6 Free StackExchange Alternatives That Work

Looking for a free way to make your own version of Stackoverflow? Here’s our top 6 picks for open source substitutes that you can host yourself.

6 sweet stackoverflow alternatives

Question and Answer forums are a lot like cupcakes. They come in different flavors with various toppings, but they are all basically the same thing. Stackexchange was the first to go big and create their own network however they no longer offer a subscription service or allow you license their software to hose your own Q&A Site. So if you’re interested in hosting your own free Q&A site, here’s the 6 best free platforms available today.

(Listed in no particular order)

1. Shapado

Shapado is an open source Q&A site running on Mongo and Ruby. The development team seems active, and they offer free hosting on their subdomains. For now, the service is free but it does appear that it will be monetized in the future. Shapado seeks to mimic stack exchange’s network capability. Supports federated login.

shapado cms


OSQA is open source and runs on Django. Of all the open source and free options, OSQA is the most polished. It is also a free replica of the enterprise Q&A CMS QATO. Features Open ID and federated login.

osqa answer forum

3. Lamp CMS

Lamp CMS is open source and runs on MongoDB and PHP.  While not differing much from the pack, Lamp CMS does bring a unique focus on social network integration.

lamp cms

4.  Coordino

Coordino is open source and runs on PHP and MySQL.  It packs fewer features than the other and doesn’t offer open ID or federated login, but does have the unique aspect of allowing users to post anonymously.  Another plus is that Coordino is one of the easiest Q&A platforms to install on your own server. A new version is due out sometime in March 2012 that is rumored to vastly improve this Q&A engine.

Coordino answer engine

5. Askbot

Askbot is open source and runs on Python and Django. It’s very similar to OSQA and even shares some of the same code.  Askbot offers a free trial for hosting, and paid hosting afterword. Like the others, it can also be installed on your own server for free.

askbot stackexchange clone

6. Q&A WordPress Plugin

If you run your own WordPress site and want a dead simple Q&A solution, just use this plugin. It requires WordPress to run and integrates directly with your site.


Have you tried any of the above Question and Answer engines for your site? Which one do you like the best?  Voice your opinions in the comments section below!



  1. Laura

    March 8, 2012 at 12:33 pm

    This article is misleading; Stack Exchange is and always has been 100% free. In fact, you don’t even have to become a registered member in order to ask or answer a question.

    • Steve Krause

      March 8, 2012 at 2:09 pm

      Hi Laura – Thanks for the feedback. Just finished a light edit to point that out. Thanks for the comment.

      For those interested in starting a StackExchange Q&A site — please see New sites must be proposed and voted on or committed to by the community in order to have them created and ran. Feel free to update or correct anything I might have missed Laura!



  2. Austin Krause

    March 8, 2012 at 3:40 pm

    StackExchange DID previously charge a monthly rate of $129 for custom exchange hosting. That was after the final beta.

    Good to know that it’s 100% free now. No more licensing, all community. Reminds me of Reddit ;) Though you still can’t host it yourself…

  3. Zameer Ansari

    March 28, 2017 at 5:29 am

    Have a look at this then. Completely free Stackoverflow clone

  4. Gwyneth Llewelyn

    May 19, 2024 at 9:42 am

    This article needs an update :) I hope you can review it soon — the information is quite interesting. I was sure there must be SO clones somewhere, what I didn’t realise is that they had appeared so early on…

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