Category spread in digests


(Dave McClure) #1

Our forum is used internally within our organization. The org is heterogenous, with several groups that have different primary interests. While one of the main advantages of discourse is that there is a great opportunity for cross-pollination of information and knowledge across these groups, one of the challenges is that there is a sort of “tyranny of the majority” risk where one group has such a higher volume of discussion (at this point in time, anyway), that it tends to drown out other categories.

I think the risk can be somewhat mitigated by changing the front page from /latest to /categories - though we haven’t done that just yet.

The issue is also one of the things motivating the request for this feature.

But another area where I see a possible issue is in the digests. The latest digest I received (with a test account that never visits the site) had all the topics and “New for you” posts from a single category.

Has anyone else dealt with this issue or have any tips?

Is there any way to favor having some diversity of categories represented in the digest?


How to seperate the "drive by" topics from the "deeper" discussions?
(Mittineague) #2

I think I get what you’re at.
Instead of n number of topics, more like n number of topics and at least one topic from each category regardless.

I think it could be done sanely as long as the number of categories was reasonable. But some forums have boat loads of categories and one from each would not be sane.


(Dave McClure) #3

I don’t think there needs to be one from each category to meet the need here. We can keep the same number of posts and topics in the digest.

Let’s say I have 7 categories, and in the past week, each has the following number of topics:

category topics
1 15
2 8
3 3
4 1
5 0
6 0
7 0

Depending on how likes are distributed, currently, there’s a high chance that all of the popular topics in the digest are from category 1, from what I’ve seen.

I’d like to see the algorithm pick some topics and posts from categories 2-4 even if they are less liked than those from category 1. Maybe it is changed to something like:

Popular topics: the X most popular topics in this past period. Topics will be from at least Y different categories, if possible.

For example the popular topic algorithm may work as follows:

  1. pick the top X (default: 5) topics from across all categories.
  2. count the number of different categories (N). If N is less than Y (default: 3), throw away the bottom Y-N topics.
  3. pick the top Y-N topics across all categories except those already represented in the list of popular topics.
  4. repeat until there are Y categories represented in the list of X topics.

Then, even if the top 5 topics are from category 1, I’d only get 3 topics from category 1. The other 2 would come from categories 2-4 (and not from the same one).

This would still work if I have 100 categories.


We already try to select what is relevant to the user in the “new for you” section of the summary/digest email, I think. But I think the digest can help reach those users who are less active on the site that may not be following many categories or topics. I’d like to favor some diversity in the topics shown to these users when we know less about their interests.


(Neil Lalonde) #4

The digests already prioritize categories based on your notification levels, but if no preferences have been set then there’s no way to know which ones you want to see.

So a way to set some categories to “Tracking” based on group would be useful, and also help with digest email content.


(Dave McClure) #5

I am using the term group in the generic sense here, not the feature in Discourse.

We aren’t actually using the groups feature yet, though we are likely to explore it after the messaging/mentioning split.

I still think some basic anti-affinity feature that does not rely on notification preferences would be valuable.