varying permission levels possible. If you are running any kind of a membership site you may want to have some forums visible, some forums not visible, some forums visible but only specific people can post to them and so on. It provides a very simple way of controlling visibility and access with permissions based on the user role that the member has. So it’s a very powerful system.

Add Text, Photos, Videos and Screenshots

Obviously, it allows your users to add things like photos or videos and the like so that they can make their question more obvious. I did that mostly for me so I can take screenshots and I don’t have to use a lot of words to explain how to solve a problem. I can just add a screenshot in there. Sometimes I just stick videos in if I do a little video of it. This forum allows you to do all that kind of stuff.

Subscribe or Watch Forum Questions

It also allows people to subscribe to forum questions. So if there’s a forum question that you’re interested in, even if you didn’t ask it, you can subscribe to it so that when answers are offered you get notification of it and it allows you to watch it also.

Maybe you don’t want to get an email notification but the next time you come to the forum you want to know whether or not there are topics that you watched have new forum posts in them. It allows you to do that as well.

Full Featured Member Profile

It has a fairly robust member profile ability so members can set up their own profiles and decide how much they want to be visible and how much they want to be hidden.

All in all, it’s a very powerful plugin. It wasn’t originally nearly as efficient as it is now. Prior to the 5.0 upgrade which happened a couple of years ago this forum worked really well but was very resource intensive and so it took a lot of processing power especially if you had a really large forum like I have here.

I used to have to pay for quite a bit of extra RAM and CPU for the site in order to make the forum reasonably snappy but in the last couple of years it has become very efficient and it doesn’t require nearly the processing power that it used to.

At one point I thought about tossing this forum and going with something else but now that I’m using the latest version I’m very happy with it and no longer inclined to look for a non WordPress solution to the problem.

There are other WordPress forums out there that are simpler but they just don’t look particularly social. The nice thing about this forum is that it is very social. It puts gravatars on there and it has all kinds of positive things here.

Management of a Forum

I just opened a forum post I haven’t answered. The one thing I wish you could do is after you see it you could mark it that you haven’t seen it so that it still shows up in your new forum post list.

Tracking Questions

I’m going to move this one away so that when I’m done with the seminar I can come back and answer this question. From a management standpoint it’s very useful to be able to know which questions you’ve answered and which questions you haven’t. Anyway, those are the kinds of things that Simple:Press can do.

How to Avoid Forum Spammers

Managing a forum can be a very time consuming process if you do not have some kind of a gatekeeper that prevents spammers from registering and signing up and then posting spam. Because of that I really only recommend you manage the forum in a way that people can’t automatically register for it.

That means you do it behind a membership application or inside a membership site. You could use either one way or the other but you need to make sure you don’t allow just anybody to come along, register for an account and then post on it.

This has a lot of functionality attempting to curb that and deal with it. But, in my opinion, if you keep this behind a membership site and you have some kind of control over who becomes a member then you solve that problem entirely.

Create a System that Doesn’t Allow Direct Registration to the Forum

I never have a problem with spam signups on my site because the only people who can ask questions have to actually sign up for the site. Once someone has signed up for the site then they have access to the forum and that’s the system I’m going to teach today.

That is a system that does not allow registration for the forum or that automatically grants access to the forum for people who are already registered but does not permit registration and then you can use any of the other systems that I’ve taught for membership control whether using WP eMember for a paid system or you’re using the Members plugin for a free membership system. Either way you can have membership access using a membership plugin and then once that member has been created then you can automatically grant them access to the appropriate place in the forum.

The one that we’re working on today is I’m testing out some new course ware for the small group coaching classes that I teach and you probably already know that you know, when a week in a piece a new class is starting on Professional Skin Development so today what we’ll be doing is setting up the forum for that and I use that process to demonstrate how this whole thing works.

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