Why I chose Discourse for my community led organization

I am the founder of a community led organization. We’re very diverse, particularly by age, race, and technology access. We ran user interviews and surveys to see where people were already engaging online, and what they looked for in an online space. We ultimately chose to use Discourse as our online forum for the following reasons.

  1. Discourse runs completely in a web browser which means that people can use it on their smartphone without needing to download an app and can also view it on shared devices like a library computer or a school iPad. Being in the browser also means that people can use tools that give them more access like Google Translate for different language speakers and screen readers for people who are blind.

  2. Discourse interfaces wonderfully with email which means that users don’t even need to encounter the online forum in order to interact fully. This is perfect for our community, where the only electronic communication tool that everyone uses in common is email. By using Discourse, we’re not asking them to change their behavior. Some email providers also automatically translate emails. In addition, one of our values is Build in Public, so the fact that we can invite people into group messages without them ever needing to create an account via the staged user feature expands the number of people who have access to our information.

  3. Discourse has the organizational tools we need in categories, tags, groups, and notification options. Because we’re a network organization, we have a lot of information flying every which way. The organizational tools allow everyone to see anything they want, but tailor their notifications in a way that surfaces up only the information they find most relevant.

  4. Discourse is open-source. We’re run off of an open-source model as well, so there’s value alignment. That and it’s amazing to be able to go into the meta site and ask questions, request features, and have people act on it immediately.

  5. Discourse is flexible. We want ONE central communications / collaboration tool, and Discourse looks like it can do it all. We can use the Kanban theme component to replace Trello, wiki posts to replace a separate wiki site, groups to replace segmented mailing lists, and so on and so forth. The ability to customize Discourse’s text helps a lot with the flexibility as well.

  6. Discourse is free for those who self-host it.

Thank you Discourse team and community! We’re incredibly excited to be using this platform as a tool for advancing youth led collective impact in New York City. No other platform could have worked for us as well as Discourse does.


And there’s a free Discourse client app available too, which can be easier than a browser if you also check other discourse forums, such as this meta site.
IOS: ‎Discourse Hub on the App Store
Android: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.discourse&hl=en


These are the same reasons that I chose it for the grassroots pro-housing org I organize with. Glad to see others doing the same!