Comparison of some platforms

I am part of a small community (max 200 members) that is looking to replace a NING forum with something new. I’ve used Discourse and am partial to it, but the following are up for evaluation: Spruz, SocialenginePHP, Socibd, phpfox, jamroom, Elgg, and Slack. Any thoughts on whether any of these other platforms are comparable in sophistication and usability to Discourse? (Aha…now I see - another useful feature from Discourse - some potentially interesting messages in “Your topic is similar to…” over on the right there…From the quick look I’ve had at these other programs they do not seem nearly as sophisiticated as Discou

I’d just like to point out this recent piece with regards to Slack being on your list there:


Thanks, Discourse and Slack appear to me to stand out in this company. For some reason, my colleagues are voting for Spruz(?!)

I tend to be the comparison guy too. I need to check every option before making a decision (I find that quite annoying at times, but it has its benefits). But with discourse it was different: it was immediately clear to me that there is no need to even start looking any further.* The disadvantage is that I can’t show you my comparison table.

But trying to think about what it was that made me so sure, I think features were only a small part of it (and they speak for themselves). What’s important is the whole mission behind the project (use value, not profit), its vibrant community, and that it is open source and professionally managed with numerous people working full time on it. I don’t think there’s anything else like that out there (and if there is, honestly, it probably doesn’t matter if you pick discourse or the other one, they will both be good).

I don’t know if this will convince your members, but I think it should.

* I did hesitate once, after I had already decided, and that was when I haphazardly came across flarum. But as much as I like it, development is just too slow and unpredictable.


This looks like spam for Spruz :joy:

Never heard of it before and they don’t even let you see a sample community without signing up :rofl:

Ok cynical side aside…

I have been a forum admin for 15 years and have used pretty much all of the ‘best’ forum platforms out there (both free and paid). Whenever I start a new forum now I use Discourse - without any doubt whatsoever - I feel it’s the best forum platform out there and the support (and team) are second to none :+1:t3:


I had to go through all the stages of traditional scripts (phpbb and Chinese wecenter) then Vanilla, esoTalk (now closed), then Flarum, which inherited the best from esoTalk.

But still, even though Flarum was a good system, I needed a more functional program. The choice fell on Discourse and NodeBB. I chose the first and not regretted.

Webcenter Chinese clone Quora (php) and I was very satisfied with it, I have a community that has tens of thousands of people, but this platform (wecenter) is not standing next to Discourse.

phpfox is still a bit different. I think communities are different from social network, focus.

Discourse is undoubtedly the best.

I apologize for the English. Google translator.


This would be an immediate disqualifier for me:


Folks here like Discourse pretty much. :slight_smile: I suppose that some of those may have better “social network” features, but if what you want is discussion, I’d think Discourse would be the winner.

If you need help porting your data from Ning, I can help.


Thanks to all of you for useful feedback. :grinning:

In my last job we created this tool which might be useful for you. You’ll notice that it doesn’t include any of the platforms that you mentioned. It compares the platforms with the biggest marketshare. We did that because they are the most likely to be around in the future. I would be very careful about signing up for a very new product in this competitive market.

(Note that Slack is an exception to the above because it’s not an asynchronous platform – we believe it works in tandem, rather than in competition, with Discourse.)

If you want my opinion of where Discourse sits in the platform ecosystem you should read my bio here. :wink:


When it became apparent that all of those solutions were Discourse based

Are you saying that every organization building an online community chose discourse?

Nope, I’m saying all the ones that ended up with world class ones did. :wink:


Thanks Hawk, interesting stuff! (and nice to see you have a Norwegian on your team, perhaps I’ll look him up!) The “Civilized” part in Civilized Discourse is a nice bonus :grinning:

Ironically Erlend’s in NZ right now!


I agree that Discourse might be quite sophisticated in terms of the functionality and features but it’s written in Ruby so I can’t use it on my site which is created in Python/Django. I’ve been looking into a Django based forum called ‘Misago’ and also have doing some research into the question whether the API of Google Plus would allow me to integrate it into my website.

In practice this may not really be an issue, unless you anticipate needing extreme-level integration / custom features. Typical setup is to install Discourse on a subdomain so you have in addition to the main site at And then connect them with SSO and customize Discourse to sufficiently match the style / nav of your main site. Since the site and forum can be (and usually are) hosted on completely different servers they can run on completely different stacks with no problems. More extensive integrations possible using Discourse’s API as well. (You may know this already and have special needs beyond this sort of setup but want to point it out as it’s not necessarily obvious!)


Hi Brendan, thanks a lot for pointing this out. Since I’m not a developer I have no idea to what extend the forum can be customized so I’ll check with my developers to see if Discourse is the best option for my needs after all.


With a large user base in terms of slack, I don’t recommend it as a standalone option unless whomever is hosing the current forum is willing to upgrade with per-user rates. It can get pretty expensive pretty quick. The basic (unpaid) option for slack allows for 5GB file storage and 10 thousand searchable messages at a time. This basically means you can access the most recent 10 thousand messages posted. There is also a limit on the amount of integrations that can be added as well. (I think it’s 10)

Overall, with 200+ users, slack is not the best option unless you’re going for a paid plan. Now if your user base was closer to 20-50, I would say by all means, go for it.


Thank you Nichalas, this is good to know.



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