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Free hosting for Patreon creators

Erlend Sogge Heggen December 6, 2018

Nearly two years ago we started very carefully experimenting with free hosting of open source projects. We recently rolled out the v2 of this program for open source projects, and today we’re extending the same offer for Patreon creators.

 

Free Discourse Hosting For Your Patreon Project

Are you a creator on Patreon? Then you might be eligible for a free, hosted Discourse + SSL. Our tight integration with Patreon automates badges and user groups for your patrons. For some excellent examples of how Discourse can increase your patron count read the stories of MCrider and The Bitcoin Pub.

Minimum Requirements

  • Minimum of $50 in monthly patronage
  • Your project has a clear need for discussions (see FAQ below)
  • Please understand that approval is ultimately at our discretion as we work out the details of this program.

Basic Terms

  • You will get a sub-domain of your choosing on the *.discourse.group domain, e.g. myproject.discourse.group.
  • You will get free SSL, courtesy of Let’s Encrypt.
  • There is a bandwidth limit of 50k monthly page views, equivalent to half of our Standard hosting plan.
  • We do not support imports. See the FAQ for more.
  • If you exceed our bandwidth limit (for several consecutive months) you have two options:
    1. We’ll help you move to self-hosting, either on your own server or any Docker compatible cloud (a $20/month Digital Ocean droplet should suffice).
    2. Upgrade to our Standard hosting plan at 50% off.
  • Absolutely zero lock-in! You are free to download a complete Discourse export and migrate away from our free hosting at any time.

Apply Now!

Since we’re still doing some of this manually it might take us a few days to get back to you.

Can’t see the form? Use this link instead.

FAQ

What do you mean by “clear need for discussions”?

Discourse is, first and foremost, a tool to host discussion at scale. Not all creators need large scale discussions to prosper. Know your project, and consider whether or not it’s the type of project that would benefit from Discourse’s discussion model. Some signs to look for:

  • Your ephemeral communication channels (like Chatrooms) are failing to store and distribute important knowledge items.
  • Your existing discussion channel is being crowded with help requests and “bikeshed discussions”.
  • Users of your project seek out advice from other users.
  • Your project encourages new projects built on top of it that can be shared and talked about.

Building communities is difficult; nobody wants to launch a ghost town, and it takes more than great software to make a community. Be sure to read Building a Discourse Community for tips and ideas.

We already have a mailing list/forum. Will you help us migrate?

If you need to import existing community content of any kind we unfortunately can’t help you. For small communities we recommend simply copy & pasting in your top 20+ topics to seed your new forum with your most important content.

If you absolutely need to do a proper import we highly recommend self-hosting. Our install guide works with many reputable cloud hosting providers starting at $5/month. For the vast majority of community platforms we have import guides and open source scripts to boot.

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Free Hosting for Open Source v2

Erlend Sogge Heggen November 13, 2018

Nearly two years ago we started very carefully experimenting with free hosting of open source projects. Today we’re announcing the next iteration of our free hosting program, casting a much wider net this time.

Free Discourse Hosting For Your Open Source Project

Do you run a popular open source project? Then you might be eligible for a free, hosted Discourse + SSL. Our tight integration with GitHub automates contributor badges and linking between Discourse topics and GitHub issues.

Minimum Requirements

  • 15+ contributors
  • Your project has a clear need for discussions (see FAQ below)
  • Please understand that approval is ultimately at our discretion as we work out the details of this program.

Basic Terms

  • You will get a sub-domain of your choosing on the *.discourse.group domain, e.g. myproject.discourse.group.
  • You will get free SSL, courtesy of Let’s Encrypt.
  • There is a bandwidth limit of 50k monthly page views, equivalent to half of our Standard hosting plan.
  • We do not support imports. See the FAQ for more.
  • If you exceed our bandwidth limit (for several consecutive months) you have two options:
    1. We’ll help you move to self-hosting, either on your own server or any Docker compatible cloud (a $20/month Digital Ocean droplet should suffice).
    2. Upgrade to our Standard hosting plan at 50% off.
  • Absolutely zero lock-in! You are free to download a complete Discourse export and migrate away from our free hosting at any time.

Apply Now!

Since we’re still doing some of this manually it might take us a few days to get back to you.

Can’t see the form? Use this link instead.

FAQ

What do you mean by “clear need for discussions”?

Discourse is, first and foremost, a tool to host discussion at scale. Not all open source projects need large scale discussions to prosper. Know your project, and consider whether or not it’s the type of project that would benefit from Discourse’s discussion model. Some signs to look for:

  • Your issue tracker is being crowded with feature requests and “bikeshed discussions”.
  • Users of your project seek out development advice from other users.
  • Your project gives way to new projects built on top of it that can be shared and talked about.

