Mentioning Categories instead of Groups?

Had an interesting idea come up in an email:

You can easily include any other group on a thread by CC’ing them. Currently you can only @mention users and groups, and groups can only be created and managed by admins. So there’s no easy way to @mention a group of self-organized people. Suggestion: Enable @mentioning categories. @mentioning a category would notify anyone watching or tracking the category about the post, as if they themselves were @mentioned. (There’s a second option here to enable user-created/-managed groups, but that seems much harder.)

I wonder, would it make sense to have a category be mention-able? E.g. if I typed @dev and that pinged everyone who was watching the dev category?

I know Quora had something like this for a long time, if you followed a particular subject you’d get pinged when “stuff” happened to that subject.

Or is this merely overloading the category concept too much with group stuff? Hmm.

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One option could be to use hashtag notation for categories, which closely follows what hashtags usually indicate: some topic that’s being referenced, versus some person or group. It would also then give you the flexibility for it to be able to have its own rules for notification instead of potentially confusing people if it inevitably behaves slightly differently than @mentions.

So for example in this thread if I wrote, “Is this actually a #bug?”, it would highlight #bug as a link to the bug category and either notify or show in the inbox of all the people watching the bug category, depending on whether they’re watching or tracking the category.

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To me, it kind of feels like it would be. If you want to get the attention of the people who watch the dev category, post in dev. If the post does not belong there, why are you trying to spam that group of people?

Your email corespondent seems to be trying for a quick-and-easy fix for what he is really requesting:

What would be the consequences of attempting this?

  • Would such groups each have their own protected category?
  • What happens when such a group runs out of steam and disbands?
  • Who decides what users are allowed in? The group creator? Some combination of high-trust users that are already members?
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I agree it feels dangerously close to overload, but that’s why I really like @ghodss’ suggestion of lumping this into a canonical hashtags plugin.

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Apart from pinging I would at least like it to have the category have the same layout as in the list view. So in stead of feature, you’d have .

I want to use hash for this, so #bug would be a mention of the bug category, with autocomplete like @ does for usernames.

I believe that categories are quite analogous to “channels” in Slack and following the same conventions will benefit everyone.

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In slack the ability to mention a category can be limited to admins only, will that be the case here too? As having regular members be able to do this, seems dangerous to me.

The use case for this is not clear to me, and I agree with @Sailsman63 that if you want to get the attention of those who watch a category, post there.

  • What is gained by making categories mentionable?
  • If a category is mentioned inside of itself, do you get 2 notifications?
  • What happens with categories that are not open to everyone? If mods is viewable to only staff, and I mention #bugs which is open to everyone, what will those that watch bugs see in their notifications?
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For example, a lot of clueless users post here who have not searched the howto category at all. So I reply

Please look in the howto category

If I instead said

Please look in the #howto category

That would automatically be linked to the category, perhaps with a mouseover or hover “category card” explaining what it is, etcetera. So it would save me a fair bit of time. Also for longer category names, you can type

#b → produces autocomplete of bugs
#r → produces autocomplete of releases

So it’d be more efficient, to refer people to a category rather than typing the whole word. Plus the hyperlink.

Benefits seem quite clear to me. I don’t really care about category “mention” notifications, and I don’t think anyone else does either, so none would occur.

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This I would love to have, but the notifications concern me.

Edit: Just saw your ninja edit, never mind about my notification concern.

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Oh, that part I agree with, I thought you were stating that since I watch howto, I’d get pinged when you use #howto instead of just showing a card that tells the user about howto. It is the me getting pinged to death, that I do not like. I don’t really see what value I as a user who is watching howto get when someone mentions the category in a topic not in that category (especially using your example of informing a user of such a category).

Sure, it may eventually be a topic of interest to me, but when it gets moved to howto, I’ll eventually see it anyway.

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I’ll be implementing this soon!

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Could be useful, especially when you have a lot of traffic from new/low experience users[quote=“codinghorror, post:9, topic:14697”]
I don’t really care about category “mention” notifications, and I don’t think anyone else does either, so none would occur
[/quote]

Which means this is really an entirely different feature from what the topic started with…

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I’ve been thinking of possible use cases where an actual “category watchers” type of notification might come in handy

For example, I post in Cat “A” and realize that those that watch Cat “B” should read the post too.

AFAIK currently the only way would be to start a topic in Cat “B” saying “hey, read this post in Cat A”

That feels a bit too prone to cross-posting to me.

And I’m wondering if some would feel annoyed getting a notification for a post in the other category.

I’m thinking a possible approach would be to have Tags corresponding to categories

Not ideal as Tags are per topic rather than per post, but it would allow those that are Watching the Tag to get a notification.

It comes to the point of full hashtags support, and the possibility of watching hashtags.

\o/

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Will this feature intelligently maintain a category-link even if the URL changes?

This happens sometimes, either by a changed slug or going from sub-category to parent category or vice versa.

  • https://meta.discourse.org/c/feature/spec --> https://meta.discourse.org/c/spec

  • https://meta.discourse.org/c/feature/spec --> https://meta.discourse.org/c/feature/specifications

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Nope those would break the links just like how changing one’s username will break all existing mentions as well. :smile:

Yeah, I don’t know how easy or difficult it would be to do it, but it seems like it’d be pretty helpful to add an ID to category routes like we have in topics so they can survive a reorganization or renaming…

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Yea that could probably be done though I’m not sure if we’ll be ok with https://meta.discourse.org/c/1 instead of https://meta.discourse.org/c/feature/spec.