Hosting Discourse for free!

Last year I got to know Discourse by moving a community to the platform. Having left that job, I feel a sense of withdrawal. So I decided to start my own Discourse server. But since I'm unemployed (and don't have a solid use for it just yet), I sought out a way to host for free.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at


This is a test of the Discourse blog comment system. If this were a real blog comment, it would be substantially more insightful.

Mine however is full of insight. Insight, insight, insight. See that’s four right there!

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This is genius. :sunglasses: Srsly! Two observations: (1) For some reason Discourse thinks there’s three replies, but I see only two (as I make this one the third). Curious? Or is a deleted comment still triggering in the count? (2) It took me a moment to see (work out) how the embedded Discourse element differentiates posts-for-comments, but perhaps only because I’m a bit slow. Clearly you have a different “forum thread” for each “blog post”. Doh. :wink:

Did I mention that this is genius?

[Edit: typo]

The way this works is anytime someone visits a post that has comments turned on, the JavaScript checks to see if a post exists on Discourse and creates one if not. But since these posts are merely placeholders for replies/comments, they are hidden when created. As soon as someone posts a reply, the thread is automatically unhidden:

Screen Shot 2021-04-07 at 12.55.47 PM

It’s a clever feature and it’s handy that there’s an indication of what happened. But that notice counts as a reply! I think it’s a bug because it’s a notice that’s stored in a post rather than a real reply. I’ve been looking at maybe submitting a PR to Discourse to fix that.

By the way, that problem also shows up when you look at the category listing:

But it’s way more obvious when you look at the bottom of the post and can count how many actual replies there are compared to the number.

Got bogged down in the code and decide to just report it:

Turns out deleting the extra “reply” solves the problem. (See Rewriting a Git repository: Unlimited growth (in a bad way)) But it sure is annoying that it’s not automatic. :frowning:

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It looks like footnotes aren’t working in the embedded posts.[1] The post here is embedded by parsing the HTML of the blog post itself. It looks like I’d be better off configuring Discourse to use my RSS feed.

  1. But I just turned them on for comments! ↩︎

I’ve gotten two PMs about this post:

Just so everyone knows, I’m not lending anyone, not even a student, my credit card to sign up for Oracle Cloud. Sorry! (Not that these “students” will read this.)