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I'm considering starting an open-source project, so I shopped around some popular project hosting sites.

What I find surprising is that many (see here for a nice feature table) of the popular project hosting sites (e.g. GitHub, BitBucket) don't have a forum feature, i.e. a place where users can talk to the devs, ask questions, raise ideas, etc.
IMHO an active forum is an important factor in creating a user community around a project, so I would expect that most project owners would be interested in such a feature.

I've also noticed that some projects do have support forums (or mailing lists) hosted elsewhere - e.g. Ruby on Rails is hosted on GitHub but has a Google Groups support group, and TortoiseHG is hosted on BitBucket but has a mailing list on SourceForge - so it's not like this feature is unneeded.

So how come many project hosting sites don't have a forum feature?

closed as primarily opinion-based by user40980, Dan Pichelman, Kilian Foth, GlenH7, Bart van Ingen Schenau Oct 22 '14 at 7:16

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    IMHO an active forum is an important factor in creating a user community around a project, so I would expect that most project owners would be interested in such a feature. - Yes, but many have their own mailing lists, so they don't need to hosting site to provide one. – user7043 Jun 25 '11 at 18:14
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    I'd wager that Github didn't implement a forum because they already have comment features on the issue trackers and repo commits, and they felt that was enough. – greyfade Jun 25 '11 at 18:44
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    Unix tool philosophy: do one thing well instead of doing many things badly. – mjfgates Jul 22 '14 at 15:22
  • A simple reason that nobody mentioned yet is that often the forums came before the public project hosting on these sites. So if you have a large working community when you move to Github, you might want to leave it where it is. Migrating tens of thousands of users and gigabytes of content is a pain. – pgr Mar 15 '17 at 13:20
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The majority actually do have this feature or something similar, as you can see on this comparison chart (Wikipedia).

The ones that don't, probably figure that they'd just be reinventing the wheel because, as your question implies, there are already a plethora of free forum packages available. Even many of the project hosts that do provide this, such as CodePlex or SourceForge, tend to have a pretty anemic feature set compared to dedicated off-the-shelf tools. The same goes for wiki, bug tracking, etc. It may be nice to have everything in one place, but the tradeoff is flexibility.

Also, Google Code and maybe some other hosts probably choose not to develop built-in forums because they already have "competing" forum products (i.e. Google Groups). Again, no sense in reinventing the wheel there.

(P.S. Also keep in mind that a lot of developers don't want active user communities - they just want some place to host their project that's not on their own home/work computer.)

  • I disagree with that, I think there would be immense value of having an integrated forum from which you can directly link to GitHub issues, PR's, projects, ping users, etc. – Ela782 Oct 16 '16 at 0:32

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