"mailing list mode" mysteriously deactivated

In a forum I manage, we have had the mailing list mode activated for months. Suddenly some hours ago the setting got deactivated. How can this have happened?

It now looks like this:

mailinglist

Checked the staff action logs and nothing related to this showed up during that time frame.

What could have caused this?

edit: I’ve now re-enabled it and messaged all affected users.

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Discourse now sets the value of the disable mailing list mode setting to true by default. If users on your site were using mailing list mode, setting disable mailing list mode back to false will cause mailing list emails to be sent to them again.

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I see. However this may have impacted potentially all discourse users who use this feature across all discourse installation. I would advise the dev team to be more careful in future situations like this and potentially, not reverse this setting automatically on existing instances.

In our case 20h worth of emails were lost for those people, plus a message to each affected user (and discourse doesn’t make it particularly easy to message people individually).

Regardless, thanks for the answer.

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This decision was not take lightly. It was based on extreme real world problems we saw where email costs for self hosters and other discourse installations went sky high.

We opted for a safer default, to keep costs down for people.

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@sam : The surprise voiced by @deeplow (which I experienced as well) makes me curious: Is there a category that Discourse admins can subscribe to in order to keep apprised of high-level changes—and breaking changes in particular—that are pushed to the community without closely tracking Discourse development?

For me, the change itself wasn’t problematic, it was more being completely caught off-guard by it and then debugging what went wrong. But maybe there’s just an announcements category that I should be following and am not? (browsing, I’m seeing the releases category, but browsing this week’s topics there, I’m not seeing anything that would have caught my eye about this change before it happened, and even knowing what I’m looking for in hindsight, I’m not seeing mentions of it).

Thanks,
-Brad

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I get emails about upgrades. Maybe because of this setting:

new version emails

Send an email to the contact_email address when a new version of Discourse is available.

PS It links to the #release-notes tag.

I see how not knowing ahead of time is upsetting, we try our best to carry the community along and the change was mentioned here

Tracking #release-notes and #feature:announcements would keep you notified of these changes.

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I saw it in the release note, but was surprised it wasn’t given a more prominence.

Changing the default for a new install would make sense, but toggling defaults on an existing forum is perhaps a little unkind on us admins. Please can you not do that in future?

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Hi @TallTrees, changing a default setting is extremely rare. We recognize that it impacts existing sites. I think in the 3+ years I’ve been on the team we’ve done this twice. As Sam said:

We are discussing possible changes to procedure in the event we have to do this in the future. I’d also strongly encourage you to read the release notes - even if we don’t change procedure in the future items like this are in the notes, which are published at the same time we release new betas.

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As a paying customer, I do not expect to have to read the every beta release notes announcement in order to avoid surprising users in this way. We opted for a SaaS solution because running a forum is not our business — we need a communication platform, but maintenance of it is a distraction, not what anyone has time to focus on.

Additionally, as I understand it, “beta” release actually go into production for our sites, so maybe that’s not actually a good designation?

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Going back and re-reading the statement in the release notes, I’d suggest the wording was ambiguous to the nature of what actually changed:

We now disable mailing list mode via site settings by default so sites don’t experience an unexpectedly large cost from outgoing email.

I would suggest that typically when people think of defaults changing, they don’t think their specific choices would be overridden in the future. As this one went, it’s kind of like when YouTube keeps re-enabling “autoplay next video” on new upgrades of their app after I keep disabling it, or when a marketer keeps sending me email because I only opted out of that one fork of their master subscription list.

This is a good suggestion IMHO to keep user perceptions of Discourse high. Otherwise this change would be seen as something breaking for users, not something to improve the experience of admins.

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@mattdm, I don’t disagree with you. You’ll need to trust me that this change has prompted significant discussion amongst the team. We do try and avoid breaking changes like this - especially ones that impact end users. We failed here. We do recognize the impact it had and are sorry about that.

Agreed. And we made that change earlier today. Mailing list mode will be re-enabled on sites where any users had it enabled in their preferences prior the change in default.

Noted.

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Fantastic & thanks for listening :heart:

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