Discourse Activity Summary Emails Guide

What is an Activity Summary email?

The Discourse “Activity Summary” (formerly known as the digest email) is an email sent out to members of a forum who haven’t visited in a specific period with a collection of the most popular content since their last visit.

Click here to see User Options and here for Admin Options

Summary Email Contents

The email includes the following, automatically:

  1. Some activity statistics to emphasise activity levels
  2. A list of the most popular topics
  3. A selection of the most popular posts
  4. Links of topics that are “New for you”

The intention is to entice inactive members to come back and become engaged as readers or contributors by reminding them of their membership and showing them the most relevant content.

Summary Frequency

The Activity Summary is sent only when the member has not visited for a minimum period of time. The community’s default interval is set by the admin, but can be customized by users. The system default is weekly.

The Activity Summary is not sent to members who have been Silenced or Suspended

Summary frequency options are:

  • never
  • every 30 minutes
  • every hour
  • daily
  • weekly
  • every month
  • every six months

If an individual member has not visited the forum in the selected period, then the system will send them a summary of activity in that period. This countdown is reset every time a user visits again, so regular members may rarely receive an Activity Summary email

What gets included?

Popular topics for digests are extracted from /top topics with certain rules:

  • individual user permissions to view that topic
    • topics from private categories the user does not have access to will not be sent
  • topic notification level
    • the topic shouldn’t be muted for that user
  • user who created that topic must have trust level greater than 0
    • this default can be overridden (see below)
  • topic must be created after the user was last emailed
  • topic should not be from a muted category
  • topic should not be closed
  • topic should not be archived

User Options

Individual users have the ability to determine some of what is included and how often they receive it.

A user can go to Preferences and do the following:

Under Emails:

  • change the mailing frequency
  • uncheck the box to set the frequency to never
  • to allow content from new users to be included

Under Notifications:

  • add a category or tag to Muted to stop that content appearing in the Activity Summary, but also on the Latest page

Admin Options

Default User Digest Settings

Admins can configure the default email digest frequency and default include tl0 in digests settings for all new users on the site. Users can override these settings on their preferences page.

Set the default email digest frequency to a frequency that will be comfortable for your particular users and community. A very busy, active community will create lots of content, so staying on top of it might mean encouraging daily visits with summaries. A less active community might be quite happy with weekly summaries. Keep in mind that this email will be sent every interval period, and could become annoying if it is not received as useful.

Site Digest Settings

To see a list of all the digest settings, go to your Admin / Settings page and enter ‘digest’ into the search box.

  • digest logo url: customise your digest email logo (leave blank to use default)
  • digest min excerpt length: how much content you share of each post (defaults to 100)
  • digest topics: the maximum number of popular topics to display (defaults to 5)
  • digest posts: the maximum number of popular posts to display (defaults to 5)
  • digest other topics: the maximum number of topics to show in the ‘New in topics and categories you follow’ section (defaults to 5)
  • suppress digest email after days: suppress summary emails for users not seen on the site for more than (n) days (defaults to 365)
  • digest suppress categories: prevent topics in specific categories from being included in the digest
  • show topic featured link in digest: show featured links in digest (defaults to no)
  • disable digest emails: disable summary emails for all users

Digest Customization

While Activity Summary emails are generated automatically, it is possible to customise the email’s colors and also to add additional text to the digest.

The digest’s header color is set by the email accent bg color site setting. The text color of the header is set by the email accent fg color site setting.

To add text to the digest, go to your Admin / Customize / Text Content page and search for user_notifications.digest.custom. A list of the available customizations will be displayed. The key for each customization tells you where the text will be added to the digest.

Admin Testing

At any time, admins can go to the Admin dashboard, under Emails to preview the content of a digest email to any given user using Preview Summary.

This can be viewed on the site or sent to a custom email address for review.


Also note that a user may opt out of digests entirely.


How do you determine the members of your forum who haven't visited in a while? Is there a specific threshold you measure this by? For example, if they haven’t visited in 5 days they will receive a digest email? It would be great if we could adjust this in the Email settings!

Thanks for your help.


You can change the default value using the setting default email digest frequency inside e-mail settings.

Also, a user can change the frequency on his/her preferences page.

Hi Rafael,

Thanks for the response. I saw that setting, but I’m confused by the description of the feature. How does Discourse determine if someone “hasn’t visited in a while”? Or is this sent to all users based on the default email digest frequency?

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Yes, exactly. User get a digest when he hasn’t visited for the interval defined on that setting. Maybe a better copy is needed. :thinking:

Hi @Falco. I’d like to just doublecheck something –

Let’s say you have “default email digest frequency” set to Daily:

  1. “You haven’t visited in a while” is “true” if you haven’t visited the site in >24 hours
  2. The Activity Summary email goes out every 24 hours

Is this correct? Thanks!

Yes, but only if the user hasn’t received any other kind of notification in the last 24 hours.


As admins, we want to be able to track in Google Analytics the traffic to our Discourse from Activity Summary Emais.

Is there any way to append and customize Google Analytics’s UTM params to all links in the Activity Summary Email?

For example:

  • utm_source=activity_summary
  • utm_medium=email
  • utm_content=2017-07-16 (date of the day when email was sent out)

Would love if you shared ideas for any potential solutions.


Would like to +1 @klemenstruc’s comments here. Has anyone been able to do this?

The OP has been completely revised with more information for users and admins. Any further questions or clarifications, edits or corrections are welcome


It’s not entirely formerly known as the digest email. It’s called digest email a zillion places in the source. I think that “also known as” is going to be the case for the foreseeable future.


I suppose these are easy enough to fix. replace "digest" with "summary" by pfaffman · Pull Request #6583 · discourse/discourse · GitHub

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I wonder if there is a way to include also auto bumped topics in the activity summary? Till the user have read them. Currently those are not included because the topics were created before the latest summary mail…

Thankyou @erlend_sh. Is there a way to see how many people read/click links on the email?

We do not currently track this. Feel free to start a separate topic for it in #feature with as much information as possible about your use case.


@klemenstruc I too am interested in this. Has it gotten traction anywhere else? (I’ve looked and have not found). Perhaps @pfaffman has skills on hand to do same?

Is there a way to limit the options to some subset of this?

I’m writing a custom Activity Summary email, and would like to respect the user’s selected frequency, but only within limits that make sense for our group.

You could probably override the defaults with a plugin. You can ask in #dev for some guidance on how to implement it.

1 Like

That would be great to be able to setup the frequency for the first 50 members.
Currently it’s inevitably ‘daily’… but for some communities it’s too much and we can generate the opposite of what we are looking for, can’t we?

This may be a dumb question, but does this mean if the user does have access to these private categories, their topics will be included in the summary email?