Category-Specific Moderators, phase 1 RFC

Whats the latest on this one?

Our community is morphing and evolving constantly and suddenly I recognize a need for (sub-)category specific moderatorship.


It’s on the V1.8 list, see #releases


Hi guys could really use this Feature, especially since our user base is continuously growing and therefore does the need to assign moderator rights at category level.

Really looking forward to this and we would welcome this in 1.8.



@codinghorror, do you think this will happen in 1.8? I seem to recall this being on every release plan at some point since at least 1.5, but keeps being removed and pushed later.

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Unlikely, it is very difficult and arguments for it are not very compelling.

I’d like to bump this a bit, as apparently the perceived interest is not enough to warrant its coding.

Category-specific moderators would be very useful in our setting, where we have a unified pre-existing community (alumnis) with various topics of interests (and animators of such). Right now, we have only two choices:

  • Create several discourse instances, and have the topic animators moderators of their own instance ; but then everything is split and this does not encourage to view what else happens.
  • Create only one big dicourse, but then topic animator can either moderate everything or nothing.

Neither of those choices is very satisfying. We are going with the second one for now, but this is not very good.
Also, this is an old feature that pretty much every other forum solution has. I don’t see any compelling argument for why it would be so useless.


Our usecase is an organization where we have 100+ local sub-organizations - each of those have their own category. Right now that means 100+ moderators with too much power.


This feature would take months and is very high risk. It’s not likely to happen anytime soon. If you’d like to subsidize its development I estimate – about $100k. Feel free to contact us if you have that amount of money to apply towards development.


Unfortunately, my organisation is a non-profit, and we don’t have that kind of money at all.

I guess that this means that this feature will never happen (in foreseeable future). Hence, maybe you should remove it from the “in next version” page, it would be clearer.

Thanks anyway for all your hard work on Discourse.


I’ll second (or third, or fourtieth, or whatever) this. I’m looking into migrating several bloggers over to Ghost and have them all under a single instance of a Business/Enterprise Discourse plan for their blog’s comments. I’m not sure if the lack of catergory-specific moderators would be a deal breaker (for the bloggers who I haven’t broached this idea to yet), but it could be.

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Would also add my voice for this. We’re a non-profit currently demoing the paid hosting for use as a forum for all of our communities. Category-specific moderators are essential; we envisage that they would manage their specific, private category to host discussions with representatives from their region, and not be able to touch upon the categories for other regions, or the rest of the forum.


This is a really important feature, in my scenario I have different categories in competition and I cannot allow moderators to share visibility of pending posts.

Dear @codinghorror, having the opportunity of isolating moderation among categories is essential in all scenarios where you’re running a competition. For example in my case we’re evaluating Discourse to integrate it in a crowdfunding website. Every category is associated to a fundraising campaign and moderated by the campaign owners. We cannot allow the sharing of comments among possibly competitive players. This is is true for a lot of similar scenarios and neglecting this feature means preventing the adoption of this really cool platform on a huge bank of growing initiatives.


I know this feature kind of died because it’s too hard to implement, but I still want to voice support for it in case the developers ever decide to come back to it.

We’re trying to use discourse for our hackerspace, and we’ve been creating categories for different interest groups within our community. It would be nice if each of those categories could choose their own moderators since some of the interest groups are large enough to form their own community within our larger community.

As it is, I think we can survive without this feature, but I just wanted to include one more possible use case of this feature.



I just wanted to say how you can work around this:

You don’t give the rights to the user, but create an extra moderator-account, which has only read and write rights for the specific category, they should moderate.

As we use SSO-Login we plan to automize this login as moderator and back to the user, by just one button, so we will have a one-click moderator mode. This has the side effect, that people can’t moderate right away, but have to change into that mode. This might be also not such a bad idea, given the extensive rights, that are not even marked as moderator-rights.

