Add users to topic in private category

Continuing the discussion from Invite user to a topic inside a restricted category:

Pretty much in the quote. Allowing a user to @mention someone, or similar, and give that person access to read and reply only to that topic.

Use case

My society is moving towards discourse for both general discussion between members, but also discussion between members of the exec (executive board).

Most discussions for the exec are private, and thus people not on the exec should not be able to read them. However occasionally someone external to the exec can contribute to a discussion (e.g. bring their skill set to the table).

Instead of adding this individual to the exec group (and thus granting access to all discussion), @mentioning them in the relevant topic would provide them immediate access to past topic discussion, and allow them to reply.

Discourse now

As far as I can tell, at the moment the only way add a user is to topic (in a private category) is to add them to the group, or for the discussion to happen in a private topic. This is inadequate because it either requires giving them access to everything (via the group) or having the foresight to start the discussion in a private topic.


Have you seen this?

I’m using SSO, so I don’t get the invite option.

Also I want to avoid adding users to groups. That would allow them access to read topics beyond the one they are invited to.


We need to fix the Invite stuff for SSO, there is an open bug about it.

However, topic based permissions are not in scope, nor planned. Closest thing we have is the PM system, I guess you are asking for a “sort of” public PM system.

Needs a ton of scoping and is not planned.


Is this the bug you are thinking of @sam?


Yeah that one is the worst.

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I definitely do not like the idea of a mention inviting a user to a private discussion. We have a lot of private discussions and will mention a person to give everyone easy access to the users profile but we don’t want that user involved In the discussion.

I realize that may be an edge case but we’ve been doing it for years (even prior to Discourse)


An @mention does not have to be the invite method. It was just a single purposed method. It could be in the form of expanding the invite dialogue box to allow inviting users.

Just to be clear, is response I received a:

  • It’s a silly idea, and shouldn’t be part of discourse

  • Or, it’s feature that discourse might get in the future. But not tomorrow or the day after.

And if it’s the latter, what would be my best course of action for getting it specced out as a future feature (and possibly getting it accelerated if I do most of the heavy lifting)??

I do not think what is being asked for makes sense, it sounds like topic level permissions overriding category permissions and that feels like a bag of pain and suffering to me.

It is weird to have a “private” category and then have people randomly override that for certain topics on an ad hoc basis. This just feels like a fundamentally flawed approach to me.

I suggest brainstorming other approaches to reach this goal


One approach would be to create a PM to the group. Then a user can be invited to that PM.


Creating group PM’s was something I considered. At the moment that doesn’t work because I’m using SSO, but that will get fixed in time.

I suppose this use case appears because we are trying to move away from mailing list, and with mailing list you can just cc or forward a thread to someone.

The other part is that you have to know from the first post that your going to be inviting someone external to your group to join, and have the foresight to start a group PM.

I think this feature is a bit like a document share button in Google drive. It give someone access to a single file but not the entire drive.

It could be that we need to make some organisational changes about how we conduct exec discussions, and thus this feature is a technical solution trying to solve a people problem.

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Yep, totally get it. We explored using discourse for handling private support requests, but ultimately decided just to use an email group for those cases for the very reasons you mentioned.

It didn’t occur to me before. But this method also makes the discussion inaccessible to future exec members. As a student organisation our exec turn over is quite high (50-60% of the exec change each year).

PM’s mean that future execs can’t look back at past discussions (at least not easily), and this would cut them off from a valuable supply of knowledge and experience.


Someone could always summarize the PM and leave that in the exec private forum…

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Ideally, Private Messages to a group would be to the group, not the expanded list of users within that group:

7 posts were split to a new topic: Adding users directly to categories