I am looking into solutions for creating two distinct Discourse forums each with their own separate content and design, however we would like both forums to share the same user base. Ideally we could put our users into certain groups and then give each group specific permissions for both spaces.
For example User Group A is our regular users with permissions to access Forum 1 but not Forum 2. User Group B is for VIP users and they will have full access to both forums.
Sounds like you are looking for SSO (single sign on). You have a couple of ways of setting this up:
Have users authenticate elsewhere (like an existing website), then hook up SSO from both Forums to this site. You’ll have the same user base for both (whoever exists on the parent website), but two distinct forums.
Make Forum 1 the “parent” forum, which handles authentication, and then act as an SSO provider for Forum 2.
That being said, is there a reason you need to distinct forums? This would be much simpler to have one forum and then create the VIP area via groups and category permissions.
Yeah, I’d definitely look very hard at groups and categories, and even extending that system if necessary, before I went with two separate forums tied together with SSO. The only case I’d consider splitting them is if it was absolutely essential that the set of moderators and admins were separate between the two, because those perms are, by design, global across an entire forum.
The reason I ask about separate forums is because both of these communities already exist on two different platforms, each with their own user bases. Many users have accounts on both platforms, which is obviously not ideal for anyone. I am wondering if I can combine them together on Discourse while still giving our VIP users their separate area with its own brand and that is clearly and visibly different in style or template than the default forum for all users.
You can. How to accomplish the import, however, may be tricky. The fact that you mention that many users have distinct accounts on two existing sites will make your life more difficult, but not impossible. I believe @pfaffman has worked on importers, he might have some insight.
That’s quite simple - put them in a group, make a new category, restrict the category to that group.