Changes coming to settings for giving access to features (from trust levels to groups)

Many features in Discourse rely on a setting to give access by trust level. This has proven to be too inflexible over the years, so we are moving to a new practice of giving access to members of specific groups instead.

We will now begin moving existing settings relying on trust levels so they instead rely on groups - see the list below that we are targeting. Some settings will remain trust level based where it makes sense. As we move along we will update the list and add replies here. Do let us know if we are missing any settings or if you notice any issues!

A classic example of the old practice is the shared drafts min trust level setting. With this practice, it is impossible to give access to specific users without also giving them trust level 4 or moderator privileges.

Screenshot 2023-10-25 at 11.21.17 AM

Examples of the new practice are the whispers allowed groups, personal message enabled groups, and hidden post visible groups settings. Notice I am able to give access to groups I created (access_oskar and kabissastories) in addition to the default groups.

Screenshot 2023-10-25 at 11.18.28 AM

At the same time we will be updating settings that currently only take one group so they can take multiple groups, such as the “Moderation” category setting as discussed in Ability to set more than one group category moderator - #5 by mcwumbly

Screenshot 2023-10-25 at 11.23.10 AM

We automatically generate trust-level based groups, so it is possible to still rely on trust levels to give access. If a user is trust level 3, they are automatically a member of the trust level 0, 1, 2, and 3 groups.

For each setting we move from being trust level based to group based, we will automatically migrate its value to the corresponding automatic groups. The default values of the new settings will be equivalent to the trust level setting.

Settings to be updated:

Was Now
anonymous posting min trust level anonymous posting allowed groups
shared drafts min trust level shared drafts allowed groups
min trust level for here mention here mention allowed groups
approve unless trust level approve unless allowed groups
approve new topics unless trust level approve new topics unless allowed groups
email in min trust email in allowed groups
allow uploaded avatars uploaded avatars allowed groups
min trust to create topic create topic allowed groups
min trust to edit wiki post edit wiki post allowed groups
min trust to edit post edit post allowed groups
min trust to allow self wiki self wiki allowed groups
min trust to send email messages send email messages allowed groups
min trust to flag posts flag post allowed groups
min trust to post links post links allowed groups
min trust to post embedded media embedded media allowed groups
min trust level to allow user card background user card background allowed groups
min trust level to allow invite invite allowed groups
min trust level to allow ignore ignore allowed groups
tl4 delete posts and topics delete all posts and topics allowed groups
enforce second factor
min trust level for user api key user api key allowed groups
min trust to create tag create tag allowed groups
min trust level to tag topics ‘tag topics allowed groups`
skip akismet trust level skip akismet allowed groups
saved searches min trust level saved searches allowed groups
accept all solutions trust level accept all solutions allowed groups
poll minimum trust level to create poll create allowed groups
styleguide admin only styleguide allowed groups
adsense through trust level adsense exclude groups
dfp through trust level dfp exclude groups
amazon through trust level amazon exclude groups
carbonads through trust level carbonads exclude groups
adbutler through trust level adbutler exclude groups
min trust to flag posts voting comments post voting allowed groups

The first of these has been completed here (with a minor follow-up):


This is just awesome! Amazing! I’m so excited about this.

Discourse has been granting some additional permissions at trust level 4, such as global pin/unpin topics, close/open topics, can these also be modified to some specific groups?
TL4 may be carrying too much. Sometimes for some relatively large communities, some fine-grained permission control may be needed. For example, a group may be needed, in which people can always review and edit everyone’s posts in all categories, but they should not be able to pin topics globally.
If it could, the discourse would become highly customizable, which I think would make the whole thing awesome!

If it will be added to the roadmap in the future, I don’t know if I may help?


Don’t forget visuals.

When many of us saw the Trust Level step visual it quickly solidified the understanding for us.


Now with what appears to be set based or relation based, perhaps not even a static visual will do but an interactive page.

I would post an example of such an interactive page, as the one I have in mind is nice, but saw it a few years back and don’t recall the site or details of how to find it.

It would be similar to one of the Cytoscape.js demos.

Hey y’all!

I think this sounds awesome!

  • Will users who rank up using the trusts level system be automatically included in corresponding new groups?
  • is it possible to set up automatic criteria for joining these groups?
  • how will the permission to assign groups be handled?

Hello N2U and welcome to meta!

No, this has nothing to do with how people are added to groups or the trust level system. It just expands settings for giving access to features by allowing one or more groups to be added, not just trust levels.

Not sure what you mean here but again not related to this topic. I’d suggest starting a new topic to explain in more detail what it is you are wanting to do. Many things are possible in Discourse. :slight_smile:

Not sure what you mean here either and probably not in scope for this topic.


