Category Naming / Site Organization Conventions?

We will be using Discourse for a biennial discussion series, with 5-6 discussions (one per month) and each one have 3-4 focused topics. It was suggested that each of the monthly discussion would be its own category and then a topic for each of the 3-4 facilitated discussions. Firstly, does this seem the best set-up?

Part two of this question involves the category naming. Is there any realistic way to have more than 2 words in the category name, or is there a better way to set up this organization? We want people to come onto our site and see the name of the series, the month, facilitator for that month, and title of the threaded discussion, though all of that would not fit within the name itself.

Can somebody please help us work through how we should set up and name these, so as not to be overwhelming, but also organize what people will see when they reach our site and what that makes notifications look like?

Thank you!!

1 Like

Sounds like you should use lighter weight tags for much of this instead of strong walls of categories.

This makes sense in theory @codinghorror ; can you help point me to what you have in mind? Not sure I can really visualize this. Trying to imagine what this would appear like when new users come to our site’s page for the first time.


I don’t have a definitive answer for this, but I’m hoping to use Discourse for community round-table discussions, so I will be interested to see what you come up with.

One though I have is that it might be too restrictive to pre-set the topics. If instead, you set each of the discussions as a category and then created 3-4 subcategories within each of those categories, the participants could create topics within the subcategories. If there are a lot of participants in your forum this might allow smaller groups to focus on bite-sized topics while still keeping the discussion on track.

If you did something like the above, using a somewhat customized version of the ‘categories’ page as the front page for the forum might be the easiest way to make the site structure clear to a new user. That page could include a full description of each of the discussion categories and state whether that category’s discussion is ongoing, upcoming, or archived. The current month’s discussion category could be brought to the top of the list. Clicking on the category link on the front page would bring the user to that category’s topic list view. That view is very straightforward and allows the user to filter topics by subcategory.

It is possible to use category names longer than two words. It requires customizing the styles a little, but it’s nothing major.

Do you have any examples of online discussions that are similar to what you are hoping to do with Discourse?

Thanks, Simon, for your suggestions on this.

No, I do not have any examples; not sure how to find them as I have not seen a list of Discourse enabled sites. I am not entirely clear how to use subcategories, but I agree that the categories themselves should be the main topic, with the couple of facilitated discussion threads under each of them as either topics or subcategories. You do have me thinking that the subcategories may work in this way.

Does it mean that if people are in subcategories, then they wanted to create new topics in them, that they would automatically create them and then remain within those subcategories?

The function of this will be for these 5-6 short, intense discussions, with each one lasting a week. I wish they would continue, but that is not the intention of this academic discussion series.

Thank you again!

There is a partial list of Discourse sites here Please visit our Discourse Forum! (Directory). I have looked through many of them, but haven’t seen any examples where they are structured for the type of discussion you are proposing. I do think that Discourse could be used in this way.

I’ve started looking for off-line examples of roundtable type discussions to see if they could provide some ideas for how to structure a Discourse forum. Having a real-world model and working backwards from it seems like a good approach. Here’s an example:

Given this model, the theme of the forum would be ‘Creating an elder-friendly community.’ The four categories for discussion would be ‘Addressing needs’, ‘Promoting engagement’, ‘Optimizing health’, and ‘Maximizing independence.’ The subcategories would be each of the points listed in the diagram. If it didn’t seem like it was adding too much complexity, you could create groups and assign each group to discuss a specific subcategory. (You can set permissions on a category that will allow you to do this.)

Yes, if you create a new topic from a category or a subcategory page it will be given the current category or subcategory. There is an option for the user to change the category from a drop-down menu. Topics can also be recategorized by an admin.

It might be worth setting up a private instance of Discourse for the purpose of testing things out.

@JeffreyKeefer I wonder how this has worked out for you? Did you go with tags or categories?


Many thanks for the check-in!

We ended up going with Categories, as they seemed the smoothest to use and made overall sense. Even now, they seem to work as we needed both from the back-end and per user experience feedback.

Appreciate your help and ongoing commitment to this work!!