In the last few days, two separate members of my forum have commented at their shock when their reply to a notification email was posted publicly on the forum. To them, it wasn’t at all clear this would happen - they thought they were replying to the person who wrote the post (and whom the email was “from”)
To make things clearer I changed the wording of notification emails (Admin > Customise > Text Content > user_notifications.reply_by_email)
I have had the same issue with replies for private categories with hundreds of people.
A user sent his resume to the group saying he was looking to leave his current job when he thought he was just replying to the last poster. I have had committes refuse to use private categories or PMs because they had no idea who was getting the responses.
The default original email looks like it comes from the user with an image even. You have to check the email address to know that the message isnt a personal email. The email is not visible on mobile The subject line is some help.
Consider the following
View Topic* or reply to this email. Your response will be published to the group.
I also add a footer with a link to reply privately and other items. A key reason was to highlight: Yo! This is not an email.
The same issue is present for group PMs. A better footer would help.
I like that Discourse starts with basic text that can be customized but I think there are some pitfalls out there for admins and users.
Yes, this happens a lot (not quite as embarrassing as this one but still), despite having changed the footer the way you suggested. People just don’t see it. I think you have pinpointed the core of the issue here:
I wonder if it might help to have a site setting that allows admins to change the sender name from the poster (user)name to the name of the forum (perhaps "on behalf of poster) or something. That way it should be quite clear in any email client that a reply to that email will go to the forum.
We’d not be loosing much because the posters name (and avatar!) is still included in the email body.
As I think about this a bit more, another possibility could be to make it a user setting rather than a site setting and have it default to sender = forum name so that users only get sender = poster name if they deliberately enable it.
But then again, who knows what new confusions might result from that…