Email Notification recipients unclear when PM is sent to multiple users

When a private message is received in Discourse it looks like this:

Note the list of users.

When the private message notification is received by Email - it is not clear if there are other recipients.

I would suggest that a list of other recipients is included to avoid any confusion.


Where exactly would this be shown in the email? Mockup?

Perhaps something similar to this, with the user receiving the email being first.

And when there are say over 5 users sent the message then, then display the first 4 and add a link (9 other users) to see the rest.
This is to avoid the issue of mass private message if such a problem exists.


Yep, that’s what it needs.

Email notifications probably need some ground-up love for sure, but this would be far good enough for now.

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Just checking in to see if anyone is interested in looking closer at this. We are starting to use Messages more, but there is a lot of confusion for recipients when the email notification comes as to who they are replying to.


The change proposed is super noisy, I would be much more open to an option that adds multiple duplicate reply keys to an email to have in all the names into the to field of the email.

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I too would welcome this change as an alternative to my initial proposal.

However you’d have to consider that there can be no content specific to a single user in the body of the email…
… this might limit you in the future.

Can you expand on that, not following…

Not a horrible idea. But if someone did a “Reply All” (which would be the
logical thing to do to make sure everyone got the reply), wouldn’t that
generate errors for duplicate posts?

The way it is working in my mind is that Discourse would be smart enough to deal with this and simply discard the dupes, treat the dupes as simple aliases.

It is a slight departure from the way email works though cause you will not have a way to “just reply” to one of the people.

Your last post has just clarified this for me - ignore my previous “to a single user in the body of the email” comment.

That is true, and I could see some disastrous scenarios where someone tried
to remove others from the email distribution when doing a “Reply All” and
were embarrassed or worse when that reply went to all the recipients!


I would prefer just adding the recipients to the bottom of the email (just like the web view):

and keeping the “reply by email” functions the same. You could add messsaging: “Replies to this message will include all recipients.”

If people want to remove users from the reply, they can start a new email or private message. Seems simpler and more consistent with the web user experience.


This has come up now in my community now that we are starting to make more active use of messaging, especially group messaging. I like all of these suggestions but would love to see something happen as soon as possible to ensure happy uptake of messaging. So can we get some low hanging fruit solution in place?

So far it seems to be:

  • @DeanMarkTaylor suggested adding names at the top of the message
  • @sam suggested adding names as email recipients (a big cc list)
  • @scombs suggested replicating the recipients web view at the bottom of the email

Here’s another idea. In the Group message notification email: change “Visit Topic” to “Visit Message” I suggested the following which @codinghorror seemed to like:


I like adding the “You received this email because…” examples but it doesn’t seem to address the scenario of private messaging between multiple individuals (which is the issue for this topic).

Even a mostly web user may want to reply via email (and they would have no idea if anyone else is part of the message).

A simpler approach for PMs could be adding: “View recipients of this message” with a link to the message or change the current button/link text from “View Message” to “View Recipients.” At least that will get the user to the site where they can see the context. This could even be changed currently by an admin in the Customize Text section for user_notifications.reply_by_email_pm I may give that a go for now.

Good point. Maybe a line could be added: “You received this because it is addressed to you, along with @foo @bar @foobar and n others.” Those would be links. The n others would show if more than 3 users or groups are in the conversation.

(weird issue with the way I used preformatted text - reported over here)

My community found this confusing as well. As @sam noted, the proposed change is super noisy, but some indication is required. Otherwise, someone might reply to a message in their email client thinking they are sending it to just one person, when in fact they’re broadcasting it to a whole group. This clearly will not do.

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For general ideation, this is what Basecamp’s email footer looks like:

This follows from what their topic footer looks like:

I like that Basecamp lists the participants near the reply UI. In Discourse, if you land at the bottom of a topic by clicking on the “Reply” button in an email, you have to scroll all the way up to see who’s involved in the conversation.

It seems clear to me that this is clunky, but I haven’t thought of a concrete way to improve upon things.


I think adding the recipients where tags an categories are for topics is a good idea

It makes it way clearer who the pm is going to. The avatars would have to be tiny so we may have to simply use glyphs there or some other style. (also on mobile you don’t get the docking so you would lose out)

In emails it is a trickier issue. But I am open to displaying the list at the absolute bottom in a subdued style.


I think it’s a little too miss-able, but it’s hard to know without testing it (i.e., having my users complain :smile:). It certainly fits in with Discourse’s existing design.

Basecamp just lists them in gray next to the reply link. I’d actually like something a bit more obvious, but maybe this is sufficient. I’m sure they’ve tested this (in their somewhat different context). I think it’s worth trying and seeing what happens. I’d like to test both of these, but we’re a small group and the users who are likely to give me feedback are even smaller.

Following @DeanMarkTaylor, in both cases, we’d also need to fix how many users to list by name if they exceed X in total. In the email this might look like (with a limit of 5 users):

“Replies to this message will be sent to: Howard Shay, Asuncion Lukowski, Darell McChristian, Belia Graney, Tammi Sato and 7 other users.”

Not sure how the visible users would be chosen, nor how many they should be. Maybe by OP + recent activity, or is that overthinking this?