Today, the playbook for self-hosting your own Forem community is officially live. Read all about this news here.
This is day one of Forem as a supported product out in the wild, meaning that we are going to find a lot of new things that need fixing. That being said, this code has been running in production for years and there is a lot to love.
Forem is the open source software that powers the DEV community (this very site). We’ve spent the last few years gradually building towards a future where this code could be re-used to run any application of this class. With Forem, you will be able to build your very own modern and independent community – think of it as a decentralized alternative to Facebook Groups, a disaggregated Reddit, specialized LinkedIn or any other variation in your own mental model that speaks to an authentic and extensible space.
Since DEV content is popular and freely distributed on the web, our analytics show that it’s likely that we reach pretty much every developer on earth at least occasionally. There is a lot of work that goes on under the hood to make that happen, from query optimization to caching strategies that ensure a reliable experience, to features which enable swifter moderation and more relevant home feeds. When you build your community with Forem, you benefit from all of these same platform dynamics that have helped DEV grow.
If you moderate a gardening subreddit and want the opportunity to turn it into your full-time business, start your own Forem. If your engineering organization wants to invest vertically in your devrel strategy, please start your own Forem. We are here to support a world where your podcast audience or your church group aggregates in a space you own, curate, and moderate. We want a world where you browse around for the perfect domain name, even if the best you can find is
.pizza. We want you to benefit from the ongoing improvements to user experience, security, optimizations and newly adopted technology from the open source community, but we want you to have agency and scrutiny over what you ultimately host.
Community building is easier said than done, but we are here to be your partner in every way possible. You should be prepared to have some growing pains, but you should also be prepared to receive full support from the Forem team. You can bet that we will promote the heck out of any Forems which add value to the broader community— and for those who do not, there is inherent value in our lack of strict authoritarian control. We will collectively work to return the Internet to its community roots, to fight abuse vectors the open-source way, and to operate with an appreciation for diplomacy and transparency.
Forems allow for independent and direct relationships with end users and, crucially, Forems don’t share data with other Forems. Your relationship with one Forem might be akin to the relationship with the small businesses in your neighborhood. Your barber might know that you just got engaged and your mail carrier might know the name of your dog and which magazines you subscribe to, but nobody will be following you around 24/7 to put it all together. We advocate for an end to broad surveillance capitalism, and this mission is built into every layer of the stack.
We have made the commitment to being the Forem company, and to develop a success-based business model. The “obvious” way to turn DEV into a massive return on investment is to capitalize on developer attention and spin it into profits in a very lucrative space— but where does that end? As companies grow, pressures to keep that growth rolling are immense. It’s not exactly written on the walls of corporate headquarters, but the playbook in high-growth enterprises is to seek out monopolies and milk them dry.
Our focus on Forem is not an abdication of our duties to our shareholders— quite the opposite. We are building a company which puts us in the business of other peoples’ success. We want to empower the next AWS (or current AWS!) to invest vertically in their communities without having to leak SEO juice to DEV or leak followers to Twitter. We want TikTokers and newsletter writers to get sick of the strictly one-to-many content creation grind and to start building authentic communities (the way we originally did when we expanded from @thepracticaldev on Twitter to DEV).
This announcement is an encouragement to start hosting your own communities today, for the lowest possible cost on AWS, DigitalOcean or Google Cloud (with more vendors to be supported, feel free to help!). If you are a potential pro or enterprise customer and want our fully hosted offering, we are also live with Forem Cloud. We’re currently offering Forem Cloud as a value-add hosting service that also includes priority support — so it’s currently designed for larger companies that can invest at premium pricing — but we eventually want Forem Cloud to be available via one-click deploy for everyone.
Fill out the Forem Cloud interest form if you think your organization may have interest in investing in the Forem community ecosystem.
If you’re skeptical that your tech-phobic cousin will ever care even slightly about the value of an open web or their own data privacy, then we agree. We anticipate a gradual adoption curve and a ton of supporting features and utilities coming up the rear to support the long term goals of Forem.
Our recommendation is that you trust the process and personally claim some space in the Forem ecosystem around a passion of yours. 😉
If you know what Forem you want to build, please follow the instructions and go live — again, the Self-Host instructions are available here!
If you’re not totally sure where you want to fit into the Forem ecosystem, please consider joining our meta Forem at forem.dev to stay looped in. You’ll find out about new features there and generally be able to keep up with the pulse for how the project continues to evolve.
In the meantime, discovering new Forem communities and interacting with your favorite ones (like DEV) has never been more streamlined. We recently launched Forem for iOS, a mobile application for interacting with the Forem of your choice. We’re working on Android now, and plan to follow with utilities for more easily managing your identity within the Forem ecosystem in a private, but pseudo-centralized way for optional convenience.
As we continue to refine the process of self-hosting your own Forem, we look forward to improving your experience within the Forem communities you’re already a part of in every way we can.
Lastly, if you want to support the work we’re doing to empower community, give the core Forem repo a star on GitHub.
Happy hosting 🌱