On Boing Boing BBS there are ~40 new discussion topics per day created from Boing Boing posts, and each one is attributed in Discourse to the editor who started the topic.
This created a lot of Discourse notification noise for editors, who were automatically notified of each new reply on all their topics – even if those replies weren’t really talking to the author, but addressing the general topic of the Boing Boing post.
Thankfully, BBS topics auto-close in 5 days, so the bleeding does stop eventually. But the “cry wolf” nature of so many notifications meant that the editors disabled almost all automatic notifications on BBS, resulting in a situation where we couldn’t talk to them on the forum either! They’d never see our replies to them, our @name mentions of them… we have to email them directly or PM to get a response.
We decided to make two changes in Discourse to help people who, for whatever reason, spawn a lot of topics in the forum:
Replies generated by clicking the reply button on the first post are now considered replies to the topic. They are no longer considered direct, notify-able replies to the author of the topic. (Replies that quote the first post in some way are still considered replies to the author of the first post.) This change is already in and implemented.
Add an option to the Discourse WordPress plugin allowing auto-created topics to default to regular instead of tracking for the authors. In practical terms, this means the owner of the topic won’t be notified unless they reply again to the topic themselves, and someone replies to that post, or someone @name mentions them.
Number 2 also implies we should make this a per-user option in the user preferences – even if you aren’t using WordPress, if you post 30 topics a day for whatever reason, you’re going to be in a world of notification pain pretty soon without the ability to default your new topics to “regular” instead of “tracking”.
I know it’s kind of a rare-ish set of conditions, but it’s important, because we want topic authors to engage on their topics! Clearing out the notifications so they get just “real” replies directly to them, rather than an overwhelming, mind numbing stream of generic “new reply to your topic” is a prerequisite for any kind of meaningful engagement.