Actual difference between "tracked" and "watching first post"


(Nordize) #1

Are email notifications supposed to be sent if I set a category on “tracking” in my account? Currently it doesn’t.

EDIT: Bringing my post below up here:

The wording of the two mislead me to believe that “tracking” is supposed to do more (it’s also higher placed in the config pane). I can confirm that on my installation (1.8.0.beta10+57) the “watching first post” also shows a counter for new replies so it looks like “watching first post” includes the functionality of “tracking”. The config pane is a little confusing says:

  • Tracking: You will automatically track all topics in these categories. A count of new posts will appear next to the topic.
  • Watching first post: You will be notified of the first post in each new topic in these categories.

In that order. “watchign first post” also shows a count of new posts next to each topic. The above wording could be improved, and the order of the two perhaps also reversed.

This one also eludes me: “You will automatically track all topics in these categories.” … what does that mean, exactly? I haven’t noticed anything special.


Better terms for watching (and tracking?)
(Dave McClure) #2

Nope, for email notifications you need to set it to “Watching” or “Watching First Post”


(Nordize) #3

Thanks. I see that both “tracking” and “watching first post” show a count of new replies (at least on 1.8.0.beta10+57) so apart from the email notification on 1st post, is there an actual difference between “tracking” and “watch 1st post”?


(Dave McClure) #4

Nope, I believe that is the difference between the two.


(Nordize) #5

The wording of the two mislead me to believe that “tracking” is supposed to do more (it’s also higher placed in the config pane), but from the looks of it, it’s the other way around, i.e. “watching first post” includes all functionality of “tracking” - does it? The config pane says:

  • Tracking: You will automatically track all topics in these categories. A count of new posts will appear next to the topic.
  • Watching first post: You will be notified of the first post in each new topic in these categories.

In that order. “watchign first post” also shows a count of new posts next to each topic. The above wording could be improved, and the order of the two perhaps also reversed.

This one also eludes me: “You will automatically track all topics in these categories.” … what does that mean, exactly? I haven’t noticed anything special.


(Dave McClure) #6

I met with two people yesterday who are using a category on our forum to run a short course and wanted to understand what notification level to advise users to set on the category.

We were similarly confused.

Maybe what I said above is wrong. I’m not sure that “Watching First Post” implies you will track all topics in the category. Maybe it doesn’t.


Better terms for watching (and tracking?)
(Nordize) #7

I can confirm that at least on my installation (1.8.0.beta10+57) the “watching first post” also shows a counter of new replies. It doesn’t seem that “tracking” offers any extras, and the descriptions aren’t clear in that regard. Maybe a team member can clarify my reply above.


(Jeff Atwood) #8

It just means you will be forcefully notified of the first post in every new topic in that category. After that it has normal tracking state. You are only watching the topic for the “first post”, if you will :wink:


(Nordize) #9

@codinghorror any comments on the two subscription levels I mentioned? It looks to me that the funcitonality of “tracking” is included in the “watch first post” (both show counts of new replies), but the config pane reads as if the “tracking” does more, and is positioned higher than “watch first post”:

  • Tracking: You will automatically track all topics in these categories. A count of new posts will appear next to the topic.
  • Watching first post: You will be notified of the first post in each new topic in these categories.

If that’s true, the wording above could be improved.

Also, what does “you will track all topics” actually mean? I haven’t noticed anything special at all … no email is sent when topic are created, nor when replies are posted (only when I’m mentioned, which is what “normal” does too).


(Jeff Atwood) #10

It says what tracking means right there

A count of new posts will appear next to the topic.


(Dave McClure) #11

Just noticed that on mobile it says this when you are tracking a topic:

You will receive notifications because you are tracking this topic.

Seems like a ux bug.


(Jeff Atwood) #12

You will receive a form of notification, that is, the topic will appear in your unread tab.

… and tracking is the current state of your notification preference for that topic.


(Dave McClure) #13

Ugh… The term notify/notification is used to mean something much more specific everywhere else in the app (including the dropdown text).

Using it to mean something different here really muddies the waters in my opinion.


(Nordize) #14

But (like I said in my post) both “watch first post” and “tracking” show a count new posts next to the topic (tested in 1.8.0.beta10+57) … so I’m not sure what’s the difference between the two, it seems “watch 1st post” subsumes “tracking”.


(Joshua Rosenfeld) #15

Watching First Post will give you a notification, and assuming all email settings are default, an email when a topic is created in that category. After the first notification (and email), you are tracking the topic, so it appears with the unread post number, but no notifications or emails.

Let me try and explain this with an example. Let’s say we have the cat categoy. User Bob creates a new topic. Users Joe, Jane, Sarah, and Bob then reply.
Watching: You receive a notification in the user menu, as well as an email for each post. Additionally, you will see “new” or an unread count for the topic.
Watching First Post: You recieve a notification in the user menu, as well as an email for the first post only. Additionally, you will see “new” or an unread count for the topic.
Tracking: You will see “new” or an unread count for the topic.


(Jeff Atwood) #16

He has a point that Watching First Post might be a superset of tracking, with the only watch level notification on first post only.


(Nordize) #17

Indeed, and in that case I was proposing that the descriptions given in the preferences could be improved because right now they are confusing:

Tracking: You will automatically track all topics in these categories. A count of new posts will appear next to the topic.
Watching first post: You will be notified of the first post in each new topic in these categories.

The “watching first post” should be listed above “tracking”, and it should also state that a count of new posts is displayed. And I think the sentence “You will automatically track all topics” should either be used in both, or just removed altogether if the sentence about count of new rplies is used.


(Joshua Rosenfeld) #18

Consider me confused…

Back when Watching First Post (then Following) was first developed, it was independent of Tracking. I requested that there be an option to choose tracking or normal after the first notification, but that was not shared as an option. From what I can tell on my instance, after getting the notification for watching first post, my notification state is normal.

Discussion reference:

Screenshots:



(Christoph) #19

So the new post count counts as a notification? Because at the end of a tracked topic it also says

You will receive notifications because you are tracking this topic

Don’t I see the “new” indicator for any topic that matches my definition of “new” in my preferences, regardless of tracking status?


Better terms for watching (and tracking?)
Better terms for watching (and tracking?)
(Joshua Rosenfeld) #20

I would not consider the count a notification, but that does seem to be what the copy says.

Yes - overlapping settings. Assuming default settings (2 days), if you don’t visit the site for >2 days, topics created >2 days ago will not appear as new unless in a category you track (or watch).