Discord vs Discourse: Features, Pricing, and Community Platform Comparison

If you're thinking about setting up a community, choosing the right platform is essential. Today, we're going to do a comparison between Discord vs Discourse. We'll cover each platform's features and provide feedback on which cases one is better than the other.

Table of Contents

If you’re thinking about setting up a community, choosing the right platform is essential. In a previous post, we analyzed Discord vs Slack and compared its features. Today, we’re going to do a comparison between Discord vs Discourse. We’ll cover each platform’s features and provide feedback on which cases one is better than the other.

Therefore, by the end of this post, we hope you’ll have a better idea of which one fits your community’s needs best, making it a safe and unique space for your members!

Difference Between Discourse vs Discord Community Platforms

Unlike Discord and Slack, Discourse and Discord don’t have similar interfaces. While Discord has a list of channels and servers, Discourse has a more forum-like interface, like Reddit. They also differ in their features and their subscription model.

Discourse's interface

Discourse’s interface is plain, encouraging users to customize their community with CSS.

Additionally, their founders originally designed them to serve different target audiences. While Discord was developed by gamers for gamers, Discourse’s founders initially ran a successful forum called Discourse.org. Therefore, Discourse was originally built as an open-source community forum platform.


Discord’s interface

However, over time, this original branding division has become diffuse. So let’s explore each platform’s features further 👇

#1: Indexed Content & Community Discoverability

With Discourse, community discoverability’s easier as it allows you to promote your group via SEO, based on indexed content.

However, for your content to be indexed by SERPs you’ll need to ensure that content is publicly accessible to search engines. This is done through the robots.txt file. By editing this file and using no-index directives, you can tell search engine bots which pages to crawl and which not.

Related 👉 Is Your Community a Safe Place?

Also –although sitemaps are not mandatory– they’ll help search engines find pages in your community. A sitemap is a structured list of all pages. And it shows search engines not only which pages are present but also what priority each page has and when it was last updated.

On the contrary, Discord’s content cannot be indexed. Therefore, you’ll need to find other ways to promote your Discord server. This will be vital for people to find you & join your community!

Before you start, it’s fundamental to create an invitation link to promote your server on social media. Internet users will also be able to find you if you add your Discord server to server lists or Reddit’s Discord server directory. Another great option is to post it on Unita’s directory.

You can list your Discord server in Unita by clicking on the “Add Your Community” button located at the top-left on the home page.

"Add your community" button in Unita's homepage

#2: Voice Chat, Video Calls & Screen Sharing

Let’s compare Discord vs Discourse and see what each platform can offer in terms of text, audio, and video. Clearly, Discord outperforms Discourse in regard to features such as voice chat, video calls, and screen sharing. In summary, regarding almost every synchronous communications feature.

One of Discord’s greatest strengths is its audio and video feature. The platform allows you to set up voice channels on your server. Also, members can join the conversation and talk at any time. In addition, the audio quality is great, there are many options to configure it to your liking, and there’s very little lag.

Now let’s talk about video. Discord allows video conferencing with up to 25 users and screen sharing in both video conferencing and voice channels.

video conferencing

Therefore, if your community is focused on text and asynchronous communication only, Discourse might be a better fit. However, if you want to do audio and video conferencing, such as streaming or calling members, Discord is the strongest platform in this regard.

#3: Integrations

Although Discord doesn’t offer official integrations, you can work around that by adding third-party bots or by building your own. This way, it’s possible to create almost every Discord integration you can imagine.

On the other hand, Discourse incorporates lots of integrations. Whether you’re seeking to improve your workflow or grow your community, Discourse allows users to log in with just about anything. Or connect Discourse to your favorite chat provider to get notified about new posts.

Discourse integrations

You can explore all available integrations on Discourse’s App Directory.

Therefore, if your online group relies on native integrations with SaaS apps, Disclosure is probably your best bet!

#4: Design Customization & Aesthetic

Discord offers users the possibility to choose between light and dark theme options. However, Discourse’s interface is highly customizable.

Regarding the platform’s aesthetic, Discord’s art and copy are highly influenced by the gaming culture. On the other hand, Discourse’s interface is plain, encouraging users to customize their community with CSS.

#5: Pricing

One of the biggest advantages of Discord is that a server is almost completely free. Since its origins, Discord works with an ad-free freemium model. This means that it allows its users to access the core features for free. But charges for additional features and content.

The free Discord version includes the ability to create servers with up to 300 members. It also allows users to share media files like images and videos.

Nitro is the paid version of Discord

You can upgrade to Nitro to unlock the full Discord potential.

So while Discord doesn’t work with ads like most online social platforms, the app makes money by offering a number of subscription tiers. These range from $4.99 per month up to $24.99 per month depending on what you need out of the platform.

With Discourse, on the other hand, you have to pay to have access to the platform’s main features. While self-hosted plans are free, otherwise varies by hosting provider starting at $5 per month.

Discourse.org plans start at $100 per month with the Standard plan (it includes 100k monthly page views, 20GB storage, 100k monthly emails, unlimited members, and 5 staff users).

Discourse pricing

Discourse vs Discord: Which One Is Better for Your Community?

On the one hand, if you need a real-time chat with advanced permissions and moderation or unlimited message history, you should use Discord.

However, you should keep in mind that Discord allows community members to use a single account to log in to multiple communities. While this user model means that members can join new communities with a single click, it also means that it’s impossible to use different avatars for different communities.

asynchronous vs synchronous communication

On the other hand, you might prefer Discourse if multiple community members are likely to have similar questions or problems and you want to point them to a library of common answers. Or if you want community-created content to be indexed (and thus discoverable in search engine results). This will help new members discover the community while reducing the core team’s support efforts!

Also, if you prefer asynchronous over synchronous communication, as Discourse doesn’t have real-time chat, voice chat, chat threads, or video call options.

In summary, new members might perceive starting a new topic on a forum as a higher barrier to entry than simply saying “hello” on a chat channel. However, it’s up to you to decide whether Discourse vs Discord is the best platform for your community! 🙌🏾

Join the conversation

Stay tuned to the latest trends and network with the experts in the best communities for community builders.
Victoria Mortimer

Victoria Mortimer

I'm a journalist with a Social Communication degree, community manager, and content creator with over five years of experience. Now, I'm working as an independent writer passionate about community building, entrepreneurship, and social media.