Improving the user experience for email-only users


(Dave McClure) #1

I think a combination of things would help users who rarely visit the site, but want to interact via email, in a way that much more closely matches the model Discourse has for on-site usage.

Here’s the rough idea for Mailing List 2.0 mode:

  • All new topics are sent by email, but not posts
    • If a topic is replied to, then it is watched
      (This way, users can continue to interact with that topic via email-only).
    • A button allows the user to watch the post in a single-click too, without signing into the site.
  • A periodic digest of all new posts are sent out
    • Daily is the default frequency, but can be adjusted
    • The digest first lists the topics that have had replies, in a format similar to the /latest page
      • Each row has a link to watch the topic
    • Below the topic-list all posts are shown, grouped by topic
    • Each post in the digest has a reply-by-email link to reply to that post
      • Replying to a topic in this fashion also automatically sets it to watched of course.

This “mailing list 2.0” mode is what I think we should be striving for as a default for these email-only users.

Related topics:

(Michael Downey) #2

Just to clarify:

I assume when you say “digest” here you’re talking about the more traditional LISTSERV-style digest (show all threads) rather than the Discourse “digest” (a sampling of popular threads) … right?

(Dave McClure) #3

Yes, sorry… that’s what that word still means to me :-/

(Miroslav Schlossberg) #4

I agree with @mcwumbly on all except I really like Discourse digests as they are easy to read.

It could be added as configuration value (send immediately via email all new topics, seperate configuratuon option to enable sending all including every new post), and leave digest as is :wink:

(Dave McClure) #5

One of the great things about Discourse when you use it through the web interface is that it automatically helps you follow topics you have shown an interest in:

  • Topics you start are automatically set to “watching”
  • Topics you’ve read enough or replied to get set to “tracking” and are highlighted in your unread list

But as an email-only user, it means nothing to “track” a topic. So we want to set topics to “watching” if we want to boost their signal. And you can’t see what I’m reading via email, so we need to give a more explicit link to allow them to trigger that change without requiring a reply.

Also, we want to give them a low-noise way to see every post they are not watching so that when they do automatically watch a topic, there is actually a boost in signal.

The above features attempt to cover these concerns for email-only users.

Each one of these features may have some value independently, and the details can be sorted out as they are implemented if the team and community sees the value here.

Regarding the format of the all-new-posts digest email, I think that if the topic list were shown first [with anchor links to the related posts below](](Anchor Link functionality across email clients | Campaign Monitor), that would give me a pretty easy way to catch up on the updated topics I’m not watching yet that pique my interest without first leaving my email client.

(Erlend Sogge Heggen) #6

The suggestion is valid, but I’d like us to live with the new granular mailing list mode for at least a couple of months before looking into other improvements.

I also have a feeling that the new combined emails could be extended to cover significant portions of the use case you’re trying to accommodate with the above.

For instance, topics could come with unsubscribe-buttons:

(by no means a final mockup)

(Dave McClure) #7

I’m sure the combined updates will help a lot, but I think the suggestions above are things that could make Discourse much more user friendly to email-only users.

The fundamental thing is to realize that for email-only users we want to:

  • Use digests/combined updates or “new topic” notifications as a replacement for visiting the “latest” page
  • Use the watching status in place of tracking

It’s not really a single “feature”, though, so I’m going to recategorize this in #ux and re-title it to “Improving the user experience for email-only users”


I don’t know if this should be a new topic, but:

I’ve enabled Mailing Listing mode for a daily digest, which I like alot, thanks! :+1:

However, I still want to be able to Watch threads and get an individual email for any replies.

I note that I am seeing:

Does this mean all new replies will be in my digest or I will get individual emails?

BTW, I couldn’t find a “testing” category. Seems like that would be handy around here… (and should muted by default)

(Jeff Atwood) #9

Testing is, go nuts