Askbot is a Question and Answer (Q&A) forum whose design is inspired by StackOverflow and YahooAnswers and other similar projects (to lesser extent).

Askbot is written in Python on top of Django_ platform. Code of Askbot grew out of CNPROG project originally written by Mike Chen and Sailing Cai.

If you have any questions installing or tweaking askbot - please do not hesitate to ask at the forum or email to


To install and run Askbot the following are required:

  • Python version 2.4 - 2.6 (Version 3 is not supported)
  • MySQL version 5

For the production deployment you will also need a webserver capable to run python web applications (see section Deployment).

Installation Instructions

To simplify future deployment, please make sure to use the same python interpreter for the installation and testing as the one assigned (or will be assigned) to the webserver.

If you already have `easy_install`_ on your system, then type::
easy_install askbot

If you are using the easy_install tool, make sure that it was also originally installed with the python interpreter mentioned above, otherwise use the second method:

Download the latest version of askbot, unzip and untar the archive and run::
python install

If you are planning to use askbot on Windows, please install mysql-python windows binary package manually.

Chances are that steps above will complete your installation. If so, then proceed to the Configuration section. Below are extra installation notes that cover some special cases.

To install in non-standard locations add parameter –prefix=/path/to/some/dir to both commands.

Askbot depends on about a dozen other packages. Normally those dependencies will be automatically resolved. However, if something does not go well - e.g. some dependency package site is not accessible, please download and install some of those things ( django-1.1.2, django-debug-toolbar, South, recaptcha-client, markdown2, html5lib, python-openid, django-keyedcache, django-threaded-multihost, mysql-python ) manually.

If any of the provided links do not work please try to look up those packages or notify askbot maintainers at



and answer questions.

The startforum script will attempt to create necessary directories and copy files.

If you are creating a new Django project, you will need to edit file

In the case you are adding askbot to an existing Django project, you will need to merge askbot files and into your project files manually.

Within, at the very minimum you will need to provide correct values to::

within single quotes - login credential to your mysql database. Assuming that the database exists, you can now install the tables by running:

python syncdb
python migrate forum
now run the development sever::
python runserver hostname -i:8000 #or use some other port number > 1024

hostname -i is a Unix command returning the IP address of your system, you can also type the IP manually or replace it with localhost if you are installing askbot on a local machine.

Your basic installation is now complete. Many settings can be changed at runtime by following url /settings.

If you choose to host a real website, please read section Deployment. For advice on hosting Askbot, please take a look at section Hosting_.


Webserver process must be able to write to the following locations::
/path/to/django-project/log/ /path/to/django-project/askbot/upfiles

If you know user name or the group name under which the webserver runs, you can make those directories writable by setting the permissons accordingly:

For example, if you are using Linux installation of apache webserver running under group name ‘apache’ you could do the following:

chown -R yourlogin:apache /path/to/askbot-site
chmod -R g+w /path/to/askbot-site/forum/upfiles
chmod -R g+w /path/to/askbot-site/log

If your account somehow limits you from running such commands - please consult your system administrator.

Installation under Apache/mod_wsgi

Apache/mod_wsgi combination is the only type of deployment described in this document at the moment. mod_wsgi is currently the most resource efficient apache handler for the Python web applications.

The main wsgi script is in the file django.wsgi it does not need to be modified

Configure webserver

Settings below are not perfect but may be a good starting point:

WSGISocketPrefix /path/to/socket/sock #must be readable and writable by apache
WSGIPythonHome /usr/local #must be readable by apache
WSGIPythonEggs /var/python/eggs #must be readable and writable by apache

#NOTE: all urs below will need to be adjusted if
#settings.FORUM_SCRIPT_ALIAS !='' (e.g. = 'forum/')
#this allows "rooting" forum at, if you like
<VirtualHost ...your ip...:80>
    DocumentRoot /path/to/askbot-site

    #run mod_wsgi process for django in daemon mode
    #this allows avoiding confused timezone settings when
    #another application runs in the same virtual host
    WSGIDaemonProcess askbot
    WSGIProcessGroup askbot

    #force all content to be served as static files
    #otherwise django will be crunching images through itself wasting time
    Alias /m/ /path/to/askbot-site/forum/skins/
    Alias /upfiles/ /path/to/askbot-site/forum/upfiles/
    <Directory /path/to/askbot-site/forum/skins>
        Order deny,allow
        Allow from all

    #this is your wsgi script described in the prev section
    WSGIScriptAlias / /path/to/askbot-site/django.wsgi

    #this will force admin interface to work only
    #through https (optional)
    #"nimda" is the secret spelling of "admin" ;)
    <Location "/nimda">
        RewriteEngine on
        RewriteRule /nimda(.*)$$1 [L,R=301]
    CustomLog /var/log/httpd/askbot/access_log common
    ErrorLog /var/log/httpd/askbot/error_log
#(optional) run admin interface under https
<VirtualHost ..your ip..:443>
    DocumentRoot /path/to/askbot-site
    SSLEngine on
    SSLCertificateFile /path/to/ssl-certificate/server.crt
    SSLCertificateKeyFile /path/to/ssl-certificate/server.key
    WSGIScriptAlias / /path/to/askbot-site/django.wsgi
    CustomLog /var/log/httpd/askbot/access_log common
    ErrorLog /var/log/httpd/askbot/error_log
    DirectoryIndex index.html

Database configuration

Database can be prepared via your hosting control panel, if available or can be created manually (provided that you have a mysql account with a sufficient privilege)

The relevant MySQL the commands are::
create database askbot DEFAULT CHARACTER SET UTF8 COLLATE utf8_general_ci; grant all privileges on dbname.* to dbuser@localhost identified by ‘dbpassword’;

where dbname, dbuser and dbpassword should be replaced with the real values. MySQL will create a user with those credentials if it does not yet exist.

Automation of maintenance jobs

There are routine tasks that should be performed periodically from the command line. They can be automated via cron jobs

File askbot_cron_job has a sample script that can be run say hourly

The script currently does two things: (1) sends delayed email alerts and (2) awards badges. These two actions can be separated into two separate jobs, if necessary

Sitemap registration

Sitemap to your forum will be available at url /<settings.FORUM_SCRIPT_ALIAS>sitemap.xml e.g or

Google will be pinged each time question, answer or comment is saved or a question deleted.

If you register you sitemap through Google Webmasters Tools Google will have be indexing your site more efficiently.