My experience with Discourse

This week, we have been playing around with the Ruby-on-Rails based Discourse Open-Source Forum platform. My first impressions were that Discourse, for all their well thought out marketing, and Open-Source ethos was actually rather good! Why the surprise? I have been through my fair share of PHP based alternatives, and quite frankly there is rarely a platform that really delivers everything that is promised and a whole heap more, and even more rare is the lack of a headache.

So lets get down to it. The setup was simple, and resulted in a fully functional forum website, that ran extremely well. I decided to go with the recommended Discourse host: Digital Ocean, so I span up a basic droplet and followed the Discourse Set-up Instructions. So far so good, and I managed to complete it all in under the promised 30 minutes.

The site itself is a just a side-project that I have been working on in my spare time. So far I have only spent around 2 hours on it, and its just a bit of fun to see if I can create an engaged online community around one of my interested. The website is a gaming-based forum for gamers that enjoy a round of CS:GO, appropriately named CS:GO Forum. I was keen to understand the power of the Discourse Software, so I made some dummy posts, and got to play around the admin features and I was extremely impressed with the level of detail the Developers have gone into, with things like:

  • Automatic Spam Filtering & Flagging
  • Gamification Features; Badges etc. as standard
  • Realtime posting
  • Smart URL & Video Embedding

All of the features you would expect for a premium rate Forum Package, but its all Open Source, free! The Ruby aspect of Discourse may put off some webmasters, but I think the vanilla version of Discourse blows most forums out of the water so I would thoroughly encourage anyone who is looking to create a forum anytime soon to consider Discourse or another A-Synchronous Tech alternative.

Other Next-Gen Forum Platforms in 2015

Some other platforms you may want to consider:

  • Vanilla Forums – Open Source – A close 2nd to Discourse in my opinion
  • Simple Machines – Open Source – I dont like this as much, but its still a viable platform
  • phpBB – Paid – The market leader, but I’m not a fan