The tech and operation behind Third Stream Forum

We put a lot of effort into choosing the right technology for us because we want our values to be seen through our actions. If you are interested in why we don’t use other platforms, check out Q&A - Why do we use this forum instead of X?. In this post, I’m sharing the technology behind this forum. Any discussion is welcome!


Discourse is an open-source discussion platform. The official usable demo can be found here. Since the software is open source, we can host the application ourselves instead of paying the hosting fee of $100/month.

Installation guide is at


DigitalOcean offers virtual private servers (VPS) starting as low as $5/month. According to the Discourse documentation, the smallest Droplet (the term DigitalOcean refers to as VPS) is sufficient for smaller communities.

If we ever grow larger, we might need to bump up to the $10/month plan.

Email Service

Temporarily, I’m using my personal Fastmail email service as the forum’s email service provider.

If we ever grow larger, we might need to look at commercial email service providers. See Discourse documentation for the recommended service providers.


Just using the existing “” domain which we bought on
Currently, Netlify is our DNS provider for our domain. We have an A record there to point the subdomain forum. to the DigitalOcean droplet.


  • Server - $5/month
  • Mail - free
  • Domain - $31/year ($2.58/month)
  • Total cost - $7.58/month