How to simplify DM's to individuals

I like how the basic tools used in discussions are also used for DM’s. This is very helpful for group messages But as I’ve been engaging with new users, I think this DM/PM (direct message or private message) experience can be confusing to new users.

Are there some simple CSS fixes that could be enabled to make it look more like a message thread than a discussion thread when messaging an individual. For example… seeing all the stats that you’d see in a discussion doesn’t make as much sense when engaging with one other individual via DMs.



Try this:

.archetype-private_message .topic-map {
    display: none;

Personally I find that view count very useful to know if a message has been read. It’s only really relevant in 1:1 messages, because it doesn’t tell you who viewed the message.

If you remove the add/remove button, how would you invite someone else to a discussion and move from two participants to more?

We don’t really use the term private message. Personal message is fine, but there’s no suggestion of privacy.


I believe this is important to keep because there are many instances where DMs are circulating between a group of users, rather than 1on1.


I think the key part of the OP request is to only make those changes only when “messaging an individual”.

AFAIK there aren’t any CSS selectors though which differentiate the number of parties involved.


I appreciate all the points here from @jordan-vidrine and @Stephen (as always ツ)

That’s a good point about wanting to be able to see if it’s been viewed by the other person. I actually like as much data as I can find/have/see but I was just concerned about the UX here. I have a handful of DM’s that I’ve sent and the person either hasn’t seen it or hasn’t replied. We’re just getting started though. (and there are a few people that have replied to the DMs)

I’ve found that most DM experiences, on social platforms) are reminiscent of text message threads… you post something… someone else responds. All you see is your name/avatar and their name/avatar and the messages between you. Same goes for group messaging. Very simplistic.

I suppose if I wanted something like that I’d need to create a theme or something to have that type of UX?

As with most UX conversations from people who are not UX experts, they ask for something that they don’t necessarily want, or what might not be the best solution. I’m still deliberating over whether to remove this “topic-map” or not… but I’m happy that @Canapin pulled through with a working solution, if I wanted to remove that box of data, as a means of simplifying the UX…


Let me preface this by saying this isn’t the most concise answer… :smile:

I’m not exactly sure on what you would need to specifically target with a component/theme.

It would involve re-writing the discourse template/component being used to display PMS to the user. Re-using discourse templates/components is covered in the Developer’s guide to Discourse Themes. Taking a look there if you haven’t may help put you in a better direction.


I totally agree that this is a significant problem for new users to Discourse, and one that really needs to be addressed. I struggled with this during my first few weeks on the platform, and are seeing my users struggling with it now.

While trying to solve this just now, I’ve found this Theme Component helpful, but it is only a partial solution because it doesn’t differentiate between PMs to individuals or PMs to groups, nor affect emails:

It would be great to have this problem addressed.


Hey Nathan! thanks for the reply. I think that plugin would help address my original question, sufficient for my needs. The only downer I can see is that it’s a THEME and not a THEME COMPONENT. Is there a way to apply these adjustments as a COMPONENT to my existing default theme?

@nathankershaw kindly showed me this earlier.

You can convert a theme to a theme component (and vice versa) using the “Convert” button at the bottom of the theme.



Thank you so so so much! You made my day! I never knew this but am so happy to use it!

Now I need to think back to some of the other themes that I wanted to use but thought it was not possible b/c they were not components!

@Rhidian provided another brilliant solution to changing the appearance and styling of DM’s, by making them look more like chat bubble messages, as you can see over here:


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