Why use Discourse over Linkedin, Google, or Facebook Groups?

I really like forums - but have recently realized that the vast majority of the growth in the “discussions” market has gone to Linkedin, Facebook and Google - who host free discussion groups, and leverage the network effects of their platforms to try to keep people more engaged in their sites. Linkedin had over 1.3 million discussions groups as of last year,

Facebook probably a multiple of that (type in the Facebook search bar “groups my friends are in…” and you’ll see the huge success of these groups).

So this all begs the question -

Why do you (or would you) use Discourse for your own forums?
Why don’t you want to use Google, Facebook or Linkedin for your own forums?
What does this mean for feature prioritization for Discourse?

The answer to this question could really help Discourse the company refine their product and make sure it meets a very targeted and important need.

I use forums like discourse for the following reasons:

  1. It helps form community and should help increase the number of return visitors to my site - which ultimately helps in revenue by generating page views (and ad sales which fund the site).
    The key thing here is it increases engagement on my site. So everything that Discourse can do to improve user engagement is very important.

  2. It helps in SEO for my site - lots of User Generated Content that is part of my web site and that isn’t under the control of a 3rd party. The key issue here is site-relevant SEO. So everything that Discourse can do to improve SEO is going to be very important.

  3. It helps me monetize my web site - by allowing me to put ads in both mobile and web visitor’s view. So - everything that Discourse can do to help me monetize the site will be very important and helpful.

Other thoughts? Why do you use Discourse?


We plan to use Discourse for a variety of reasons. One big one is the desire to have users not be concerned about ‘being the product’ by using one of those other platforms, and being pestered by unrelated advertising. We will not be placing ads on our site nor making any attempt to monetize it, as it’s purely a discussion forum for users who use our open source and open technology software.

Another one is keeping our various categories of discussion grouped together in a common (and branded) location, and being able to easily cross the boundaries between categories when a topic rightly belongs in more than one.


It’s probably worth mentioning Disqus here, though the on-page live “blog comment style” discussion model is significantly different than what Discourse is doing.

Disqus does hold a cookie across all sites so if you log in to Disqus you can comment on any site that has Disqus comments enabled.


I’d love to get notifications about new posts on my private discoure(s) via facebook.

I’ve actually moved much of our conversations from a facebook group to a discourse forum because it gives more control over categorization and structure. The facebook groups are basically free form and make it difficult to target various things without having separate groups.


Maybe I’ve been sheltered in my 12 years of software development, but that’s the strangest request I think I’ve ever read.


Some of this is also covered here:


Its more for the other people to get syndicated notifications and not have to keep checking discourse. Its hard enough to get some people to check their emails regularly, but they are always available via facebook chat.


One big difference is anonymity. Where the others force you to use your real identity.


It’s totally not. Watch a 20-year-old-kid browsing the web for a while. How often do they check FB versus their E-Mail?


One big problem with Facebook groups is you need to be on Facebook. I certainly wouldn’t want to subject my audience to that.


I ran a fan forum from 2003-2009 that centered around a particular folk band. It had around 1,000 registered users with 150 really active users.I had to shut it down due to money and time restraints.

A year later, some members started a group on Facebook. But they made it private and invite only. Why? It’s not like they’re having controversial or “adult” conversations. Just sharing their love of a band with like-minded people. And that’s the thing. They just want to go somewhere that’s not connected to their family or co-workers so they don’t get heckled or teased for this thing they like that’s maybe not “cool”.

There are other examples I could point to. Like I’m openly gay, but I don’t want to talk about gay culture in my work/family network of mostly straight people who question why there’s even such a thing as gay culture. They don’t get it, and that’s okay…they don’t need to. But I need a space to talk about things with people who do get it.

As for lists and circles, I don’t like feeling paranoid about whether I’m broadcasting to the right circle/list. I’d rather just know it’s separate because I’m on a separate site. I’ve seen people accidentally broadcast some offhand political/cultural/religious remark they only meant to say to a few people, and it caused WWIII in their network.


I do support on @ultimape. I get more online on Facebook, where it’s like a port for my service, so notification on Facebook should be an optional to email notification.

I also use email pushing service but, Facebook online notification seems more common way too.


I’m starting http://talksurf.com and it’s a definitely a challenge of “I’m already on Facebook and Twitter, why another something?”. I think it’s good to integrate a Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/talksurf.

The main things I like about about discourse.org rather than Facebook:

  1. Seems better for google searches
  2. Focused on topics rather than people
  3. Better editor for longer posts

At some point Facebook will be “uncool,” if it already isn’t. Content you post on Facebook is basically lost and/or inaccessible once you leave, which sucks. When you post to an independently owned forum, there is a better chance of that information being preserved and then being seeing by other people in the future – publicly – through search engines, which I think is great.

