Pick different icons for 'closed topic' and 'secure category'

Continuing the discussion from a topic in the Lounge:

Pulling this out to a public topic for follow-up.


Definitely please take this into account. I have already had to do this with a theme component so I cannot confuse them.

fa-user-lock is a good icon you could use?
Example below:


I agree on that. One of my clients made me hide the padlock icon on “private” categories because it was confusing.


On an instance with mostly private categories, it can also be an eyesore. I removed all the padlocks from the private categories and instead placed an ‘eye’ icon in front of the few public categories we have.


What would these symbols be? As I recall, I don’t think there are any clearly better alternatives from the last time this bike shed was painted @stephen


I’ve used the eye symbol in the past, and experimented with the open lock, but there’s nothing wrong with just removing the icon all together. It’s down to the community owners to emphasize the purpose and audience for each category, a padlock icon doesn’t achieve that really, it just indicates that the everyone group isn’t present on the category.

Many systems with ACLs don’t indicate the ACL visually on the object. File sharing services will indicate that an object is shared, but not the level of permissions associated. If I have access to a folder over a network share then I can see it, if I don’t have browse rights it just doesn’t appear. Even Exchange relies/relied on visibility to indicate whether the user has access.

Is the concern that a user won’t realise the category has a limited number of watchers? In that sense I would be more worried about indicating which categories have a broader or public audience than less.

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Category Icons component uses fa-key and it even offers to replace padlock with key for private categories (and retains padlock for closed ones), but it’s not consistent as of yet.


fa-user-lock for private categories
fa-lock for closed topics

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This is one thing I customized at my Discourse instance in my previous job.

A closed topic is closed for everyone, and no-one has access to it, so the icon keeps being :lock:, aka Font Awesome

A secure category is closed for other people, but open for you, so the icon was :unlock:, aka Font Awesome


If we can decide on the bikeshed color in a way that doesn’t go on forever, I’m fine with the change :wink:


I do like the idea of fa-user-lock for this.


Can we just confirm the intent of the symbol?

It is just ‘lacks the everyone permission’? That seems to be the only time where it appears. Even categories secured to TL0 show a padlock.


Correct. It indicates that not everyone may be able to see it.

It still appears on login required forums (where the everyone permission is irrelevant) even if TL0 can see.

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Ok and if we’re using categories how regularly is that a factor?

Is it there still because that’s how it’s always been? Does it influence posting?

I’m just being clear it isn’t impacted by other site settings. As in on a login required forum, even if “all users” can see a topic, based on TL0 permissions, the padlock still appears due to the lack of the specific everyone permission.

Why? What is the difference between a padlock and a padlock with a user next to it? I don’t think this will aid comprehension at all…


The only point of doing this is making it so people don’t mistake a topic in a secure category as being a closed topic. The icons are right next to each other! I’ve had far too many double takes slowing me down while reading Meta recently.

Anything that changes the silhouette / visual weight / “visual hash”, if you will, of the icon is acceptable to me (so :unlock: is not OK, still very close to a lock).

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If we are painting bikesheds here… I would like an opinion from @Johani and @awesomerobot

Also … my 2 cents, no eye being slashed by a knife please … that is not on the table.


Awww no Luis Buñuel fans in the house?! :eye:


Is it because it looks like the current lock icon :lock:, or because it looks like a padlock? On Font Awesome, the closed and open padlocks are a bit more distinctive from each other: