Discourse vs Invision Community

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.


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.


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.


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

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.


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.


Well, free tier is not actual option. But 10USD is. And even then there is a big gap.

But, when wanted to compare real situation shoud compare prices of same same tech. And Invisions doesn’t fish small fishes like me, and then should compare what hosting here costs against prices of Invision.

Those are different type solutions even they are working at same segment. So, I don’t know totally what is the point to compare; it is like compare some e-audi and e-bmw and the telling that Nissan Leaf is really cheap :wink:


Judging by those hosting prices, I would go with the Discourse forum. It can just save you a good amount of money. (save about $800 per year doing this)

1 Like

Groups are a mini community within a community and are also intended for discussions. This fits well into the concept of discourse. Such an extension will be useful, I hope it will appear in less than six months. Platforms are evolving and users are becoming more demanding. This means that over time, discourse will have even more opportunities


At company level those sums are just coffee money :wink:


There are more than enough freelance engineers or cooperatives like Pavilion that will happily agree on a maintenance contract for your plugins.


Once we release our own plugin (discussed earlier) it will be official.


If I could summarize (correct me if I’m wrong @merefield and others):

  • Ability for users to invite users to group = exists in “Group Invitation Plugin” currently available
  • Ability for group to appear as category in sidebar = exists in “Discourse Category Home” currently available
  • Ability for users to create their own group = exists in “Custom Wizard Plugin” currently available
  • All of the above will be available in one single plugin sometime in the next 6 months

Do I have it right? And, would members of a group be able to create their own forums that are exclusive to that group? Thanks again.


I would just say that more or less anything is possible if you have enough budget (and time)

The plugin eco-system is very mature and you can dream up more or less any bespoke functionality not handled by the core system and get it built.


Right - we’d just like to limit how many plugins we have to layer on top. Core functionality is always preferred, and the groups topic has given our team pause when comparing off-the-shelf Discourse vs Invision.

That said, and speaking of dreaming up ideas, here’s a good one we’d like to see. I call it "3D Groups " or “Ven-Groups” and it would be the ability for groups to overlap each other for users that are members of multiple groups. Here is a practical example of how it might work:

Two groups exist: “Backyard Chickens” (people who raise chickens) and “Northeastern US” (people who live in the northeast). If a user belongs to both group, they would see a sub-forum inside of each group that is “Backyard Chickens + Northeastern US” so that people who raise chickens in the northeast could more easily find each other and connect. This would be awesome. PS, I don’t think Invision can do this at the moment either.


Groups can overlap in default Discourse. You can be a member of more than one group. In fact once promoted to Trust Level 1 you are a member of Trust Level One & Zero.

If each of these was a Category, someone could have access to both, neither or one of them.

You could make them Sub-categories and someone could have their primary group permissioned for the parent Category and using that plugin I referred to, the parent Category could be their home, allowing them to dip into either of these Sub-categories.

I think you should start building things and see how you go :slight_smile:


Right, but would it create a specific forum area for members of BOTH groups? Maybe this exists already, but I obviously haven’t played with any of these groups plugins yet.

Agreed - just need to get permission from the team to move forward!


The configuration I just suggested is semi-automated … but critically only staff can configure that.
Something you could start with perhaps, unless you already have this functionality and it would prevent you migrating.

I’d argue that you might want to retain central control more than you might think. Users could always ask staff member for when they need a new space?


Hi Aaron!

Did you make a similar topic on the Invision official forum to get opinions from their own perspective regarding the features you need? Can you share a link if you did? That could be an interesting read! :slight_smile:


I don’t think that Aaron needs to create a topic on the forum, since the functionality he needs is described in detail on the invision website

Of course, soon it will appear in discourse