My users think a reply will be a private reply

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

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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.

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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

image

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

image

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The same issue has popped up on my site.

In addition to that, it occurred to me that the editor in a private message exchange looks exactly the same:

Solutions could include adding an extra button to the post menu, so that you can choose whether to reply publicly or privately. An icon like this could work.

Another idea would be to add a “reply privately” button at the bottom of the editor.

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The text of all these buttons can be edited.

It’s hard to differentiate between the various “Reply” texts as there are about half a dozen, though.

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I use the Personal Message Bubbles theme component to make it very clear visually when someone is using a DM/PM and when they’re using a normal topic post. It seems to help reduce confusion.

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Not so. We change the submit button, both for whispers, and messages:

image image

Note the submit button says Whisper for a whisper, and Message for a message – and the glyph is different.

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They’re talking about the 2nd or 3rd reply to the PM, which does have the normal reply glyph.

In this case, they would need to check the visibility of the topic.

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Ahhh, maybe that’s the feature request then, when in a PM, the Reply button should always say Message like that. I know @osama is working on making the composer editor glyph at upper left more dynamic

image

… can you take this change to the submit button as well, please?

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This is done in:

https://github.com/discourse/discourse/commit/c9923a3e3e9abd318140f77f06d6472ef28b262b

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Very good, excellent change that should alleviate some of the confusion – thanks for the reminder @sjmscott :beers:

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This is great, thanks!

It seems like the submit button for replying to private messages has been changed as well. :+1: This means we could customize the text of the submit button for posts without affecting the messages composer. We could change “Reply” to something more explicit like “Post Reply” or “Reply Publicly”.

I’m not fully convinced that this entirely solves the original issue, though. When replying to a specific post, the row at the top of the composer still looks like you’re sending a reply to a person rather than the community. The button where you can change the type of post/reply is still hardly identifiable as a button.

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I think a simple visual clue of a caret down icon would help identifying this element as a dropdown.

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I’d strongly oppose such a change, as it’s visually noisy. The outline sufficiently conveys a button, and now that the icon changes more for each post type, the dynamic nature of the button is illustrated more vividly:

image

What Discourse could do, for new users, is pop up a small education panel (unless you opted out at sign up) that explains what the button is, and what it is for, cc @tobiaseigen. It’s another example of just-in-time education, though IMO a bit of a weak one as this is meant to be advanced user functionality.

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