[Product] Creating Categories In Your Vanilla Forums

4 minute read

November 7, 2013

[Product] Creating Categories In Your Vanilla Forums

How to Create Categories

Think of categories like chat rooms where users hang out. With Vanilla Forums you can create unlimited categories, sub-categories and sub-sub categories. To create a category, you will find “Categories” under the “Forum menu” in the Dashboard.


The will bring up the following page, where you can add categories as you choose:


The next screen (seen below) is where the magic happens.


Start by choosing a name for your new category. By default, the category url will also be based on the category’s name, but you can customize that by clicking the edit button next to the url. The description you add may or may not be seen depending on your theme. You can also add a special CSS class, which you can use in your theme to control it’s appearance. Additional options are available to customize how the category is displayed, for example the ability to hide the category from recent discussions or allow file uploads (if the plugin is enabled).

Once you save the category you can also go back and add a photo for the category as well.


But before you save your category, though, we need to talk about…

Permissions in Categories

Each category can be configured with custom permissions. By default, categories inherit their permissions from the “Default Category Permissions”, which are configurable in Roles & Permissions. To add custom permissions to a category, you should check the “This category has custom permissions” box in the category options. This will reveal a full permissions table that offers fine grained control over what each membership role can do in the new category.

How to Organize Categories

Newly created categories will be at the top of the list. Organizing your categories is as simple as dragging and dropping them into the order you prefer.


You can can also “nest” categories to make “sub categories”. In example below “Social Groups” has become a sub-category of “Welcome”.


Category Page Layout

The final thing you should know about categories is the “Category Page Layout”. Available options are as follows:


In almost all cases the default settings can be left as is, but in case you need them, here are what these options do:

  • Configure Nested Categories. Nested categories are also known as sub-categories.  With the drop down you can determine how they behave depending on how many level deep your sub-categories. In some forums, that have lots of sub categories, you can display them as a list underneath the root category. As you see below the child categories show as as a comma-delimited list.


  • Display Root Categories as Headings: This option works best with “more than two levels deep”, and makes the category a heading.


  • Do Not Display the Categories In Sidepanel: This will hide the categories from the side panel. This can be sometimes useful, if you don’t have many categories.

Now you are ready to go create some categories. Remember, while you have amazing flexibility with Vanilla Forums, we recommend you do not create more than 10 root categories. Having too many categories, can leave some of them with little or no conversation. It’s best to start with a few small broad categories and build out the rest organically as needed by the community.

Got a tip or an idea about categories? Share it in the comments.


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Adrian Speyer

Written by Adrian Speyer

Adrian Speyer is the Head of Community and Lead Evangelist for Vanilla by Higher Logic. Besides spending many years in digital marketing, Adrian has been building communities of all sizes for over 20 years.

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