Which is better NodeBB or Discourse?

  • Community Rep

    🚄 Speed is important especially for the page views / impressions if you have a biz model wrapped around your site that keeps the lights on.

    Be weary of running adverts on Discourse. It is problematic. Infinite school might destroy your hopes and dreams here. I have seen reported and directly almost 80% drop in report revenue in earlier 2.x version and in that case NodeBB solved the problem. Moving to the wrong platform might totally break your business model and in more ways than one!

    Fast page loads and option to disable infinite scroll are not to be scoffed at by any means and are also an indication of the kind of thinking and care behind NodeBB and also the quality of what is under the hood.

    Existing user bases rarely ever take kindly to new platforms and from my reading and direct experience and comparing notes, Discourse is not a well received upgrade to existing communities.

    Thread very carefully here. You may loose your user base overnight and IIRC the creator of Discourse has as much advised it maybe not being for established communities. Discourse does seem orientated more toward those that have no forum presence but what to establish one.

    Bottom line - A forum is nothing with users but it's easy to get distracted with the bells and whistles.

    NodeBB is like a interative and adaptive evolution. I actually do not like to compare Discourse to NodeBB, Flarum is the obvious comparator, NodeBB is more out on it's own IMHO and NodeBB is more loyal to the idea and concept of a forum.

    No platform is perfect, but NodeBB is great, however a godo guide is you have to find or you should look for the one you can live with, not the most features etc. etc.

    I think NodeBB is in that ballpark, remember it's not just you but you and all you users have to live with it - I can not state this singular point enough.

    I think NodeBB is more technically accessible from many angles and probably easier to make your own and the attitude of the founders comes through in a positive way, not always the case with other platforms.

    So to end on an analogous point and I'm no car/auto buff, but if I was to compare NodeBB to a car brand I think I might say it's more Honda.

    What brand of car is Discourse, that's a though one... Maybe one of the German ones, BMW perhaps, when it breaks it's a total PITA to fix and suddenly the bills start to mount. 🙂

    Summary of primary points:

    • Caution #1: Moving to the wrong platform might totally break your business model and in more ways than one!

    • Caution #2: Moving to the wrong platform might totally break your user base and leave your site overnight.

    • Ultimately you need to find a platform you can live with, this means
      -- your users can live with 🍼
      -- you can technically support it without major headache 🤕
      -- you can afford to host it 💸
      -- you can easily scale it and afford the scale 💸 💸
      -- you have some wiggle room to easily customise out of the box ⏯ 🏓
      -- you can even develop further customisations that are easily supported 🏸

    It is possible (others may chime in here) but it may be approx 50% cheaper to self host a NodeBB Vs a Discourse in terms of the comparative performance enjoyed.

  • Community Rep

    @omega said in Which is better NodeBB or Discourse?:

    Infinite school might destroy your hopes and dreams here.

    Infinite school would definitely destroy my hopes and dreams! 😉


  • @omega and how do you explain this?

    Nodebb is similar to a classic forum, and the discourse is similar to a support site. There are problems with the nesting of categories in the discourse. The developers decided that there should be one nesting category on the forum. If you must have 2 or more nesting categories on the forum, then you can unlock the nesting function using the command. But be prepared for the fact that all subcategories of all nesting levels will be displayed on the main page.

  • Community Rep

    @scottalanmiller said in Which is better NodeBB or Discourse?:

    @omega said in Which is better NodeBB or Discourse?:

    Infinite school might destroy your hopes and dreams here.

    Infinite school would definitely destroy my hopes and dreams! 😉

    😵

  • Community Rep

    @volanar said in Which is better NodeBB or Discourse?:

    @omega and how do you explain this?

    I have been looking at that market dynamic for a while actually, and while I am not discounting your point, there are many reasons why 1/2 are in the top ascendant spot and also they are not necessarily or easily explained by a view that well it's because NodeBB is not as good as these.

    You can not discount the existence for a long time of a Digitalocean one-click, very low ethical jump to get a discourse up and running, so the numbers, might be a bit bubbly, how they translate into deep communities, versus a lighter support like presence and interaction, is another story completely.

    I am not really to up on docker but I really do not like that extra layer. IT feels like you can barely touch your installation. If you are stuck on a older version, you are also going ot hit real problems with upgrades. So if you are not too technical, you may get hamstrung here very badly.

    Upgrading NodeBB is a very lite experience smoother experience IMHO.

    The creator of Discourse has a much higher profile due to I guess Stackoverflow, and I'd say a lot of money and marketing has gone in there too or has been available along the way, also I think was at least a year or more ahead in terms of creation and development - not sure if importing existing forums is any easier on discourse or any other new forum platform, but that might be a factor to.

