Best Practices With Categories

Can anyone please share helpful ‘best practices’ behind opening/consolidating/formulating categories?

It has become clear that a few main categories have risen to prominence while others do not receive much usage—a dramatically lopsided distribution.

Needless to say, I could just close unused categories which would increase concentration on these prominent ones, but that seems a little punitive to users who do participate in lesser-used categories.

I simply wonder if anyone can share a little logic into healthy or ‘best practice’ taxonomy in this context. Thank you.

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IMO one thing I would do is make a poll with a lot of options: the one with more votes gets added!

I guess it depends very much on the nature of your community, but a general rule is: start with as few categories as possible. It’s common that admins have a specific idea of how the forum should/will be structured before the first user even signs up. Chances are that new will be confused by the many categories. It’s probably better to create new categories as the need arises.

Another good practice can be observed here on meta: when you havd an idea for what might become a category of itd own, create a tag with that name and use it for a while to see if the number of posts really justify a category. At the same time you are preparing your users for the category by making them aware of its name and scope.


The #1 suggestion I have is to talk it over with your community. Create a ‘Site Feedback’ category topic, and ask for opinions on how to best consolidate and split the least and most used categories.

Tags are a great tool for this - tag everything with the name of the old category before consolidation, and encourage people to tag topics with the proposed after-split category names (this will reduce work once you actually do it, as well as is a self-answering viability study).