Maintain community culture without disappointing interested users - give ready only access to users pending approval

Hey all

I am trying to do right by users while maintaining the culture in the community. I have the following scenario and would appreciate insights from folks here -

  1. I have login_required enabled to access the community as I want to give access to only people with a certain level of interest and seriousness. I also plan to charge for community access later on once I have some traction.
  2. I have setting enabled - user must be approved before accessing the community.
  3. I am using SSO for login and users are automatically activated on registration in WordPress
  4. Any user who wants to access the community has to fill a request access form - (either they are registered or not registered on the parent site). This allows me to check their profile before giving them access to the community.
  5. Having said that, there are some users who have registered and have requested access to the community but have not been approved yet. These users have shown strong intent to be part of the platform but I still need to filter out some applicants to maintain the quality of the forum and build a culture.
  6. I don’t want to shut these high intent users out fully and at least enable them to read the topics in the forum. Currently, this is not possible when user approval is required.

Is there a workaround to make this happen?


Are you sure you want to gatekeep the entrance to your community? You make a barrier to enter and this will limit the growth and the member contributions. Maybe your community is already very lively, but perhaps you are also concerned about not having enough participants?

Which is to say, instead of looking at who is in, perhaps consider looking at what people say. You’ll probably need to do that anyway, even if you are very careful about who joins: people change, people have moods, people react to other people.

I think in your position I would make joining up relatively low-friction, but I would take steps to keep people at trust level 0. Search site settings for ‘promotion’ and you’ll see the criteria for promotion to level 1: for example, time spent, or number of topics read. You can make those very large, and then there will be no automatic promotions. You can then promote people manually.

While the new member is stuck at level 0, they can’t create topics or use private messages. You can use ‘approve unless trust level’ to stop them posting at all, I think: “Posts for users below this trust level must be approved.”

If you are concerned about the wrong kinds of posts, I recommend you have a proportionate number of moderaters for your membership and volume of posts.

Long story short, I think you can arrange for trust level 0 to do most of what you want.


@Ed_S Thanks for the insight. I have been underestimating the power of trust levels on Discourse.

I still want users to tell me who they are when they join so that I can serve them better. I have an education tech product that requires me to create project prompts and serve learning resources based on user backgrounds. May be I need to be very generous in approving users so that they can start using the tool right away and I use trust levels to manage access.

Super helpful post! Thank you.


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