Discourse vs Mailman 3 comparison

I’ve been looking into moving from Mailman 2 to either Discourse or Mailman 3.

The main difference, from my perspective, seems to be that Discourse is a primarily forum but can act like a mailing list, whereas Mailman 3 is primarily a mailing list but has a web interface. I really like the Discourse web interface and app, but wonder whether behind the scenes Mailman is somehow better at handling email.

But I’ve not yet come across any direct comparisons - are you aware of any comparison articles, blog posts setting out peoples’ experiences of each, etc?

Thank you.


It depends heavily on your audience.

  • If you have a lot of “I’m only ever using email, come hell or high water” users then stick with mailman

  • If you have a lot of “I like email, but I also like using the web” users then Discourse can be a viable option

Try asking them and see what they say?


Not exactly a comparison but I have found this guide by folks at Mozilla Discourse quite handy for mailman-lovers:


Main two features that seem to be quite different when using Discourse are:

  • Cannot reply* via email subject line to a specific topic thread as you would on Mailman.
  • You’ll want to update your documentation so users know to use the Watch and Mute options in email replies. Plus, definitely follow the guide linked above. ^^
  • Install Expose Email In plugin so users without an account can click an email icon in order to anonymously create posts on your forum in specific categories.
1 Like

Thanks everybody for the replies. Unfortunately I don’t understand the two bullet points above.

  1. My impression was that in Discourse it is possible to reply to a notification email, and that the reply is added to the relevant thread in the forum.

  2. From what I’ve read, “watch” (and related options) are an alternative to “mailing list mode” for those who don’t want to receive an email for every message on the whole forum. What is the “guide linked above” though? Edit: Reading again, it’s clearly referring to the Mozilla link :slight_smile:

Thanks again.

You can reply to an email in Discourse once you receive one. Mailman does offer even greater flexibility in composition via email, which you might not need.

James, out of interest, did you reply via email to my post? I ask because I’d answered my “which link?” question in a quick online edit days before you sent the link again. I suppose this shows a problem in being able to edit posts online (only)! :slight_smile:

Yes, I was replying by email.

Thanks (I’m replying to the notification by email to see how it works).

Best wishes


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