Engaging users with email notifications of posts

We’re looking at using Discourse to increase communications between staff of a non-announcement nature, i.e. discussions :).

Given the attitudes of our staff, it is likely that the primary mechanism for interacting with Discourse will be via email. In testing, one of the challenges I’m trying to fix is how to get Discourse to send email notifications of new posts when they occur; note that Summary emails are working but this isn’t what the staff are used to.

I’ve set “default categories watching” to the category we’re using for testing but that doesn’t seem to have triggered an email to the test users when I posted to that category.


  • Does that setting only apply to accounts that get created after the setting is configured?
  • If it automatically applies to all accounts, any suggestions when there wasn’t an email sent?
  • Is there a better/more appropriate way of achieving what I want? I thought that maybe “default categories watching first post” might also be relevant, but that would seem to only apply to replies to a post (since you are watching after a topic has been created)?

I know that users can turn on “mailing list mode” but I’m not sure (yet) if that is the right way to approach this - I’m trying to strike the right balance on the level of email people are going to receive.

Thanks for any suggestions.

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I can’t speak to the category watching question as I haven’t used it, but one thing to note is that Discourse tries to be intelligent about only sending email to users when they’re not currently active on the platform. If Discourse registers them as being currently online I believe the default is to only send an internal notification i.e. they’ll see the little notification dot in the upper right, but would only get an email for the notification if they’re not active on the platform. Basically trying to not send redundant notifications. So if you were doing these tests w/ the test user account online that may be why the email wasn’t sent. (If not, then must be a different explanation!)

I haven’t used mailing list mode either but my impression is that’d be the most extreme option on the send users email for everything end of the spectrum.

Correct. It does not override existing user’s settings. See How do I set category tracking level defaults historically for how to apply this retroactively.


Right. There are a couple plugins that will force a group to watch a particular category, but the user/category pairings are hard-coded, so you’d need to modify the plugin for your particular setting (if it’s one that lets you install such plugins).

If users see a post/topic on Discourse, Discourse doesn’t mail it to them unless you turn on the email-me-harder user preference.