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

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.


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.

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.


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”.

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.


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

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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.


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:


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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?

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).


And if my setting for newness is “I haven’t viewed them yet”?

Then tracking has no effect on “new” as everything that you haven’t seen is considered “new”. All tracking will with “I haven’t viewed them yet” is determine whether or not to show unread count - which is of course affected by “Automatically track topics I enter”.

Okay, so tracking/watching overwrites the user preferences if in favour of display the indicator but not against it. Makes sense.

I guess another way of putting this is to say that the newness definition under preferences only applies to categories in their “normal” state, i.e. if they are neither tracked nor watched.

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Note: the copy on mobile is now more consistent with the rest of the app and reads:

You will see a count of new replies because you are tracking this topic.

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Yeah, I quietly submitted a PR a few months ago to fix that, didn’t post here to avoid more bikeshedding:


I’ve read the description of “Watching first post” several times, as well as reading through this thread, and I’m still confused about something.

I’d like my users of one category to get notifications of new topics in that category, but not of all the reply posts on those topics (unless they post and get replied to, or they are mentioned, etc.).

The description of “watching first post” seems to imply that I can get notifications of the first response to every topic in a category, but there is no option to get notified of new topics in a category without “watching” the category and thus getting notified of every new topic and every single post under those topics. Am I misunderstanding?

No. The first post is the first post. It’s not the first reply.

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Ah. Thanks. So, why doesn’t it just say “get notified of new topics” or something, instead of talking about the “first post in each new topic” as though that’s a separate thing from the new topic?


Sure, if you think that copy is clearer, we can change it. Feel free to make specific proposals in a new reply to this topic. :wink:

Wait a second: it already says new topic in there:

the first post in each new topic

So basically you’re unclear what “first post” means, you want to mentally ram “reply” in there somehow? Why? Yeah I’m just gonna close this topic and save us both some grief.

You’re welcome.

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