Deepening tag structure?

Hey, guys! Hope you’re all doing fine ^^

I’ve been having a bit of trouble with tags on my forum (even though I’ve read the great introduction on tagging that’s been posted here ^^). The following questions are based on this experience and are all inter-related:

  1. I allow users to create tags, but every tag they create goes to the “Other tags” group. Is there a way to attribute new tags to the groups of tags related to the category in which they are being created?
  2. One of the categories on my forum is for people to share their readings, and in the long run it will be very important that anyone can navigate this category by kind of text (novel, short story, poem, book of poems etc.), author and the name of the book. Ideally, if no one has ever posted anything about, say, Louise Glück, any user should be able to start a topic on her, and it would be great if it were done in an organized manner already. What I imagine is the editor asking the person to fill the tags in hierarchy and automatically attibuting them to the specific tag group
    of the request (please, add the kind of text you’re talking about; now add the author; now add the book). How could it be done?
  3. – Also, how can one tag be used transversally in two categories, but not be chooseable on the others? As I understand it now, it’s either limited to one category or chooseable on all of them. This would be important in many different ways: on the above case (#2), an author that publishes both poetry and prose could be understood as a single tag that has expression on these two parent-tags
    – Under the category Writings, I have a subcategory for Books in process, so the community can contribute to larger projects in an organized manner. How could a poem that’s published on the Books in process subcategory also have a tag that’s limited to the Writings category (namely, the tag “member-poem”). I want this so a poem that belongs to a book in process can still be found through the general tag of member poems.

I guess this is it. If what I want is not possible now, how would you approach it?

I don’t understand much about coding, but a beautiful side-effect of starting this business of mine is to begin to understand how complex and intricate your work is: each minor change is a lot of work and might have consequences and challenges no one could have foressen, and there are infinite use-cases. I hope these tagging needs I brought make sense to more people too.



Cool! It’s interesting to observe your experimentation through your questions. As you will find, tags are powerful and can be used in many ways, but the tag management UI is a bit confusing at times.

As regards (1) In my experience, it has been fine to be loose with tags when letting users add them. You just have to carefully garden them on a regular basis so that no tags remain in “Other tags” but are all categorized or deleted. You and your moderators can also help ensure that topics are tagged correctly. This is not that time consuming (depending on the size of your site of course) and is helpful for understanding how the site is being used. You can then use a topic in site feedback to guide your members as to how you want them to use tags.

With (2) you could use a category template to prompt users to provide the information in a structured way in the topic at least and also to add tags if they are up for it. If not you and your moderators can help make that happen.

With (3) you can limit tags or tag groups to multiple categories. Have you tried it?

If you are feeling ambitious, you can look at Custom Wizard Plugin 🧙 which provides you with the ability to create forms. But that can get complicated real fast!


Hey, Tobias! Great! Thanks a lot :smiley:

I like it that users can freely add tags too. Following your tip, I added templates orienting users to create the tags needed to keep everything findable, acording to each category. I also added some groups of tags to more than one category, and it worked ok.

The tag system is impressive indeed, but when you say it can get a bit confusing, I have to disagree: pretty soon it gets very confusing.

I’ll leave a few unasked :face_in_clouds: suggestions in the hope it contributes a bit to you guys:

  1. for the user, it doesn’t make sense to have three different pages to manage this: one that only serves the purpose of showing the tags; a second for editing groups of tags; and a third for each individual tag. Editing groups of tags and tags (including synonyms) couldn’t all happen within the page in the admin view?
  2. there should be a way of categorizing groups of tags: in my case, for example, a category of groups of tags called “Authors” would make ir much easier to find info (these categories could come with their own restrictions, but what I’m asking here is only a better way to visualize this organization)
  3. there’s no way of deciding the order in which the groups of tags are shown, both on the main tags page and on the editing-groups-of-tags page (they are shown only alphabetically). This way, the first two groups shown for me are “Poetry authors” and “Prose authors”, but the authors’ names start 10 groups below. Ideally, they could all be understood as being within these first two categories.

And once again: thanks! Your answer helped me a great deal. \o/


I agree managing tags can get confusing. I don’t know if this is on the roadmap, but I’ve been wondering if some AI functionality could be added to tags. For example, to help users select appropriate tags.

There are a couple of settings that might help:

Discourse allows you to create tag groups:

By default, this doesn’t do anything to improve the site’s /tags page. To fix that, enable the tags listed by group site setting. With that setting enabled, this:

is cleaned up to look like this (I’ve created Authors and Categories tag groups for this test):

Users aren’t given an option to add tags they create to a tag group, but staff members can add them to groups from a tag’s page. For example:

The text in the above screenshot says “To add restrictions,” but tag groups can also be used to just keep a site’s tags organized. This would also allow you to add restrictions at a later time if you wished. As a bad example, you could have a “books” category that required a tag from both the “authors” and the “categories” tag groups.

The ordering options are limited. By default tags are ordered by popularity, but you can override this by enabling the tags sort alphabetically site setting. Users can also switch between alphabetical and popularity ordering on the tags page.

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Love this idea, for forums with lots of tags especially. :bulb: :slight_smile:


Soundcloud does this. It analyzes an upload, then suggests some (usually) appropriate tags. Their site would be chaotic without it.


There is this…


That would be great!

What I meant was that it could allow us to have groups of groups, just so it’s better organized.

Thanks for the tips and thorough answer! :wink: