Asking for access to a private category

I have a private category on my Discourse site. By “private”, I mean only members of certain groups have access to the category. My boss wants the private category displayed to all users so that they can “yearn” (his word) to have access to it. Since the category won’t show up for people who are not in the special groups, I created a link to the category using the Admin Stylesheet and Header functions.

When “everyone” people click on the link to the private category, they see the 404 page that says “The page you requested doesn’t exist or is private.”

I would like “everyone” to be able to request an upgrade to their group membership via an easy-to-find link on that page. Can I add a link, or at least text, guiding them to send a Mod a private message? Or is there a more elegant solution?


I don’t think there’s any way to do this now, so I changed it to the “feature” category.

This would be a nice competition to features included with tools like Google Groups, private email lists, etc.:

  • Option whether or not to list existence of private group/category publicly
  • Option whether or not to allow users to request to be added

Out of curiousity, what page do you get if you click

How does it make you feel, do you yearn or resent?

[quote=“Mittineague, post:3, topic:21135”]
Out of curiousity, what page do you get if you click
Here’s a screenshot:

I would say it depends on the context. In this case, it looks like something’s broken; I move on.

In the case I describe, we just want people to know the other category exists and that they can ask to have access.

I’ve put together a plugin to address this. It’s not pretty but it does the job for the time being. Comments and PRs are super-welcome.


I don’t think the lounge should be a “requestable” private category, as it is tied to Trust Level, and its security cannot be modified. To grant someone access to the Lounge, you would need to make them TL3. Besides, the lounge does not have read permissions for anyone else, so either you see it and have full access, or you don’t see it at all. Also, there is no permission to show categories in category view, but not have permission to click through to them - does your plugin create this “view”?

Ok, I understand your concerns perfectly. The plugin is still super green, but also the README can be misleading. In my production instance we don’t use the Staff or Lounge, or any other category with automatically managed permissions, so the technique (i.e. ugly hack) I’m using to show read-limited categories in the list doesn’t care about discriminating ones from the others.

So, yes: the Staff and Lounge categories will be shown and the plugin will pointlessly allow the user to request access to it. I intend to improve this in the future and I encourage you to open an issue in the repo so I don’t forget :wink:

Regarding your other question, the categories are shown but the link is removed, so you can’t click through to the topic list view for that category.

So nope: I’m not providing any new view. Instead of that, the plugin render a box encouraging the user to request access. This button just launches the private message composer pre-filled with some placeholder text.

Hope that makes sense. Thanks for your comments!


I would like something like this, but with the ability to customize the text. For some private categories in my system, users can’t request access at all – but I’d like them to be visible.


Did you find a solution for this @alehandrof?

Nope. We plan to list the groups on our site so that there’s a definitive list somewhere.