Full of confusion on format and layout

I did search for similar posts but this seems not to be an issue with other people.

I don’t understand why I cant have access to the html coding so I can change the visual layout of my forum. I dislike the boxes categories option. I’ve never in my life seen a forum formatted this way. Why isn’t it in bulleted format? Category>subcategory>topic, that is how every forum I have ever been a member of has been. This box format is not new user friendly. My members cant figure out how to get to subcategories without being shown with pictures.
I am not allowed to change the image size for my categories? Why have categories boxes with pictures enabled if the pictures are so small?

Im sorry if this is a strange request but I have been an admin on other forums and always had access to the coding. In fact my job was to design themes. I cant make my own themes here. I looked for other themes but there arent enough people doing it, AND the theme previews dont actually preview the theme, there arent any demo forums to play with and check the themes out.
Part of me thinks I must be bat-shit blind missing obvious things, but Ive been playing with this since it was uploaded and I cant figure it out.

Where are the forum statistics. Not admin, regular user. You know: newest registered member, who’s online, what is each member viewing. Every forum I have ever been on had those links as a footer, even including messages like 'happy birthday to__"

The user cards are nice but why cant I input code for a mini profile? I hate to sound like a broken record but… every forum I have ever yadda yadda.

This is just a mind blowing difference. I am trying to grow accustomed to it, but it just lacks MANY of the things I love about forum life. And I would love to be told its all there, I am just missing it.

Any help would be extremely appreciated!

Well the good news is that you’re in the right place to find some answers. Searching should help!

You can change templates and edit CSS, here are some guides to get you started.

Discourse isn’t a PHP application like many older forum platforms were, so the way things are edited is a bit different. You can’t directly edit our core HTML in templates, but you can override it.

Under admin > settings there are 5 other category page styles you can try. Categories with featured topics might be closer to a typical forum experience.

You can make these changes with CSS in a custom theme.

Most of our themes here tagged #theme-full include a preview link, though it appears there’s a bug preventing them from working! We’ll get that fixed.

There’s some user information available on /u (https://meta.discourse.org/u), but we don’t show the latest registered user in that view, that’s true.

There’s a lot of functionality that can be added with #plugins, for example: Who's Online Plugin (discourse-whos-online) and Cakeday! Celebrating birthdays and anniversaries

Do you mean a profile with custom HTML/CSS styling? We don’t have that feature… but you can add some custom text with some formatting at https://meta.discourse.org/my/preferences/profile


Im wondering whether you are a moderator or an admin :thinking:, some of the need you mentioned can be found on /admin If you ever take a look

Thank you for responding so politely to my frazzled message.

As I have been wandering around Discourse for a while now, everything you have said I was already aware of. I will delve further into the theme designer. I wish things were easier to find. I really feel like I have no control and that is frustrating. I worry that I wont get what I want with Discourse. Its frustrating when the answer is 'We don’t have that feature"
When you said customizable when advertising the product, I assumed I would have full control.

1 Like

I am an admin, I have spent hours on the admin panel, there are SOME features available, but very limited, SUPER limited and not at all interesting. It seems like most customization is just painting the current format, I dont seem to have any control over changing the format.
------ Subcategory>

Is not an offered format. And that confuses me a lot. I can have a category with topics or featured topics, or I can have box. But the above format is not applicable.

I am not sure I am understanding the issue you are having. This forum does have some customization but there is nothing you can do to change the limit on either cat > topic or cat > subcat > topic. So if you are looking for more boxes upon boxes to categorize topics yeah this doesn’t have that.

It does have tagging and you can use that to a great degree to sub-compartmentalize topic genres further.

No, check out an older version of my forum.
Once you click on the category, it takes you to a page of subcategories (if it has them), then once you click on a sub category, it takes you to a page of topics. This is the format I am used to.
Or as I think is seen here, It has one category, then a list of sub categories, that takes you to the topics… because I closed the site… so kinda not a good example

Also, is there a way to move a post reply that was posted in the wrong place? I am looking at the moderator tools and it wont let me move the post… It doesnt belong there, but I dont want to delete it…

I think you just need to experiment a bit more with the top level category options. Specifically you want to adjust this setting:

And yes you can move topics to a new home by either changing the category here:

You can also merge topics or break out posts to a new topic or merge them with another post. For that you need to use the ‘select posts’ tool and then that option will become available.



Thank you for the pictures that is very helpful.
It gives a dropdown menu of the subcategories, but it does not show them. My beta members are having trouble finding it. I was hoping there was a way to do it without the dropdown. Once you click a category, cant it be organized as if the subcategories are now the ‘categories’ as we see them on the main index?

Yeah I can understand those concerns, Discourse is intentionally different than some older forum software and we’ve got a lot of settings to dig though… so those forces combined can make it a little harder to get things how you’d like them.

Some of the things you want may not be included by default, but we have a lot of #theme and #plugin that can fill in gaps. Between plugins and themes you can customize any part of Discourse (literally!), but there’s a wide spectrum of complexity and if there’s not an existing theme or plugin you’ll need some HTML/CSS/JS/Rails development.

Hopefully we can continue to things easier to find and customize, and if you’re having trouble this community has lots of helpful people!


Thank you. I have been struggling through the meta and am having a hard time understanding a lot of the jargon. I would love to see a clear concise list of plugins for what I am looking for. Rather than scanning through a bunch of plugins of which I dont even understand the titles. Am I missing a feature somewhere?

You can use the dropdown or you can have a page that looks like this…

Or you can have them listed in vertical rows with latest topics off to the side for each sub cat.

(and sorry I pointed to the wrong field in that image above… been a while since I messed with these)

That looks like this:

I will say that getting the most out of Discourse is going to require a decent amount of time to learn it well. I would also say that compared to your current forum system I think you will see a good improvement in user response as your layout now takes a while to get to the actual posts, etc. and honestly considering the topic count of your forum you should be getting those out on the homepage, not 3 clicks in.


I never had a problem with it just follow the guide.