Help understanding email setup

I will be setting up a Discourse forum on a VPS and would like to have notification, password reset emails etc. set up.

  1. Does the administrator email address need to be the same domain as the discourse forum domain? And is this the email I enter when i do the officially supported installation?

  2. I use Protonmail and the domain I want to use for the forum is setup for email with Protonmail. If I use a smtp email service like Mailgun, will this conflict with my Protonmail email setup with the domain email addresses? I don’t know enough to know if entering new DNS records on top of what I already have for Protonmail will cause conflicts.

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No, administrator e-mail address doesn’t need to be the same domain as the discourse site.

There can be a conflict with that, recently tried to do this same thing but didn’t work and got notification of DNS problem with new records, so deleted those to remove the conflict.


Thank you. Since I won’t be able to use emails from the forum domain, is my only option to just buy another domain and use email with that?

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To be safe probably only using only one e-mail service per domain makes sense to avoid any possible conflict, however I’m not an expert about all the options there may be some way to make a domain work with multiple e-mail services.

SMTP sending is supported with protonmail I have gotten that to work with discourse, but not with their free tier.

Have had some difficulty getting mailgun to work recentley, however Brevo is another free option that works with discourse. (

For the standard install process seems to be recommended if not required to use the same domain for e-mail sending that you are using for the discourse site.


Use a service like mailgun and use your forum subdomain for the mail sending address, not your bare domain name. Then there will be no conflict.


Ok, thanks. So I would add a TXT record for in the DNS settings and in a service like Mailgun have the notification emails sent from


This guide goes through all the steps for TXT, MX, and CNAME records:

Domain Verification Setup Guide – Mailgun Help Center


This article might help…


This article says that you can’t do both, but then it says that you can. I’m even more confused now after reading it 5 times.


Lol was also confused by that, seems is contradictory except it says you can configure domain to work with a second e-mail service IF configured with a subdomain:


If you’ve got incoming emails setup elsewhere for your root domain, we recommend using a subdomain in your Mailgun account and pointing its MX records to Mailgun so you can also receive emails via our platform. The different hostname for the subdomain keeps DNS for the two domains separate . This helps improve deliverability , and allows us to more easily deal with any issues that arise with recipient email servers.

The mailgun documentation guides go through slightly different steps for setting up records for subdomain as opposed to root domain. Those can be confusing there are a lot of steps.


Perhaps if I write out here exactly what I want to do, it could help clarify.

  1. The domain I wish to use for the Discourse forum is, and I have Protonmail already configured to send and receive emails from, so according to this article I can’t use Mailgun unless I only set up a subdomain.

  2. Configure the subdomain in Mailgun to send notification emails. Do not add the MX records in the DNS settings for the domain if I want to only send notification emails but not receive them.

Are 1 and 2 correct?

The second part of this that is confusing, it says that I CAN add MX records to the domain for sending AND receiving as long as I have the subdomain configured. That is the confusing part.

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Believe those are both correct, yes. To be sure you can verify with domain registrar support + mail sender support team.

Do you plan to set up processing for incoming mail, or only sending notifications?

Here is support guide for Brevo, this was simpler to setup than mailgun:

Have setup e-mail sending for that with a subdomain, but even more confusingly there is a second “technical sender” address with that which shows up as:

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I had planned on only setting up sending emails.

What would be the purpose of receiving emails to the subdomain email address? I’m trying to think of why that would be needed.

As an aside, I set up a Nextcloud instance a while back, and I’m using for email sending notifications and password resets, and it has worked flawlessly, and they have a free account for 1,000 emails/month. Their tech support responds within 5 minutes and are very helpful. I think I will go with them for email sending since it is free and works great for my needs.


With that people can reply directly to e-mail notifications, and their reply will be automatically posted on the site topic. That is setup at this meta site if you are subscribed to e-mail notifications it says “reply to this email to respond.”


Ah, that’s a nice feature for convenience. I don’t think people mind responding directly on the forum as most people are used to that. It seems like it will be too difficult for me to offer that based on everything I’ve written above unless I’m missing something.

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May not be that difficult, here is their official guide for setting that up:

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Thanks for that article. I’m confused again about MX records and Mailgun which they talk about in the article. This article says to remove the Mailgun MX records but in the previous article on Mailgun’s wiki it says they need to be there to receive emails.

I’m sure this is simple to understand once the correct documentation is presented. Or I could just be an idiot, LOL.


That is confusing, probably opening a help ticket with mailgun if you have an account with them would be a good idea to make sure that is set correctly + check with domain registrar support.

With the mail receiving setup one other benefit to that is it can process and reply to e-mails from people who don’t have discourse accounts setup, don’t know if that would be helpful for your site.


As an email sender, you will want to set up SPF, DKIM and DMARC, especially since some major email service providers now require it.
There are several good guides on how to do this, but I suggest EasyDMARC for guidance on setup and simple monitoring at no cost.

While I don’t host Discourse, I use Proton for MX and sending and Sendgrid for sending for my domains, neither of which are linked because Discourse called me a noob.

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