This is an interesting out of the box thought… with this new direction trust levels beyond TL3 potentially become less relevant. TL4 is already only achievable by an admin giving it to a user, so it could be replaced with just creating groups for different roles in the community, giving those groups the appropriate permissions, and then adding people to those groups.

I have no idea what you are referring to - if you could share an example and explain it, I’d appreciate that.

Perhaps dating myself, but my mind goes to Drupal roles which had a fairly horrifying table-based UI for visualizing and configuring roles and permissions. I wouldn’t want to go back to that but perhaps somebody could do a data explorer query to create a table view of groups and their permissions.

We also already have a PERMISSIONS tab on groups pages, which indicates which categories members of the group have access to. Perhaps we could expand on this to also show what features the group has access to.


After seeing your response to N2U it seems that (from trust levels to groups) is not what I thought.

I was thinking that this was going to move all trust levels into groups then remove the concept of trust level and start to only use group for privileges. As I now know that is wrong will have to see where this leads as it is not what I was hoping.

So for now, just forget about visuals.


Thanks for clarifying!

Trust levels are not going anywhere, and the trust level system remains an important part of Discourse.

I guess where this becomes a bit confusing is that trust levels are also groups!

What we are now doing is changing some admin settings so they don’t just let you decide the trust level to give access to given features but to let you specify one or more groups. By default these will still be the trust level groups as before but you can now change this to any group or groups as appropriate for your community.


This one has been done here:


Done in:


I think in general and the more with this new direction, the workings of trust levels could be easier to understand and communicate making this more evident. And having a conceptually clearer distinction to badges and their more playful side to gamification.

E.g. right now trust levels show as badges, though the access rights actually come from group membership. But those groups don’t show by default. Trust levels could be removed from the badge system and the badge page and only show on the groups page (with natural names instead of trust_level_x).


Three more were moved:

allow uploaded avatars

min trust to create topic

min trust to edit wiki post


A bunch of them have been merged here:


I’m curious how do you (the team) explain the distinction between trust levels and groups conceptually. Put in a different way, I wonder if you say this simply because trust levels have been in Discourse for so long that they feel innate and as something untouchable.

With these updates, what makes trust levels special? That the membership in them is rule-based and updated automatically? But if so, what stops you in the future from allowing users to create rules for automatic addition to manually created groups?

I don’t have a problem with these updates, I guess I’m just curious what’s your vision


Thanks for bringing this up. As I wrote above, trust levels aren’t going anywhere and the trust level system is important. It provides sane defaults that any community can be happy with, and Trust levels actually are special. You cannot delete trust level groups, and there are settings that allow you to tweak how your members move between trust levels.

But if you need more flexibility in terms of the privileges you give people in your community you can now specify additional groups for many of settings that you create and manage. This way you have even more granular control.

It’s true that now that we have moved so many of these settings to this new approach the “Trust Levels” category of the admin settings feels a little weird, because you can now remove trust level groups from many of the settings in there. See screenshot below for what I mean.

We’re working on improving the structure/organization of the admin section as well, so will take this into account.


So I guess we’ll have two conceptually distinct categories?

  • One for system trust levels and tweaking the conditions that grant trust levels. That are all the settings as this one:

  • Another for adjusting access rights based on groups. That is all the settings like this:

I’d like a separation like this for two reasons:

  1. Tweaking the system trust level conditions in a meaningful way is difficult. You face a long list of number-based settings like tl_x requires... this number of this action… If all these are in one distinct category it’s easier to explain that these are the default trust system settings. You could tweak them, but you can also just leave them as they are.

  2. Instead you built your custom trust scheme with your own groups. And when conditions for system trust levels are all grouped in one place it’s easier to build your own group conditions with a distinct mental concept.

For example one concept I’ve been playing with because it’s more visual is just using badges for member levels. Levels are granted by x number of badges a member is awarded from the respective badge group:


This could belong somewhere else, but I really like using groups to limit or give rights. Sure, if used something else than automatic groups of trust levels it can be quite big mess quite fast, but it is only matter of planning and documentation — admin should describe why a group is there, because no one remembers after some months why something is done in the first place :wink:


Hi there, great news about a fine granular access control over groups.

Just some additional question about category moderator groups.

A concrete example, a category moderation group shall be able to edit a post. Basically re-categorizing it only within their categories and sub categories where they are assigned moderators, is this also considered?

What’s about the moderator role will this also be integrated in the groups?


Great! Glad you like what we’re doing here.

We are not touching category moderation specifically as part of the changes discussed in this topic - we are only changing the settings that are listed in the first post above.

To join discussions around category moderators and to suggest improvements, take a look at the category-moderators tag.