What would it take to replace Facebook with Discourse?

I hear that’s a good source of funding :male_detective:


discoin sounds SO SO good :yum:


I actually found this forum because I’m on Friendica, and I like it a lot, but I’d love for it to have PRIVATE groups/forums/projects/whatever. I miss facebook groups and I while using facebook groups I miss the good old days of well-moderated forums. Friendica’s public groups work very well, but the private ones aren’t quite private due to other networks in the federation (long story).
It would be brilliant if Discourse and Friendica worked together to allow not only public but also private Discourse topics to show on the Friendica feed, and ideally also allow comments from within the Friendica environment to be posted onto Discourse. Then people would have the choice to enter the forum through Discourse or see the posts through Friendica, so the people who do not care about the social networking part of it, don’t even have to see it. I can imagine each Discourse forum could choose to allow this connection to happen or not.
But, I know very little about coding and I have no clue how difficult or easy this would be. I can imagine both scenarios depending on whether their protocols are even remotely compatible or not.
A potential compromise would be to just allow the posts to be seen within the Friendica feed and to click it to move directly to the appropriate topic on the Discourse forum in order to reply.

I think a plugin that would make this possible would make both Friendica and Discourse more interesting platforms, as they complement each other so well.

EDIT: I noticed Discourse has an option to reply by email and Friendica has an option to communicate to email adresses too, so I think there may be a possible route right there. But then again, I’m not saying it’s EASY, just that I see a possible opening. These things are always more complicated than one would expect.

1 Like

You can find the Follow Plugin here.


Mastodon? So much research was needed to understand your comment. Mastodon seems an open-source version of TWITTER.
So surprised that you seem that it compares to Discourse.
So many uninformed opinions here from newcomers like myself. Still trying to see the differences between all these web services. Somehow now one seems to know.
When I work this out, I might update the Wikipedia entries. Have been an editor for many decades now.

1 Like

Oooh, an old Post of mine!

OK let me see if I can answer that one:

“What would it take to replace Facebook with Discourse?”

As I’ve pointed out elsewhere, the killer feature of Facebook is the user’s ‘news’ feed.

Let’s assume for a moment that Discourse has to compete with Facebook Groups, even though we know it fills a different niche.

But let’s assume you want to add a nail into Facebook’s coffin, using Discourse.

Imho, a way to do that is offer functionality that would rival Facebook’s news feed.

Facebook Groups are successful for many reasons, not least because they are easily set up non-technical people quickly and leverage a pre-existing trusted user account pool. However one of the other significant reasons they are successful is that activity on a Facebook Group is posted on participants news feed in amongst other content from other sources they subscribe too.

So for Discourse to truly compete with or ‘replace’ Facebook Groups you need to consider that feature and how to deliver it.

This leads us to the idea of having content aggregated from a number of sources. Mastodon may be a bit like Twitter, but it also aggregates from a number of sources, like a Facebook feed, but for different sites that are owned and run by different entities.

Imho Discourse is crying out for an app or an architectural extension that allows you to combine the Topics Previews of a users chosen set of instances into one view.

Currently in order to see any detail on what is going on in the different Discourse instances I’m a participant in, I have to visit different websites. That is a little clunky.

The excellent Discourse Hub app shows us the way. It shows a single view with notification badges for noteworthy activity on forums you are involved in. If that were to be expanded to actually show a single ‘Latest’ and perhaps a ‘noteworthy/watched’ Topic list that was the combination of all of the added Discourse communities that would be fantastic. Then you could scroll down and decide which community you wanted to dip into for more detail. The app already performs a form of aggregation (In order to display all the badges) and it already holds the users credentials for access to each site, so …

I could be wrong, given the architecture of disparate servers, that might be a horrible experience from a performance or usability perspective, but it would be fantastic to see how that worked out.

However, the lack of this capability has caused at least one of my migrations from Facebook Groups to fail, with users complaining they hated going to a separate place and that they could not see their Discourse posts in their Facebook news feed. This despite the huge benefits Discourse offers in other areas. I know my experience of such failure is not unique.

Mastodon performs aggregation from disparate sources. It is also a healthy open source project. Hence my reference.

I hope that makes more sense now?


At the core of Facebook they have the ranking algorithm:

To be honest, it takes a lot more than a follow plugin, a simple feed and some UX changes, in particular, if a Discourse community grows, because users will be overwhelmed by noise as signals drop without a proper and advanced ranking algorithm. And Postgres is not the database to build a social network with, they simply don’t scale, graph databases like Neo4j are.

But Twitter still works without a ranking algo (at least optional), thus it might be a better blueprint for ideas.

1 Like

Mastodon seems to work ok this way. Presumably without a complex algorithm?

