Discourse is a community discussion platform that is touted to replace email for project discussions. I am active on two instances for software projects I am involved with. I mainly interact with the web-interface, but I have been meaning to try the email interface for a while. The recent discussion in Debian about the future of mailing lists has finally pushed me to actually give it a try.

Discourse has categories and topics. A category can be thought of as a mailing list with topics as the individual threads.

I like the email support Discourse has, but I have found it lacking in two major respects:

  1. I am unable to create topics in a category via email. This is apparently possible, but I was unable to find a way of doing it in either of the two instances. Perhaps it requires additional configuration from the instance administrators for it to work.
  2. I am unable to reply to a topic via email if I have not been emailed about it by the system. The mailing list archive has the option to reply to an email by clicking on a link on the page. This composes an email with the Subject and To fields populated with the correct values. This is impossible in discourse, but it does allow you to reply through the web-interface. Future replies are then sent to me as emails, which I can reply to as normal.

Both of these issues have work-arounds, but they make email a second-class citizen on the discourse platform for now.

EDIT 12 March 2020: When configured correctly, new threads can be created by emailing the topic-name@instance.url (for example site-feedback@example.com)