What is Discourse?
Discourse is the 100% open source, next-generation discussion platform built for the next decade of the Internet.
Whenever you need …
- a mailing list
- a forum to discuss something
- a chat room where you can type paragraphs
… consider Discourse.
What's different about it?
Discourse is a from-scratch reboot, an attempt to reimagine what a modern, sustainable, fully open-source Internet discussion platform should be today – both from a technology standpoint and a sociology standpoint.
We tried to build in all the lessons learned from the last ten years of Internet web forums, so that the community has a natural immune system to defend itself from trolls, bad actors, and spammers. There's also a trust system, so engaged community members can assist in the governance of their community.
The act of participating in a discussion should fundamentally feel good in a way that it currently does not on all existing forums and mailing lists. It should be fun to have discussions with other human beings, not a chore, or something that's barely tolerable.
What are the minimum browser requirements?
- Internet Explorer 10+
- Google Chrome 24+
- Firefox 14+
- Safari 5+
We do officially support Internet Explorer 9, but some functionality will be unavoidably broken.
What tablets and phones are supported?
Discourse was intended from the beginning for future high resolution displays and ubiquitous touch devices.
- Mobile Safari, iOS 6+
- Mobile Chrome, Android 4+
- Mobile IE, Windows Phone 8 or later
However, we have not optimized for small screens yet – so for now, the best Discourse experience will be on 7" or larger touch devices.
How do I get it?
Discourse is 100% free open source software, now and forever.
We eventually plan to offer one-click paid Discourse hosting here, and dedicated instance sales to enterprise clients. But for now, if you want your own Discourse instance, get the code from our GitHub repository.
What was it built with?
The server side of Discourse is written in Ruby on Rails with a Postgres database, and Redis server cache. You can deploy Discourse on a virtualized cloud server (Amazon EC2, Rackspace, Azure) or on cloud hosting (Heroku, Engine Yard, Appfog, etc) wherever Ruby on Rails is supported. The minimum version requirements are:
- Postgres 9.1
- Redis 2.6
- Ruby 1.9.3
We also recommend a minimum 1 Gb RAM to host Discourse, though it may work with slightly less.
What license is the code under?
The GNU General Public License, version 2.
We happily accept pull requests, however, we do ask that you sign a Contributor License Agreement so that we have the right to relicense your contributions.
Should I switch to Discourse right now?
Discourse is brand new. Discourse is early beta software, and likely to remain so for many months. Please experiment with it, play with it, give us feedback, submit pull requests – but any consideration of fully adopting Discourse is for people and organizations who are eager to live on the bleeding and broken edge.
There is tremendous technical and sociological friction to change in any established community. Consider carefully whether your community is willing to adopt such a big change. Perhaps start a discussion about even the possibility of such a change well in advance.
We believe Discourse currently makes the most sense for new discussion communities. In some rare cases communities may have a discussion platform that they intensely and actively dislike, to the point that they are willing to throw the whole thing away and start over.
Can I use my own skin or theme?
Absolutely. We ship with a reasonably good looking default theme that you are free to use, but Discourse is designed to be fully skinnable and themable through CSS so it can match your existing site design. The top navigation area currently supports local theming directly through the admin settings.
How will people find my Discourse forum?
We plan to have a public directory of all Discourse forums, and highlight interesting topics directly on the home page. Once you register your forum with us, and it meets the minimum inclusion criteria, anyone can discover it right here!
At Discourse, we have one job: to make your discussion forum successful.
Can I be the same user on all Discourse forums?
We do offer a preliminary but functional global nickname registration. If you want to be consistently known as @kittenbunny99 across all Discourse instances, you can. You'll also get a user page here that optionally lists all your forum memberships.
For now, sign up on meta and that will globally reserve your nickname for later use.
Can I build a plugin?
We plan to support a robust ecosystem of hundreds of cool plugins for alternate or different discussion functionality. We'd also love to eventually have a plugin directory!
Our plugin support is rudimentary at the moment, but we expect it to evolve strongly over the next year. See GitHub for the latest updates.
Who are you?
The co-founders of Civilized Discourse Construction Kit, Inc. are Jeff Atwood, Robin Ward, and Sam Saffron. But Discourse couldn't exist without the hard work of our entire team.
This doesn't look ready yet.
It's open source software. Is it ever ready?
We're on a five year mission to improve the Internet with free, open-source discussion software that raises the level of Discourse for the entire world. It's a work in progress.
Join us. We'd love to have you.