More granular mailing list mode

I’m making this proposal in response to the following topics:

I think the vast majority of the problems & shortcomings discussed in the topics above would be solved by slightly more granular options for the “mailing list mode”. Now that we have the option to [disable mailing list mode] altogether, I think it’s okay to give it a space of its own.

I wanna go from this:
(yes that’s a mockup but it accurately represents our current layout)

(also note how “Send me an email for every new post” aka Mailing List Mode is subtly tucked in between those other settings like it’s no big deal)

To this:

  • The “digest” has been renamed to a “activity summary” and moved to its own section.
  • “Send me an email for every post” has been moved into the “Mailing list mode” drop down
  • Mailing list mode is now a section of its own, with 3 modes, varying in degrees of delivery frequency.
  • Enabling mailing list mode will override Activity Summary to avoid excessive email sendouts.

3 modes for mailing list modes:

  • Daily updates (NEW)
    Every 24h, send the user a complete list of all new posts created in that time period. Time of sendout should be some sane default, like 6am (like the daily newspaper), based on the user’s selected timezone.

  • Combined updates (NEW)
    Send chunked summaries of 25. Good for extremely busy forums.

  • Email for every new post
    Same as it always has been, with one addition borrowed from Google Groups: Mention the average number of posts per day - e.g. “about 13 per day” - so that the user can easily gauge how busy their inbox will be with this setting enabled.


A couple tweaks to suggest:

  1. Put everything above in under a larger Email heading
  2. Rename what is called Email above to Notifications.
  3. Rename Highlights Email to Highlights

A couple other ideas, which may be based on unvalidated assumptions:

  1. Rename Mailing List Mode to Subscriptions
  2. Under Subscriptions, list each category with a drop down including the choices you have shown above, plus the default setting of “None (Just send me notifications based on my preferences)”

I was going to suggest this!

Since highlights and Mailing List are mutual exclusive, remove the highlights section, and put it into the mailing list mode select menu:

Would become:

  • Disabled, only notifications
  • Weekly Summaries
  • Daily Summaries
  • Send combined updates (every 25 new messages)
  • Send me an email for every new post (about 13 per day)

I think it would be great if users could configure the time of the daily summary, but I do understand that is another setting to add to the page. For me, I would much rather get the summary at the end of the day, but I know plenty of others for whom having the the email in their inbox when they wake up would be preferred.


This is a very good idea, I like this a lot.


I’d like to revisit this if and when the Preferences page is split up into sections.

Maybe, but then again that’s also something each site could tweak as they see fit. “Mailing list mode” is after all something that was made first and foremost to appease mailing list users.

That’d be kinda cool. Would require some clever UX for forums with 100+ categories though. It’s out of scope for the first iteration, but mockups for this would be very welcome.

I don’t agree with this, because:

  1. While digest mails are default, mailing list mode is a power-user mode and it needs to be clearly distinguishable as a non-standard.
  2. Mailing list mode is globally on/off toggleable, so if an admin turns it on, it’s very unclear where the new functionality is at if it’s just snuck into an existing drop-down.

A second drop down in each row could show the tracking status for each, and replace the section at the bottom we have for that now.

A filter to show which ones have been overriden would follow conventions established elsewhere in the system and alleviate some of the pain with large numbers of categories.

1 Like

Now comes the difficult part: What should the template for “daily summary” and “combined update” look like? (they will share the same template)

A daily summary from Google Groups looks like this:

So you almost just flip the existing Digest template upside down by showing new topics up top. Below, you show all new posts for each updated topic.

After trying to clear up some confusion with new users about how the weekly digest works I’m looking forward to being able to recommend that certain users turn on the “daily updates” mailing list mode option when it becomes a thing.

This would have to be a 1.6 feature.

edit: still lovin’ this feature proposal :heart: particularly the “estimate how many mails this will be before I agree to it” bits.


I’ve gotten a good head start on this here:

although I haven’t baked the new functionality of actually sending emails just yet.


Some UI tweaks to consider (and they don’t have to hold up your initial PR if you can do something simpler as far as I’m concerned):

  1. Round the expected email/day to the nearest integer
  2. If less than one is expected show it as “less than 1” in the UI, rather than 0

For the “combined updates” option, should that really be “combine updates into at most 25 posts/email”. That is, if there are 10 posts every day for 3 days, should I get 3 updates or 1? I think I should get 3. You could also show the expected number of combined update emails per day rather than the number of messages in the post, by dividing by the magic number 25.

But… all that said, do people really think it’d important to have the combined updates feature be based on batch size?

What if it the options other then “every message” were just time-based:

  1. Send me 1 combined update a day
  2. Send me 2 combined updates a day
  3. Send me 4 combined updates a day
  4. Send me 1 combined update an hour
  5. Send me an email for every post

I’m hoping the distinction of getting notified of new topics, but not posts does not get lost here. Further, I think that notification level should be able to be specified at the category level (ie notification of all posts for category 1, just new topics category 2, and no notification for category 3). And the notification would be applied to both digest delivery and individual email delivery.


If we’re even gonna have the “25 messages per mail” option (I wouldn’t be strongly opposed to cutting it) I’m not in favour of going against the Google Groups convention. We might as well follow their lead as far as mailing list features go.

In your use case scenario, on a forum with <25 updates a day, the “Daily updates” and the “25 updates bundle” is the same thing. This is confusing. And a lot of forums are in the “<25 updates a day” category.

These options won’t make much sense to the user until they’ve lived with one of them for a while, which is a bit of a catch 22. In other words I think you’re presenting the user with a choice that they’re not equipped to make.

I care deeply about email, but email users have got to make some concessions. If we add too many granular options to accommodate email-users we inadvertently overwhelm the average user with options they don’t care about.

Email-users are very attached to their own workflow. Our job is to not get in the way of the granular options of their email client.

  • Want updates more frequently than daily? Go nuclear with an update for every new post. Consume to taste.
  • Want updates less frequently than daily? Manage it on your own end with your email client’s filtering rules or what-have-you.

Valid concerns, but they are both stretch goals and won’t be part of the first iteration.


This feature is finished: