Category Ordering: Fixed AND activity based ordering

Continuing the discussion from Organizing categories so they are always in the same order

I’m just starting to dig into Discourse. I was fortunate to be able to import a forum with thousands of discussions which seems to be enough to get a pretty quick sense of what immediately seems great and maybe not so great about Discourse and its defaults. (Of course it’s also a lot to wade through.)

I’ve read several discussions here about category ordering. I see the pros and cons of both fixed and activity based ordering. I’m wondering if it’s worth thinking about this being something that can be set on a category by category basis.

Rather than go on and on, let me give you a concrete use case.

I’d like to stick to activity based ordering for something like a landing page. But I also run a ‘book club’ through my forum. We’ll pick a technical book (usually web development or design) and read through it together, 10 or so pages a day, and then use the forum to discuss the reading. (It takes about a month to get through a book and isn’t a big drain on anyone’s time. ) I’ll create a category for the book and then discussions for each section of reading, staying just ahead of the pace of the group, so that when it’s time for discussion about a reading there’s already a place for it. For this kind of thing there is a strict ordering (Chapter 1 - Reading 1, Chap 1 - Reading 2, and so on), and it can be disorienting to have them jump around.

So there’s one forum but it’s being utilized in a couple of different ways. In addition to the book club it serves as a community forum for a blogging platform (though I prefer to call it a personal publishing platform) that maintain.

As I imagine it there would be a global default, and each new category would take on that ordering. But it could be overridden on a per category basis. In my case the default would be the activity ordering but for the book club, the category ordering would be fixed.

Seems like a way to allow for some customization and flexibility without adding to the complexity of the UI (in the way that adding a lot of structure does).

For Discourse, it might make more sense to do this:

A single “Book club readings” category

One topic per chapter (or less), with modposts as barrier markers, linked from the first post for easy jumping

One more topic for the announcement & wrap-up, each

All of these linked from a pinned index topic

Any extra topics aggressively merged into the canonical one

Of course, adapt to your needs, but I think that could work well.

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I’ll give this approach a try. This kind of usage question can be tough to sort out. Thanks for taking the time to give it some thought. It’s much appreciated.