Could categories and tags be the same thing?

We’re going all in on tags because of the incredible cross-team fluidity they provide, especially when combined with project management plugins like kanban boards, voting, and calendar.

We’re working on a ‘tag-navigation’ system, so users can either:

  • use the search bar to enter terms and skip directly to tags and tag intersections. The native search bar has this functionality so we’re just making it default behaviour and putting it into a banner.
  • the main view will display tag-pages in boxes in the same way the forum currently displays categories in box view. This means users can click through tags, with each click adding a tag to their tag intersection, creating a tree like navigation system. for example: ‘webdev’ > ‘reactjs’ > ‘new-build’ > 'fri-workteam > etc > etc… onwards for a long as users want to go.

The main issue we’re having is that most plugins don’t support tags and tag-pages yet. We’ve succesfully modified Kanban boards to work with tags and tag-pages, which is amazing because i can see all ‘webdev’ tasks being worked on, or just the ‘fri-workteam’ tasks, or i can add in the ‘ux’ tag to see where the teams are working together, or tasks that need both skill-sets. Once we modify the team calendar now i have all the same options for who is working and when. Same with the voting plugin which we use to choose new ideas, projects and tasks.

We’re just embarking on a big build to take our volunteering network to create more peace and well-being in the world community to the next level. You’d be absolutely welcome to join in coding, here’s where we are building. Myself and a few of our members chipped in a pretty high amount to pay someone to build it because we our ruby-on-rails dev team was too quiet and it was taking forever.


I’ve mentioned this a few times over the past 8 or so months, after researching this forum and seeing ever increasing numbers of users wanting to utilise the flexibility of tags more in their forum, but running into issues as most of the main navigation plugins and components are developed for categories, and few have switched yet to support the new tags feature.

We could wait for all the plugin authors to modify their plugins (and as i mentioned above we are planning to do that for some in the next month or two). I propose instead a core solution which instantly upgrades all existing plugins and components by telling them to treat tags/tag-pages the same as categories.

This would significantly advance the usability of tags on Discourse for users, in a way that i suspect all additions will go anyway, just saving the users a months of years of waiting for the updates to support tags to come… and of course save all the plugin authors from a lot of work.

It could have a shortcode or toggle to remove it for any plugins which the authors do not want to support tags, although i cant think of any specifically. that toggle could also be available to users to toggle on or off so they can choose the behaviour of their add-ons.

here’s how we added it to @david’s discourse kanban

here’s a few examples of users wanting to use tags more but hitting limitations which would be solved by this. I pulled these from my recent comments, there are many more i found in past when looking:


These aren’t the same thing. Treating them as the same thing is incorrect.


I don’t mean that they should be treated the same in a general sense. Just that a some code in core discourse that can be toggled on and off by users and plugin creators, which tells plugins to recognise tags in the same way it recognises categories, would save many plugin developers from having to adapt their plugins to handle tags and tag-pages. It would also provide a wide array of plugins for users to further customise their sites, and linked some examples of users requesting this as a feature.

As tags are fairly new, while categories are well developed, plugins were built with categories in mind. There’s an increasing number of users using tags more centrally and commenting along the theme of wishing they could access the capabilities plugins current offer on categories.

I’m not skilled enough to know if what I’m suggesting is possible, I just think that individually almost all plugins will eventually support this (like the tag banners plugin recreating the category banners plugin), and it’s a long road for their developers. If it could be done in core discourse that would save an awful lot of time for them, and benefit many users quickly.


You are grinding an axe for your sort of peculiar use case. We don’t tend to act on those kinds of requests.


tag support will be implemented into most plugins at some point in the coming years. i wondered whether it can be done in core to speed up the process for users and save the developers from all having to code it individually. it would come far too late for our build, its just an idea i suggest because if it was possible it would offer a lot more customisation options to other users in a short time.

This is so overly-generalised it’s meaningless.

If you can’t substantiate the first statement I’m not clear on why developers would do anything, let alone to core.

Very few are using tags without categories. If there was a huge uptick in demand, particuarly from paying customers, I’m sure there would be.


tag navigation without categories is one plugin we’re building

i’m referring to other plugins and components like: category-banners, calendar, events, kanban, voting, rating, topic-preview. Those supporting tags would provide all users new tools. I’ve also been replying to posts i see about wanting tag support in the banners, events, kanban, voting and navigation (one we’re building) plugins, to ask OP if they’d like to pool resources and get them built. Which we’d either be building together for everyone, or paying to have built if we don’t assemble the required skills.

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This is impossible. It’s like saying instantly treat Windows and OSX the same. There are big differences, otherwise we wouldn’t have both tags and categories.


i thought it might be possible to have a work around like:

‘if toggle selected by user/creator, when plugins request categories in database also return tags’


‘where category identifier is used to tell plugin to deploy, also seek tag identifier if toggle selected’

Was Neil not clear @AndyatFocallocal ?