Guide to Groups

Hi there,

Is there a guide for learning the ins and outs of Discourse “Groups”

  1. The setup process went smoothly enough, but now that I’m trying to actually use the Group I’ve created, I can’t figure out how to simply post to the group.

  2. The awesome little avatar flair image shows up in the preview in the Group’s settings, but not for any of the group members I’ve added. I’ve added 2 admins and 2 regular users.

If there’s a “Guide to Using Groups in Discourse” I’d love to read through it.


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Groups in Discourse are just a collection of users.

They allow you to:

  • Restrict a category usage. Eg: only this group can see, only that group can post, etc.

  • Give group members, flairs, titles, trust_levels, etc.

  • Direct incoming emails at a specific address as Discourse PMs for this Group.

  • Have a feed of that group posts across a site, eg: Discourse Meta

If you want to

You may be looking to create a new category and restrict all access of this new category for this group.


Wow, @Falco, that was so enlightening. Thanks!

I misunderstood “Groups” as some sort of private category with select membership and visibility.

How do I locate the specific email address for a group, per:


Also, any thoughts @Falco on why the Flair isn’t showing up for the group members I’ve added to my first group?

If a user is in more than one group, which Flair will be used for that user? Is there some override/priority system?

As far as I can tell, you can never guess. The only way to get things to work in terms of group flair is to manually set the Primary Group of every individual manually. And even then, you might need to set the user’s primary group to every other group before you set it to the one you want.


Bullseye @jtbayly. Once I manually set each group member’s Primary Group to the desired group, the flair appeared.

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.


These two seem like things we could improve. Any thoughts @sam?


Hey @ChrisBeach, can you send a link to one or more of your forums about which you said:


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Can you do a feature request topic for this with proposed UX change, even a simple hand drawn thing is fine.

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Wow, this is really awesome. Nicely done!

Done: Feature proposal: Groups page shows topics in group-secured category


Another user looking to move discussion off my Discourse instance and on to Facebook today: :disappointed:

I’m convinced there’s a genuine use case for user-created Groups on Discourse.

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Maybe this is a question of control? Have you tried approaching this user and saying I am happy to give you group ownership?

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I doubt it, because it appears that he’s running into a regular occurrence of people wanting to start a group discussion on the fly with a random assortment of people discovered on the fly. If I’m right, you’d have to give them not just their own group to manage, but the ability to create groups.

What is stopping them just create a PM to a big bunch of users? I would say if you need a group the moderator should be involved, but anyone the moderator sees fit can manage it.

I have done that several times in the past. It worked for our “Book Club” group, with the owner aware that mentioning the group would send notifications to all members. However, in other instances where I’ve set up groups for people, I think they’ve got confused about the group/category/activity/messages dynamic, and they haven’t really used the groups.


The nice thing about Facebook Groups is that they aren’t quite as “intense” as a group chat, and they can be joined freely by anyone at any time.

A group PM, on the other hand, is more of a “clique” activity and there are assumptions of privacy (people may feel uncomfortable joining latterly, or uncomfortable with strangers joining freely).


Any chance you can ask them for specific feedback here? It is possible that all we need to do is move a few buttons and TADA it becomes intuitive. I don’t know.

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