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.

But we're biased. Play with Discourse in the sandbox at try.discourse.org and see what you think. Are you having fun?

Or check out one of our many live partner and customer sites. Are they having fun?

Boing Boing   How to Geek   New Relic   Turtle Rock  

What are the minimum browser requirements?

Discourse is a JavaScript application designed for the next 10 years of the Internet, so the minimum web browser requirements are high:

  • Internet Explorer 10+
  • Google Chrome 24+
  • Firefox 14+
  • Safari 5.1+

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. We automatically switch to a mobile layout for small-screen devices.

  • Mobile Safari, iOS 6+
  • Mobile Chrome, Android 4.1+
  • Mobile IE, Windows Phone 8 or later

Atom   Soylent

How do I get it?

Discourse is 100% free open source software, now and forever.

We are just beginning to offer one-click paid Discourse hosting here, and dedicated instance sales to enterprise clients. Contact us for details. And since it's open source, you can always build your own Discourse instance from our GitHub repository.

What was it built with?

Discourse is a JavaScript application that runs in your web browser, using the Ember.js JavaScript framework.

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?


  1. Discourse is no longer early beta software. We are approaching version 1.0. We can now generally recommend Discourse as a workable solution for most communities on the web. It is still beta software, of course, but late beta. A lot of the early kinks have been ironed out.

  2. There is tremendous technical and sociological friction to change in any established community. Engage in discussions with your community about even the possibility of such a change well in advance. Consider carefully whether your community is willing to adopt such a big change.

We believe Discourse works best for new discussion communities. It is definitely possible to convert existing communities to Discourse, but there needs to be broad dissatisfaction with the status quo and strong support for change from the community leaders.

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. You can specify override CSS from within the admin pages, inject arbitrary HTML in the top, bottom, and header of each page, and so forth.

How will people find my Discourse forum?

All Discourse forums are fully indexable by all major web search engines and offer solid out of box SEO.

We also 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 Discourse nickname for later use.

Can I build a plugin?

The most common plugin request, by far, is for single sign on. We've done a ton of work to make authentication totally plugabble. We also plan to support a robust ecosystem of hundreds of cool plugins for alternate or different discussion functionality, and a directory to find them in.

See the extensibility category of our forum for the latest news.

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.

Are you sure? Look again. We've come a long way in the last year.

On the other hand, we are building open source software. Is it ever ready? Ask our partners.

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.