    You could ask the same question about xenoforo and it is nothing like Discourse, it is more like NodeBB but really closer to phpBB/VBulletin type platforms, it is very popular but from using a few forums on this I am not too impressed, but it seems to know it's market really well and what it wants and that means a lot in this space.

    Nodebb is similar to a classic forum, and the discourse is similar to a support site.

    I think that is a very fair and efficient composition of both platforms.

    There are problems with the nesting of categories in the discourse. The developers decided...

    For me this is the actual issue with Discourse "the developers decided...", there is a bit of that's they way we like it / do it round these parts arrogance baked into the goods - infinite scroll is emblematic of that type decision that is so divisive, you have to realise that thinking is carried forward through all future development - from what I know, it looks like they will never cater to the other side on that issue and I do not know why if it is ego, or they put everything on black and it is technically to difficult to now add a no-infinite scroll option and the subject remains in the "lets not talk about the war" category.

    You'll find a few more "decision" easter eggs, that will have you scratching your head. It's not a terrible platform, it's a very good platform, but sometimes, tastes and styles are not always compatible, find what you can live with.

    Discourse does seem to have built up a lot of steam in recent years but I still view it as a better fit for a new community, but community is the wrong word, it's missing a lot of the little touches that engender community.

    Plus you get to have interesting threads like this here on NodeBB community, I never noticed such stuff on Discourse meta forum, maybe because I'm always trying to fix something technical.

  • GNU/Linux Admin

    @omega said in Which is better NodeBB or Discourse?:

    Plus you get to have interesting threads like this here on NodeBB community, I never noticed such stuff on Discourse meta forum, maybe because I'm always trying to fix something technical.

    There's a reason for that -- dissenting opinions get locked and deleted quite quickly.

    You'll notice we don't do that here, because it's disingenuous. For awhile, there was a topic talking about how crappy NodeBB was, and how much better Discourse was better. It didn't matter that most of it wasn't true, but it spurred good discussion, and that's what matters.

    Our competitors are competing with us for the same market share (that is, online communities), but we're not in the business of shaping online chatter to be in our favour. Take that however you want 😬

    @omega - correct, discourse came on the scene a year before we did, but over the time I feel we've accomplished rough feature parity. I always feel Discourse got a huge leg up because of Mr. Atwood's fame, and Flarum got a huge leg up because they're centred around a more accessible PHP backend (even if that's not true anymore? Not sure.)... But the fact of the matter is those are excuses and leaning on excuses provides a justification for slacking off. I'd much rather work on earning NodeBB's fans, one at a time, because I know you guys are excited for NodeBB for NodeBB's sake, not because I'm cool 😎

    @volnar NodeBB has been compared as a good replacement for older forum software, yes. We did this on purpose, because I believe that BBSes and early forums were a very natural way for humans to communicate (look at me getting all meta...). Leaving messages asynchronously makes a lot of sense, and there's a reason why BBSes evolved alongside email in the early internet. I do not agree with the assertion that real-time is always better, but rather a selective use of both leads to an overall better experience.

    That's why NodeBB takes many of the great, working, concepts of forums (e.g. (sub)categories, dedicated reply box, user accounts, avatars, signatures, etc.) and try to improve on them with what we know about the modern web now.

    Other new forum solutions have come and declared that "x is the new way", not realising that there was a reason why the old way was really the way because it was just really good already.


  • Nodebb is no worse than other platforms and is definitely better than php solutions. It is stable and scalable. But nodebb does not have solutions for installation in 1 click. That's why there are so few communities on nodebb. If digitalocean and other cloud platforms had such an installation, it would be easy to compete with discourse. Docker is not the best option, it is better to use Podman
    https://github.com/ahwayakchih/nobbic

  • GNU/Linux Admin

    @volanar That is true. We did consider having a one-click install method via DigitalOcean, although we do not have the resources to maintain it.

    For now, the solution is to utilise our one-click hosting option, but I fully admit that this is outside of the price range for a lot of potential customers.

    Thank you for re-iterating the point once again -- I really do want to have a one-click option at some point.


  • Community Rep

    tl-dr: I confess to feeling a bit crotchety at present. The thin skinned and easily offended may want to bail now.

