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 the forum, or been sent an email from the forum 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, or been sent an email from 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 perceived 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 edit the style of the digest even more check Customize and style the Discourse outer email template

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. To edit the text used in the digest, search for user_notifications.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.

Digest email FAQ

Where can I change the frequency, how often a summary mail will be sent?

Change the default user preference in the default email digest frequency admin setting.

Is there a place to see statistics or a report of the amount of e-mails sent?

You can see the list of sent emails from your site’s Admin / Emails / Sent page. You can see the total number of emails sent per day with the Emails Sent dashboard report (found by clicking the Reports link from your admin dashboard.)

For a detailed report of emails sent per type of email, you can query the email_logs table with the Data Explorer plugin.

For self hosted sites, you can also usually see reports at your transactional mail provider, which will also include delivery status, bounces, etc.

What is the technical requirements and the costs associated with sending email to forum members?
I guess an account with a transactional email provider, like Sendgrid, is needed?

That is correct for self hosted sites, take a look at the email recommendations.

Email delivery is included with all of our hosting plans. If you go with our hosting, everything to do with sending and receiving emails on your Discourse site is configured for you.

What are the reasons for which Discourse wouldn’t send a digest to a user who has the digest setting enabled (digest admin setting set to daily, the forum is active with new posts/threads, the user hasn’t visited for multiple days/weeks)?

You can see the logic that is used here:


Other than the COALESCE statements, the code can be read as though it’s English. COALESCE will return the first value in the brackets following the statement that does not evaluate to NULL . For example, if last_seen_at returns NULL the value 2010-01-01 will be used instead.

The only reason they wouldn’t receive the digest is if the user was created via the sync_sso route and has never visited the forum. See Summary emails, new users and SSO - #6 by simon for details about that.

Is there a way to change the order the comments are listed with the most recent at the top?

The email summary is not really meant to be a comprehensive or chronological “digest” of forum activity that replaces logging in. It’s a short summary to hopefully encourage users to click through to the forum to see everything that has happened since they last logged in, with a few items of information of specific interest to the user. I wouldn’t worry too much about the ordering.

How do we know on which date is email digest triggered - If I set frequency as ‘Monthly’?

Check the user’s last_emailed_at column at the users table and the digest_attempted_at column at the user_stats table.