5 years on - how have you found Discourse?

I can’t believe it’s now over 5 years since Discourse launched (and that I’ve been here from pretty much day 1, haha!) …I’d love to hear your Discourse stories and what your Discourse journey has been like!

For me personally Discourse quickly became my favourite forum platform (I’ve used a lot of different platforms over the years having managed forums for over 15 years now) and I’ve been incredibly impressed seeing the team take it from strength to strength. It’s not perfect (nothing in this universe is) but it’s hands down the best forum platform out there right now.

The only thing I miss really, is the ability to easily customise it - it was always relatively easy to use other forum software in non-standard ways or non-forum areas of the site and I’d really love to be able to do similar with Discourse (if the team are interested in what I mean I am happy to share details). But anyway, the thing I want to say here is well done to the Discourse team - you’ve done an amazing job and I can’t wait to see where Discourse goes from here …and what that new project is you mentioned a while ago!

(Or did I miss it? :man_facepalming:)


A Very Large and Well Respected Videogame Company™ is using Discourse exclusively, and by this point we’ve transitioned to hosting all their forums. We’re not allowed to say who it is.


Ah congrats!

I used to run a gaming forum myself :smiley: (should probably sell the domain - it’s a good one!)


Seriously, how long can they expect that to last?

But I’m not telling either. :wink:


I’m interested. I have some thoughts of my own and I’m wondering how similar they are to yours.


Aside from just being able to customise the markup for general styling/customisation, there are probably 3 ways in which we’ve used forum software to do more than just power standard forum stuff.

I’ll PM you some you some links and further info Sarah (feel free to share these with the team internally if you think it’s worth doing) :smiley:


But what about the rest of us - curious lurkers? :sob:


Ok here’s some quick info on the first type - essentially the forum software powers all the site sections such as news, articles (and we used to have blogs too). How? We simply customise the html for each section and give the first post one style, and all subsequent posts (comments) a different style.

They’re ALL powered by the forum and the article and news pages are just ‘normal threads’ and the homepage (and news and article landing pages) are powered by a forum plugin that allows you to create custom pages with your own HTML and include queries (so ‘latest news’, ‘latest articles’ etc)

The thing to take away here that they’re essentially normal thread pages - just different styles applied to the first and subsequent posts (as well as to individual sections, ie categories).

(Please excuse the large image ads in the sidebars btw - they used to be text ads (brown like the other links) but Google recently decided they would display ads as they see fit :man_facepalming:

PS. That design is over 10 years old now iirc… and if you want to see something similar in action, I believe MacRumors does something similar now but with Xenforo.


I simply love it. Used for a mostly‑online modeling community known as the Open Energy Modelling Initiative. Thanks! PS: we are five years old too.

On a more informative note, here is how I recently placed Discourse within our range of online services (that’s the gray block):


Last year, I migrated a 200000 messages, 15 years old phpbb forum (a French unicycling community) to Discourse. The intent was to provide some modernity to our forum and get back the community that had left over the years (a lot of people went on facebook groups).

Regarding the forum activity, Discourse, unfortunately, hasn’t made any miracle. People stick to their facebook groups despite our efforts to grab them back! The forum activity is also very tied to this sport’s popularity which as decreased a lot from the mid-2000s and we can’t do anything about that.

Regarding the user experience, it’s a success. Natively responsive, modern interface, easy to post images and video… I think the users are content and to my eyes, there is no bad side to Discourse really. The only thing I could think of is that I prefer the Nodebb fading transition between pages instead of a loading icon.
I’m that satisfied that it is possible that I migrate another phpbb forum (also 200000 messages) to Discourse in the future (hoping that the current admins will take some time to study the subject).

Regarding my very personal Discourse experience, it has been very beneficial to me.
I didn’t know anything about servers and Linux and my Discourse experience led me toward this exploration. I’ve learned a lot.
Last year, I was among the winners on an official theme contest, which was pretty cool!
A few days ago, I was for the first time confident enough to provide help on someone’s broken Discourse installation and was at the end paid for it.
Discourse has made me learn technical stuff and I was eventually rewarded for this, so that’s pretty great.

So, an excellent experience overall.


I am one of the admins on https://discuss.elastic.co/ and we’ve been using Discourse since 2015 after moving from Google Groups.

To give you some rounded stats from our past 4 years;

  • 122,000,000 page views
  • 28,000,000 emails sent
  • 488,000 posts
  • 124,000 topics
  • 79,000 users
  • 11,000 accepted solutions
  • 11,000 PMs

I gotta say, this platform is one of the best parts of my job. It evolves as we do, the team behind it is awesome and always helpful when I ask dumb things, and it’s created a thriving community for us, but also around itself.

Thanks so much for everything that the team and community has done!


Very true; I struggled a lot when I started installing/tweaking/using Discourse and I was impressed by the reactivity and exhaustivity of the help from people here. Not only from the dev team, but from all users.
I don’t remember having any condescending or irritated reply to my questions tough I was a total newbie with (maybe) silly questions. It was (is!) really appreciated.


Well, I have heared from discourse when I joined openWRT forum to seek for info about configuring my openWRT router.
About 8 months ago.

I got impressed with the forum, although at first it took a while to get used to it (it is strange when you are used to vBulletin).

It happened that I am one of the admins of one of the most important forums about photography in spanish language (ojodigital.com).

It was in Vbulletin 4 and it was decaying as most of the forums, due to social nets and the software being old and not well adapted to tablets and mobile.

Meanwhile or forum transition fro a private owned forum (owned by the founder) to a comunity based forum. We created a photography asociation to sustain the forum and other activities.

We wer seeking for a goot forum software and I had no doubt discourse was the best I knew.

So we migrated to discourse.

We have not migrated old content, as it is a lot of information (about 15 years) , with hundreds of thousands of users, much of that info is old and most users do not participate today.

So we begun from scratch in order to get a much more light forum. And we do not have the expertize to do the migration (neither in vbulletin internals, nor discourse).

We are very happy with the results (https://foro.ojodigital.com).

The old forum is now closed but still functional.

I am trying to get a static pages version (plain html) in order to archive the old forum (using wget)
But I am having troubles getting it to work, as urls to CSS and other resources do not work even if I try to generate relative URLs.

It would be great to get it archived and close the server dedicated to vbulletin.
If I can not do it, we will close it in a few months and all that info an photograps will be lost.


One desire of evolution to discourse: provide a front page utility were you can promote featured posts or news displayed in a beautifull way (for example posts marked as featured o promoted).

It was something you could do it vbulletin and was wonderfull as you could have a home page with featured content without the need of an external CMS like wordpress.

That home page would be great if could be divided in different sections, and formatted in differente ways.

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Did you try HTTrack?


Discourse the software

I am reviving an old web MMO, and I enthusiastically switched our forums to Discourse 2 years ago with great results. A lot of great things come to mind but one of the most important ones for me is that it has helped us curb some serious problems we were having with toxicity.

It may seem like a small thing compared to all the technical and design stuff, but the soul of Discourse to me is reflected in something @codinghorror wrote when it launched:

The goal of the company we formed, Civilized Discourse Construction Kit, Inc., is exactly that – to raise the standard of civilized discourse on the Internet through seeding it with better discussion software:

Our jobs are already stressful enough without also having to deal with hostile users. Although it’s impossible to avoid entirely, Discourse has greatly improved the experience for our users and for me personally as an admin. Less stress, yes!

It’s not just that moderation tools work well to deter bad behavior, it’s that the entire experience promotes civil discourse. It’s fantastic.

Discourse the community

For Discourse as a community, it’s been almost as smooth, though not without some issues.

Unfortunately, this hasn’t been my experience. While most of the time my conversations here have been positive, I have on more than one occasion come looking for support here on Meta and left feeling like a nuisance after having been talked down to and even belittled by more prominent community members, and unfortunately even staff. This is especially egregious given Discourse’s earlier mentioned goal.

I don’t say this to throw anybody under the bus or to bring down the mood but as an honest reply to this topic, I have a few times considered alternatives (namely, Flarum) as a result of support experiences here that I can only describe as condescending. If Discourse the software wasn’t so great I would have bailed awhile ago.

However, there is some good news in even this: awhile back I was lurking in #support and saw somebody else treated poorly while looking for help. It occurred to me that I was not sufficiently making use of the tools at our disposal (If You See a Problem, Flag It). Instead of offering my own assistance to reassure the asker that they weren’t being stupid for asking, I simply reported the questionable post and it was eventually dealt with.

This small interaction was hugely redeeming for me because it showed that even Discourse Meta isn’t above toxicity issues, and that just like my own users, we here in this community have the means to improve our own environment. The flagging mechanism itself isn’t the significant thing here; it’s the larger Discourse experience that really does feel like it is built for civilized discourse.

Discourse has been undeniably effective at accomplishing its goals and clearly still cares about their vision. There have been challenges here and there for the software and community alike, but that’s the nature of the beast.

What matters is how challenges are handled, and Discourse has done a great job. 5+ years after its launch, I am confident about where it is going.


thank you, i will try with that soft.

I was trying with whet but could no find the appropiate options.

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You nailed the reason why I love Discourse as a user and even as a mod/admin of a board of my own. This is such an easy to use software, and it’s just amazing :smiley:

I’ve used many forum software, but this one is just what I want in a forum.


I decided on discourse mainly because it’s free, well supported, and it just-works. Mybb/fluxbb/simplemachines/Vbulletin etc are really starting to show their age

However I have a lot of criticisms of it.
The infinite scrolling thing is cool for mobile and touchscreens but just not an ideal desktop experience imho, there’s a feeling of being ‘lost’ mid-way through a thread

The style of discourse actually seems best for real-time discussions, not small forums due to it’s auto-updating post ability

At the end of the day though it does what I need. It has great admin tools and I feel like I can just leave it alone without worrying about it. And I’m also growing attached to it.

I might move to Xenforo just because I feel it has a better visual design and I don’t like infinite scrolling, but I feel they charge too much for a license. Like if I run 3 xenforo sites that’s over $200 initial cost plus $120 per year in renewal. Which is just too much overhead for minor improvements here and there.


I’ve been using it for a year and have a self-sustaining community on it so it’s all good

I also learn a lot about CSS in the process XD


Another quick point of view I thought about after reading this topic: like most people, I frequent multiple forums with various engines.
It appeared to me that on a phpbb forum I frequent daily, two of the features that Discourse has and I miss the most are:

  1. The possibility to mention users. Sometimes, I read a post that could be interesting to someone else, or I’d like to invite someone to reply or say something and I have no other option than sending a private message to notify the person (which I never did, by the way…)
  2. The “like” feature. There is no other way to thank or acknowledge someone without having to write a message which will have no other purpose. Instead, I sometimes have sent private messages.