How to segregate a noisy class of users?

In my forum (, we want to encourage many kinds of discussion. But the bulk of the posts are one particular category, people looking for help installing the software (Ops Help - Open edX). Based on past experience, these people are not going to join in other discussions, and often the questions are poorly worded or incomplete.

I’m afraid that someone coming to the site for a more in-depth topic will decide that it’s nothing but installation questions, and decide not to join in.

What tools are available to me to segregate the installation questions from the rest of the site? I found Sub-forums under a master?, but that basically amounted to, “use categories.” I already have the categories, but want people to not be distracted by the noisy one.

I know this is kind of open-ended, I’m looking for a broad array of options.


I agree that categories are the best way to handle segmenting content. Have you explored looking at by default muting the category for install questions?

The other option is to tag these topics with a tag that’s default set to “muted” for all users.

Muting generally removes these topics from the Latest view, so it reduces visual noise for more engaged users. They still can see these topics if they intentionally go into the category, however.


Muting is one of the options. I guess that means that the people who might help with installation problems would have to explicitly opt-in to see them?

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Yes they would have to opt-in if you take that approach – or alternatively provide instructions to users who find the installation stuff noisy on how to mute it themselves either by tag or category.

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Is it possible there’s a way I can give people a link that would set the mute setting for them? Just, “Click here to mute the DevOps category” with no other interactions needed?

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This seems related to a discussion we had earlier today about which approach is better with regards to the homepage.

  • I see a bunch of stuff and I have to click to make the stuff I don’t want to see go away
  • I see very little and I have to click to make the stuff I want to see appear

Of course the real answer is “it depends” … what percentage of the topics on the homepage would your average user care about?

@sam @eviltrout I think we should heavily prioritize the “mute a category for a bunch of people” UI in Discourse, as something staff can easily do.


Thanks, glad to hear there is some movement. If I had a way to craft links that modified particular settings for the person clicking the link, then I could write my own page that helped people self-select in or out of muted categories (or other settings like notification, etc).

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I’m having a bit of trouble visualising this. I understand how the UX could work for an “opt-in” discourse, where the homepage is blank and says something like:

To get started, watch some of the following suggested categories.

[ list of popular categories here… ]

But in the case of muting a category for a bunch of people, were you thinking something like the staff edits the category and says [x] mute this category by default?

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Yes, that to start, is exactly what I was thinking, though the copy should probably read

[x] mute this category by default for all users

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For the very specific use case where a particular Discourse instance covers too much, and the average user will just want to see a subset of the total, we could add a “discovery” feature to be triggered for new users before discobot tutorial.

It would look like

Where the themes would be categories and/or tags.

This would be used by some use cases:

  • Game company with multiple games on one forum, where most of the user base would be playing just a few of them.

  • A company using Discourse for internal communication, which is large enough that a particular employee doesn’t want to see it all.

Behind the scenes it is just a fancy UI to mute categories and tags.


In addition, maybe the setup wizard could ask a question like this

Which do you prefer?

  • All categories are visible by default, until people hide them (better for most small and medium sized communities)

  • All categories are hidden by default, until people show them (better for only the largest communities)

Though perhaps this can also be solved with “different homepage” in some cases @sam @eviltrout? :thinking:


Oh yeah having this on wizard makes a lot of sense!

I would also add a new list filter for the homepage where we have latest, new, unread and top: all. (All is just latest ignoring mutes).

Only appears if the user has muted stuff.


One thing that worries me is this fights a bit with category permissions, as that is the traditional way to hide things – but it’s based on “person X isn’t allowed to see this”, not as a preference.

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Well, this is a bit different as it’s about you giving you your right to see stuff in order to focus, instead of being blocked from seeing content by the powers above.

Technically it’s doable using SSO, groups, permissions and API calls but way harder and costly to pull off properly.

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Sure, my concern is that it’s getting more confusing to determine “why can’t I see X”, we have multiple support requests from people that have muted tags and categories and couldn’t figure out why {thing} was not visible to them.

But, not new functionality either, so maybe not a big concern.


Yeah, it will help that it would not be a default (makes sense only for specific use cases), it can be triggered again in user preferences at anytime, and that if someone complains why they can’t see stuff we can tell em to see if the topic appears when they go to “all”


Rather than muting categories, is it worth considering something like the “favorites” idea again? Favorites - select your favorite categories

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I think enhancing our current mute feature is a much better choice than a wholly new set of code … then we would have mute and favorite making it even more complex.


All this isn’t totally clear to me yet, but I would have an interest about “selective muting”. The idea I have in mind would be to have a in-house user posting information in a lot of topics, but that user being muted by default and notifications only showing to people tracking the topic (if they track the topic, they are supposed to be interested by the posted information. If not, they probably don’t want to have the front page filled with topics which got a new post from that in-house user. It would probably annoy everybody, including unregistered visitors).

Would something like this be possible at this time ? Or maybe in the future ? (an “un-mute” function to be able to get notifications for a muted user for specific topics or tags ? Or a “mute all the time” vs “mute except in tracked topics” selection ?)

What isn’t clear to me is how does “conflicts” work ?
If a user mutes a category but tracks a topic inside that category, he still get notifications for that topic, right ?
If a user mutes another user, but that muted user posts in a tracked topic ? Then NO notification, right ?
If you mute a tag and track another one, and both appear on a topic ?
And so on … Are there rules about this (what has priority over what), or some documentation ?

The equivalent feature for users is called “ignore”. You must attain trust level 2 to have the ignore privilege.

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