I don’t know if I’d call it a Frankenstein monster, but I think it’s flawed.
1 - IMHO it might be OK if they knew ahead of time. I imagine most people expect an email to either go unanswered or to be answered via email. I also think most people expect that email will be relatively private and might be upset if the content was public.
2 - I’m not so sure Discourse would be the best choice for an “inbox”. Discourse is designed to be a discussion platform, not some sort of a “ticket system”.
Yeah it is a weird setup… But no one said the content will become public; the categories will be hidden and limited to a restricted amount of users.
Also; that a tool is designed to do one thing, doesn’t mean you can try to make it do something else. What works for me, doesn’t have to work for you.
Basically what I am trying to see is to use a tool I already have (Discourse) for something new, so I don’t have to setup a new tool for this purpose.
But it might be that I will setup mailman for this purpose after all, if this fails.
Keep in mind this will result in some confusing UX for your email users. The emails they get as replies will have a link to the topic that’s been created, but if they try to go to that topic they’ll be unable to access it. This is why PM groups are recommended practice for this type of workflow.
Users who email the group email address will get staged if they don’t have account (assuming that is configured). You can still reply to them via group inbox, and users can reply via email (assuming that is configured). Works great as a support inbox.