    @volanar Thanks for the link. It further confirms just how fsck'd up Discourse is. Here is what I view when I click on your URL immediately up post:

    2021-08-28-13-10-34_1068x1419.png

    Now is not that special? (Yeah, I mayhaps shoulda, woulda, coulda cropped that but thought I let y'all regale in the hipness of all that glorious white space.) Were I to take a screenshot of uMatrix detailed breakdown we'd see 116 calls to various media, css, scripts, etc. hosted on Cloudflare. Hell, I guess in interest of full disclosure I need to break it down, lest the forest become lost for the trees:

    • Scripts: 57
    • CSS: 43
    • Images: 2

    Yippie skippie! You're really rockin' Cloudflare! 👏 👏

    Mayhaps this just may be related to why Discourse is slowest of the slow, as evidenced a bit up post 💩 🚽

    @onur-baran said in Which is better NodeBB or Discourse?:

    Google Pagespeed Scores:

    1cb3f7f7-2e40-4345-8780-91dc7d0d71ee-image.png

    And as for this query:

    @volanar said in Which is better NodeBB or Discourse?:

    @omega and how do you explain this?

    I don't. Rather I chalk it up to a bunch of dumb as a post lamer's lacking the capacity for critical analysis that have been "getting by" all their lives via group think, following the herd and going w/whatever is hip on CIO this month. An unfortunate testament to just how lazy we've become. Oh, poor you! You don't have a one click install!! Cry me a river! 😢 😢 😢

    Well, snowflakes, thank that gods that you do NOT have to actually compile AND configure all your myriad sordid dependencies from source as prerequisite for even dreaming about running on your platform. Yeah, there was a day when Linux really did suck in this regard. But I digress w/the venting. Let's get back to some cold facts, Jack:

    That last is really a gas! How many low traffic sites do you know that use cloudflare? Why do they use it? More oft than not it has not one thing to do with technical merit/analysis and everything to do with following the herd. It has been said that perception is nine tenths of reality. At least until reality rears its ugly head.

    Note: I did my research on Cloudflare many years back and hence never bothered employing it for any of my personal hole in the wall projects. Shout out to @omega for the more updated links shared during recent private discussions.

    Rock on NodeBB! 🎸



  • Just arrived.

    Trying to decide between Flarem and NodeBB, and finding this thread that is laced with such off-topic ranting of, "Is Rails still relevant", or, "Should people use Slack instead of forum software?" Just crap. Addresses none of y questions comparing Discourse and NodeBB. Y'know, I'm not even gonna go there. The thread is about the comparison between two fora platforms and even though it's based at one of the homes it's not able to stay on topic!

    Well. I understand passion, and I certainly don't let crap like this sway me one way or the other in making a decision, but Geez people! It would be nice to have used this forum as a measure of helping me to make the determination I'm after lolz....

    So, I know I don't want discord anymore, they won't even support manual build/installs, so they can take a hike (Like they're support was worth anything anyway).

    But yah, I"m looking into the advantages between Flarem and NodeBB at this time.

    Um.......

    Why would anyone run that Slack crap anyway? At least use MatterMost if you're not going to go full Matrix. Geez! lolz.

    Best wishes everybody. I'm sure I'll need support in the future here 🙂

    ⛵

    .


  • @volanar Yes that's one reason Discord is definitely not being considered.

    Okay, if you're bringing in $150K/mo on hosting subscriptions then why are you looking for seed investors?

    All that ever tells me when I see it is that they cannot live within their means, and/or they see the twilight coming and want cash for a parachute.

  • Community Rep

    @tallship Yes, threads will wander. Part of the beauty of community. You learn to filter. One way or another. As for flarum vs nodebb, honestly it has been so long ago now that I compared them that I have no memory at all...

    Be all that as it may, a couple of things:

    1. The thread, overall, is information rich.
    2. Technical analysis aside, there is a "real" community here at "community". Feels like "ROSS" (Real Open Source Software) to me, Vern! Gives me a warm fuzzy feeling.

    Have a groovy day, eh? 🐕


  • Even though I'm new to NodeBB and I even never used Discourse (except a demo), I want to share my opinion on this question.
    First, let me do a quick introduction : I'm running a relatively small forum (3500 members) in Belgium since about 12 years. In that time we moved the forum respectively from yourbb.be to phpBB, MyBB, SMF and finally Woltlab (paying).
    At several moments, we also looked at both Discourse and NodeBB but you both lack a simple install procedure for a shared hosting provider (in my case vimexx.be). In fact, there's no way to install your application there at all! And it's a real pity that it's not the case because NodeBB is a very good forum platform. Defenitely better than phpBB, MyBB and SMF and certainly cheaper than Woltlab. I just managed to install NodeBB on my linux desktop and have been playing for the last few days with it and so far these are the pro's and con's I see :

    pro:

    • The acp is very good and clear to use. As administrator, I can very easily find all the bells & whistles available.
    • Installing plugins is actually very easy and can be done directly from the acp without having to down/upload data packages via ftp
    • I like the endless scrolling and the overall layout of the forum itself is great. You also have quite a lot of possibilities as a user to decide what and how you get informed on activity.
    • The email digest feature is something that doesn't exist on Woltlab unless you buy an additional package.
    • In fact, even though you have less plugins to choose from, most of them are free. That there are plugins that are no longer supported don't bother me that much, the same is the case for Woltlab.