The only thing that’s then missing for us is the user-administration. It would be awesome, if you could have something in the preferences to take that right from them moderators. In our case the moderators will get group-specific user-administration rights in the sso. They can only administrate users who are yet without group or in their own group.

Maybe these work-arounds could also give some idea how you could implement category specific moderators?

First of all, I’d like to express my most sincere gratitude, I’ve used many forum scripts this far, and Discourse beats them all in most fields.
I want to voice for this functionality, though. We run regions-driven community, and we need the ability to appoint cat-specific moderators. As we’re non-profit community, I can’t offer any financial support, I’m afraid. But as a software tester I can offer my proffesional services, if it helps, @codinghorror :wink:

I started looking at this issue last night in the context of a larger project I’m working on.

First, after looking at the relevant code for this I would reiterate what the Discourse team has already said. Implementing this specification would be a huge hairy change. From a ‘core’ perspective I think It makes complete sense to postpone it, and maybe not do it at all.

For me at least, it seems that the issue is really one of triage. I need the ability to limit a moderator’s attention to a particular category. I want them to be able to focus on that category without getting distracted by notifications from other categories.

Completely restricting access to moderation actions outside of a assigned category seems like more of an edge case. If someone is going to get moderation powers, and be told that they are assigned to a specific category, it is unlikely that:

a) they will regularly exercise their powers outside of their assigned category; and
b) if they do, it is unlikely that this exercise will conflict with the overall moderation goals of the site.

In the unlikely event of both ‘a’ and ‘b’ being incorrect, then they probably shouldn’t be a moderator anyway.

Indeed, there may well be situations in which moderators assigned to a particular category will provide useful support in categories in which they are not assigned to.

So I’ve started a plugin I call “Category Moderator Lite” to implement this narrower ‘workflow-orientated’ version of category-specific moderation.


Nice, limiting attention vs a permission overhaul is a far simpler coarse of action.

What I can support in core is a user setting for mods:

[x] notify me on all pending posts and flags
... if unticked...
categories I would like to be notified about
[feature, ux                               ]

I am comfortable having something like this in core, just need to mock up and to figure out the right words.



Whether this should be a user setting or a category setting (or both) is worth considering.

While notification levels are typically user settings, I think there are also arguments for this being a category list that entails user notification levels (i.e. the approach taken in the Category Moderator Lite plugin).

  1. There are instances in which it is useful to have the concept of ‘assignment’ to a particular category, even if that assignment does not entail permission restrictions. e.g. if you want to add a list of the ‘assigned’ moderators to the discovery category UI to tell users who’s ‘in charge’, e.g. something like

    Screenshot at Aug 03 08-00-16

    Not to say that this particular UI feature should be a part of a core update, but more that having a list of moderators related to a particular category could be useful.

  2. The need to ‘guide attention’ of some moderators to specific categories is both a user-level issue and a more global site-level ‘management’ issue. For my purposes, I don’t really want to pose moderation notification levels as a ‘choice’ for category-specific moderators. I more want to set it up as a workflow.

That said, making this a user-level setting is simpler from a technical perspective. As far as I can tell there are no existing category settings that entail updates to specific users’ notification levels. So it would be a new type of relationship.

And, if there were a user setting I would still find that useful. It would simplify the Category Moderator Lite Plugin a fair bit. I would hide it from the user settings UI and just use it on the server.

As far as a core update is concerned, I’m not sure what form of category-specific moderation notification settings people would actually use. I know a category-level setting makes more sense for me, for the reasons mentioned above. From the posts in this topic, I get some sense that the issue is also a ‘site-level’ management issue for other folks as well, which suggests that a category-level list which entails notification levels for specific users may be useful.

@erlend_sh @HAWK thoughts?


Thinking from the POV of a first-time Admin who is trying to set this up (or modify it), I think it would be most intuitive to find category specific mod settings under the current Category security settings.


I guess this can work, as long as “all moderators” get notifications by default unless something is filled in the box.