General and Other Sections

The one thing that seems to be missing is a “General” or “Hobbyist/Keeper” section. There is a lot of sections labeled as business but some people dont do this as a business so where would people ask general non descript questions without clogging up a specific tab.

Its better to have a whole bunch of broke down areas now and delete them as not needed then to have to break down and separate existing posts.


Things separated now will keep the legwork down later.

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I understand what you are saying about “business”. Some of those categories are relevant to people who are not “in the business” such as building an enclosure. I would like to rename it to something else.

We are trying to keep the number of categories to a small number, and rely more heavily on tags. Take a read over the FAQ about how the site is organized. Most of what you listed are cross-cutting concerns, which are are going to represent as tags, such as the #breeding and #husbandry tag.

So we have an idea of how we want things organized, but will definitely be testing it and seeing how it works. For now mods will be helping them go to the right place and then it will be more evident once there’s quite a bit of organized content.

If you want to follow up with questions about where specific types of posts go, feel free.

I think that the tag part will not be sustainable once there are more users. Not without heavy moderation. Does discourse have subcategories? If so you may want to start moving tags that get a lot of posts into subcategories to make the user experience smoother.

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I also think a general category would be good, there are plenty of conversation starting questions that don’t really fit in any one category.

@Critters_Creatures Can you guys give a few specific examples? Then we can all think about a solution rather than beginning with one.

I’m thinking about stuff I see on FB a lot. These will be more common once the forum is open to everyone.

Whats this snake/lizard/frog?
Whats your favorite reptile?
Whats the difference between (reptile 1) and (reptile 2)
What would you recommend for my next snake?
What is your favorite species to work with?
What is your dream reptile?
Whats the best way to heat this enclosure?
What thermostat do you use?

My main resistance to creating a “General” category is that I think it will get abused. It can just become a trash bin for everything, many of which go somewhere else.

So of these examples:

These should go into the relevant reptile-type category, with tag #identification:

Whats this snake/lizard/frog?

These should go into the #reptile-business:enclosures-setups category:

Whats the best way to heat this enclosure?
What thermostat do you use?

However, you make a good point with these “all reptile” type questions, which are about reptiles but can’t fit into one of our broad categories.

Although all 3 of these are basically the same question, and so we can treat that as 1 problem:

Whats your favorite reptile?
What is your favorite species to work with?
What is your dream reptile?

And these are similar but slightly different:

Whats the difference between (reptile 1) and (reptile 2)
What would you recommend for my next snake?

Maybe I can rename “Reptile Business” to “All Reptiles” for this kind of thing. It has some subcategories like the #reptile-business:enclosures-setups I mentioned.

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Yesterday I renamed Reptile Business to All Reptiles, as I do see this as an improvement and lack a better idea ATM.

Also, I just made an extensive post about this topic and using tags:


It’s a learning curve. Meeting the needs of the “customers” will ultimately dictate the format. Having been a mod on car forums, a single trend can cause a need for format changes. It looks good so far.

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I personally think there should be several different sections that are accessible for the different species.

Pythons with subcategories for the different varieties. Ie Burms, retics, balls, tree/arboreal, carpets/Diamonds, bloods etc

Boas with Boas, Anacondas, Tree Boas

Colubrids, Kings,milks, hogs etc


You get the idea. That way if I’m looking for boa stuff I’m not getting a bunch of stuff about ball pythons. So on and so forth so people can find their spot and hang out there vs seeing everything all the time. Would limit the need for tags aside from search ability.

Thats the real purpose of tags to begin with. Tags are for searching, categories are for organizing. That is the best practice for forums.

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That way if I’m looking for boa stuff I’m not getting a bunch of stuff about ball pythons.

@BNixon this example doesn’t work because BP’s are already in a separate category than Boas. However, if you’re within boas and you want to ignore rainbow boas, you can mute that tag, and it will exclude that content for you.

Tags are for searching, categories are for organizing. That is the best practice for forums.

@Critters_Creatures can you be specific about which forums you are referring to which have tags, and where they say that’s the best practice?

Within the discourse universe, organizing with tags is best practice. Large numbers of categories are discouraged:

So we’re trying that out for a while to see how it works even though it’s different.


That changed then from the first day lol and now I see they are in categories. So I’m good now lol

First day I came in it just looked like a bunch of miscellaneous posts.

The structure of say Reptile Insider was nice. Click boas then you’d see topic with who started it how many comments how many views and who commented last.

When I first clicked in it basically was a bunch of random posts reminded me of a random group on Facebook.

