Is it possible to set up multiple separated forum instances (customer forum, partner forum)?

I read a lot about the multi-site opportunities Discourse but as I am a beginner I do not fully understand it. It does not matter that much as we do not want to start with multiple instances, however if we decide to go with Discourse I should know if it is possible for the future.

Our use case for Discourse forum:
We want to offer separate forums for customers and partners. There should be a further distinction for customers, depending on which product they bought.

Forum 1: Partner-Forum
user will be set up by us (administrator) or at least activated if self-signup is enabled
the forum is private, no one else except for our partners and employees should be able to see what’s going on inside

Forum 2: Customer-Forum Product A
users must be able to signup themselves, however it still needs activation from our side (administrator)
the best case would be that the activation for a user works somehow semi-automatic by e.g. checking the domain of the email address
similar to the partner forum the customer forum is private

Forum 3: Customer-Forum Product B
These are different customers and we follow a different strategy here.
Thus, here we are talking about a typical public forum (everyone can do a self-signup) and contribute

I am not totally sure if this is possible with Discourse and what the best attempt is to realize it.
Maybe I do not even need multiple forums, however to me it feels that this is the way to go.

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You can do this with multiple instances (either totally separate ones, or hosted as multisite, that’s purely a technical choice), but this could also be done with a single instance. I’d recommend that, for simplicity† :slight_smile:

Here’s what I’d recommend for you:

  • Set up a single Discourse instance for the company.
  • Create a category for product B, without locking down security settings. If needed, create subcategories.
  • Create groups for product-A-customers and for partners.
  • Create categories for product A and for partner discussions, locked to the corresponding groups. If needed, create subcategories.
  • Add users to the partners group as appropriate.
  • For the product-A-customers group, enable the feature allowing users to ask to join. Users wanting to access the corresponding forum can then simply request membership on the groups page. (You can see this in action here on Meta.)

†unless you expect that these forums will be very large (like, let’s say, Meta) and be used by almost completely disjoint groups of people – then I’d seriously consider different instances


Awesome @fefrei, with that information our decision is made and I am excited already to set up Discourse. Big thanks!

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