Reducing category choice anxiety

A user on our forum recently replied to a post I made a while back:

Also, unlike in Slack, it’s no big deal if you pick the “wrong” category. We can just move the topic later if somewhere else seems like a better fit

Mmm, I love this, and I had no idea that “Uncategorized” was a legit place to start. I assumed that finding a suitable category was required, and that I had to get over that barrier to entry.

They’ve been around for a while and only just realized this, so I’m looking for ways to integrate that “education” into the flow of the UI, rather than just relying on word to travel.

Here are some things I’m considering doing:

  1. :white_check_mark: Update the “Uncategorized” description
    I know I’ve done this before, but I can’t for the life of me figure out where it lives now…
    OK, found it at /admin/customize/site_texts/category.uncategorized_description and updated it to:

    Topics that don’t need a category, or don’t fit into any other existing category. If you’re not sure which category to choose, that’s OK, we can move it later!

  2. Have “Uncategorized” show up in the category list, even when already selected.
    Currently, when “uncategorized” is selected in the dropdown, when you open the dropdown, it doesn’t show up as an option to choose. This means the category description above is not visible unless a different category is chosen first, so using that description to reinforce the message that it’s OK to choose uncategorized is less effective. I’m guessing this would need to change in core or via a theme component, but haven’t been hacking on Discourse for a while…
  3. Moving the category and tags inputs below the body input in the composer
    Just encourage folks to start typing out their thoughts, and then to choose the best category and tags to describe afterwards, if possible. Is that something others have done before? Any tips on how to do that?

Anyone else out there feel like (2) or (3) would be valuable changes to make? If you’ve do, or if you’ve done so and can point to a theme component or tip on what customizations to make, I’d appreciate it. Thanks!


Here’s what I usually do on a new Discourse instance:

  1. Rename Uncategorized to something more friendly: Agora, Participation…
  2. Change the category description (that’s done via the Admin > Customize > Text Content, looking up the string category.uncategorized_description: I change it to “Short lived topics to get the conversation started.”
  3. Uncheck suppress uncategorized badge so that Uncategorized topics now appear like other topics.

I agree that something should be done to encourage participation and remove the need to choose a category. Usually, one starts a topic in a category, so that’s already the case that the new topic is chosen with that category. When it’s not the case, I find Agora or Participation much more friendly and less anxiogenic than Uncategorized (which invites you to categorize it).


The idea is that blank (no category) is a valid selection. I believe we had it that way in the early days of Discourse and others felt we should make it literal…

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I think that a default category would be a good idea. There are many reports where someone has renamed uncategorized and then wonders why the cannot find the category settings for it.

And once it’s renamed, it’s really hard to know that it’s not really a category.

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Default category already exists as a feature

Where? I don’t see it in SiteSettings. (Just default watching categories)

Oh my bad, I thought we did that at some point. I guess we didn’t.


That’s how good an idea it is! :wink:


Just to add, because of ACLs we almost need a default category and a default category override based on primary group.

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