But yeah, I’m not against such an implementation using some criteria to prioritise such a view to avoid too much noise. I’m sure there would be ways to implement that without invading privacy.

A Watching view would be brilliant in itself. Instead of just seeing badges in the Discourse Hub, why shouldn’t we see those specific Topics/posts in their own list? The data is only available to you anyway.

Why not use the built-in ‘algorithm’ Discourse already offers, and commingle the /top.json of multiple instances? Filter out the visited/read topics, and then interleave different instances. Maybe do some on-device ML to determine which instances the user likes most.


That’s more or less how the personal Reddit homepage works, they take the ranked posts of the different subreddits you subscribed to and merge them in the following way: Showing first ranked topics in groups, then the second-ranked topics in groups etc. (plus some magic AFAIK).

1 Like

Sure. So a latest, top and watching view. Sound familiar?! :slight_smile:


…which frustrates a good many users (like myself) who would much prefer they just show new posts, from people/pages you follow, in reverse-chronological order. I can then control how cluttered my news feed is by how many/how active pages I follow. Simple.


Exactly what I said: Twitter blueprint instead of Facebook blueprint.

Discourse = Board (Forum)
Facebook = Different animal
Why are you trying to merge them?
Are not compatibles.
Very confusing. The words are “English”, but the three metaphors seem to not work: board, forum, animal.
I know about Gmail, Reddit, Tiktok, Instagram, & Facebook. Discourse is different. Ok. But how & why?

1 Like

The only missing and valuable sort order would be a “hot” page, which ranks topics of the last 24 hours over a score and time decay. Top overweight older topics, which might have no engagement anymore. A hot with decay would rank newer topics with engagement higher than older posts with the same engagement. We use such a hot/decay algorithm to automatically globally pin the “hottest” topics via the API.

It’s pretty simple and I wonder why Discourse does not have a “hot” sort order in core. It would provide a way better overview which latest topics really have the highest/most recent engagement currently.

“board” and “forum” aren’t metaphors, they’re descriptive nouns–they’re what Discourse is. “animal” is a metaphor; it’s saying that Facebook is something completely different.

How is an apple different from a Chevrolet? They’re different in almost every way. Discourse is forum software, designed to run discussion forums (or “communities”, as I think the devs prefer). People join the forum, and if they participate, they see topics and posts from anyone else who’s a member of the forum–just as is happening here.

Facebook is, well, Facebook. If you don’t already know what it is, check it out. It’s designed to do something completely different. It has some overlapping features (“groups” on facebook are kind of, sort of, like discussion forums), but it really is a completely different thing. Talk of replacing Facebook with Discourse is nonsensical, just as would be talk of replacing a train with a bicycle. If you want to try to replace Facebook with something, the best candidate is likely diaspora*.

Some of the folks on this topic seem to think there’d be value in having a single place that would bring together all the new topics from all the Discourse forums you follow, and show them all on one page. That, if implemented, would vaguely resemble Facebook’s “news feed”, but I can’t really see any value in doing it.


Top can be restricted to a time window. Eg current day.

Totally disagree with your viewpoint.

You seem to suggest these products are distinct. Clearly they are not. Facebook Groups have significant overlap with Discourse both functionally and in their mission.

If you are happy using Discourse in a silo and you are finding your instance successful that’s great.

As you may or may not have noticed from other posters, eg here and here, however, is that Facebook Groups have been observed to have been impacting the popularity of some Discourse forums.

I think one would be naive if one thought Zuckenberg and gang would not be delighted to have a forum fail and have all its users move to using Facebook resources.

Facebook is not just a ‘thing’ on its own, it’s a highly motivated, competitive and powerful business who would take away your community if you let them and hide them behind a Facebook login. They will gladly bend their product into more shapes if it means they can further dominate people’s attention.

I’m merely suggesting a way the ecosystem of Discourse might be extended to combat that.


You disagree that I don’t see value in this? I guess that’s up to you, but kind of a strange position for you to take.

Even though I run a small Discourse board, I’m writing mostly from an end-user perspective–and from that perspective, I have zero interest in a mishmash feed of the latest topics in all the other Discourse forums where I’m a member. But then, I also have zero interest in Facebook “groups”–they’re a pi**-poor substitute for a forum, and I’ll use them as a support channel only as a last resort. And the “news feed” approach renders them even more useless than they’d otherwise be.

1 Like

That’s fine and you are fully entitled to your opinion.

I regularly use about 6 distinct instances of Discourse and I find Discourse Hub invaluable as a tool to help me know when to dip into each of them without having to always pull them up one by one.

I would really appreciate an aggregated feed at the Topic List level. I doubt I’m alone in that.