Community Software vs Community Platform Software

Hi, I’ve been thinking about the difference between community software and community platform software.

Community software conceptualizes the software as enabling “community management”, building a community for an organization, etc. The word “community” is seen as a singular word/concept. It is about building one community that might happen to grow into some segmentation.

Community platform software is a broader vision. It is enabling a community leader to set a vision for community as the context where life/work happens. This means there will be dozens or hundreds of communities within the organization’s community ecosystem. Members share a common vision, organizational tie, or other shared point of interest, but they are involved in various communities based on their role, expertise, stage of life, interests, etc. In this view, there will be a need for many groups and group leaders. Robust group (and Category) management features enable the community vision to be delegated to network leaders across the organization. The community ecosystem allows for each member to find their niche as well as see some general forums. It enables a parallel leadership structure to the organization’s existing leadership (geographies, divisions, offices, etc).

Obviously I find the second vision more compelling. And I think Discourse enables it to a significant degree.

I thought I’d put this out there to see if this differentiation has legs, and if so, if it is a helpful way to conceptualize some elements of the development roadmap. I look forward to learning from the Discourse community.


It’s a nice description of what Discourse can do for a larger organization :+1:

I do think Discourse can be both though. WordPress, our spirit animal, also operates at a broad scale. It can power your personal blog as well as your global news organization.

Similarly, for smaller groups Discourse is the equivalent of an old school mailing list to stay sporadically in touch; everyone reads everything.

It’s only when a forum gets to a certain size that it becomes what you describe as “Community Platform Software”, which is when the real fun starts happening! :wink: