Maybe just remove the "Community" header in the sidebar? (A plea!)

Oh wow, only now I realized this button exists
I don’t understand why I need to collapse the menu and your version looks more reasonable.


Really really really big +1 for that. It is close to perfect.

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I like your suggestion very much, but it would then have a different design than the new message button in the sidebar:


They both do the same exact thing at the core, so I think they should share a very similar design.

My opinion could be very different if I could see and try it for real though. Your suggestion could be very fine while keeping the current new personal message button.

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Yeah, I think I would put “New Message” there as a list item. Alternately, the + could move down to next to Inbox —this would also improve consistency, as the icon (if any) by all headings would be the pencil for “edit this section”.

(Personal chat is a little different — arguably that could have both a + for “add new chat” and a pencil to edit which chats are pinned to the sidebar.)

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At this time, I think we’re still in favor of keeping a heading so these sidebar sections are consistent in behavior and implementation. Others have been asking about customizing the links that show up by default in the Community section, so I think allowing it to be collapsed is probably still a good thing. + New Topic being a bit of an easter egg is OK with us for now as well given we nudge folks to read more than write.

All that said, I’m not attached to the name “Community” for this section if a clearly better alternative emerges.


I’ll try one last time on the “no heading” pitch, and then call it over: I don’t think this section should be presented like the others, since it is inherently different. The others are logical sections grouping basically the same thing. This is a grab bag. So, “no heading” is conceptually best. /end-attempt

OK, this part I’ll fight harder for. Although I couched it in humor, I really, very seriously believe that labeling the hard-to-group items at the top of the menu “Community” is actively harmful.

It degrades and misuses a word has already taken a lot of abuse, but which means something important to me — something that has been a big part of (I know, dramatic, but I’m serious) my life’s work. Community means people, and not just any random selection of people, but people with a common interest. This is really, really important.

I can roll my eyes when I hear “Community” to describe groups of people that are marketing segments (if anything), and not communities at all[1]. I can try to gently correct when people conflate the idea of community with “we’ve got a forum people can post on”. Or when someone in an open source project talks about “the community” as the userbase, we can have a good conversation about what subset of users comprise an actual community, and whether the developers (or corporate backers) are part of that community.

But this is worse than any of those — it’s using “Community” intentionally to have no meaning. “Other” or “Miscellaneous” seem worse because they’re up-front about “We don’t know what to call this”, while if you squint at “Community” you can dissolve it into somehow covering:

  1. All posts [2]
  2. Posts I’ve made[3]
  3. Groups (for access control? Defaults? Nothing at all? Depends on the site!)[4]
  4. The list of all users[5]
  5. Badges[6]
  6. Anniversaries and Birthdays[7]
  7. Docs[8]
  8. About[9]
  9. FAQ[10]

But yet somehow discussion categories, chat channels, tags aren’t included?

I think that suggestions like “Other” and “Misc” seem wrong because they’re too on the nose. It seems bad to put something called that at the top. “Community” slides by that reaction because you’re treating it like it doesn’t matter what it means at all. Please, don’t do that.

On top of that, you’ve now consumed this label so it can’t be used for anything else. There are three major cases I can an see here:

  • As noted, many sites call their entire forum “Community”. I believe this is a mistake[11], but it’s at least understandable: the whole forum is there for the community to interact. But now, you’ve applied the label to a weird subset.
  • For other sites, a different subset might actually appropriately be called Community. The case where there is a Developers and Community split, for example. (This is really common!) Or, one might want to have Community-related topics as a category. Or, one might have a forum about different local communities. And as I mentioned above, I can easily think of some ways of building a Discourse forum where Groups are communities. Or Tags! But now, again, the label is taken — at best, I’ve got confusing duplication.
  • The forum might be part of something larger that is Community. That link should go “up” to whatever that is.

Sure, these sites could change the text for their own use, but 1) now they’re inconsistent with the rest of the Discourse universe, and 2) that’s really just punting the problem down to everyone else.

You’ve asked for “a clearly better alternative”. I think that’s an unfair bar. Or, rather, I think anything that isn’t actively harmful crosses it. I still really believe in the first idea[12], but I said I wouldn’t argue that further. So, let me offer some alternatives which I hope are constructive:

  • Discourse
  • Menu
  • Other
  • Shortcuts[13]
  • Site
  • Functions
  • Things
  • Stuff
  • Miscellany[14]
  • Mishmash
  • Medley

… and take the thesaurus to any on of those if you must. I think they’re all “clearly better”.

If you’re set on some header label for this design but no word seems to work, that might suggest a third possibility — there is a fundamental conceptual problem, and the design and needs a bigger re-think.

But whatever you choose: please, please, not the way it is.

  1. “We’ll have to see how the glasses-wearing community reacts to this news!” ↩︎

  2. “Everything” makes some sense if you’re in the forum = community camp. Please don’t hard-code that. For communities like Fedora, “Community Everything” should be a lot more than just Discourse posts. I might expect that to go to a project org chart or something. ↩︎

  3. Am I a community of myself? ↩︎

  4. Maybe relevant — but maybe in some situations Groups should be “Communities” ↩︎

  5. Okay. It’s people! Another one which could itself be “Community” — and an aside: on my site, I’ve already changed this to “People”. That’s because while “Users” makes total sense from a Discourse developer point of view — all of the accounts on the sites represent Discourse users — but for any site about a product, “Users” should be users of the product, and that might not be all Discourse accounts at all! ↩︎

  6. I can’t think of a reason for this to be community ↩︎

  7. okay, sure — people have these ↩︎

  8. Terribly wrong ↩︎

  9. only right in the “forum = community” conception ↩︎

  10. same as About, but weirder ↩︎

  11. not wrong because it’s pedantic — wrong because this misses out on potential ↩︎

  12. that this section conceptually should not have a header ↩︎

  13. as noted, works best if they’re editable ↩︎

  14. or Miscellaneous or Misc ↩︎


I agree with everything you said, and especially this! We really should rework that section.


I vote for these…

…or Tools.

I feel that we are ultimately not going to need much of this discussion.

We are just about to announce custom sidebar sections! What if long term all sections are custom sections? … you get to pick titles and which links you have in each bucket.

Want to mix up 3 tags, 2 categories and your bookmarks in one section… go for it…

I do though strongly support @awesomerobot here. I don’t want to introduce any new “entities” into the sidebar. The consistency of collapsible sections is a huge benefit here. Introducing a new entity "non collapsible section with no title, makes me uneasy.


Okay. I hope that’s also taken as an opportunity to change the default, because making it changeable but leaving “Community” doesn’t really address my concern.


I think “Shortcuts” is the closest alternative that would make sense, unless we start splitting things off into new sections. I agree that it works best if it’s editable as well. Maybe that’s the path we take with this… once it becomes editable we switch the default to “Shortcuts” and let people put whatever they want in there.


To all of this, I want to add: Discourse is amazing community software, and I’m happy and privileged to be part of the community around it — and the discussion community here. :slight_smile: Thanks for listening, everyone.


I think we may eventually consider other things like splitting this section up into more cohesive conceptual buckets as well (site wide stuff vs. my stuff seems potentially promising).

Adding more sections has a cost right now though.

One thing we’ve been fighting for a while without a great answer yet is how chat stuff gets buried at the bottom of the sidebar. This becomes especially apparent when you’re in full screen mode and are really “in chat” but have a tall stack of non-chat links you have to scroll past frequently to see what you care about. We tried things like a more isolated chat mode, and auto scrolling to those sections of the sidebar, but neither felt like the right answer (at least for now).

There’s a lot of territory still for us to explore here together. We may even circle back to ideas we’ve tried before when the time seems right.

I am looking forward to the section being customizable because I’m hopeful it’ll help us learn more quickly what is working well for people when they have more room to experiment independently.

We will continue experimenting too and sharing what we learn!


This is definitely a whole `nuther topic, but… yeah, that seems like a natural consequence of having two primary modes of interaction in one interface. When you have something clearly primary and an adjunct mode, like a typical forum + direct messages, it’s fine because the second can be kind of out of the way. But with two that could either be The Main Attraction for a site, it’s hard because they naturally fight. Maybe better to clearly switch the whole site between forum mode and chat mode interfaces.


Discourse team, any more consideration on this? As the new menu has become the default, I’m noticing the terminology becoming entrenched.

This is harm that could have been avoided. :frowning:


The summary is: The original poster does not like using the word “Community” as a catch-all label for the top-level menu in Discourse. They feel it degrades the meaning of the word and is conceptually wrong. They propose alternate labels like “Shortcuts”, “Menu”, “Other”, or removing the header altogether. They argue that “Community” does not accurately describe the varied items in that menu section. Responders agree and suggest making that section editable so communities can choose their own label

I am not sure AI fully captured it… but I think this has evolved from :

  • Choose a different word


  • Remove header
  • No collapse
  • Add a big full width button in sidebar for “new topic”

We ran this by @awesomerobot and @mcwumbly and simply do not have consensus that we want to make this change, we like consistency and this is calling for inconsistency. In the mean time you are allowed to edit this:

Perhaps a middle ground here is:

  1. Allow section title to be blank (when blank it just does not render title.

  1. Fix magic new-topic so it no longer navigates away and works more consistently:

:arrow_double_up: already “kind of” works, make it fully work. (stop navigating away, handle conflicts more cleanly)

With these 2 in place at least you would be able to achieve your desire without forcing a brand new default on everyone …


Well, that was my original suggestion but I had given up on that.

I am able to change things on my own site, but seeing it everywhere, including here, continues to really trouble me. “Community” is not a disposable word for “things we don’t know how to categorize”.

As for consistency, I’m tempted to appeal to Ralph Waldo Emerson, but, perhaps more constructively — I do not think that the current situation is consistent at all.

This hard-to-name group is hard to name because it is not like the others. Treating it in the same way gives the appearance of consistency while actually being inconsistent.

That’s the reason for my original suggestion: I think it’s strictly better from a conceptual perspective. And it happens to neatly solve the naming problem.

There is much internal discussion about this, I hear you Matt but reaching consensus on what to do here is not easy.

We will chase this up over the next week or so. There are also a lot of consistency questions that make changes here more complicated.

  • You add a “new topic” button - why no “new DM” or “new PM” buttons as well?
  • Position of these things and prominence
  • Lack of collapse
  • Community topics, community review, community admin, community users, community badges… only real odd person out is “My Drafts” to be honest.

To me the really confusing wording is ‘open draft’. My reaction to it is always “But I don’t have a draft in progress!” (Draft implies something I started writing but didn’t finish.)

Followup: Well, apparently I DID have a draft in progress, but nothing in it.

However, on this forum there is some cognitive dissonance between the Community category and the community label on the left-hand sidebar.