Help with setting up private categories

I just launched my first Discourse forum at and I would love to have a category that is publicly available to read for our blog. My friend @craigconstantine was trying to help me. He has a category where people who are NOT logged into his Discourse can view his podcast episodes but can’t comment or create without being logged in. See below.

I tried to follow his instructions about making a category where “everyone” can see but people still get a login window when they go to or I even tried testing whether the individual topics are what can be seen, and that didn’t work either.

Is it something I have set at a higher level that I need to revise that is controlling this lower level category setting?

Hope I am making sense.


Your site is set to login required. It’s not possible to blend public and private content with this turned on.

You will need to open your site publicly to share any categories or topics. You will need to secure all categories you don’t wish to be seen publicly by using groups.


@Stephen Thanks for this explanation. So when I uncheck the login required box everything would be visable that says EVERYONE CAN SEE?


So I would want to update my internal categories to be available to a group possibly called MEMBERS and then this should work perfectly? Am I opening myself up more than I might want? Can you envision any other risks with doing this?

Doesn’t making this change also make it so that my members’ profiles would be publicly visable? I think I read that somewhere and I don’t think I am OK with that.

@craigconstantine @jeffstreet

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You can disable the user directory, the setting is called enable user directory. If you want to make all profiles private this could be done via the rails console, but would also affect users interacting via the private categories.


¿ does enable/disable the user directory affect each user’s profile too. (I’m talking about the /u/<usersname> URLs.) ?

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That’s the other step I referred to, making user profiles private.


@craigconstantine and @Stephen it sounds like you both understand this better than me. I am still interested in this option but I would want people inside the community to benefit from getting to know each other via their profiles and this option sounds like it wouldn’t do that.

I would like to have a deeper conversation with @craigconstantine around the value of using Discourse as your blog/podcast episodes and wonder if @jeffstreet would want to participate too. I’m thinking if it is worth it, maybe I create a 2nd Discourse instance under so that anyone in the community who wants to contribute to the PUBLIC writing etc can do so there. That is more costly but if it makes sense as compared to doing it through Wordpress or something, I would be up for it. That would keep PRIVATE and we could collaborate in there to develop posts and then just copy and paste them over when they are ready.


Are you using any form of SSO at the moment, or are all of your user accounts purely created and maintained in Discourse?

Are you expecting a large public audience for the blog?


I didn’t know what SSO was so I am sure the answer is no. But would this be like if I added the ability to use Facebook or Google to sign-in? It would it be more like if I use something like Memberful?

I have a marketing background so I will plan to cultivate a large public audience for the blog because each piece of free content is also a marketing piece for the private paid community. I think there were good reasons for @craigconstantine to use Discourse for his blog instead of his Wordpress front end website so I was trying to follow the lead of a person I consider more knowledgeable in all this than me.

I guess it all depends.

If you already have a Wordpress site, and a large audience consuming that content, then the optimal approach is nearly always to blog on WordPress and use wp-discourse to integrate the two.

The costs difference of serving content to users on WordPress versus Discourse is significant. WordPress excels at serving pages to a large audience with minimal resources. Discourse on the other hand excels at serving a tailored interface to authenticated users.

I asked about SSO, because if your user base is self contained you could also just use a second discourse instance for public engagement, and have your primary discourse instance be authoritative for SSO. It’s a marginally more complicated configuration, but means one account between sites.

There are honestly lots of ways you could slice this up. It would help to have a proper picture of the short and long term goals to make recommendations that aren’t going to trip you up in the coming weeks and months.

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@Stephen I’m really grateful for this continued conversation.

I’m starting this new project from scratch after spending 5 years away from business to work in a high school while studying creativity and self-directed education in graduate school.

I’m actually focusing my efforts on building the private discourse community now and I’m only using a Godaddy website builder for the front end right now but will switch to Wordpress eventually.

I envision some of the language for the blog posts to originate in response to the prompts I’m asking in the private community. And that community will be used to commenting and engaging in Discourse so I think that’s another reason why it feels more interesting to create it there.

For anyone lurking along…

I’m not using Discourse in place of my blog. I have a large podcast and I’m using Discourse to create public landing pages which contain the show notes for each episode (eg, the latest is ). My thinking is that Discourse makes it super-easy for people to engage farther if they wish. We tried other options, such as building these landing pages on our Wordpress site, but then there’s no easy way for people to engage.


Out of curiosity were you using WP-discourse at the time? It does admittedly add a click, but if you’re seeing significant read-only traffic separating the two is usually worthwhile.

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@craigconstantine thanks for the clarification.

@Stephen and @craigconstantine I’ve been thinking about this and here’s what I am thinking of at this time:

I am unwilling to open up this first community because the intention of this is to be more introspective (inward focused) with everyone doing that in community.

I will consider inviting some community members to participate in a 2nd community that is more outward focused. One of my goals in developing self-directed learners of all ages is for people to realize that they have a voice, and others can learn from them. So I seek to turn them into content creators vs content consumers as a disposition towards learning. This 2nd community would be for content creators in response to weekly prompts or collaborating on the official blog. We could then share links to the posts inside the first community to generate conversation around it as well and encourage members to share out through their channels.

I do think most engagement will come from my members so that is why I would really like to use the same software.