How is this forum better than Facebook?


Many of you guys who are new to Discourse might not appreciate why it’s so much better than Facebook, without a quick “tour” of some of the biggest differences between the two platforms. Although a comprehensive list would be too exhaustive, here are some of the biggest advantages this new forum will provide for our online community.

  • Finally, a group map! This has been the most-requested feature for the Unchurching Facebook group, yet we’ve never able to get it successfully off the ground. Thankfully, Discourse is flexible enough that we can finally implement a real group map for our members! To find out why this is a such big deal and how it works, see the link at the bottom of this post.

  • Customizable notifications! Our Facebook group is probably more active than most, but it comes at a very high price. Basically, the admin team has to moderate the conversation quite heavily in order to ensure our members only post topics that interest everyone. Why? Because without any way to customize notifications by topic, members quickly tire of alerts about conversations that don’t interest them. But here on Discourse, each member can turn on notifications for the conversations they want to follow, and turn off notifications for the conversations they want to ignore. That means we can finally take the reigns off and let everyone customize their own experience!

  • No more algorithms hiding things from you! Of course, the flipside of human moderation on Facebook is moderation through algorithms. Like, have you ever wondered why your friends will post something one day and it’ll show up just fine in your news feed, but then you won’t see any posts form them for three weeks? Yet when you visit their page, you find out they’ve been posting every day but Facebook has been benignly hiding their posts from your news feed? That’s because Facebook’s algorithms are always working behind the scenes, causing you to engage with the platform the way they want, not the way you want.

  • No more restarting the same topics! Another big challenge we’ve had on Facebook is whenever we add new members who want to ask questions the rest of us have already answered. When every post is dumped into one big news feed, lots of great conversations eventually disappear, then have to be restarted in a new post every so often. But now, we can simply direct new folks to the appropriate thread and they can join one, big existing conversation rather than starting a separate one every time.

  • Self-moderation! This is a biggie. On Facebook, all a member can do to confront a problem is flag another member’s post and wait for a moderator to resolve the issue. But here on Discourse, the community can take real action. For instance, if a certain number of members flag a post as inappropriate the system will automatically hide that post, notify the poster, then place the poster into a “time-out” so they can cool down before responding. Or, if a certain number of users flag a post as spam, Discourse will hide all the posts from that poster and pause their activity. But of course, there are also consequences for members who “over-moderate” and flag too many other members’ posts.

  • Earning recognition and access! The more you you contribute to the community, the more “likes” and other forms of recognition you will earn from fellow members. (In fact, even giving other members recognition will earn you more recognition!) Even better, Discourse actually pays attention whenever the community recognizes you. Consequently, as you earn more and more trust with the community, Discourse will unlock more user features and give you more authority. (For example, a flag from a “trust level 3 user” will carry more weight and trigger a different result than a flag from a “trust level 1 user” and so on.) Bottom line: the more you invest in the community, the more you’ll reap in return.

And this is just the tip of the iceberg, guys. I haven’t even touched on the automatic email digest, the great mobile app, the ability to create private categories and topics for specific groups within the larger community and much, much more. But the real proof is in the experience. I’m confident if you jump in and really start to familiarize yourself with the platform, you’ll never want to settle for one big, disorganized news feed again!!!

If you’re a visitor who wishes to participate in this forum, you’ll need to sign up as an unchurching patron through It only costs as little as $2 per month. To get more acquainted with this forum, you should also check out these posts:

How many of you have invited friends to join?
How to change your notification settings






What is unchurching?
How much does this forum cost?
Need help? Read this!
Is this forum public or private?
How do I access the group map?
New here? Read this first!

See??? This is why I love the Discourse folks! Not only does this video talk about cool new upcoming features, but it gives you an insight into the main guy who created Discourse and how deeply he thinks about online community and how it should function.

I’m not saying these same considerations never come up for the Facebook team. But I suspect they constantly have to be weighed against what’s best for they advertisers (since the advertisers, not the users, are the actual customers for Facebook).

Conversely, Discourse only makes money from Discourse users. That means it’s always in their best interest to keep iterating on the tools that promote the best online experience for the users!


Watch the video in this post!

If you really want an in-depth understanding of some of the ways Discourse allows us to connect much better than we can in the Facebook group, go to this post and watch the video replay of a recent presentation I did, followed by an in-depth Q&A session with a bunch folks from the unchurching Facebook group.


Also, I’ve often wondered whether it’s really in Facebook’s best interest to cultivate healthy online communities. After all, their business model seems to rely on keeping members on their platform for as long as possible. And if conflict produces more participation than peace, then are they really incentivized to create civilized discourse and mutual understanding? Or is it more profitable to encourage discord, debates, and extreme polarization?


Not to mention, there’s just a lot of other drama with Facebook right now, including privacy issue scandals and glitches.