Is there a way for staged users to watch a category?

Is there a way for staged users to watch a category?

I have people who are not tech savvy. Asking them to signup for a forum would be a little too much, but they do want to get regular updates via email. Is there a way to for me to add their email addresses to Discourse and set them to watch a category?


Maybe helpful

Hi @hawm. Thanks for the link! What’s different about my question is that I’m looking for a way to notify staged users, not people who have registered and created their own account.

No, this isn’t possible. Staged means “does not have an account, interacted only via email” so the idea of account level preferences being associated with a user that … has no account … is kind of a non starter.


… except that it does actually work. I have used it in the past, though not in recent months. You can create a staged user by messaging their email address, then immediately go and edit their preferences. You can even edit admin settings to add the staged user to discourse groups. They will then get the email notification which they can reply to as though it were a mailing list.

Another thing I have done recently on my personal forum that seems to work without issues is to invite the user as staged user, then impersonate them via the link at the bottom of the user’s admin settings. In short order the user becomes active even though they have never logged in themselves or set a password. Then you can set up their preferences.

Both of these tricks assume you have gotten permission via other channels - you don’t want to just be doing this willy nilly.

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If it works, it is accidental and more akin to a hack. It could stop “working” at any time.


This is what I needed, thank you! I accessed my staged user via admin, activated their account, then customized their notification settings. I have prior permission.

One of my favorite things about Discourse is staged users because it makes our forum much more accessible. I think it’s great that email addresses can be associated with notification rules and groups.

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Got it. My suggestion would be to close this loophole if it’s unintended and unsupported behavior. E.g. look to see if the user is staged and if so prevent editing prefs or admin settings, and display a notice. When admin tries to impersonate a staged user, display a notice and don’t allow it.

It can be fine to have a command line option to make a staged user into a registered user. After that, we can then edit their prefs and admin settings so they can participate by email.

That said, it would be helpful if admins were allowed to activate a staged user via the web interface as though the user had come and signed up themselves. Not everyone has regular access to the command line and knows how to use it, and there are times when it is time sensitive to get some people up and running on the forum quickly even if they are not able to log in. Two use cases from my experience:

  • on my personal forum, I am collecting family stories with the the help of family and friends. I also organize a weekly family conference call in Sundays. Many of these people are elderly and wary of starting new things, and onboarding them to the forum is not feasible. So what I do is add them to the forum as staged users, by writing a message to their email address. In that message I let them know what is coming and what to expect. Then I log in as them to activate their accounts and set up their notification preferences. After that I start topics with a photo or anecdote I want to learn more about, and mention them. I also send a request for RSVP on Fridays for the upcoming Sunday call. It’s been amazing and wonderfully heartwarming already to get replies! :heart_eyes_cat:

  • at the global legal empowerment network, we work very closely with many individuals who do not have regular access to the internet, and/or are not responsive to joining the forum on a timely basis even though they are reachable by email and other channels. These are people who have completed long forms elsewhere to apply for learning exchanges or leadership courses, or some other event or opportunity organized through my community. We have vetted these folks carefully carefully, and as part of that form they have agreed to join our forum and get our mailings etc. We use the forum to run these events, e.g. using private categories and PM, so it is essential to get these people up and running quickly. Inviting them the normal route is not enough, because in many cases they just can’t respond on a timely basis. Nor is just creating them as staged users by sending them a PM. Sometimes it can be a list of 50 people, and we need to be certain the stragglers are emailed when the group is mentioned so they get pre-event logistical details and assignments to do etc. So we invite as staged users and then if they don’t respond by a certain deadline we go ahead and activate their accounts for them.


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