Categories vs. Groups?

I’m trying to figure out the best way to organize my community. It will consist of customers for each of our products (advisory councils). Right now I have them sorted by category (each of our products is a category). But some users will only be interested in one category. Is there a way to only notify them if there’s a new post in one particular category, or will they receive an email summary for any post, no matter what category? Would groups be a better route to go? And is there a way to organize and display groups on the homepage? Thanks for your help.

  • Categories are collections of topics.
  • Groups are collections of Users.
  • You can restrict access to categories to particular groups.
  • People can watch particular categories to get notifications for that category.

If people can read a category, posts from that category can be included in the summary email that goes out periodically, depending on what the user has selected (and what the default was when their account was created).


Thank you! Where do you go to restrict access to categories to particular groups?

Check security options when you edit a category :+1:


One last question: In order for a user to receive an email when a new post is created, do they need to check the “Enable mailing list mode” box on the Preferences>Emails page? Otherwise they’ll only receive an email according to the “default email digest frequency” (weekly is what I have it set at)? If this is the case, any way to enable mailing list mode for all users, or do they each have to go into preferences and check that box? I want to make sure people are notified when there’s a new post.

Remember the title of this topic :thinking:
This is not a chat. I knew you are new here, but please use the :mag: (see on top, to the right).
If you search there, you can read about other doubts about discourse.

Actually, I think Laura’s last question is on topic - understanding groups and categories is hard especially for new site admins, and email notifications are a big part of that. It’s worthwhile talking it through… though I agree it’s true she could find answers to these questions for herself using the search.

I’ve been grappling with the categories vs group messages question myself in my community, and decided against using group messages completely except for staff. The group messaging functionality is very sparse in comparison with the categories for topics which is very functional in comparison.

Here’s a handy topic you might want to look at:

Also this:


Thank you, this is very helpful. I wasn’t trying to go off topic, I was just looking for help honestly. I’m in marketing (clearly not a technical person) and this has all been very confusing.


It’s all good. :slight_smile: Have you got what you need for now?


I did what you are trying to do by making the categories private and using the groups page to allow people to join different groups. I added one public category with Welcome messages to direct people to the groups page. Once they join the group, they start getting posts, notifications, emails only for the applicable categories based on the setting for those categories.

It might be a little easier if there were public/hidden/private categories. Currently there are only public/hidden, but the group thing works. You can see it at


Thanks! That’s exactly what I’ve decided to do.

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