I’ve set up a few groups on my forums with accompanying private categories. I refer to these as “opt in categories”
Having the ability to define arbitrary groups of users is a useful feature of Discourse. The join/request features added by @tgxworld work brilliantly.
To some extent my “opt in categories” operate like Facebook Groups (which is a good thing) with some notable drawbacks:
- forum members are unable to start new groups of their own
- opting in to a “group” to see an opt-in category is confusing UX (I’d prefer users could opt-in directly to categories via some redesigned UI).
- if a user tries to follow a link to an opt-in category / topic that they’re not opted in to see, they get an unhelpful error, and no means of opting in.
- the “group page” / “group activity” model has no UX linkage to the accompanying category, and is therefore counter-intuitive
These drawbacks concern me, because Facebook Groups are drawing users away from my forum. Only today, a user created a Facebook Group rather than continuing discussion on the Discourse instance. And the same thing happened a few days ago in another discussion on one of my forums.
There are many ways in which Discourse is better than Facebook. However, our support for user-run Groups lags at the moment and IMO would be a priority to improve.