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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?

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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. –  delnan Jun 25 '11 at 18:14
    
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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1 Answer

up vote 7 down vote accepted

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.)

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Good answer, makes sense to me. :) –  george Jun 25 '11 at 22:24
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