Email notifications from watched topics (de-facto mailing lists)

As a community we are making extensive use of announce topics as de-facto mailing lists.

Some people are finding they aren’t receiving emails with updates to topics they are watching, leading to a lack of trust in the idea of using topics in this way.

In some cases an email might not be seen because it is caught in a spam filter, or there might be a confusion about what notifications are being referred to. There is also a 10 minute “grace period” before email updates are sent out, to give the person who wrote the post time to edit it in case they made a mistake. This setting is configurable

There should be only one case when an email is not sent, and this is because by default discourse will not email you update if it thinks a user has seen the update on the forum (active in the last 10 minutes). It isn’t clear what “active” means.

This is also configurable site-wide, by default it is set to “only when away” we could set this to “always”

This is only the default, each user can choose their own settings in their preferences:

I am interested in opinions of the community, should we change the default to “always” and let users change their own personal preferences if that doesn’t suit them?

@aekiss @micael

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I would put the default setting as always.
But the default for the user’s preference is “only when away”, so how does that work together? Which one takes precedence?

I don’t know. My assumption is that the user preference would also default to the system preference, but until we change I’m not sure.

I think I misunderstood this. It seems there is only one setup for “default email level” which is under the User Preferences. But we could change the default value for all users to be “always”. So there is only one setting, no precedence business. The only thing to decide is what the User Preferences should be by default. At least, there is only one entry the search can find in the Admin settings, and that’s under the “User Preferences” panel

Do I get it right now?

Yes I think so. TBH I’m not sure I was that clear either, but your question has made it so for me.

So my answer stands, I would set it as “always” by default. So the behaviour for new users who join a mailing list is as they would expect without any extra step required.



I was going to ask if it would change the setting for anyone who has modified their User Preferences…
Yes, we want it retrospectively because we want this to be fixed for existing users who gave the feedback in the first place.

What do we do with the people who have set their preferences:

  • wait for people to ask what is happening?
  • try and warn them, how? Small ad banner on the home page? Remember what I mean @Aidan?

My feeling is very few people have set any preferences like this, and even fewer will have changed this specific preference, and some of those will have made it to be the same as we’ve now made the default, so it will affect a vanishingly small number I think.

But I do think there is value is saying the default has changed, people should get a more reliable flow of emails from announce topics, but let us know if there are still problems. The best way to do this isn’t obvious to me. Add something to Announce topics next time they go out?

What about we finish this topic with an information post: the problem, what we have changed, the expected outcome and how to reverse it if people don’t like it. And then we advertise it through a banner with a link to that post. We can leave that message up for a month or whatever we can customise it for.

I am pretty sure @Aidan you had tried something that added a customised message banner to the site but I can’t remember what it was exactly.

Not everyone will come to the WG meetings so we need something more public. We could also send a direct message to all users but I don’t think the consequences of the change require spamming everyone.

I agree we should change the default to “always”. Anything else is confusing and error-prone. I often have dozens of tabs open, but that doesn’t mean I’m keeping a close eye on all of them.