Closed Categories

I noted a friend on here belongs to a closed group for writers. Looking at my category list I cannot see that option available, presumably as I’ve not requested to join the group. Neither do I wish to.

But it did make me wonder what other groups are out there that I could have an interest in… but simply were unaware of.

Is there a source? Shouldn’t all categories appear in the list? You could use a locked lock to note that these are opt-in groups. An open lock to show you are a member.

The @Wordsmithsx group is freely joinable. Click the button (top-right), then “Groups” to see the group and join it.

I can see how other closed or opt-in groups may give a sense of cliqueyness or secrecy - this really wasn’t our intention, and we’re always keen to keep the site as open-access as possible.

Opt-in categories are a trade-off, with the advantages being:

  • Avoiding overwhelming new members with too many categories.
  • Making it easier to choose a category for new topics on smartphone-sized screens (there’s already a lot of fiddly scrolling with just the handful of public categories on display)
  • Providing dedicated areas for niche / non-local conversations means that we can emphasise the local community focus on the public-facing site. This is important to “set the tone” of the website - but we also don’t want to rule out more general or niche conversation, so we provide opt-in categories for those.

Below is the exhaustive list of groups (apologies for the scrappy screenshots).

  • Many of them are automated (the trust-level-X groups are managed by the site itself based on metrics gathered on user behaviour).
  • The business-oriented groups were intended to allow @mentions to notify the right people (who may own the business but prefer to have a personal profile on, but we haven’t seen much use of these so far. They’re not on the public Groups list because I didn’t want to clutter it with groups that most members would be unable to join.
  • The verification groups are just a means to an end really, so we didn’t include them on the public Groups list

The forum software has advanced a lot with its support for Groups but there’s still some way to go before they’re as sophisticated as Facebook’s Groups feature. For this reason we’ve been tentative with deploying them on

The team is open to suggestions as always - we really appreciate your feedback.

A good point @starman - as a new mod here I am still feeling my way round but if you click on the three lines - top right of screen next to your pic - then select groups - you can see what groups there are…

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The writers group isn’t actually a group as such. In the early days of the forum, Chris added a classification of ‘wordsmiths’ to people with writing skills whom he hoped might contribute to finessing the site. Which some of us do. We’ve never convened as a group.

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Ah… I was perhaps confusing groups with categories. And that answers my questions on what groups there are. Mucho thankso.

Like I said I have no interest in Wordsmiths. Nor did I think there was cliqueyness or secrecy per se. Just wasn’t aware of how I could see what special interest groups could be available. @Foresthillnick answered this nicely.