Hidden areas on the community - a step by step guide to create & give users access

  • 22 August 2018
  • 8 replies

Userlevel 4
Badge +2

At some point you might want to create a hidden category, should it be to offer your super users a space where they can chat with you and each other, or for having a closed Beta / Research area that you can use to conversate with a selected group of users. This topic will explain you in more detail which steps are necessary, along with some tips & tricks to make sure that everything will go according to your plan.

So where do we start?

First we need something that we can use to identify the group of users, so that we can allow that group to view and engage within a hidden subforum. This is being done by the help of custom user roles. In order to do this, you need to go to the Control Environment. You can find the setting under Settings > USER User Role

Here you will need to create a new Custom Role.


Title: Simply enter a Name that you want to give to the group you want to give access. They will not see it, it is just for reference / management in the Control Environment.
Edit rights: Feel free to give them unlimited editing rights, if you think you can trust them with it. Should you invite random users that you do not know yet, then leave it at 60 minutes.
Permissions (User has access to): Most of these settings are only to grant / deny access to certain areas in the Control Environment. The only thing that might be interesting for you would be the right to upload files to a post. You can activate this if you think your users will appreciate this.

Save the newly created role so that we can continue with the next step:


Creating the hidden category

Now you will need to create a new category. In this first step, it will not visible to anybody besides you and your colleagues. Simply go to the [Platform] in your Control Environment, and select [Community]:

Once you are in the overview, you need to select the location where you would like to create the new category.

Where should I create the new hidden category?

Well, that depends a bit on what you want to do. As the hidden category will only will be visible to the users that you provide with the right to see it, don't be too afraid to put it in the first category at the top of your community. Check the spoiler for more info!



  • Super user categories are often located in the very first parent category, next to the "Welcome" or "News & Announcements" categories.
  • Should you intend to run a Beta category for e.g. an App that you already have a (regular) category for, then you might want to add the Beta category next to this product subforum.
  • In case you want to create a whole set of hidden categories, then you can also think about creating a hidden parent category full of hidden categories. No worries, if all categories in a parent category are invisible to a user, he/she will also not see the category then!


Setting up the permissions for your category

While creating the category, you can set up a few things. Of course you want to add the Name, a description, a Banner- as well as a Thumbnail image.

Tip: Disable that activity in this category adds to the statistics of a user (and the community):


Otherwise you might get inconvenient questions from other users. ;)

When we look at the permissions, you should only make it visible for your Community Team, as displayed below. This way, only you will be able to see it:


Note: If a user is allowed to see something, another permission will not overrule it. So for example if a registered user is allowed to see a category, a custom role that does not allow it will not change that.


Giving your users access

Now that we have set up everything, you can go to the [Users] page in Control and search the users which you want to give access. Open a user profile and switch on the Custom Role (right side of the user profile page):



Then save the change.

Once you have added the Custom Role for all the users that you like to add, you can go back to the Category settings page and edit the hidden category. Simply switch on the permissions for the Custom Role you created, and save the changes.



Some last tips that might help you with your project:

Communication / Invitation
Invite your users via private message before you give them access. Tell them why you invite them, what they can expect and highlight the benefits for the user.

NDA (Non-disclosure-agreement)
Depending on how sensitive the information within a hidden subforum is, you might want to have them sign a non-disclosure-agreement. This way they will know that you seriously don't want them to share anything outside of this category.

Intro topic
Just like with your community, you want to have a "welcome"- or "intro"-topic in that newly created category. It explains clearly what to expect and also sets the tone of voice. Make it sticky so that it won't get buried underneath other discussions.

Got a question or a concern about your plans for a hidden category? Or do you happen to have an awesome tip that you are missing from this topic? Share it with us in the comments!


8 replies

Great timing 😉. We are launching our 'hidden area' for Super Users (Bondgenoten) tomorrow.

Userlevel 2
Badge +3
Haha funny indeed! 🙂 I like your play on words by calling them "Bondgenoten", fits perfectly!

I'm sure it's exciting for you. Hope you are all-set for the launch tomorrow then, it can be the start of something really great.

We plan to release more content on the topic of super users soon, if you are interested in something specific then just let us know.


Userlevel 4
Badge +2

What if I want that Parent category is also visible only for the certain users/ roles? I can find settings only for the categories.


Hey there @revote !

Depending on what you’re trying to achieve here, it may work better if you set up Private Groups rather than Private Categories.

Otherwise, one of the easier workarounds I can think of though is to simply have the hidden category exist in an existing parent alongside public categories. That way, the public categories are always visible, but the hidden one only shows up for those who are allowed to access it.

There may be a way to get the parent category hidden as well, but I don’t have access to Control anywhere myself. I’ll see if I can call in an assist from @SmartlyGreg though as he’s sometimes happy to help with working around my lack of permissions!

Userlevel 4
Badge +2

Depending on what you’re trying to achieve here

I use private (hidden) categories for the discussions between superusers and admins, also for the beta and other pilots.


it may work better if you set up Private Groups rather than Private Categories.

Thanks, this is pretty good option.

Sometimes I need several partitions than just one, so Groups isn´t solution for all the usecases. And I don´t want to set up several groups around “one theme”.


Otherwise, one of the easier workarounds I can think of though is to simply have the hidden category exist in an existing parent alongside public categories.

Because what said above this workaround isn´t option either. This works when you need only one hidden child category (per “theme”).


Hmm… Time for Plan B…

@timcavey can I borrow you? I know you used to have a few hidden areas set up and I’m pretty sure one of them had a hidden parent category too.

Userlevel 1

HI @revote 


It doesn’t look like there are settings to adjust access / visibility for parent categories...

Badge +1


Is there a way to plug the access control of a “role” to either an Active Directory group or even Gainsight somehow?


our use case is that we want to create a private community for a specific subset of our client base. this client base is flagged in Gainsight and it updates every few weeks with new members coming in an out. 

We dont want to have to manual manage the list as there are 100s of users in it but we need to ensure our community can only be viewed by those specific customers. 


any thoughts?