Disabling outgoing email notifications

I’m having some trouble understanding the outgoing email options. Basically, I don’t want any outgoing emails to be sent that contain post content (i.e. if someone has replied to a topic) and probably I’d rather nobody get email when they receive a PM either (although that would be acceptable).

I found the setting to disable ALL outgoing email and it seems to work quite well, but I need emails related to signing up and signing in to work (reset password link, etc.)

Can I turn off all email notifications, and keep signup/signin emails functional?


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Sort of, you can change the user preference default for email to all off. Then all new (but not existing…) users will have email notifications disabled. However this does not stop users from turning those settings back on.

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Got it, as the administrator, is there any way to make that the default? Or do I need to impersonate each user and disable those email settings (with the knowledge they can always reenable them…)?

We are only going to have a minimal # of users at a time so that’s not a terrible burden, the worse problem is that they can re-enable those settings. I think we can live with it though.

Sorry, can you expand on why you want this stuff permanently disabled? As an admin you can set the defaults, but as it stands there is no global disable switch.

Yes, we are using a Discourse site for sort of an online “focus group.” To the extent possible, we don’t want content from the site to be emailed out to users, with the privacy of the users in mind (the content is itself not “secret” or anything).

Obviously, any user can copy and paste stuff out of the site or screen capture it, etc. I’m not under the illusion that content can’t escape any way other than email. We just aren’t going to have any need for the email notifications, and would rather keep site content from being automatically sent to user’s emails.

Our intention is to archive the content after each site and store one local copy, encrypted. It would be nice if there weren’t other copies sitting in user’s email boxes indefinitely.


I think one of the reason we do not want to keep sending hundreds or thousands of email for a very active website to a single person.


We did add a private mode in site settings where site content is never leaked in emails. You get generic email notifications only.


I am running a secure site where we don’t want users to get notified if there are content that is flagged. Is there a way to prevent this?

We still want to use digest emails, but ideally notification of replies/ likes emails have zero content.

It would require custom work and careful specification if we were to enable digests in private email mode.

Are you noticing a content leak during flags when “private email” is enabled? if so we have a bug that needs fixing.

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I am from the same organisation as @rachel-statsnz so we share the same challenges…we really want to prevent content leaks from our gated site, but at the same time email notifications can facilitate user participation.

Regarding the suggestion from our Dear Coding Horror on this subject:
Sort of, you can change the user preference default for email to all off. Then all new (but not existing…) users will have email notifications disabled. However this does not stop users from turning those settings back on.

  • How would admins go around disabling notifications for all the users?
    Is there a global switch in settings, or per category, or per group of users (level 4 and bellow cannot do it)?
    Can an SQL statement to replace a particular setting in the database help here (Data Explorer?)
  • After that, we would run a SQL query to discover has any of the users turned notifications on, disable it manually and politely ask them not to do that again…
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So sorry @Nesha, can we take this back a step.

Did you enable private email on your instance? This is a global setting, users have no fidelity to override it.

Our gated site is supporting NZ data research community, and sometimes the discussions can spill over into some sensitive subjects. That is why we are setting out watched words and moderating.
We are inviting over a thousand users on the site (all researchers) and we are concerned about the content of the sensitive post being sent as an email notification. Even if our watched words do not get everything, so a sensitive content is posted on the site, there will be a limited number of users who would be interested in the subject and have seen the post. Also these users are already cleared to see and work with sensitive content. So we are talking about localising and limiting the damage. But, if the sensitive content is emailed, the cat is out of the bag…

We concluded that we can live without private email setting for a while, even if that means no digest emails. We will compose out own digests and communicate with entire community or sub-communities after the first few hectic weeks…

However, knowing some other, more sophisticated ways to configure and control this behaviour would be welcome

Thank you very much for your attention and support

Rachel and Nesha

P.S. I think you know by now (from Sarah Hawk) that when we in NZ say “Cheers”, we usually mean that and demonstrating it with a beer in our hand?