Quick question about categories organization on my forum

I want to let users post classified ads on my forum.
There would be two categories: buy and sell.

I would like to put these two categories, which are very related, in a parent category called classified ads. Obviously, my users should not be able to post in the classifieds classified ads category as it exists only to put buy and sell together.

The only way I see to do that it to prevent my users to post in classified ads but the thing is that they will still be able to display the content of the classified ads with “no subcategory”. The classified ads category will never contain any message so it’s weird to let my users see this page, they won’t understand why it is empty (I could add a message on this page, but that’s still weird). Plus the classified ads category will display a number of 0 message in the categories selector (as this selector displays only the number of messages from the parent category without subcategories).

Maybe buy and sell could simply have no parent category, but this is a bit weird as these two categories are completely related. Plus, I may want to add a third category (hire/service)? That would be 3 categories very related to each other and with no parent, although classified ads are not the main part of my niche sports forum.

Also I don’t want to use tags on my forum for various reasons.

So I’m not sure how to organize these categories.

What would you do?

I’m not convinced that there is a need for a parent category just to group sub-categories. You could lock the category order so they are always listed together.

Do you have a compelling reason to group them?


I think you might be over thinking this a little bit. category security is exactly how i would approach this initially without tags.

i would set the classified ads category security to everyone can see and set the buy and sell category security to everyone can create/reply/see.

regarding visibility of topics on classified ads, users would still be able to see topics in both sub-categories displayed and would also have a clear picture of how the sub-categories are related.

now to address tags:
i know you dont want to use tags, but for your use-case, its a very practical and simple solution. simply have only the classified ads category and instead of making buy and sell sub-categories, make them applicable tags. this mitigates conflicts with category security and visibility that you have outlined above, and makes it even easier to just simply add another tag (hire/service) in the future.

That’s a tough question. I feel that I have one, but I have hard times to properly put words on it (even in my native language). Maybe I’m just used to have this kind of parent category, like phpBB, eh…

Let say I have a gaming forum.
I have these categories:

video games

Don’t you feel that searching and providing are in their right place, under the jobs category?
My main categories are unrelated between each others, they have their own purpose:
news, video games, hardware, jobs.

But wouldn’t it be weird if searching and providing were both on the same level than news, video games, and hardware?

video games
searching for job
providing job

Yes, but in the all categories menu, the displayed number of posts doesn’t take account of the subcategories (which is a weird choice in my opinion, are there plans to change this in the future?), so the users would see: classified ads x 0… Which is not right.

And they’d have to click on the (apparently empty) category in order to see that there are indeed topics:


Another issue is that when a user goes to the classified ads category which lists by default all the topics from the subcategories (buy and sell), the “create a topic” button will be disabled, which is also not right.

How does the user know that he has to actually go inside a subcategory in order to create his topic?

So actually I’ve put my buy and sell categories on the top level, I think I have no alternative.

what is your reasoning for not using tags? they might be your only way to overcome the problem.


I’ve seen many forums where users misuse or don’t know how to use tags so I’d prefer not let them use it.
My users probably won’t be familiar with Discourse either since I’m moving a community from phpBB, and a new forum engine, particularly a modern one, can be confusing at first. They’ll struggle with enough things for now. :smiley:

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We’ve done a lot of work on tags recently to try and avoid misuse and confusion. You can require tags and you can limit which categories certain tags can be applied in.

I’d avoid over architecting based on assumptions around member behaviour.

I’d start simple and work on education and behaviour change. You can always add more categories later if your assumptions prove correct.