In your Higher Logic Vanilla (Vanilla) community, Categories are the high-level organizers of your discussions, and each discussion must be placed in a Category.
- Categories are accessible in the community by clicking Categories in the main menu at the top of all community pages.
- Administrators can manage Categories (e.g., create, edit, delete) in the Dashboard (Settings > Discussions > Categories).
Managing a community's Categories involves, for example, creating them; setting their display layout and list order; assigning a type; and other management functions that are described in this article.
Access the list of Categories
All of the community's Categories are listed on the Manage Categories page; this is where you manage categories for the community. You can:
- Create categories
- Arrange the order in which categories display
- Edit and delete categories
- Add subcategories and sub-subcategories
- Enable following for categories
To access the list of categories, navigate to Settings > Discussions > Categories.
📝 NOTE: You can also access the Manage Categories page by appending /vanilla/settings/categories to the community URL.
Arrange how Categories display
You can manage the order in which your categories, subcategories, and sub-subcategories display on the main forum index.
1. Click and hold the hamburger icon of the item that you want to move.
2. Drag it to wherever in the hierarchy you want it to appear and drop it.
The re-ordering is automatically applied to the main forum index immediately.
Create/Add a Category
With Vanilla Forums you can create an unlimited number of categories, subcategories, and sub-subcategories.
To create a category in the Dashboard:
1. Click Add Category at the top of the page.
2. On the Add Category page, complete the fields to create a category.
📝 NOTE: The fields that display depend on whether any Vanilla addons are enabled in the community.
📝 NOTE: Category and Category Url are required fields.
- Category - Specify a name for your new category.
- Category Url - This automatically populates with the title of the community appended with /categories/. Click edit to customize this URL by appending to it. Note that this field requires valid URL syntax.
- Description - Provide a description (500 character limit) of your category. This displays on the homepage or under the title on the categories page, depending on your theme.
- Css Class - Add a special CSS class that you can use in your theme to control its appearance. The specified text will be added as a class for the category’s HTML wrapper. This makes it so that you can target it specifically when building a theme.
- Icon - Click Browse select an image for category lists and widgets.
- Banner Image - Click Browse select an image for the category's banner and category widgets.
- Display As - Click the dropdown to choose a Category Type.
- Hide discussions from Recent Discussions and Widgets - Use the toggle to enable this. If ON, posts in this category will not appear on the Recent Discussions page or in Widgets.
- Featured category - Use the toggle to enable this.
3. Click Save to create the category.
✔️ TIP: Confirm that the new category is listed on the Manage Categories page.
Additional Category options
Some settings and options are available only after creating a category.
Additional Category-creation options
There are two other in-article options for creating a Category.
1. Under the Category's list of article titles, click either:
- Organize Categories and then click New Category on the Organize Categories page, or
- New Category.
2. In the dialog, specify a name for the Category and click Save.
Edit a Category
You can edit a category, subcategory, or sub-subcategory by clicking its down arrow, selecting Edit, and completing the fields on the Edit Category page.
The editing options on the Edit Category page are the same as those on the Add Category page, described above in Create/Add a Category.
After saving, verify your edits.
Delete a Category
You can delete a category, subcategory, or sub-subcategory by clicking its down arrow and selecting Delete.
🛑 WARNING: This action is irreversible; deleted categories cannot be recovered.
📝 NOTE: You cannot delete a category that has subcategories or a subcategory that has sub-subcategories. You must move or delete those "child" categories first.
If there is content in the item being deleted, a dialog prompts you to either:
- move the content (select a replacement) or
- delete the content (delete all threads and posts).
Alternative to deleting
Instead of deleting content, you can "archive" categories by removing users' viewing and posting permissions. This is recommended because it prevents the accidental loss of threads.
Add a Subcategory
You can add a subcategory to a category and a sub-subcategory to a subcategory by clicking the item's down arrow, selecting Add Subcategory, and completing the fields on the Add Category page (described above in Create/Add a Category).
After saving, verify the addition.
Enable Category following
You can enable Category Following so that all users can:
- subscribe to a category and
- choose a notification type.
📝 NOTE: This feature replaces the Advanced Notifications option, which was limited to Admins and Moderators.
To enable Category Following:
1. Click the settings icon at the top of the page.
2. Slide the toggle to the right.
3. Click Save.
To learn about Category Following, see:
Choose a Categories list layout
When your community users click Categories at the top of a community page, they are taken to the Categories list page. Administrators can choose how the list of Categories displays by choosing one of several pre-configured layouts.
To choose a layout in the Dashboard:
1. Navigate to Appearance > Categories Page > Legacy Layouts.
- The current layout has a blue border and the Current flag.
- The layouts are described in Layout Settings.
- You can edit Tiled Layout.
2. Choose a layout by hovering on it and clicking Apply.
The layout is automatically applied to your Categories list page immediately.
A Category's type affects how it is viewed in the community. You can click a category's down arrow and choose one of the following types from the Display As section.
📝 NOTE: Changing a category's type critically changes how the category behaves.
- Discussions - The default type. It allows users to post discussions.
- Nested - This type is a high-level placeholder for other categories. It cannot directly host discussions.
- Flat - This type is a paginated directory structure. It can handle thousands of categories.
- Heading - This type is exclusively for organizing. It cannot host content.
For a comprehensive look at the Category types, see:
This removes the category from the main index and prevents threads in the category from coming up in the site-based search. Archived Categories are still indexed by search engines and can prevent broken links.
If you have the Ideation addon included in your plan and enabled, you will also see the option to make it an Idea Category.
Maximum Category Display Depth
This setting is located in the Appearance section of the Dashboard > Posting Settings page (vanilla/settings/posting).
The default setting is No Limit, but you can choose a level at which nested categories will be placed in a comma-delimited list.
📝 NOTE: The subcategories display as hyperlinks under their root category when viewing the forum index.
On the Manage Categories page in your Dashboard, click the down arrow of the category for which you would like to enable custom permissions, and select Edit.
Scroll down to This category has custom permissions and slide the toggle to the right (ON) to enable this option.
New options display below, where you can check the boxes to:
- enable discussion types
- allow file uploads
You can also set a variety of activity permissions for each role.
- If you have a plugin (e.g., Q&A) enabled, you can use these options to choose where your users can create those threads.
- You can disable polls and file uploads if they don't suit the category.
- You can restrict who can view, post in, and perform moderation actions in categories.
✔️ TIP: Disable (uncheck) all View permissions for a role to hide the category that you're editing from that role.
✔️ TIP: To set a category as "read-only", uncheck the Discussions > Add and/or Comments > Add permissions.
📝 NOTE: Only trusted roles should have Announce, Close, Delete, Edit, and Sink permissions because these allow users to manage and moderate content.
Be sure to click Save at the bottom of the page to preserve your settings.
To learn more about these permissions, see:
The New Discussion page includes a category selector for users to choose which category they want to post their discussion in:
When starting a new post from within a specific category, that category will already be showing so the category selector will not appear. The category selector will only appear on the new discussion page when starting a post from a core page (Recent Discussions, Home, or Categories).
Now, when you select a category from the dropdown, the category name and description are loaded into the page to provide users with additional info about the category they are posting to.
📝 NOTE: This new category picker is enabled by default in Foundation themes and can be optionally integrated into custom or legacy themes.
Click the link below to access a video expanding on what you learned in this article.