@BNixon I hear ya. I think we are going to change it so new users encounter Categories more readily, in a way they are familiar. Will look tomorrow.

Here is what I was referencing above – how you can set notification preferences based on tags. This is one example of how tags on Discourse are more than typical tags you’d encounter say on instagram.

I want to preface this by saying that the tags on discourse are great, they are one of the better implementations of tags that I have seen in a community driven application.

When I mention best practices I am looking back to when I administered a busy PHPBB forum for about 5000 members and several hundred posts per month. I used the guides and best practice discussions available in the PHPBB support forums that were available at the time, so my feedback is admittedly dated. In my experience tags were added to make finding related content easier rather than as the basis for the sites organization. When I look at current large scale forums for different topics like car modification, cellphones, hobby crafts, engineering, and video games, a lot of the same practices are still in use.

I’m not saying “make a category for every tag” or “make all the subcategories you ever imagine being needed”. I’m suggesting exactly what they suggest in the ‘Lets talk about tags’ post which does say to start small and build categories as you go according to what tags and topics become popular. That’s what they mean by “self organizing communities”.

I also looked at the forum that they listed as “fully embracing tags” and about half of the posts (estimated from their busiest category) on it are untagged which makes the feature less effective over time and makes more work from the admin team.

From a user experience perspective, it boils down to this: The less a user needs to do to make something work the way you want it to, the more likely they are to do it. The current user path, with just tags, looks like this:

There are 4 or 5 steps a user has to go through to get a tag on their post and each subsequent step in the process makes it less likely that the user will add a tag. That flowchart is a bit rushed but it outlines the current process I go through when creating a post.

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@Critters_Creatures thank you for the in depth thoughts and sharing your experience. You even made a flow chart, wow! Even though we are seeing this with a different perspective right now I really appreciate your engagement with this community. I appreciate differing views.

Now that I have fixed the trust levels, everyone on here currently can create tags so I don’t think that’s a big issue.

I think for most people it will work like this:

  1. If I already am familiar with the kinds of tags for this post because I’ve been here a while, I just add them.
  2. If I’m not familiar, I start to type it and if it doesn’t appear I just add it.

Some people won’t add tags at all, and other users can edit their post and add them if they want. I’ve been doing this as I go. As people become more used with the forum they will start to do that for themselves. The percent of users not tagging will shift to a majority of more experienced users. I think a bigger problem will be some fragmentation of tags – ball-python vs ball-pythons. But periodically admins can consolidate.

I think it’s a good discussion and while I’m not closing it my opinion is that we table it for a while. We see how things go and a few weeks after public launch take stock on how things are going, maybe collect some feedback from the larger audience and see if we need to adjust the strategy.

You guys can continue to keep talking about it, I just may not be as vocal about it as I think we need to give it a little time… it is hard for any of us to predict, but I for now am going with what I understand the Discourse best practice is.

(Actually when I posted, what they recommended to me specifically was making breeding, photos, husbandry, etc top level categories and letting ALL the species be tags, but I did not think that would work at all, you can read that here:

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I’ve been playing with the site for a while and I think you hit the nail on the head, the less you make people have to do, the more likely it’ll be a better experience for everyone.

While I dont remember there being tags on the old forums (Like BP.Net), they did have a search bar that worked wonderfully. If I wanted to see animal plastic cages, or red tail boas, no tag was needed, I just searched for AP cages or RTBs under photos and got what I wanted without the need for any specific tagging. Thats where I’m confused the tags come in, vs a search feature.
Also On FB we make it very clear you need to answer the questions to get in, and hardly anyone does. We also put huge posts up about not reporting posts, but we still get reported posts weekly. People are lazy and don’t read. What the experienced keepers do is miles away from what alot of New comers are willing to do to participate.

The boa section here isn’t busy enough for categories just yet, but I think basic cats are needed; General, Photos, Husbandry/equipment, Health, breeding, and maybe a what am I section is really all you need.

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You can do that with our search bar also, the only difference tagging would make here is optionally being able to refine/filter your search.

Say you wanted to search for topics about feeding, you can either search the whole site by just using a basic search phrase…

Or you could make this a search for only a specific animal by adding a tag…

Tags are basically categories that don’t have a place on the Categories page yet.

these categories sort of exist but under tags such as husbandry equipment photos health breeding and identification. These can all be muted aswel, so if you were trying to avoid ID request, then you just mute the tag and you no longer see them.

Once you get the hang of it, searching becomes much easier and holds greater data retention using tags.

But I agree that we may need to revise the current categories and see where needs subcats.