Discourse Chat

:information_source: This plugin is still in active development and may change frequently.

:discourse2: Summary Discourse Chat adds chat functionality to your Discourse instance.
:hammer_and_wrench: Repository Link https://github.com/discourse/discourse/tree/main/plugins/chat
:open_book: Install Guide Discourse Chat is included as a core plugin


As mentioned in our initial announcement and most recent update, this plugin adds chat functionality to your Discourse so it can natively support both, long-form and short-form communication needs of your online community.


Initial Setup

Head to your /admin/plugins page to click the chat :gear: Settings button.

On that page, Chat can be enabled by checking the chat enabled site setting. By default, Chat will be available to the staff group only, but you can add more groups (or open it up to everyone) by adding them to the chat allowed groups setting.

Channel retention

By default, channels are configured to retain messages for 90 days and direct messages are configured to retain messages forever, but these are configurable site settings:

  • chat channel retention days (default 90 days)
    Choose how long to retain Chat messages for channels
  • chat dm retention days (default forever)
    Choose how long to retain your Chat messages for personal chats

Other site settings

Additional site settings allow you to configure a set of default emoji reactions and a range of safety features (such as maximum chat messages per second, minimum message length, silence duration, and whether to allow uploads).

Accessing Channels and Creating New Ones

After the plugin is enabled, a speech bubble will appear in the header next to the Search icon, and clicking on that will open your Full Screen Chat window, where you can access default channels as well as start new personal chats. To navigate back to your Full Screen Chat window from inside each channel, use the < icon in the top left corner.

Using the Screenshot 2022-06-24 at 5.52.54 PM button on any Chat window, you can toggle between Full Screen mode and Drawer mode.

Create a channel

To create a new channel (admin only), select the :gear: icon in the top-right corner of your Full Screen Chat window and select Create a channel. Choose a category to associate it with, give it a name, and add an optional description to display on the Browse Channels page.

A Category can have multiple channels associated to it, and more can be added anytime. As a channel is always linked to a category, you can rely on existing category permissions to automatically limit who has access to that particular conversation.

:bulb: Want a channel just for your TL3+ users? Then creating a new channel for your #lounge category will do just that.

Joining a channel

You can preview and join channels from the ‘Browse channels’ page. From this page, you can view all the channels that are visible to you and eligible to join, as well as control your notifications for each channel using the options in the bell icon.

Inviting users to channels

@mentioning individual users or groups will give the option to invite them to the channel if they aren’t participants already. To invite groups in this way, the ‘Who can @mention this group?’ on the group’s /manage/interaction page must be set to something other than ‘Nobody’.

Closing and deleting channels

Admins and moderators can close or delete channels from the Browse Channels page, using the :gear: icon next to their Channel name. A closed channel can be reopened any time, but deleting a channel is not reversible, so there is an additional confirmation check in place.

Starting a personal chat

To start a personal chat, use the :heavy_plus_sign: icon on your Full Screen Chat window and start adding usernames to the recipients list. To leave a personal chat click the X icon next to the channel name (only on desktop).

:information_source: If you accidentally leave a personal chat, starting a new chat with the same person/people will link you back to the messages sent previously.

In-Chat options

Like topics, Chat Messages support:

  • edits
  • replies
  • quoting
  • oneboxing
  • reactions
  • bookmarks
  • deletion

In the composer, you can insert dates, upload files, and GIFs! Chat channels support channel-wide @here and @all mentions with per channel while presence features like a green halo for online users & username is typing… indicator are also present.

You can also select one or more Chat Messages and ‘Quote to topic’ to take a quick conversation and make it into a Discourse topic for in-depth discussion.

Admins and moderators also have the ability to select Chat Messages and move them to a different channel.

Automatically add users to a channel

Chat Information panel

Clicking a channel title will now take users to a useful info panel with three tabs:


  • The About tab will display title, description and linked category, so users have the context they need for each channel.
  • The Members tab lets users see who else is in the room with them (member list and total count). It includes a filter so they can use search.

