Can a user block a user group?

Is there a way of a user not allowing a certain group of users to see what they post within a certain category?

I have a community of writers, and the idea is that it should be possible for the member to choose whether they want or don’t want publishing houses to see what they post on “Writings” category. Preferably, the pre-set choice should be not to show publishers; and on the onboarding I tell them this is a possibility.

The reason for this is to make the person comfortable posting even if they don’t feel they are ready to be seen by the market; on the other hand, it would be a great offer of partnership with publishing houses if they could find new writers to publish through our platform. Thanks! :slight_smile:


I think the easiest way to achieve what I understand you need here is to create two categories - one that is accessible to publishers and one that is not (one could be a subcategory of the other if you still want to be able to list all topics together easily).


I think the ‘Add user to group through custom user field’ Automation might be useful for this:


It is always dangerous when a non-native english writer is trying to explain what some third party has said, but I would guess…

  • there is groups writers and publishers
  • they see each others posts/topics
  • there is need to offer ability for writers to block every publisher

Then publishers see what is in ”market” but shy desktop writers can keep publishers in the darkness.

That is a bit difficult to achieve using categories.

Edit: if I am right (because I was in that situation a while ago) blocking is quite difficult because it is forum wide action. There can be other categories where blocking is unnecessary. So it should happend only by writers and target is every publishers, but should apply only to writers-category.


You can get this level of control with group Personal Messages. For example:

In the first two messages, a member of the ‘writers’ group has invited the ‘publishers’ group to the message. In the last message, the publishers group has not been invited.

Only group members (and site admins) can access group messages unless other users or groups are explicitly invited to the message.

Admins, and moderators (if mods are members of the group,) can convert group messages to regular topics. So this might be a good approach for writers who are not quite ready to share their work. They could even limit who can access the message to a small group of users by creating a PM and inviting individual users to it.

A possible downside of this approach is that any user who has access to a message can invite any groups or users to the message. Ideally, there’d be a way to limit this ability to the message’s creator:

There’s actually a simple workaround for that issue by adding some CSS to your site’s theme:

.topic-owner.regular .add-remove-participant-btn {
    display: none;

.topic-owner.current-user-post.regular .add-remove-participant-btn,
.staff .topic-owner.regular .add-remove-participant-btn {
    display: block;

Unfortunately, that rule would be applied to all PMs on your site, so that only the user who created a PM and staff members would see a PM’s “Add or Remove” button. Also, the CSS approach to limiting invites isn’t bullet proof. If a user knew how it was being applied, for example if they read this post, they’d be able to circumvent it.

It would be great if Discourse provided a setting for this, either applied at the individual PM or group PM level.


Wouldn’t having a ‘writer’s only’ (sub)category fit the bill? They could create topics in there that the publisher group couldn’t see, and if they then wanted to make them more public they could be categorised into a more open category.


That is quite solid way guarantee using wrong category.

Again, I don’t know anything about coding and dev-like stuff, but I could imagine such selective banning is quite difficult to build up.

But is something like using tag that clošes publishers out easier to achieve? Sure, then a writer can forget using such tag, but then there is only one category — kind of lesser evil.


I think all the solutions will require people to understand where/how to post their writing for it not to be seen by ‘everyone’. :person_shrugging: Using the category security settings seems like the strongest way to ensure members of certain groups cannot access the content there (though even that would rely on good group-gating. If the @writers group is freely joinable then any system based on it will be de facto ‘open to all’).


Did you mean to write “wrong category” or you meant to say something else?

If writers accidentally post a manuscript in a category visible to publishers before they had wanted them to see that, most likely that would be a mistake only done once.

For legitimate writers this doesn’t seem difficult to figure out the difference between publishing and not publishing a book.


It is wrong category when a topis is published somewhere it shouldn’t.

I don’t understand how this is relevant any way. But such thing will happend if publising depends of email where an author will send text.

We can assume quite easily they aren’t the most skilful IT-persons. Not in the world where not even devs or admins can’t avoid publishing off topic.

Simple (I really don’t know if it is simple at all) solution could be a tag that is limiting visible to one group. Or perhaps the easiest example here would be how whispers works or there could be staff-only tag and then all docs could be published at one category, but is visible to world when that tag is removed (actually a bad example because two different categories is easier way).


It’s not currently possible to limit access to content via tag in the same way as permission-controlled categories. You could set a tag in a tag group as visible to ‘staff-only’, but that only limits the visibility of the tag not the topic. You could default mute a tag for a group, but that is very easily toggled to Watching/Tracking/Normal by an individual (and also shows up in searches, etc). I don’t think it’s possible to do what you’re suggesting with tags.


Yeah, I know. But such action would be really nice add-on, and could make possibilities wider.

But at this moment we don’t have any other solutions (if I’m guessing what OP is needing) than more overlapping categories. It can work but is far away from nice one.

I know - if we have several ways to limit access and visibility there is huge risk for bug’ish errors and misconfigurations by admin.

And yet it would be nice to have :woozy_face:


This theme-component can work well to help keep ppl informed of say what category to use. And would work well with @JammyDodger recommendation.

It allows you to replace the watermark in a category.


A manuscript for a book could easily cover at least ten major topics, topic categories aren’t in any way relevant to manuscripts someone wants to be reviewed before giving to any publishers.

(Other then if a topic category is specifically labled: “manuscipt review for writers only no publishers”)


Hey, guys! Thanks for the discussion here \o/

What could work pretty well is to keep the Writings category blocked for publishers, and when a writer wants to submit their manuscript (preferably after going through community revision) they would post it as a PM that includes the publishers, as @simon said here:

I think it makes a lot of sense to have one more step when sending your writings to publishers, since it’s an action you’re going to give some thought to before taking; posting your work for revision by the community, on the other hand, should be something you do without concerns.

Also, the forum wouldn’t be cluttered by similar categories.


Static banners at the topic of each category (ie: Writer’s only; Writers & Publishers) stating “This category is not viewable to publishers” and “This category is viewable by publishers” may serve as a reminder to writers whether they want publishers to see their work or not.