Discourse is an open-source discussion platform built with Ruby on Rails. It is designed to be highly customizable and user-friendly, with features such as real-time notifications, advanced searching, and gamification. Discourse also includes built-in support for mobile devices, making it easy for users to participate in discussions on the go.
- Increased engagement: Discourse offers a user-friendly and intuitive interface that encourages engagement among members of a community.
- Improved communication: With Discourse, community members can communicate and collaborate more effectively, improving the overall quality of discussions and interactions.
- Better organization: Discourse allows users to organize discussions and topics in a logical and intuitive manner, making it easier to find and participate in conversations that are relevant to them.
- Enhanced security: Discourse is designed with security in mind, providing features such as secure login, spam protection, and other safeguards to protect the community from threats.
- Customizable: Discourse allows users to customize the platform to fit the specific needs of their community, including custom branding, themes, and plugins.
- Categories and tags: Discourse allows users to organize discussions into categories and tags, making it easy to find and participate in relevant conversations.
- User profiles: Discourse provides user profiles that allow members to share information about themselves and their interests, helping to build connections within the community.
- Notifications: Discourse sends notifications to users when there are new posts or replies in discussions they have subscribed to, keeping them informed and engaged.
- Search functionality: Discourse includes powerful search functionality, making it easy to find specific discussions or posts within the community.
- Moderation tools: Discourse provides a range of moderation tools that allow community managers to monitor discussions, flag inappropriate content, and enforce community guidelines.
- Integration with other tools: Discourse can be integrated with a range of other tools, such as social media platforms, analytics software, and customer relationship management (CRM) systems.
Features vs. Benefits Table:
|Encourage participation and engagement with an intuitive and modern design.
|Tailor your forum to match your organization’s branding and preferences.
|Reach your community members wherever they are with an optimized mobile experience.
|Maintain a positive and productive community with advanced moderation features.
|Plugins and Integrations
|Enhance your forum’s functionality and streamline your workflows with added features.
Use Cases for Individuals, Non-Profits, and Social Justice Organizations:
- Community Building: Create a space for your community members to connect, share ideas, and support one another.
- Customer Support: Provide a forum for customers to ask questions, share feedback, and receive assistance from your team and fellow users.
- Knowledge Sharing: Encourage the exchange of information and expertise within your community, fostering collaboration and growth.
- Volunteer Coordination: Manage and communicate with volunteers through a centralized discussion platform.
- Advocacy Campaigns: Facilitate discussions around social justice issues, mobilizing your community for action and change.
Cost Benefit Comparison with Other Popular Service Providers:
|Free (open-source) or paid hosting plans
|Highly customizable, user-friendly, advanced moderation tools, plugins and integrations
|Popular Provider 1
|$X per month
|Feature list, ease of use, support, cloud storage
|Popular Provider 2
|$Y per month
|Feature list, user experience, integrations, collaboration tools
Getting Started with Discourse:
- Choose between self-hosting Discourse or using a hosted service (such as Discourse.org’s hosting plans). You have the option to self-host your own instance or if you do want to run it on their managed instance, you can avail of a discount of up to 50% if you’re a registered non-profit. Click the link to know more (https://discourse.org/pricing)
- For self-hosting, visit the Discourse GitHub repository (GitHub - discourse/discourse: A platform for community discussion. Free, open, simple.) and follow the provided installation instructions. Here’s a quick start guide if you do want to self-host - discourse/INSTALL.md at main · discourse/discourse · GitHub).
- For a hosted service, visit the Discourse website (https://www.discourse.org/) and sign up for a hosting plan that suits your needs.
- Customize your Discourse forum to match your organization’s branding and preferences.
- Begin inviting users to join your forum, fostering community engagement and collaboration.
Discourse offers a powerful, user-friendly platform for individuals, non-profits, and social justice organizations to build and manage online discussion forums.
Overall, It is a powerful and flexible discussion platform that is well-suited for organizations and communities of all sizes. Its user-friendly interface, moderation tools, and commitment to accessibility make it an ideal choice for anyone looking to build an engaged and inclusive online community.
They also have a really active community hosted on discourse that you can look at for all your questions and if you just want to learn more about the product. Click here to visit their page - https://meta.discourse.org/
here is a table outlining how different non-profit organizations are using discourse forums to manage volunteers and for other use cases:
|Discourse Forum Features
|Habitat for Humanity
|Provides a forum for volunteers to sign up for shifts, ask questions, and share their experiences. Includes categories for different volunteer roles, training materials, and resources.
|Uses the forum to engage with the community and share information about their programs and services. Includes categories for disaster preparedness, blood donation, and health and safety.
|Code for America
|Open Source Development
|Uses the forum to manage a community of volunteers who contribute to open source projects. Includes categories for different projects, code reviews, and issue tracking.
|Provides a forum for users to ask questions, report bugs, and share feedback about Mozilla products. Includes categories for different products, release notes, and announcements.
|Uses the forum to facilitate discussions among editors and contributors to Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects. Includes categories for different topics, policy discussions, and help forums.
|Provides a forum for students to ask questions, discuss topics, and share resources related to Khan Academy courses. Includes categories for different subjects, grade levels, and support.
|Human Rights Advocacy
|Uses the forum to mobilize activists and supporters to take action on human rights issues. Includes categories for campaigns, events, and resources for activists.
|Doctors Without Borders
|Provides a forum for medical professionals to ask questions, share experiences, and discuss best practices in medical relief work. Includes categories for different specialties, countries, and emergency response.