Mailing list question


Let’s say I have a unique group of people who really only want to interact in one category within our community. They also want to use a mailing list like feature to get all the emails from that category and participate by email. Instead of giving them a mailing list, we want to include them as users on our community platform so their involvement is secure and connected to our organization - perhaps from time to time they’ll look over the fence and see what else is going on. But we want to respect the fact that they only want the mailing list functionality for ‘their’ category.

If they have the mailing list feature turned on, they are in a group together, that group has access to a private category, they have notifications muted for all other categories, and they are watching their private category, will this setup work as desired?

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We handle this in our community by using the category watching settings, which we can set for other members using the following howto. Basically you’d set the mailing list category to WATCHING and the rest to NORMAL. We stay away from mailing list mode altogether.


Mailing list mode won’t send any emails about topics or categories you have muted, so they’d need to mute every other category except the one they care about.

However, this would also mute those categories in the web UI.

I find this question relevant as well for multi-lingual communities. Here, users should use a configuration that allows them to receive only notifications from their language-category they have chosen.

If all other categories would be set to normal, they would still receive in their digest messages they cannot understand from other language categories.


Hi @tobiaseigen,

Thanks for this. I got a bit lost in the technical discussion. Am I understanding you correctly to say that… You modified the standard Discourse settings so that if a user has selected ‘watching’ for a given category, then they receive email updates for every post in that category?

I’m curious why you “stay away from mailing list mode altogether” - any key reasons for this?

@rriemann, great point. It makes sense that people who are focused on a specific language category can receive updates only in their language.

A follow-up question: what happens when a mailing list gets very active? Let’s say there’s 50-60 emails/day in a given category. Is there an option for a Daily or Weekly Digest for the category?

If a user has selected ‘watching’ for a category they’ll receive email notifications for every post in that category, unless they’re active on the site. If they set “Send me email notifications even when I am active on the site” in their email preferences, then they’ll receive email notifications even when they are active.

If I understand @tobiaseigen correctly he’s saying that he sets a certain category to ‘watching’ for all users, so they all receive notifications for that category.

Mailing list mode sends users an email for every post they have permissions to see on the site. So for active instances this can be a huge number of emails, and for diverse instances it can include a lot of irrelevant notifications.

Not that I know of.


Thank you for helping me have a higher confidence in my understanding of these settings.

FWIW, I would request having a Digest option for category notifications. I believe that is a time-tested functionality that would help people stay engaged with Discourse on a busy, active site.

Thanks @LeoMcA! You’ve got it all pretty much right on the nail.

About staying away from mailing list mode… what I’ve learned is simply that discourse is a very different beast from mailing lists. So while the feature is there for those who really don’t ever intend to log in and are stubbornly hanging on to the mailing list way of doing things, it’s a pretty huge compromise in terms of experience and information overload for those people. This is especially true for communities where very different types of conversations are happening in different categories.

If you want to make those people happy, you have to jump through all sorts of hoops and I’ve found it to just not be worth the effort. Better to have them turn off mailing list mode and use the category watching feature for the categories they care most about - or to set it for them.


I think that the team is staying away from explicitly cloning the email digest feature. You can find more discussions on the topic in this thread:

I think in the end someone developed a plugin to mimic some of this functionality: