Free Discourse forum hosting for community-friendly GitHub projects

Erlend Sogge Heggen March 4, 2016

NOTE: This announcement has should be considered deprecated and out of date, as it has been superseded by “Free Hosting for Open Source v2”.

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.

Here’s just a small sampling of open source projects with a Discourse forum:

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? 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.
  • Must be hosted on GitHub GitHub is no longer a requirement.
  • 2000+ stars Star count is no longer a requirement.

Basic Terms

  • You will get a sub-domain of your choosing on the * domain, e.g.
  • 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.
  • 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!

For updated terms and application procedure, please see our announcement “Free Hosting for Open Source v2”


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?

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!

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.

* As we’ve scaled up this program we’ve since removed the GitHub requirement.

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. 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.

  3. Avatar for sam sam says:

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

  4. 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.

  5. 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!

  6. This is doubly true now that we’ve revised our requirements in preparation for the v2 launch of our free hosting:

    Tell your friends! :speaking_head:

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