Can I start a new topic by sending an email message?

A large proportion of my membership prefers to use email vs. web forums. This is due, not only to preference, but also because some key users work in secure facilities that don’t allow open access to the web. Most of the email functionality I have seen in Discourse is fine for my needs, but the ability to start a thread using email vs. only on the site is very important.

Yes, this is possible, but it requires a bit of configuration:


Thanks. I’ll dig into the details of your response to see how it will operate.

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See also

Which should probably be added to start a new topic via email and configuring reply via email.


I think it only belongs in the latter one, but good idea, done!


Hi Jeff,

Last month you sent me the link for setting up incoming email (dated April 2016):

But, I now see a subsequent posting (dated July 2016) where it seems Discourse has made the first instruction moot/not necessary.

My question: Do I still need an email address - outside of Discourse - in order to initialt email postings AND replies fully functional?

Apologies in advance; I know CMS systems, but email set up is not something I have any experience with.


Simple “reply via email” is configured automatically out of the box on our hosting.

Starting a new topic via email requires additional configuration as indicated in this topic.

In testing the functionality of inbound emails for starting a thread, a posting has been rejected with the system giving this message:

The category you sent this email to only allows replies from users with valid accounts and known email addresses. If you believe this is an error, contact a staff member.

The user had entered one email address at sign-up, but her actual account sends mail from a different sub-domain. She created her account with an address like this:

However, the actual sending server mails from this:

As the Admin, I went into her account to update her email, however the system won’t allow me, instead giving this message:

There was an error changing your email address. The address is already in use by a staged user.

I can anticipate this situation could happen to a number of my community members. How can this be solved?

Get your school’s email admins to get their act together.

But that’s not an option.

Train your not-yet-users to register with the email address that they send from.

But that’s not feasible either.

Can your users tweak their mail settings so that they send from instead of if only they would bother? If so, that seems like the least painful solution.

My own university is one thing, but my general membership base is another. I have a lot of international academic researchers on my list, and others at specialized institutions, who do not have control over how their organization configures email. New subscribers may be able to be “trained,” however if, after a data migration, I encounter existing users with the same issue, what to do? And with the person I wrote about, she is helping me test Discourse right now. Is there no workaround on the Discourse side? Or is it all about wrestling with the IT department each time?


I think they can create a new account using the staged address, but you can see this discussion here (it’s not promising).

There’s been lots of discussion about this very problem, but there are not currently any very satisfactory solutions.

This issue would be solved by Discourse supporting multiple email addresses per user, which is currently being worked on :slight_smile: