Force users to select a sub-category?

The users of the forum I’m importing would like to have a parent category that serves as a “label” (similar to what they had on phpBB). A category that contains nothing but subcategories. No topics in the parent category.

I’m very well aware that this is not how Discourse categories are intended to work. But it’s not always easy to find new ways of reorganizing categories from an older forum engine that has a different category structure, and my users are satisfied with the current reorganization, despite an “issue” that I’ll describe later (see the paragraph with the video).

The parent category contains 4 sub-categories.

The easy way to force users to post in a sub-category is by unchecking “Create” in the Security tab for “all”, and adding a custom text to be displayed when users don’t have the rights to create topics in this parent category.

However, an issue is that the button New Topic is greyed out, with a :no_entry_sign: symbol on hover, which is really not inviting.
If we click on it (despite nothing let us know we can actually click it because of the icon), we have our custom message (for example: “Please select a subcategory to post a topic”), which is also present on top of the category page (the top line in the video).

I suppose there is an easy JS way to remove the disabled class on this particular button?
But even if we do so, another issue is that users expect that when they click an inviting button (normal state, pointer cursor), they have a message editor, not a message saying “please click one of the subcategories in order to create a topic”. Do you think this will be a deterrent since the forum is aimed to draw new people and not only made for current users?
Or maybe we can completely hide the button… Which could be weird since the New Topic button will be present in other parent categories that are allowed to have topics?

Would you strongly advise finding another organization of categories that allows the parent category to be a regular category with its own topics and not a “label”?

What is your advice?


What if you add the subcategories links in the modal or with the new topic link?

For example:

Please choose a subcategory below to create a new topic.

<a href="/new-topic?category=parent/subcategory1">Subcategory1</a>
<a href="/new-topic?category=parent/subcategory2">Subcategory2</a>
<a href="/new-topic?category=parent/subcategory3">Subcategory3</a>

And you can modify the button with css. Like this

#create-topic {
  &.btn.disabled:not(.is-loading) {
    opacity: 1;
    cursor: pointer;
    &:focus {
      background: var(--primary-medium);
      color: var(--secondary);
      svg {
        color: var(--secondary);
1 Like

There is a couple of interesting ways to organize something like this.

Use Tags as a Subcategory instead with a must use 1 tag.

Air Theme has a categoru grouping with Headers in the list.


Category Group Name Header 1

  • listed Categories

My current setup is using a parent and sub. It does create some annoysnces at times especially as admin I can post anywhere lol.

In Parent I keep See permission with subs hsving full permission.

Category hider theme component works well to cleam up Hamburger so it only shows parent categories.