Advice on persuading closed FB groups to move to Discourse?

I’m a member of several private Facebook groups (restricted to paid members of some organizations) that operate the same way: you sign up somewhere else, and in your welcome email they provide a link to the group, after which a moderator would let you in after confirming your membership.

These seem tailor made to move to Discourse - in fact for one of them, the founder has stated in interview that they picked FB simply for convenience but are not wedded to it.

Does anyone have experience or suggestions about how to convince such groups to move over to Discourse - and also potential pitfalls?

I would likely have to suggest hosted offerings - the communities in question are not really technical, and alas after my existing obligations I don’t really have time to commit to running a self-hosted Discourse for them either (and it would be a single point of failure, and hiring a full-time sysadmin would be overkill for them). Money shouldn’t be a major factor though given that they have subscription fees from members. Discourse’s official hosting seems slightly pricey but Discourse Hosting Plans and Pricing - Communiteq has a slightly lower price point; I’m also curious what other hosting providers people are using.

Thanks in advance!


We recently made a switch from google groups…it was a matter of ‘build it and they will come’ for us. Google is doing their best to torpedo the platform, so everyone was sick of the bugs and ‘features’.
Discourse offered an affordable, low-ish maintenance option where we owned the data instead of a giant multinational data hoarder. It has features™ compared to the glorified chat rooms of facebook, and huge api extensibility for our dev to integrate our other people management software. (stop paying and it kicks people out of the privileged sections).



The main issue which caused such a migration for me to fail was the fact users did not like to visit another webpage (yeah!) and they didn’t like the fact that they wouldn’t receive new posts in their Facebook feed or Facebook notifications (as if Facebook is its own browser! :man_facepalming: ). Users seem to like “everything in one place”

Notifications is an issue on iOS specifically where web notifications are not supported in the OS so people will need to learn to rely on email notification that Discourse relies on there. This can be a source of friction.

Don’t underestimate Facebook stickiness then …


You can configure a Facebook login to make transition much more straightforward which will also help guarantee users appear the same as they did on Facebook so there is no confusion over usernames etc.

You can automate posts to Facebook based on posts in Discourse using third party tools but that will force you to keep the old group on Facebook and risks splitting the community.

One solution is to provide features, content and experience they can’t get on Facebook. Writing plugins that tailor the experience for the specific subject matter is a powerful option but that’s an advanced topic.


If you are concerned about price, self hosting is the cheapest option but you need to learn some technical ropes. However that can be a lot of fun. Discourse make the self install route pretty pain free and it is extremely robust out of the box. You can install it yourself in half an hour once you’ve had a bit of practice. It’s very reliable once up and running. I’ve not had an outage in years.

Monetisation like affiliate links is a way to claw back the costs. You can make the affiliate links appropriate for the subject matter of the community which will make them more acceptable and jar less and might even be useful!


Yeah, I worry about this too.

Self hosting might be more practical for one of the groups I had in mind, so the idea of customizing the experience with plugins sounds good, thanks. I’m watching the other thread on people’s experiences moving groups from FB with interest too.

I don’t think affiliate links would recuperate the cost that much given the membership (low to high hundreds) but worth suggesting anyway.

I won’t be available in an admin capacity in these groups - I’m relatively new and can’t really spare that much time right now - but I’m hoping to collect all the pros and cons and let the admins make an informed call on this. I wouldn’t want to be that person who caused the community to collapse, no matter how much I prefer they’re not on FB!