Invite only community and newsletter

I am planning to start a community on Software Language Engineering at

Now, the community will be invite-only. However I would like to be able to send invites inside an email and have those invites not to be connected to an email. In this way I could write one email and not one for each single person I want to invite (initially tens, later hundreds, and then thousands).

I am ok with persons sharing this invite with others, for a while, but I would like this invite not to be valid forever (maybe for 30 days?).

What do you think? Is it possible to achieve this with Discourse?



Make the discourse private and optionally turn off sign-up approval. Send an email with a link to the website (and marketing spiel) urging them to sign up and share. Make sure approval is turned on after term has ended :tada:


This may work for the launch, but later I want to share the link with selected people and at that point I do not want to make the registration public for some time

In my experience unless you have some magic voodoo you are not going to be inundated with signups so your approval queue will be manageable. Just don’t approve the people you don’t want. I don’t see your issue. I also don’t quite understand how, without an email reference point, you are going to properly identify people to determine if they are who they say they are. That’s why email invites are a reasonable approach.

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The issue is that I would like the user to be able to subscribe immediately, so it does not have to remember to come back before being able to access the website. There is also timezones to consider and the fact I pause my inbox during the weekends. Also, I have a newsletter with 10k persons so eventually I would expect to get more approvals than I would like to deal with manually

Send the link as and that will prompt an immediate registration, they won’t even have to click a button.

I don’t know how you expect Discourse to solve this for you.

You either invite people using email as an identity reference (and effectively pre-approval), OR

You send out a general invite email for the entire world (potentially) and will then have to scrutinise the sign-ups if you want to retain control of who gets in (not sure how you will determine from their sign-up who should or should not have access though, in any case?)

If you don’t want to scrutinise the sign-ups, you could also let the world join and do a cull of inactive accounts within a set period.

What’s the harm of letting everyone who wants to sign up, sign up? You could limit higher value communication and information to Trust Level 1 and above using Categories and it will be easier to identify and manage those.

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The need (desire?) to have an invite link that can be used regardless of the user email address comes up pretty frequently. Use cases include

  • presenting a URL at a conference that will allow people to sign up to a closed community, optionally adding them to a group
  • sending out an email to a Huge List without generating thousands of unique keys and doing a mail merge.

Sure, having a URL that will allow anyone who can find it gain access to the community is less secure than email-bound invitations, it’s often well worth the pain avoided.


I’m pretty sure this is not possible with current vanilla Discourse.

So the question back to the OP is: please describe how you would like this to work?

So you give them:

If you just use the vanilla URL and use any suitable mail service to send out the mass email and you’ve achieved what you need to achieve?

Using your Discourse to send out this spam is going to risk your sites reputation and all email delivery reliability going forward.

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In my opinion it is very different. Right now anyone who is familiar with discourse can find the link and subscribe. If instead one has to get this link he must be part of some chain of trust: either because he is a valued member in some list, or he is attending some relevant conference or he has received it from someone who wanted to share it with such person. To me it seems very different. I do not understand the “spammy” reference. Of course this can be abused but I think many persons could have a perfectly valid reason for wanting this feature.

I understand now this is currently not possible so I may use the approach you suggested and for which I would like to thank you.


I think if you can describe functionally what you’d like to happen in detail, not worrying too much about the technical implementation details, that would be really useful, and there may well be a new Feature in here.

If the systems don’t have a lot of history of you sending email from a domain successfully, they don’t trust you. If you send a lot of unsolicited emails in one go, that could hit your reputation on the internet and you could be listed as a source of spam, which will be quite harmful to your legitimate operation as a bunch of email services could start to block your future emails.

OK, so maybe a sign of trust is use of a special URL, one containing a key in a parameter. This can be shared and is far from secure, but at least you will have some idea that this is probably a legitimate sign-up that should be let through without an approval. You give it an automated 30 day timeout after which approvals will kick back in (so you don’t lose additional legitimate if late sign-ups).

Sounds like a Plugin in the making then …

If that sounds ballpark what you want I’d post this in #marketplace for a freelancer to pick it up.


Having been in this business a little while I know that getting people to sign-up to your Discourse is not that easy. So this seems a lot of effort to go to as who is really going to abuse your forum, most people will simply not follow up? Even the legitimate ones. Those that really want to use your services will surely make the effort. How big is the risk that undesirables are going to sign up? Aren’t you going to have exactly the same outcome if you simply share the normal discourse URL and for 30 days allow all sign-ups without approval?

I don’t think making a plugin to distinguish between those who have this code and those who just navigate to your site without it is going to be worthwhile. It wouldn’t be 100% secure in any case.

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Yes. That’s what I think lots of people want. Sure, anyone with the link can forward it, so it’s not secure, but it’s enough better than allowing anyone who stumbles on the site’s home page to be able to join.

I think that such a plugin would be useful to a number of communities. Looking at the invite model, however, it’s not immediately clear to me how to go about it. Of course, anything is possible. . . .


I think that there is also the idea of exclusivity: one may like the idea of having this special key to enter this community and someone who has it may want to share it because it is something “special”. Yes, I think it would be a nice plugin. If eventually my community end up being successful I may look into finance it. Right now maybe I will have my assistant send single emails, still I have to find a way to connect the invitation to a sequence on ConvertKit to educate about the community but this is another topic…


That’s a good point. A nice marketing tactic. :+1: