Discourse vs Invision Community

We are trying to make a decide between Discourse and Invision (www.invisioncommunity.com) for upgrading our WordPress blog’s commenting, forum, private messaging, and gamification components.

Can anybody here provide any insights or opinions into the pros and cons of using Discourse vs Invision? It’s been hard finding reviews with head-to-head comparisons. Thanks.

– Aaron

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Personally, there is no competition!

Discourse all day long, Loads more features!

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FWIW, I have moved a number of people from Invision to Discourse.

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Thanks, Jay. Did anybody give you reasons on why they made the transition?

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Thanks, Nick. Regarding features, there are a couple I’m having difficulty finding definitive answers to:

  • Groups - we need to be able to allow people to create their own groups, kind of like on Facebook, so the community can be self-organizing. Can Discourse do this?

  • Scalability - what is the largest Discourse community running that you know of?

  • Events - the only thing I found on this was a plugin that has not been fully developed. Is that right?

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That’s not doable today, groups and categories can only be created by staff. After they are created, both categories and groups can be self organized via category moderators and group owners.

That said we are currently working on a plugin to allow this very use case.

Not sure what exact metric you are looking to compare with but we have instances doing over 50M page views and over 500000 posts a month.

What is the type of events integration you are looking for?

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Thanks for all the responses. Any sense of timing on the Groups plugin? Regarding events, I noticed Invision has a really nice events module with calendars, event details, discussion, who’s attending, etc. (Events Calendar - Invision Community). At a bare minimum, we need a way to embed Zoom webinar (which I understand can be done), allow for discussions both in a main thread as well as asynchronous channels, and only be made available to people who have purchased tickets. Right now we use Discord for the discussion aspect and WordPress for embedded webinars, video downloads, etc.

I guess the bottom line is that when looking at either Discourse or Invision as an appropriate tool for us, we want the emphasis to be on community more so than forum if that makes sense.

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Users can create groups using the Pavilion Custom Wizard plugin.

You might want to take a look at the Events Integration plugin which has similar functionality.

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A redesign and rethinking of the groups is definitely required, as it is not clear what they are needed for now. In many years of using discourse, I have never entered the group menu.
Let’s compare the groups in discourse and invision


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Thanks for that. I agree, when looking at screenshots of Invision it looks like it “wins” on groups, but it also sounds like some development is in the works to improve Discourse in this regard. That said, Discourse wins out for me in a number of other areas. It would definitely be great to see Discourse bridge this gap.

My guess is they were historically developed and used for access, segmentation of content, etc., whereas what we’re talking about here is more of a social networking use case.

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I’ve used Invision for my community before migrating to Discourse (doesn’t anyone else get bothered by the typo in the title :frowning: ).

I guess the choice depends on how big & mature your community is and your specific use case. Yes, groups in IP were great, but in my case they weren’t utilized well enough. Partly because forum users rarely self-organize, partly because there wasn’t a lot of need to it.

I and my users found Discourse to be lighter (both in terms of UI and UX), easier to use, and less “crowded”. My community has been growing faster since we made the switch.

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Ha! Sorry about that. I hadn’t noticed, and I’m usually pretty OCD about those things.

And thanks for the feedback - that is great insight.

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I would like to mention that Discourse has themes that can be added, which are also customizable. (Not sure if Invision can do those custom themes, since I’m not familar with that forum software.)

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Depends largely on the use case I guess. For us it’s been a critical way of managing permissions and automating notification settings for people. Joined group x? Cool, now you have notification settings adjusted for Categories and Tags related to group x, and are allowed to read and reply in Category x.

If someone doesn’t have the same use case as us, I can see how the existing Group functionality wouldn’t seem so useful.

I can’t speak for Invision, but I wouldn’t underestimate how useful this is in Discourse. Anything you can see or click, you can change. For Themes that sometimes means learning a bit of CSS or HTML, but the internet is full of great resources for this.

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Invision has them too, and, to be fair, the collection of themes for IPS is larger and more diverse than the collection of themes for Discourse. I’ve seen many themes for IPS that I’d personally use and I’ve yet to see a custom theme for Discourse that doesn’t trigger the response “Ugh, okay”.

Still the Discourse default theme wins over the default IPS theme and most custom IPS themes. Of course, this is all imho.

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Some of the confusion here is possibly over what groups are actually used for in Discourse. They are to control access to categories.

This plugin will tie a group directly to a feed and won’t require an admin to create them. I suspect we’re looking at ~6 months before this would be publicly released but I could be wrong.

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There is already this:

Which might help?

And this:

(Or @pfaffman TC which is linked in above)

Quite often if you have a clear and reasonable requirement for a plugin you can get it built.

If you are a business and have budget this should be even less of a barrier.

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I think what’s being asked for is not what Discourse calls groups. It would be, I think

  • user-created categories with a concept of membership
  • only members can post or interact
  • optionally (configurably) only members can view
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Yes, the use case is more of a social networking application. For example, a set of users might create a “New England Gardeners” group where they could connect, share experiences, network, and organize local meetups. They could invite other users or approve/reject requests to join. Although I haven’t been on Facebook in years (good riddance), it would be something more like Facebook groups. It looks like the groups feature in Invision is more similar to this. Groups can even have their own forums, events, etc.

To @merefield 's point, sounds like it’s all “doable” via custom plugins. The fact that Discourse is open source and Invision is not hugely helps.

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There’ve been several discussions on meta about using Discourse as a social media platform (see, for example, Using Discourse as a social media platform). If the Clubs (that’s how Invision calls them) are essential to your project/platform, I’d personally say Discourse is not the best option for you. Why try and stretch a platform designed for asynchronous discussions into something that’s inherently different?

Also, let me ask you a different question. You propose a set of users might create a group, self-manage membership, network & organize events. Where’s your input in all of this? Why would those users use your website, and not create a Messenger/WhatsApp/Telegram Group? If you want people to coordinate offline events, you want real-time communication. Messengers (in general) allow you to call people, send real-time push notifications (not an easy option for self-hosted Discourse instances), and most importantly you don’t have to check a separate app. If your target audience uses, say, Messenger to keep in touch with friends, they’ll see any updates in the “Gardeners Group” even if they do not intend to check if that group has new messages.

Whereas if you handle this via a separate platform, your users have to open a separate website (or app) to get updates. While this may not sound like a big obstacle (it’s not hard to open a website), it actually is: people are extremely reluctant to add a new app to their routine if they can avoid it.

Not trying to discourage you from pursuing your ideas, just wanted to make sure you thought about such issues before you make platform decisions.

While this is true, it’s only practical if it’s an official plugin: i.e. there’s a team of engineers who are paid to ensure it’s compatible with newer releases of Discourse. Otherwise, you’re either locked in to a specific Discourse version or you have to constantly hire someone to update the plugin.

actually I’m surprised no one has said this before: Discourse can be $0/month and Invision starts $89/month. For some people that’s already a definitive argument in favor of Discourse.

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