Making sense of notification and email options

So I am trying to figure out how email settings work, and there is this confusing matrix of options that I’m not sure how they relate:

  • Emails tab:
    • Send me an email when someone messages me: always / only when away / never
    • Send me an email when someone quotes me, replies to my post, mentions my @username, or invites me to a topic: always / only when away / never
    • When I don’t visit here, send me an email summary of popular topics and replies
    • Enable mailing list mode
  • Notifications tab
    • Consider topis new when
    • Automatically track topics I enter
    • When I post in a topic, set that topic to
    • Notify when liked

So my questions are:

  • Do the settings on the Notifications section have any impact on what emails are sent in any situation?
  • Do topics that are tracked or watched have any impact on what emails are sent in any situation?
  • What categories are emails sent for when mailing list mode is on? Is it supposed to be the entire site or just certain categories? If the latter, how does one select which categories to get emails for?
  • The help text for mailing list mode says it “overrides the activity summary.” When it’s on, though, the warning box says “Mailing list mode enabled. Email notification settings are overriden.” So does that mean that the first two settings I mentioned above are always “always” when mailing list mode is on?
  • Is there a difference between enabling mailing list mode and listing all categories in the “watched” section under notifications? Does being “notified of all new posts and topics” imply an email also?

Have you had a look at Discourse New User Guide?

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I feel silly admitting that I didn’t know it existed, but indeed I didn’t. (Side question: Where should I have seen this?)

It helped clarify some things - so thanks for mentioning it! But after reading through it, most of my questions remain. For instance, the relationship between watches or tracked topics and emails is still quite unclear.

So apparently the core concept of a “notification” in Discourse is that upper-right badge. I guess this is a bit of an overloaded word, because I would consider “email notifications” and “browser notifications” to also be notifications… Ah well.

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Why don’t you just use the site and see what happens?

For things you watch you’ll get an email unless you’ve seen it on the site (uh, unless you have turned on the email me anyway option).

Mostly it’ll probably do whatever you want.

A question like “I want x and get y” can get an answer. *I don’t understand notifications" is harder to deal with.

OK,how about this: I’d like to get an email about everything in a particular category, and regular notifications (things I watch, mentions, etc.) in all others.

It seems that I’d want mailing list mode for this, but the only way I can see to get that for just one category is to mute all the others, which would mute all the other desired notifications also.

Set the category notification state to “watching”, in that case. Visit the category page and look at the upper right for the notification control.