Can Private Spaces be used to differentiate between users?

I’ve searched both the site and the forum, but can’t find the answer.

A part of our forum visitors donate money every year, and in return we want to give them early acces to certain parts of the forum and certain blog-entries.

The question is if this is possible with Discourse, maybe with the help of Private Spaces?

I’m one of the people behind a popular but ageing forum and looking for a good (read modern, responsive, etc.) replacement that can offer this option. If Discourse can do this that would me very happy indeed!

We’re working on deeper Patreon integration if that helps. How are you tracking the donations?


The donations aren’t tracked by any outside party, people transfer money into our account and we note on their account that they’ve donated.

Now we’re looking for new forum software where we can give those people early access to some of the parts of the forum and news.

Can this be done with discourse?

You can add them to a group which has access to certain restricted categories, yes.


As codinghorror posted, access to Categories (and Messages) can be easily controlled.

What I’m wondering about is what you mean by “early access”.

If you mean “before everyone else”, then not so easy.

But I can think of a couple of ways.

  • Start topics in a restricted category (or as Messages), then move them into an “open” category later.

  • Unlist topics, send the links to the topics to the group, then list the topics later.

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Thank you for the translation, that’s exactly what I meant! :wink:

It’s a Mac-forum and we have a For Sale section and a Jobs section, I was thinking of giving people that donated early acces to these. In the Blog-News there are also News items about apps (and such) that are on sale, maybe earlier access to these as well.

Would it be possible to have the short version appear, and when you click on it you get a message that this will be for everyone soon, but for the moment is only for people that made a donation?

Or a visual clue that this isn’t open for everyone yet?

@ Jeff Atwood: thanks for your contribution as well, I used Mttineague’s reply because he went more into detail. :wink:

I don’t think I would go with the Unlisting approach.
More work involved getting the links out to the group and not 100% restricted because unlisted topics can be (and can only be) accesed by a direct link to the topic.

I don’t think Messages would work that well either. Might be OK for something that happened occasionally but it sounds like this would be a fairly frequent thing.

I would create group restricted categories named similar to the public “everyone” categories.

I guess a plugin could be written to “auto change category after n days”, but manual moving could be done until / unless that happens and searching the category by date could help.

One problem might be where a moved topic comes up in the list. That is, you may want to “bump” them, maybe with some kind of staff colored “now open to everyone” post. Doing so could also help to let others become aware of the donator group.


That sounds very interesting, where can/should one ask if such a plugin can be written?

You can write a detailed spec of your requirements and post at #marketplace