You can use member groups (similar to roles) to control which categories, forums or sub-forums are visible and accessible to users within your community. You have the ability to associate an unlimited number of member groups with any category, forum or member.
TIP: A forum or category will only be visible to a user if the user also belongs to one or more of the member groups or roles associated with the forum or category. Member groups inherit so if the users member group does not have access to a category the user will never see any results from forums within that category even if one of the member groups associated with the user is also associated with a forum within the category. The fact the user does not have access to the parent category would prevent them from seeing forums or topics in that category.
Let's say for example you wanted to create a few private forum only visible to members within a new "Subscribers" member group. You would configure this as detailed below...
Create Member Group
For this example we will create a new "Subscribers" member group. This member group will be used to group the member's that will have access to the subscriber only forums. Go to, Members & Groups » Manage Member Groups, click Add New Group.
Define the new "Subscribers" member group, once complete click Submit as shown below...
This will create a new "Subscribers" member group; this will be used to associate with our subscriber forums and members who can access the forums. For more information on member groups and the options available when creating or editing member groups please refer to the Managing Member Groups section of this guide.
Associate Member Group with Forums
Now you've created the new "Subscribers" member group you should associate this with the forums and categories you wish to make accessible to the "Subscribers" member group. For our example we've created a forum category called "Subscriber Forums" containing two child forums called "Subscriber Forum 1" and "Subscriber Forum 2".
If your not sure how to create categories or forums please refer to Creating & Editing Forum Categories or Creating & Editing Forums sections of this guide.
In our example the quickest way to ensure the "Subscribers" member group can access all the subscriber forums would be to edit the "Subscriber Forums" category and propagate any member group changes to the "Subscriber Forum 1" and "Subscriber Forum 2" child forums.
Notice how we are editing the "Subscriber Forums" category and propagating our member group changes to the child forums, "Subscriber Forum 1" and "Subscriber Forum 2". You can edit the member groups associated with each forum when editing a forum if more control is required. Editing the parent category and propagating our member groups associations is simply a quick way to apply the member groups to the category and all child forums within the category.
Also notice above we have chosen to only allow the "Subscribers" member group to access our subscriber forums. No other member groups are selected to access the subscriber forums. This means the "Subscriber Forums" category and child forums will only be visible to members within our "Subscribers" member group. You can of course associate multiple member groups with categories or forums to provide access for additional member groups if required.
Associate Members with Member Group
Now that you've created the "Subscribers" member group and associated this with our subscriber only forums, it's time to define which members can access the subscriber only forums.
To allow members to view the subscriber only forums you should associated the "Subscribers" member group we previously associated with the forums to the member's you wish to provide access to.
You can manage the member groups associated with members by editing a users profile within Members & Groups » Manage Members. Click the Edit Profile link next to each forum member to edit member group associations. You can see in the example below we have added a secondary member group association for the user to the "Subscribers" group. Note how we have left the primary member group associated with the "Forum Members" member group. This will now ensure this user can only see and access forums or categories associated with either the "Forum Members" group or the "Subscribers" member group.
In this example any member with the "Subscribers" member group associated with them will have access to the "Subscriber Forums" category and "Subscriber Forum 1", "Subscriber Forum 2" child forums.
This is only a basic example to demonstrate the concept of how member groups can be used to control which forums are visible and accessible based on the users primary and secondary member group associations. This concept could be extended to control exactly which forums within your community appear to users based on their current member group associations.
Once you've defined which forums are visible & accessible to your member groups you may wish to restrict or extend specific permissions for your forums. For more information on how to configure specific permissions for your users, member groups and forums please refer to the Creating & Editing Permission Sets section of this guide.
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