Advice on organising categories for a large organisation

We are proposing to move our large campaigning organisation from Basecamp to Discourse (and Mattermost for the chat part).

We have about 8000 users right now, growing at about 500/month. I have written an app which can move the existing conversations over, but the hard part is deciding how to organise the categories to put them in.

We have a hundred or more local groups, and they all have about 20-30 Basecamp projects (each with a separate message board, which might contain 10-100 topics in each one). Some of the projects will be the same for every local group, connected with the teams that run the different areas we work in, but others will be more transient - eg to discuss a particular campaign.

In addition we have 50 or more central working groups, each of which has a particular role in organising what we do nationally.

I have seen the exhortation to keep the number of categories small, but I can’t see how we can keep all these separate discussions separate without having at least a subcategory each.

I did think about tags, but it will be difficult to educate so many users to use them consistently, plus they don’t provide the security and visibility options categories and groups do, which I think we will need.

Any words of wisdom gratefully received.


I don’t recommend it, but I’ve got a site with 807 categories. So you could just go for it an see how it goes. If you have a fast machine and enough ram, it might Just Work.

I think that my temptation would be to keep make the 100+ groups be categories and then use Tags for the Basecamp projects rather than making each of them be a subcategory. You can enforce category-level tagging, so you could make people posting in the Dogs category have to choose a tag when they post. It’ll be a bit of a PITA, but choosing among 30 categories is a bigger pain, I think.

And it may be that the group doesn’t really care if each topic is tightly connected to the former basecamp project anyway.