Free Discourse forum hosting for community-friendly GitHub projects

Erlend Sogge Heggen March 4, 2016

Discourse is proudly and unconditionally 100% open source ever since our public launch just over 3 years ago.


Open source does not exist in a vacuum. We strive to be not just a great open source tool, but upstanding open source citizens, too. We’ve had an informal policy of providing free hosting for other open source tools that Discourse directly relies on. And although it was never announced, if you asked us, we’d offer a standard 50% hosting discount to any popular open source project.

Open source projects with a Discourse forum currently includes:

We love these communities, and we’d love to see more. It’s time to make our informal, ad-hoc policy more public and more open!

Free Discourse Hosting For Your Open Source Project

Do you run a popular open source project on GitHub? Then you might be eligible for a free, hosted Discourse + SSL. Your users can log in with GitHub logins and write posts in Markdown, and we’ve got tighter integration planned down the road, too.

Minimum Requirements

  • Must be hosted on GitHub
    • 2000+ stars
    • 30+ 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.

Terms of Service

  • We require a sub-domain with a specific convention, i.e.: This is the only piece of “branding” we require.
  • You will get free SSL
  • There is a bandwidth limit of 100k monthly page views, equivalent to our Standard hosting plan.
  • If you exceed our bandwidth limit – which is very unlikely, unless your project is enormous – 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 Business hosting plan at 50% off.
  • Absolutely zero lock-in! You are free to download a complete Discourse export from your web browser and migrate away from our free hosting at any time.

Apply Now!

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


Why GitHub only?

Mostly because of GitHub’s popularity, which allows us to set a rudimentary “we think this is likely to work for you” level based on stars and contributors. We’d love to open this program up to all open source projects in the future, but in order to ensure a great hosting experience for everyone, we need to first start with a narrow scope and slowly expand as we go.

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

Discourse is, first and foremost, a tool to host discussion. Not all open source projects need discussions to prosper. Know your project, and consider whether or not it’s the type of project that would benefit from discussions. 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?

Unfortunately we can’t dedicate time for assisted migrations right now. However, we do have a wide range of open source import scripts for Discourse. So, if you export your forum data, import it into a staged up-to-date Discourse site, and export a backup from Discourse, then there is a very good chance we can help you out.

We hope to hear from you!

Notable Replies

  1. Just to clarify – if your project is on GitHub and you don’t quite meet the threshold criteria of …

    • 2000+ stars
    • 30+ contributors

    … feel free to contact us via the form. We’ll work with you. :slight_smile:

    The purpose of the thresholds isn’t to arbitrarily keep projects away, but rather to ensure that there’s enough critical mass for a solid discussion community to form around your project. We guesstimate it takes about 5 people :man::woman::older_woman::older_man::baby: actively participating in the discussions each day for your discussion community to “work”.

  2. That’s great news!

    Your users can log in with GitHub logins

    Are only GitHub logins supported, or will Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and plain e-mail accounts also work?

    Also, I understand custom imports would take too much time, but importing from an existing Discourse instance can be done manually, right?

  3. All of those will also be available.

    Yep, that’s entirely doable. Correct me if I’m wrong @team, but we do prefer to have the Discourse backup sent to us so that we can apply it ourselves.

  4. sam says:

    Yes, you can configure this yourself, no problems. Additionally we plan to roll out “automatically” configured incoming email in the upcoming months.

  5. My comment might be slightly off-topic, but I wanted to say that I’m amazed at how Discourse team markets their product and applies various strategies to target primarily larger organizations and companies. There is a lot to learn from them - and this topic is just another excellent example of how to make people tempted to move to Discourse. Absolutely amazing stuff. Read it twice - first, as a Discourse (potential) user. Second - as a marketer.

  6. Hi, I know I’m a little impatient, but is the offer of free hosting for popular open source projects still active? I submitted the request form for free Discourse forum hosting on Monday 11/13/2017 and haven’t heard back yet. I’m requesting hosting for the open source Citation Style Language project (see and our most popular repo. We’re a little low on stars (1000+ across our repos) but have hundreds of contributors and a healthy community. Thanks!

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