Building communities is difficult; nobody wants to launch a ghost town, and it takes more than great software to make a community. Be sure to read Building a Discourse Community for tips and ideas.

We already have a mailing list/forum. Will you help us migrate?

If you need to import existing community content of any kind we unfortunately can’t help you. For small communities we recommend simply copy & pasting in your top 20+ topics to seed your new forum with your most important content.

If you absolutely need to do a proper import we highly recommend self-hosting. Our install guide works with many reputable cloud hosting providers starting at $5/month. For the vast majority of community platforms we have import guides and open source scripts to boot.

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Discourse as an ideation platform

Erlend Sogge Heggen October 3, 2018

People sometimes ask how Discourse compares to the likes of UserVoice and other ideation platforms, where ideas get voted on and the best ideas rise to the top.

Discourse Voting -- topic list

One thing many companies find appealing with these platforms is that a vote-powered ranking of prospective features somehow relieves them of certain product management responsibilities because the customers are now taking on some of that responsibility. We believe this is solving the wrong problem.

The highest ranked idea should by no means be equated to the most needed feature, nor the most wanted. Just because 1000 customers think your car factory should start producing chocolate does not make them right nor does it make chocolate less awesome. Regardless, Discourse works fine, as-is, capturing this basic data point — people love their chocolate!

chocolate sports car

In YC’s Essentials Startup Guide, the fundamental advice to “talk to your users/customers” is mentioned a total of 7 — that’s right, seven — times.

Discourse embodies this mantra and lowers the the barrier to entry for any kind of discussion with your customers — and your team, too. Asking people what they want might provide some useful clues, but you’ll be spending a lot of time playing a game of deduction. You’ll get far richer feedback by having your users talk amongst themselves, and with your team, about a wide assortment of topics, guided by some select categories of discussion such as features, troubleshooting, UX improvements, bugs and so forth. Discourse makes it convenient for your product managers and stakeholders to work collaboratively alongside your users in a manner more resembling a bustling town square rather than a sterile research lab.

town square

The majority of public Discourse forums deal in some kind of open product development. While we do support up-voting functionality similar to UserVoice with our Voting plugin, most communities don’t need it.

Discourse Voting -- topic detail

Any product community that solicits feedback from users will commonly practice some form of complaint-driven development.

Discourse takes a holistic approach to ideation. In the Discourse model you don’t just put a spotlight on the “most wanted”, you discuss anything — exchange tips on stuff you already like, suggest things that could work slightly better, or are hard to understand or maybe even straight up broken. And unlike vote-focused idea blurbs with drive-by comments, Discourse’s sustained discussions and minimum word counts enable users and your team to collaborate on a crudely formed idea until they’re left with the outline of a reasonable, if informal, specification.

You’ll see this pattern repeating itself in many of our feature discussions here on Meta.

Other notable communities excelling at open product development include:

Eve Tech

https://eve.community/

A device shop whose main selling point is that their products are designed by their community. They employ Voting to a small extent, but the bigger story is that their entire forum is one giant roadmap discussion.

Soylent and Huel

https://discourse.huel.com/
https://discourse.soylent.com/

Two similar product lines with a similar product strategy: Let users talk about any experience, good and bad, and embrace the bad (not every body takes in a liquid meal with ease) with honest discussion. Show me a focus group that would provide these companies with anywhere near the same amount of data and I’ll eat my hat!

EVE Online

https://forums.eveonline.com/

It’s hard to pick among game forums as game makers are one of our biggest customer segments and they’ve been at the forefront of community-informed design for decades. Games lend themselves incredibly well to discussion about their rules, characters, aesthetic, balance, story, etcetera. A very common way of soliciting feedback from game testers is to silently watch the tester play your game and take notes. Afterwards you have a discussion about the play experience. An open forum is like that second part but scaled up 1000x.

Faster Horses or Battery Powered Scooters

You’ve probably heard this quote before:

If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.

~ Henry Ford
(according to legend, and that’s good enough)

This anecdote neatly encapsulates Discourse’s approach to open product development. You don’t arrive at a better design by pitting hundreds of features against each other in a vote-war. All of those features are parts of a greater whole. There’s only so much to be gained by having people shout their ideas at you. What you really want is meticulous collaborative discussions with a beginning, a middle and an end. You’re not always gonna get a happy ending, but if the story is good enough someone else will eventually tell it again — this time with a twist.

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