Change notification settings for all users per topic

On a forum where the default setting is watching certain categories, with email notifications, and where hardly anyone has changed their settings – and where one topic which maybe won’t interest most people becomes very busy – how could a single topic be changed from “watching” to “tracking” for all users? Or all users who haven’t contributed?

I realise this is a paternalistic approach that goes against what some users might want. I just wondered how it might be done in extremis. Thanks.

The place to look is Administrative Bulk Operations. I don’t think it includes exactly that case but it might have something close.

Thank for the link. I’m afraid that at this stage it’s all Greek to me. I would be able to follow instructions (if the answer had been on that page) but am unable to work out what I need to do.

This actually takes quite a bit of finesse. The problem with ‘watching’ is that it generally persists per user per topic and it isn’t that easy to downgrade. It is possible but quite tricky via the Rails Console.

I’m not sure how things have evolved in this space, but previously if a tag (for example) results in a topic being made Watching the removal of that tag doesn’t downgrade the watching status. I can’t test this at the mo as tag watching seems to be broken for me.

If however you manage this with Categories, you can control it nicely. Make a subcategory of your desired category, restrict the posting permissions to just admins, and all users to watch that subcategory. To downgrade the watching status of all, simply move the topic from the subcategory to the category.

This is utilised in the #feature:announcements category to some degree here in Meta.