    Con's :

    • Default markdown or bbcode : this is to my opinion a bit outdated. But it's not that big a deal because I found a (free) plugin to enable HTML formatting. Don't underestimate this feature because the average forum user is not an IT expert but an average Joe who just wants to talk about a topic (in my case homebrewing).
    • There's no automatic resizing of images. In Woltlab, I can copy/paste an image directly into a post and it will be resized to a format I setup in the ACP. This option boosts the usage of images when asking questions or replying to them. A picture is worth more than a thousand words 😉
    • As said, the installation process is very complicated and even impossible on shared hosting. News flash : a lot of us forum owners are on a shared hosting 😉

    However, I am enjoying the discovery of NodeBB and I'm sure that I'll find a solution for most of my problems. Great work 👍

  • Community Rep

    @herruu said in Which is better NodeBB or Discourse?:

    At several moments, we also looked at both Discourse and NodeBB but you both lack a simple install procedure for a shared hosting provider (in my case vimexx.be). In fact, there's no way to install your application there at all! And it's a real pity that it's not the case because NodeBB is a very good forum platform.

    You have to understand that the reason you had an issue is because you chose a PHP host, not a NodeJS host. There is zero issue running on shared hosting and no documentation needed to do so. The issue is that you specifically tested with a host that is only focused on different platforms than what this one runs on. Vimexx is not a generic "host any app" system, it's very specifically a PHP host only. Nothing wrong with that, that's very common for basic web applications (specifically WordPress), but no hosting like that is generic and even many PHP apps cannot be hosted there (I know, I run a PHP host like them and there's no way around those limitations.)

    If you used NodeJS shared hosting, you'd have no issues. Same would happen if you tried to install a Java, .NET, Windows, Python, Perl or other application there. Your shared hosting has to be chosen based on matching the application environment of the software that you want to run.

    Much of what you like about these advanced platforms comes from their use of NodeJS over PHP. So this isn't some background noise or weird choice, it's literally the core of the issue.

  • Community Rep

    @herruu said in Which is better NodeBB or Discourse?:

    As said, the installation process is very complicated and even impossible on shared hosting. News flash : a lot of us forum owners are on a shared hosting

    It's not really complicated and 100% works on shared hosting. I've run it on shared hosting for years. It's no different than if you were trying to install a MacOS application on your Linux desktop... it's not compatible. The fault isn't that of the operating system, nor of the application, but having chosen the wrong operating system for the application that you want to run.

    The right shared host has zero issue installing nodeBB (or Discourse.)

  • Community Rep

    @herruu said in Which is better NodeBB or Discourse?:

    As said, the installation process is very complicated

    Here are install instructions that demonstrate how crazy simple an install is, even on a dedicated server. Would be far easier on shared.

    And most of the instructions there aren't about NodeBB, they are about doing basic server updates, installing the operating platform, acquiring and installing the database server, etc.

    Only a couple lines of all of that is getting and installing NodeBB. For just NodeBB on shared, you can easily install with a single command. It literally can't be made easier. I've deployed a lot of these, we do one command installs regularly.


  • @scottalanmiller Thanks for your reply 👍 , so to use it in production, I'll need to move to a different provider. For now I'm just testing it on a desktop at home but I'm liking it a lot so changing providers is not impossible (my current contract ends somewhere beginning of next year).
    I'm looking into how I can copy the databases from woltlab (php) to nodebb. Bit of a winter project when the weather is bad 🙂

  • Community Rep

    @herruu said in Which is better NodeBB or Discourse?:

    I'm looking into how I can copy the databases from woltlab (php) to nodebb. Bit of a winter project when the weather is bad

    You can't. Not realistically. So the issue is that whatever WoltLab is using, and I'll just guess that it is MySQL / MariaDB is going to be relational data and MongoDB is document data. They are two wholly different types of data storage.

    So copying, no, it can't be done. It's fundamentally impossible.

    That said, to do this you'd need to learn the database format of the old system, and the database format of the new system, and write your own conversion software that reads the relational data and transforms it into documents and inserts into MongoDB. It "can" be done, but it's all custom coding and quite a bit of work to know both systems under the hood so well.

    This is a lot of the power of NodeBB, using a screaming fast ultra-modern document database back end. But moving data from a relational system will be painful.

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