Monetisation of a Discourse Community


(James Higginson) #1

I’m very intrigued by the Discourse platform, it’s engaging, full featured and seems user friendly and intuitive to me. Obviously these community platforms need to generate a revenue stream themselves or bolster something else that does.

In the case of a stand alone community platform that needs to generate revenue itself from ads/affiliate programs etc. does Discourse allow for that approach with ad unit placement for example or is it not a good option in this case?


(Sarah Hawk) #2

I agree – I love Discourse and I’ve either worked or participated heavily in 4 incarnations of it now, so I know it reasonably well.

The answer to your basic question is yes in theory, but in reality only to a degree.

It’s open source, so technically you can do whatever you like to it, but unless you are a RoR dev with unlimited time and patience, I wouldn’t recommend making big changes to core.

Plugins are the way to go, and even they will need tweaking every now and then. It’s been around long enough now that quite a few people are on top of writing good plugins, and there is a reasonably active marketplace for them.

There is an officially endorsed ad plugin available here but I haven’t had personal experience with it. And depending on your hosting arrangement, you may be limited in the plugins that you can install (official Discourse hosting allows very limited plugins unless you’re on an Enterprise plan. discoursehosting.com are more flexible but their support isn’t as quick.)

If you have more questions, shoot. :slight_smile:

@erlend_sh may also have something to add.


(Erlend Sogge Heggen) #3

Hey James. Discourse does indeed support an ads/affiliate-supported model quite well. Two example sites that employ this strategy:


We recently added a feature to our ads plugin which will let you insert an ad in your topic every Nth post (you can see this in action on HelloForos), which is a great way to display a lot of ads without having to cram every available white space with an ad and as a result just create noise.

That being said, personally I’m not a big fan of the ads strategy, and there are those who think that the ads bubble is about to burst.

Regardless of ads being viable or not, I think there’s huge unexplored potential for crowdsourced forum funding. Crowdfunding is a proven business model, and forums are where crowds congregate… :moneybag:

We’re working on a Patreon plugin to put this theory to the test.


(James Higginson) #4

Thanks @erlend_sh some interesting reading there :slight_smile:


(James Higginson) #5

Thanks for the link to discoursehosting @HAWK I’m talking to them now