Make watching a category more prominent for users

I’m interested in making watching categories a more prominent option for users.

  • I realize I can style the notification button on a category, but it would remain just a small, somewhat obscure icon. I haven’t been able to figure out how to make a more obvious target.

  • Is it possible to add a notification button for each category on the /categories page? That would also serve as an overview of what the user is tracking.

  • Finally, is it possible to make a user watch the first post of a category?

    Here’s my case for this last one: I send a follow up message to our online event attendees (who are already members of our forum). I’d like to add something like “If you enjoyed this webinar on topic X, you can sign up to be notified of future events and discussions on this topic: LINK”.

    Without the LINK, I’d have to literally describe how to navigate to the appropriate page, click on the relevant icon, and select from a list of options.

Any help for accomplishing the above, or other suggestions for making it easier for people to manage their category notifications, would be much appreciated!

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I’d find this useful too. The email notifications have links to an action page (for want of a better word) - unsubscribe from the topic etc. Something like that but for category watching would be good.

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The problem I see with that is that it would probably turn into a CSRF attack vector (someone could post a link somewhere that executes some action in discourse, and anyone who clicked would have that action applied to their account, if they are authenticated in the discourse site pointed by the link). The link could be masked as a short link too, like bit.ly/some-key.

In most cases (or all?), GET requests should not change state. That said, such a problem (CSRF vulnerability) could be avoided, or at least mitigated, if the link requires a token generated by a moderator (or admin), to execute a specific action (related to the token), but I don’t know if it justifies the effort, although in cases like you pointed it may be useful (especially for people that don’t know how to navigate the internet very well).

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I can see the potential problem here. Would a “splash screen” (again I don’t know the right word) help? Like when you click on the email notification link it doesn’t automatically do anything - it gets you to choose what to do.

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That’s a possible solution, like what happens for unsubscribing from emails.

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That could be good. I bet lots of people never even look at a category page (looking only at categories/latest, and individual topics).

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I’d be perfectly happy with a link that takes users to the forum where a dialog asks something like this :

Do you want to watch the first post for CATEGORY?

You will be notified of new topics in this category but not replies to the topics.

Yes / No [buttons]

Edit: and it looks like the API already allows this (without the dialog) for topics: Discourse API Docs

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Looking at this again… “Preferences - categories” has this overview, but lets you add categories to the five possible notification statuses. Essentially what we are thinking of would be the same thing, but the other way round, letting you add notification statuses to the list of categories. I think that might be more intuitive,