"Nodding your head" in online communication

I personally feel uneasy when I know that there is some sort of automated feedback built into a software, like “x has visited your profile”, “the other person is typing…” or e-mail receipts. I like to be in control over my “online presence” and not let a stupid machine tell others about my actions and whereabouts.

So instead of automating this, I would suggest some kind of “public mark as read” button/checkbox, you can explicitly tell the author (and possibly all others) that you have read it. I think this could be done nicely as a plugin.


When someone replies to a comment I make in a thred. Just like the LIKE button, have an AKNOWLEDGE button to signal that the person who was replied to, acknowledge/agrees/okays the comment.

This button should only be available if a comment is replied to him.

Peter posts a message or a new thread.
John replies to Peter with a comment.
Peter acknowledges the comment from John by pressing a button.
John now knows by a notification if enabled and a sign or icon in the post that Peter Okayed/agrees or Acknowledges the message.

Just like this, it can be enabled or used when someone is mentioned in the post with the @ sign.

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I think that it’s implemented yet.
If John replies directly to peter’s post, Peter receives already a notification and an email.
Am I getting right your proposal?

Moved your post to this existing discussion on the same topic.

This functionality is unlikely to go into core, but there is a plugin now by @gdpelican called Retort that could serve your use case pretty well.


Reading all the comments, I thought about the following possibility:

When I’m mentioned in a post (with a @), near the mention (or at the end of the post) there could be some “acknowledgement” buttons:

  • I agree
  • I’ll reply soon
  • I disagree

And then show it to the original poster as suggested previsouly:

I think this addresses the privacy concern (signal is sent only if I click).
Of course, if I’ve already replied those buttons should automatically disappear.

One could also think about the “scope” of the acknowledgement (choosing it to be public for instance).

This could then be used to do a poll limited to certain users (for a new feature for instance).

Edit: the “I’ll reply soon” action could trigger a future notification to remind me to actually reply to this post if I forgot it.

I agree with @pekka original post: like and acknowledge are different. Yet, I’m not convinced it makes much difference in practice.

If Facebook is designing 6 “moods” to replace the unique “like” button, it’s because they’re into the surveillance business, and want to gain value by sorting the emotions of people. But Discourse is a different animal.

In any case, such notification should be voluntary to protect privacy. I don’t know about you, but I’ve never ever sent a reading notification by email. It’s only to relieve the tension of your correspondent, and doesn’t bring anything else than expectation from them.

OTOH I’d appreciate to know when someone bookmarks one of my posts, because it’s meaningful with regard to the kind of stimulation people get from my writing: if they bookmark it, it’s probably because it’s a reference, or because they want to act on it later. But that’s already different from nodding.

I see a couple of options to handle this nodding:

  1. do nothing: let people use :heart: to acknowledge and like
  2. replace like with ack and change the icon to :heavy_check_mark: or something more neutral.
  3. propose a choice of icons, with like as default (i.e., if you click and 1 second passes without more action, it’s a :heart:) and other choices such as :broken_heart:, :neutral_face:, :laughing:, :grumpycat:, etc.

I’d go for 1 personally (I :heartbeat: :heart:)

Although 3 sounds “diverse”, I’d recommend against it, because u not want ppl tlkng as if they wrote sms. :troll: :lol: :lol:



You may be interested in the Retort plugin then, as that permits you to use any emoji to show your acknowledgement.

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I am going to revive this a bit due to facebooks latest thingy:

I find this slightly more palatable than what “slack” or “retort plugin” do.

Facebook added 5 flavors of like, and hid it quite intelligently behind a “hover” dialog. I am definately not sure I want this in Discourse core. But it is interesting nonetheless.

I find it more palatable cause

  1. There is less choice (picking one of 1000 emojis is very taxing)

  2. It does not interfere with standard usage, only shows up if you hover on heart.

  3. Is quite unobtrusive. Like “flavor” is attached as extra info to “like”.


Conceptually the same as what Vanilla did forever. Still not a fan.

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Github made quite a mistake in their implementation compared to Facebook:

They always make you think

Default action in Github should be +1 any other action is rare.

The actions they picked are really bad

  • Laugh looks like smile, and besides, laugh seems like a bad fit for Github issues

  • Confused is a pretty poor reaction, if you are confused you should explain why

  • Party is also a bit odd, why is party so different to love ?

Facebook is the least bad of the implementations and the only one I find appealing (but not in core)

In particular I see use for the “sad” reaction frequently enough:

My dog just died



I always like death of dog notices because :cat:

Just kidding, that would be awful. The trick is that :heart: here can also mean sympathy as in “I feel your pain and my heart goes out to you” whereas facebook only had literal thumbs up, and what kind of sicko thumbs up the death of a :dog:.

I am guessing GitHub did the engineer thing and calculated the most common Emojis used on actual real world GH issues and tallied it up and picked the top n.

In particular I see GH failed to accommodate the closed mouth smiley mafia and will subsequently reap the mother effing whirlwind…


That icon is not meant to be “smile” it is meant to be “laugh” (hovering over it shows the true semantics) as in:

The pull request you made is hilarious I am rolling on the floor here laughing out loudly. HA HA HA.

I don’t think so … this is more about someone’s “Colbert” gut.


It’s not clear to me that most communities will want or need multiple :heart: categories, but I think that for some (e.g., someone using Discourse as a teaching tool) being able to mark several such icons could be useful. In my world, they could get a :heart: for submitting, :eyeglasses: for “look again, you’re almost there”, and so on. I would want to be able to connect multiple “reactions,” though, not just one, and then be able to use those to assign badges.

I like the idea of “retort plugin”, but would want to be able to limit the number of icons to some select set. There is no way a community can have a shared conception of what each of 1000 emojis mean.


Customizing the valid emojis is on my list for that plugin.


I’ve seen this a few times on our forum. Most of the time when there is a negative emotion being expressed (sadness, disgust), someone will type it out as a reply, and then everyone likes the reply:

“My dog died yesterday… left me all alone.” (0 likes)

1st reply: " Oh no! That’s terrible. So sorry for your loss." (23 likes)


I see this on my forum a lot.

Especially in the following form:

I Like this! (and blah blah avoid the 20 character mimum length limit)

I don’t think people understand why the character limit is there.

I think It’s there to reduce noise in discussions, and make discussions easier to read for third-party visitors who are not included in the one-on-one.

I feel that the error message (“Post must be at least 20 characters”) should encourage use of the like button.


It already does, for new users. Try it yourself. (this was a great community suggestion that we implemented)


Oh cool! You’re ten steps ahead of me.

I did try, but I’m seeing “Post must be at least 20 characters”. I must not be considered a new user anymore.

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The Retort plugin now does support configurable, limited emoji sets, for admins who are interested in having their users pick from less than 10 million emojis when reacting.


Many many many years later…

I would like to close the loop here, especially since @pekka made a welcome surprise visit on meta today :hugs:

There are 2 things we have done to help in this department.

Firstly, we release the official Discourse Reactions plugin. I find it incredibly valuable especially in closed communities. I do wonder if it makes sense to try it out on meta or not.

Secondly, we have a literal … “Sam has read this” feature that can be enabled on group PMs.

This was first brought up by @jomaxro (we got to close the loop there) Ability to view if PM has been read (Moderation ability?) (and also mentioned by @tobiaseigen )

Announced here: