Hierarchical Categories?

We have a use case that if implemented today would require the use of many sub-categories. That sounds a bit kludgey to me so I’m wondering where I can get more info on the planned feature: hierarchical categories - and when it will be implemented?


Can you explain what you mean by “hierarchical categories” with an actual example?

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We don’t have any plans to implement categories beyond parent and child, that is, 1 level of subcategories.

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I had started writing a post yesterday and the popup recognized some keywords and referenced another post somewhere about hierarchical categories being on the roadmap. I assume that meant that there will be an ability to create a categorical tree structure. Here’s an example of what we could use:

A category called Platform Plugins
Off this category are multiple sets of subcategories:
(Subcat) MySQL Plugin Feedback (Ratings)
Topic 1 xxx
Topic 2 yyy
(Subcat) MYSQL Plugin Questions
Topic 1 abc

(Subcat) SQLServer Plugin Feedback (Ratings)
Topic 1 efg
Topic 2 hij
(Subcat) SQLServer Plugin Questions

And so on…
This is a structure we have in place today and it would obviously be convenient to map it to Discourse.

I’m guessing I can do this today, but I didn’t know what limits there are on sub-categories. In our case, we’d have up over 100.


As written, this should be doable… You can have as many subcategories as you want under a given category (I’m not aware of any limits).

What you can’t do is have a subcategory of a subcategory. The hierarchy is only 2 levels deep.

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As for the rationale:


Dr Spock’s Baby Care is a best-selling owner’s manual for the most complicated ‘product’ imaginable – and it only has two levels of headings. You people have 8 levels of hierarchy and I haven’t even stopped counting yet. No wonder you think it’s complicated.


Love your great project and so wish to move on from archaic phpBB but not sure I can yet.

When you @codinghorror write: We don’t have any plans to implement categories beyond parent and child, that is, 1 level of subcategories"? Does this mean I can or cannot do what I need for my private communities with forums where we need :

  • 1 Public common help Forum for all users of all groups (L1?)
    ++ with topics (L2?)
    +++ and messages (L3?)

  • +1 Private Forum (L1?) for each and every group and only visible to the members of each group,
    ++ each with 4 sub-forums (L2?), each only visible to the members of 4 sub-groups in that group,
    +++ each with topics (L3?)
    ++++ and messages (L4?).
    Knowing that a member of one group can be a member of another group.
    And that a member of one sub-group can be a member of many sub-groups in its group, or just one.

I know it seems a little complicated but I promise that the use is basic. It just helps totally different small hierarchical communities to have their own private board system, where someone can sometimes be in several of them. And experience showed it is much easier to manage than multiple installs and replications of a dedicated forum engine for each group.

If your amazingly promising code can’t seem to do that now or in the future and you have anything to recommend… Thanks a lot for your lights.

Sounds like you only need 6 categories, no?

  • Public A
  • Private B
  • Private C
  • Private D
  • Private E
  • Meta category

Not even any subcategories.


It doesn’t appear this was ever answered. The six categories answer would not deliver the functionality you’re after. Was there ever any resolution?

Not sure what question wasn’t answered.

As regards the wish for more than two category levels in general, this has been discussed in a number of topics on this forum and from what I’ve seen, there was always a way to do what people wanted to do without introducing additional levels of hierarchy, e.g. by using tags.

The simplest solution, however, is to reduce the number of categories when planning a new forum, regardless of how hierarchy levels. There is a great tendency among site admins (me included) to sort imagined future discussions into neat categories, perhaps even believing that the existence of these categories will encourage users to create content in these categories. But I believe the opposite is the case. A long list of categories scares people away.

Anyway, all this has been discussed before…



And in general, I’d agree. The issue I have is that my discussions are supporting a necessarily rigidly structured educational program: course one lessons one, two, three – with separate and necessarily distinct conversations per lesson. And then a completely separate course with its own lessons. They really can’t be co-mingled.

If that’s been discussed, I’d like to understand the answer. My searches didn’t turn anything up.

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Given my understanding of your proposed IA I’m not sure that nested sub-categories would actually solve your dilemma.

In short though, we have no plans to add additional levels of nested categories because of the resource overhead that would be involved. Tags are a more scalable approach.