My users think a reply will be a private reply

My users are very confused by the two different reply buttons. In particular, many users think that when they see this. . .


they think that it is going to be a private reply.

I’d hate to do it, but I think there would be more clarity if I was able to add “Public Reply to User” or “Public Reply to Topic”


I’m playing around with bother of these options, but I dislike both

Side Rant

I LOVE Discourse, but I’m SO tired of trying to train users.


When a user makes a post and someone wants to reply to the post, the “Reply” arrow as you show above means you are replying to that particular person’s post. The other Reply button is to reply to the topic. To reply privately, you would send the person a PM (Private Message). To do this, after clicking on the reply button at the bottom right of the post you want to reply to and the editor pops up, click on the Reply arrow by the user’s avatar - as your image shows. A menu will pop up giving the option to send a private message to that user.
If you have a “How-to” category for your forum, you can create a Wiki post that can be added to from time to time explaining details such as this. Or you can create a new topic under this category for a more “individualized” way of explaining things. Instead of a “How-to” category, you can use a FAQ category to assist your users. But getting them to read such categories is another task altogether… your “side rant.”

Yep, I have tons of tutorial videos and instructions. Some of my
“digital immigrants” with the new-fangled Discourse.

Here is a tutorial that I made to help solve the problem. Having everything redacted for this forum makes it difficult to read.

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It’s nice that you could do that for your users. I have to admit that there are some that seem to need to be held by the hand as they’re walked through. I’ve seen similar tutorials for m8software. The developer made some really nice tutorials… walking users slowly through them with his voice explanation as he went through how to do things. That was really going all out for his software users. Kind of like the old DOS help files that literally explained what each function does, how to use it (and any switches), and how to troubleshoot it… and without having to be online. Which makes me laugh when someone can’t connect, goes to Windows “help” to troubleshoot the problem and Windows tries to connect - because MS’s help files are only online now. :roll_eyes:

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I would be inclined to pin a topic that says something like ‘this is a public forum, unless you create a new personal message, you are relying publicly’ or similar


Or maybe a sub-banner? That would take up less real estate I think. Either way is better than nothing since most people talk before they think anyway. :innocent: :roll_eyes:

Or maybe don’t worry about this case too much? I think for most people who use forums it’s pretty clear that hitting reply in a forum topic will lead to a reply being posted in the topic, to everyone who has access to that topic. For those who are surprised by this, they will learn as soon as they save their reply.

@sjmscott How many people have complained about this in your community? It has never come up in my community before and we’ve been using discourse for 5 years.


5-6 users have complained that they don’t know when something will be a public or private reply. We are a mostly in-person community and many are over 60.

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Assume all replies will be public unless you see strong visual indications otherwise… on Discourse this is primarily the envelope glyph.

This brings up a good point, when composing a message, the reply glyph at upper left should arguably change to the PM glyph


But the “actually post this” button has the PM glyph also, so…