Change from phpbb to Discourse

So our Forum currently uses phpbb 3.3.7 and we think about changing to Discourse.
Is there a (easy) way to change from phpbb to Discourse?

We would like to keep all Threads, user accounts, etc…

Thanks for any help!
p.s.: Discourse is gonna be self-hosted and phpbb is too.


Hey @Timothee_scheufler

Here is a good guide about importing from phpbb3 to discourse.

I hope it helps.


Yeah but it says “Importing from phpbb 3.3 is currently not supported”…

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We’re currently finishing the last touches for PHPBB 3.3 import support, I will create a PR for that within two weeks.


Alright sounds good!


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Hey, no hurry but any news on when this will be possible?

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I was away on vacation and I wasn’t able to make the PR before I went away. Putting it on my list for this week.


You need to consider the following at least:

  • traffic implications to your forum when migrating / search engines
  • your existing user base are cool with Discourse and features like infinte scroll
  • adrevenue, do you depend on this, will it be effected?

So you might have the technical point on side, but one or all of these or an x-factor unique to you (the loss of some custom dev/feature that keeps people returning) or both of these may hamstring your new platform post migration, a user exodus or revolt will neutralise any technical gains.

Discourse is vastly superior to phpBB on many levels, for example the ease of finding information, which can often revive old forums content by being more discoverable, but if your users revolt all your hard works hopes and dreams will go up in smoke!

Depending on the size and traffic you need to carefully think about users reaction to a change. You can try bring them along in whatever manner you might achieve. This may smooth over any problems.

Generally, people do not like change.

You can’t please all of the people all of the time, only som eo the people some of the time etc. etc.

If you don’t give a dam about any of the above, then plough ahead and best of luck. :beers:


Thank you!
No problem, take your time.

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Not a big issue for us, as we already had a Community before phpbb which just migrated to an own forum now.

We did make a poll and most of the users voted for the change. + Discoursse seems way more easy to manage for me as the admin.

No adrevenue in any way.

That’s true, but you might find a way to please as much people as possible at the same time…

Thank you for your really good answer!

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Great reply and it looks like you have as good as it gets migration scenario on your hands! Leaving you more time to deal with any technicalities post main migration stage.

Best of luck! :+1:

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I have made the PR for PHPBB 3.3 support. Actually, I think most (or all) of them are fixes of things that could have been happening in previous versions as well.

I have performed a number of different imports with this code so it’s working for me. However, specific setups could still be triggering unaddressed features or conditions.

There are some fixes with respect to polls and there is one feature / fix that affects personal messages.

Personal messages can have users and groups as recipients, they are coded as u_ID and g_ID. Previous versions of the importer assumed everything was a user and just threw away the u_ prefix. If the recipient is a group, this was resulting in a confidentiality issue, since all messages directed to a group with a certain ID were being imported for the user with the same ID. The group ID is now detected and expanded into individual users. My first idea was to use group inboxes but we came across messages that were being sent to three users and two groups at once, so that made it impossible to use group inboxes. If a message is now sent to a large group, this can potentially result in a PM being sent to a relatively high number individual users though.

The PR is merged now and you can find it here.


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