  • The Settings tab will let you set notification preferences (mute, desktop / mobile push notifications). For admins, this tab also includes the auto-join mode toggle.

Chat preferences

When Chat is enabled, users see a new /preferences/chat page in their preferences. On this page, they can opt-out of Chat, opt-out of the @here and @all notifications, manage their Chat email notifications or choose a desktop sound.

The existing settings on /preferences/users page also apply to chat direct messages, so users can also turn off direct messages or mute or ignore other individual users.


Discourse Chat supports Incoming webhooks but has no support for interactive bots or slash commands yet.

:loudspeaker: Sending Chat messages using Incoming webhooks [Slack-compatible]

The UI for creating webhooks can be found at Admin > Plugins > Chat > New incoming webhook. You can configure a name, description, username (that posts messages), destination channel and emoji for each webhook.


Now that the v3.0 is out, are there plans to make the Discourse chat compatible with the Matrix protocol or with Delta.chat? Given the email ascendance of Discourse, maybe the latter would work better (and there’s already an experimental way to login with delta.chat on their Discourse), but even Rocket.chat now supports Matrix, so it would be nice to have some way to interoperate with the larger community . There’s still the option of ActivityPub to explore of course…

(Feel free to move this to a new topic)


No concrete plans, but some exploratory work is being done. Follow and/or contribute to this topic to stay in the loop: Matrix protocol for chat

I administer a discourse instance that typically has up to 500 daily users. Has there been any load testing to understand how chat scales? We are investigating its use for a multi-day event that would need to accommodate upwards of 1000 and weighing this against slack and other chat-focused tools.


Is there a “select + below” option to grab a transcript of chat?

I ask for me as an Admin and possibly for members who want to review by copying to a PM that isn’t live scrolling.

Or must I click all thee leeetle boxes?

I imagine bulk-selecting might be limited since the timeline isn’t loading too far back or forward potentially.

You can use ‘shift+select’ to capture all the ones in between two points. :+1:


Thank you so much for adding this feature. Is there a way for Admin to view DMs between users?

So grateful for your hard work on Discourse!

Admins can click the “messages” tab on a member’s profile (not the Admin screen) to see PMs, but we finally figured out you have to use “Impersonate” to see private chats. We tend to only do this if someone asks us to, and I believe any flagged chat becomes visible to mods.

We limit our chat to Level 3 Regulars, so it hasn’t been a problem yet!


Thank you…I swear I tried variations of ctrl+shift and ctrl+alt. Awesome, just shift+select works. I was making it too complicated.


If a user flags a direct message, a short transcript of the surrounding posts will be included with the flag, but the direct message itself is still not directly accessible via the UI.


We do not currently do simulated load testing on a regular basis, but it’s based on the same tech stack used by the rest of Discourse which we’ve been operating at scale for some time.

I’m aware of sites on our hosting and self-hosted sites who’s regular usage approaches the low thousands in terms of messages per day and haven’t reported any performance issues at that scale.

I do expect we’ll encounter some performance bottlenecks as sites adopt it at a larger scale, and it’s possible the type of usage you’re expecting could hit some limitations we’re unaware of, but they don’t sound too far off from what we’ve been seeing elsewhere. Please do share any other feedback you have as you get further along.


If discourse supports truffleruby in the future, then the chat performance should approach the performance of signal server. Do you think it’s possible?

Possible bug conflict with Discourse search banner.

See link. here as you can see posted in that Theme-component.

Excellent to see Discourse Chat! Thanks for introducing it.

I’ve just enabled it with the community I advocate for.

Whilst configuring it I had in mind to set a default view order for the list of chat channels (like we can do for discussion categories). Is it possible to set a default order for chat channels?

1 Like

Nice! Looking forward to hearing any feedback you have along the way here.

The channel list is currently always alphabetical, so this isn’t possible today. How many channels do you currently have?


A post was split to a new topic: Confusing chat channel order when name starts with emoji