Recommendations on free/cheap forum providers

Hi everyone!

I am currently scouting the offers of forum providers in search of a solution that could help us administer a 16 unit appartment building. We’d mostly need a place for discussions and some rudimentary role management. And it should not cost much, possibly even be free.

Does anyone have any recommendations and experience on such a service, ideally inexpensively hosted? It might also be something else than a forum, that’s just what my mind gravitates toward.

Thanks a bunch!

A google search seems to indicate there are a number of reasonable free options. I think the trick is finding out what, if any, catches come along with free service. In any case, I saw this one, and it seems interesting

Discord could be an option as well. If you don’t plan to use certain features, you don’t need to pay at all to use it. If you wanted to pay, you would boost the server. More info here.


Thanks for the suggestion! I think the target group might be too old to move there, but I could be wrong.

That’s exactly the type of lateral thinking I was hoping for.

That seems to be part of the problem… Tall order (free plus hosted plus ideally not a nightmare don’t go hand in hand) and rather big list of potential options. That got me asking here.

I’m going to take a closer look at the one you mentioned - thank you for suggesting it!

Even if they’re too old for Discord, forums may not be as easy for them to learn.

The main thing is how well they handle tech, not age. If they’re the type that got an iPhone because they were told it was easy to use, but gets confused when they have to use Safari instead of an app because they only use their phone…

Me being as anti-phone as I am (I got multi day battery life with a Nexus 4!), I’m not certain how well forums work on phones nowadays.

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These days messaging is much more intuitive to young and old than forums. You might look at WhatsApp, too. Of course Facebook Groups are also free and pretty much the default for something like this. And I bet most of the tenants are already on Facebook.


Probably, yes. I am following your no-Facebook convictions, so that’s pragmatic but less attractive. Ah well.

What I realize is that I seem to seek a certain degree of interaction. Not too fluid, not too quick, not too inviting to inspire everyone and their grandmother to bring up service requests. This is a honorary post, and I just need something where I can provide some well-organized insight for everyone and allow for some discussion.

I think I have to think a bit more about how I want the users to engage and what to use the platform for. Certainly, nothing that could be mistaken for a 24/7 service helpline. That just skyrockets expectations, which then get disappointed by reality.

Possibly a Wiki? But that’s even less 60±friendly…

Thank you for chiming in, @Leo ! I hope you had a great vacation! :slight_smile:

I thought the same thing, but I recently got my family started on a Discord instance and they really seemed to take to it. I just kept the build really simple, used lots of colorful emojis and delineation marks to make it easy on the eyes. The big draw for the older folks is a “dumping ground” text channel for photo sharing. Bonus is I can use the screensharing feature to help troubleshoot PC issues.

Thanks for sharing your experience!

That’s lovely for a happy and fun community that seeks a friendly place to share happy times. However, I think I am targeting a group that can be very precise and demanding and is quick to judge and condemn (aka “German apartment owners”). People have been in the house for four months now and the first lawsuit is being probed. We are not necessarily pros when it comes to happiness and fun. It’s not all that bad, but … (Maybe I am being too pessimistic?)

Thus, this does not strike me as the emoji-crowd. It’s entirely because of my target group that I tend to be so difficult to convince of discord, even though the proposals sound like it’s a wonderful world out there. :slight_smile:

Also, ridiculously, I am looking for a way to enable the necessary communication - not every communication. It would be a failed project if such a set-up put me squarely in the place to be contacted 24/7 and generate sadness if I don’t respond. A forum seems just the right speed. Possibly, I am too pre-set on that idea…

Maybe I just need to give it another thought. In any case: thanks for sharing ideas! :slight_smile:


I was interested until this quote. I don’t need another avenue for more IT support requests :smiley:

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Think very carefully about how much interaction you want, and the possibility that a small number of very engaged users will dominate whatever interactive forum/group you set up. Could you just set up an email account and use that to collect requests and publish regular updates? How about a monthly or quarterly meeting?


Very good points! Indeed, this possibly needs a gradual approach.

@carbonga I donno if I’ve understood your situation clearly or not… but if you are the landlord, then maybe you want some sort of “Property/Rental Management Software”. There appear to be many, I don’t see a lot of free options though, and a lot of them appear to overkill (including billing/accounting/vetting/etc). I suspect a lot of what I am seeing are specific to the US market as well, but some do have a free trial, so you could check into the. Here’s one at random that looks pretty

Yeah, that’s kind of what I am emulating, but not exactly from the landlord position.

We own one unit of 16, and I have begun to serve as the head of the owner’s advisory committee. Some other owners live in the property, others rent their place out. The property management service that manages all aspects of services, craftsmen, finances, and so on is almost painfully analogue. Some owners would like to have a digital solution to coordinate actions among the owners – in some cases together with the property management service, in others on our own. Ah well, I’ll mull over it a bit with all the good recommendations in here.