How to segregate a noisy class of users?

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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That seems like a great solution! And “all” didn’t need to show up until you have muted categories or tags.


This is a critically important for my community right now. We have a… very large number of subcategories for a particular category. (Hundreds.) They’re all local communities, so individual categories are irrelevant for the vast majority of users but are of vital importance to those who need them. They’re the cornerstone of our community in many ways. It’s an interesting structure. On our previous software they were “opt in” so they were never displayed unless you specifically subscribed to them. With Discourse, we have to force an opt-out on them and then they have to go hunting for their particular subcategory to unmute it.

I have them all auto-muted by default but that doesn’t do a damn bit of good for people who joined before I did so. (And yes, I entered them one at a time.)

As a side note, it’s also causing some traffic stress on the entire installation itself. We don’t have a better solution for it right now. Discourse wasn’t designed for the number of muted categories we need right now. I’m not sure if the slowness we’re seeing is caused by that entirely, the sudden influx of new users, or a combination of the two. That’s a different issue.

Anyway, all of that to say yes, PLEASE I need to be able to mute categories for a bunch of people.


Why make them all public, then? Why not have group permissions on them from the get-go then add people to the relevant groups?

Also is this being done speculatively? That is, create a thousand subcategories assuming they will all eventually be active… even when the reality is that only a handful will ever have meaningful participation levels?


That’s a definite possibility for the future. Would it handle that many groups better than the the way we have it set up? I know we broke the About page when we added the managers of these groups to them as moderators. I can discuss this with fellow staff to see if that might be a more viable solution.

Nope. Most of these regions are years old and have substantial participation rates. We create them as locals volunteer to manage them. While no doubt some have fallen more inactive over the last decade or so, the vast majority are quite active. Memberships for regional subcategories can range anywhere from a dozen or so people to thousands. We have areas for these on the main half of the site but we don’t have the forum side linked yet.

It’s a weirdly structured thing. :slight_smile:


I’m not sure that was an answer to my post, but I guess so. If I understood correctly, “ignore” is to not show the posts of the ignored user, even if you read a topic where he posted, whereas “mute” is only to not show notifications and not have the topic appear on the front page when there is a new post from that user (but still be able to read posts when you read the topic). Or did I get that wrong ? If not, my interest is indeed about muting, not ignoring.

@Heather_Dudley Your situation is similar to what I want to do (previous post) on some level. But your problem is about subcategories, mine is about posts from a specific user. Your solution is pretty interesting. I could use that by creating a different user for each topic, then I would be able to do like you, but with the slowing down things you’re mentioning I guess.

In your case, if you mute the whole category, and people start tracking a subcategory in it, wouldn’t that work ? (that was the “priority” thing I was asking about when muting and tracking at the same time)

The solution CodingHorror is proposing seems to have one flaw for you: This would be good for actual users, but wouldn’t it prevent people not part of the group from viewing the topic (visitors, and especially potential new users wanting to join such a group) ? I mean, it’s usually because you had the chance to read that you then want to join …

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You could ask some of the sites that use groups instead of muting categories, as discussed here:


There may be an easy solution you may want to look into (what I am also going to do for me): Hide what you want to with a theme (using CSS). This would remove everything you don’t want from the front page but wouldn’t affect the “unread” page of all users who track one or some of the categories.

If what I mentioned earlier doesn’t work (I would be interested to know btw):

One guy did some interesting stuff on that front, probably worth some digging (his problem isn’t with subcategories or a user like you or me, but with groups. In the end it’s also quite the same base problem):