Knowledge bases are going to be eaten up by Facebook unless we can promote the usage of software like Discourse.


See also this set of feedback from a Facebook group:


What I generally hear about Google groups is that they don’t scale, have lots of spam problems, poor moderation tools, etc. It’s sort of a very thin web veneer over USENET, not exactly a marvel of modern human interaction techniques or user interface.


I think if someone is trying to decide if they want to use a Facebook group for example or discourse, one feature you could say Facebook has is that everyone is using their real name (well most people).

I signed in to discourse with Facebook, but there is no indication I did. I’m sure not all discourse forums would want this, but for some communities it might be a bit of a built in reputation system if discourse would verify somehow that you logged in with a certain Facebook account, or Google+ account. For a community with a buy and sell section for example I can see how this would be good. For example, I’m in a couple Facebook groups exclusively that are buy and sell type of groups, but there is no way that those groups can be effective discussion groups too, as there are 1000+ members and it is just full of posts of items for sale, no real way to have categories. But there is a sort of built in trust system there, making Facebook attractive for groups like that.

I searched and part of this has been asked for, having the Google+ or Facebook profile pic become their avatar - Google Avatar - not associating?

I would even go further and have an indication in the person’s discourse profile, like a link to their Facebook account and some sort of “Verified” checkmark like the blue checkmark some twitter accounts have. Maybe you could even verify your Facebook, Google+ and Twitter if you wanted to. Anyone like that idea?

edit - Here’s some info on how to format an icon or ‘badge’ link to a profile:
facebook profile badges: https://www.facebook.com/badges/
and google+ badges: https://developers.google.com/+/web/badge/

edit - the multiple logins to one discourse has been asked for too - https://meta.discourse.org/t/allow-authentication-via-multiple-services-on-one-account/6242 - just doesn’t seem to mention displaying in your profile that you have authenticated with multiple accounts, which I guess wasn’t the intention of that topic.


Unlike @BhaelOchon I think this would be a cool thing. Weird, but interesting idea. It’s like being able to unify notifications… But, here’s the point: that’s what emails are for. Facebook is trying too hard to “be the internet” for kids, and kids are buying it.

This isn’t necessarily advantageous for a community with a specific topic, as many have mentioned. I, for one, don’t like anonymity. I really think the world would be a better place without it, and eventually we might get there as we tend to remove all problems with communicating. Usually defenders of the need for being anonymous talk about agents who need to be secret and stuff, but in the very end, to me, that’s just a symptom of bad communication among countries.

Still lots of people will insist we need to be anonymous sometimes. And we got to respect that.

With discourse you go as you wish. You want to be anonymous, there you go. You want to use your real name? Connect your profile to plus and facebook, and vice-versa, you’ll have your identity there. There’s no need to drag this over, the community identity is what really matters for most communities anyway.

One reason haven’t been cited yet, maybe because it probably won’t convince anyone to move: because it’s way better for async conversations. Way way better. And it’s better than anything out there, including reddit.

That being said, this is a great topic to me. Lots of reasons I haven’t thought of bringing in when I evangelize it to people. They sound so much more appealing!

I’d argue, from what I could compile, the following are the top ones, which aren’t cited anywhere in the home (I think it have way too technical pages).

For community managers:

  • Monetization. The forum is yours, it’s open, and you can do as you please. This is to forums what wordpress was to blogs.

  • SEO. You can find stuff in it with Google. Even in google groups you can’t find it as easily as in discourse.

  • Yours to keep. Being open source means all data is yours and all business is yours.

For users:

  • Works on mobile. Unlike most of other ones.

  • Best search. Easy to find with its own search tool, creating topics will bring likely duplicates, related topics on the bottom, and google friendly.

  • Filter noise. With categories it’s easier to browse and seek for new subjects or topics. Also in a big community you can select a few specific categories of your interest to filter all noise out.

  • Your identity. Not different from any other forums, but different from google, facebook and linkedin, you identify yourself in a different way, the way you want it. Be anonymous if you need to. Disconnect from work or family. Or connect if you want.

  • Keep conversations going. No matter for how long. Without disruption. Categories, starting new topics, moderation, innovative thread reply without removing timeline. There are many many tools in place to make conversations flow.


Thank you @cawas good reasons :wink:

I think Facebook is becoming “the internet” for moms, not kids :wink:

(ibtimes…not the most trusted source for news, but first link I found)

Right, but there is only a way to register using Facebook or Google+, etc. There isn’t a way to “connect” your discourse profile to those accounts (ie, uses the Facebook avatar and something in the user’s profile says their account is linked to a certain url facebook account) for those users that want to be known as the same person they are on Facebook.

There are a couple Facebook groups I’d like to encourage users to switch to discourse and features like that would help a lot. It can’t be just me, lots of forums are losing their users to Facebook groups.