Which is Better? Discourse or Flarum?

Hello Everyone!

I’d like to know which is better, Discourse or Flarum? :slight_smile:


I think you’ll only get biased answers here… but, let’s allow the software to do (most of) the talking…

I’ve used a most of the major forum software (both paid and free // OSS) and Discourse has been an absolute joy to use in comparison. Not only could I put it together quickly (i.e. installation, setup, config(s)) but the results speak for themselves and our community quickly scaled way bigger than we were prepared for (which is obviously a good thing).

The thing that I haven’t shared is the financial / business aspects which Discourse has enabled my brother and I to accomplish… which I’m somewhat shy about sharing publicly, but, the growth has been so good (along with great plugins like Patreon that allow us to build revenue) that I quit my full-time job to work on the community exclusively.

That has all happened in the last few months.

I could go on and on, but, I’m so !@#$!^* thankful for Discourse and if I were to do it all over again… well, you know the answer to that.


I think it depends what your requirements are.

I don’t know much about Flarum but the thread that you started over on their forum hasn’t really turned up any solid advantages (at this point anyway).

We can probably give better responses if we understand what the goal of the question is.


You should try bboard at sdf.org. That is the obviously the best, and now this thread is done and can be marked as solved.


@maiki thanks for the link, however, connecting does not work. I used the email it gave me as the host, port: 22, username: the one is gave me, and password also the one it gave.

Since jokes are always funnier when they require explanation: I was not being serious. Discourse is terrific, and will almost be my goto for forums, but a thread like this is silly at best and toxic at worse. The best part of Discourse isn’t any technical decision, it is the premise: civilized discourse.

Granted, my earlier comment was sarcastic, though I do hope you learn to log in to SDF and learn about computing. As for discussion fora, please use the various projects that interest you, without trying to provoke a passionate reaction; we have enough rallies in the world without getting wound up in the process of making better discussion.


My answer to Flarum (or any hobbyist “competitor”) vs Discourse is always this:

Flarum is a beautifully designed piece of software. Flarum and Discourse have taken many design inspirations from one another, so they function very similarly. The biggest difference between the two projects isn’t the code or the features, but rather how each project is run.

  • Discourse has more than 10x 20x as many developers as Flarum, plus a whole support crew. Flarum has two core developers, and neither of them is working on Flarum full-time.

  • Discourse has a growing ecosystem of specialised contractors who can take on jobs like installing, maintenance, theming, plugin development and more.

  • Discourse has been v1.x stable for almost 4 years now. As of this writing, Flarum has yet to go out of Beta.

  • Thanks to big customers and a HackerOne page funded by Discourse.org, Discourse constantly undergoes first-rate security reviews.

  • Although Flarum did attempt to offer premium hosting for a while, they backed out of it. I don’t know the specifics, but I’m guessing they learned it’s really hard. In fact, it’s straight up impossible unless you build a company around it. A team of hobbyists can not run a reliable hosting service.

What I’m getting at is that there’s more to an open source project than the product. Discourse has built a sustainable business around its open source core. It’d take a cataclysmic event to bring us to a halt at this point. With Flarum on the other hand, if just one of the two core developers has to take an extended leave because of switching jobs / moving / relationship / burnout / what-have-you, the project takes a massive hit.


I used to use esotalk (pre-cursor to Flarum) and it was a nice piece of software, but Flarum just took years and years to make (and still isn’t stable).

I’m glad I found Discourse.

It’s the community that makes it better because things get done.


Business backed OSS projects tend to be longer lasting than those that operate purely on goodwill.

I dont have Discourse’s business figures though.


As someone who has tinkered with Flarum, one thing that does speak for it is that (all of @erlend_sh’s points, which are all true, aside ) it is cheaper to get going. All you need is a Laravel-compatible LAMP host with shell access (e.g. a 5$ DO droplet or something similar), whereas the capital investment into a Discourse forum are a bit higher, and the required hosting environment is more specific.


Great explanation, when we talk about Open Source the product or the code are not enough
The ecosystem built around them makes the real difference: company, advocates, community and so on…


You can find news here https://github.com/discourse/discourse/wiki/Outreachy, here https://github.com/discourse/discourse/wiki/Winter-of-Code-2018-Ideas-List and here The Discourse Encouragement Fund | Blog


I run Discourse on a $10 DO droplet. I installed it using the guide from a couple years ago, and at the time I remember making a swap, which is fine for me, but registered as maybe something most folks were unused to. But I had the site up and running within 30 minutes, and it has been operating since without incident.

My point is, if you think the difference between $5 and $10 is meaningful (and it definitely is for me! And I sometimes make good money!), then getting started is double the cost. But all the other stuff is probably the same (ie. email, CDN, backup storage, mostly optional stuff).

Forums encourage user concurrency, so we really ought to think of a higher baseline than we do of say, blog software, which is viewed more than responded to. The same goes for wikis; some sites just need more resources to do their basic job. :slight_smile:


Very true, and it makes the job twice as hard for those in the business of running not-for-profit projects


well - i think this point has to be regarded from a different point of view.
Most people who already have their own website already have the “$5” webspace supporting all that is needed to install flarum.
For Discourse on the other hand you would probably need to get an extra paid package to get it working. At least i do.

So for me its more a question of what you need.
While Flarum also is suitable for small hobby projects Discourse covers those with - lets call it - more ambition.
This is nicely shown by the first reply right here.

Its great to have the possibility to choose between both- or any other choice for that matter.

btw - flagging links to other forum software seems a bit childish to me :stuck_out_tongue:


No, it is genuinely off-topic. This is a discussion about Discourse and Flarum. Comparing multiple different platforms all at once quickly becomes a huge mess.


Just spent a few seconds surfing their community, and performance wise it doesn’t seem to hold a candle to Discourse. From a UX perspective, I do like that they include a “Login to Reply button” that’s very persistent on topic pages. Need to think about the large number of non-registered users who come to the community. Will be good to keep an eye on them, but Discouse would be hard to beat.


You could add it as a #feature request? @charleswalter


I do not think that these two forums should be opposed. They simply different, and are in different weight categories. Just look at the huge work that has been done here on a regular basis. It is difficult to maintain such a pace not for one month, but for years.


These are two different products written in different languages, although they are United by one word: “forum”.


They may be written in different languages but that’s irrelevant. That’s like saying that Coke and Pepsi are different products made of different ingredients. They are for exactly same use purposes, thus they are competitors. Not equal competitors, though. Discourse is miles ahead in every way and the gap measured in time is getting wider all the time. However, Flarum will gain basic functionalities while the more mature software gains all kinds of minor enhancements and niche features. Thus the gap in terms of software greatness may be even shrinking, depending on what you value.

As an outcome, Discourse will always be more advanced, but Flarum can become a reasonable alternative if you for whatever reason don’t want to use Discourse. As Flarum matures it won’t be significantly worse for many use cases. User experience on both is already very similar because of heavy cross-breading. Yes, Discourse has learned something from Flarum, too. The vertical slider bar on the right when you are reading a topic was initially Flarum’s idea if I’m right. Flarum on the other hand has been watching closely what its big brother is doing which is the main reason for software similarity. And they will continue bringing the best features of Discourse into their software.