Notify Feature can be easily abused

I think it might be more useful if it allows you to attach a response.

Also, it’s a way more subtle method of directing somebody’s attention to a specific topic/reply.

Yeah, but I have a feeling that’s about to change now that Discourse is unifying the share dialogs into one.


Looks like we have two approaches here:

  1. remove the notify button entirely from the share popup. From now on users copy/paste links to share topics with other people.
  2. make the notify button work the same way as an @ mention. Limits are the same as @ mentions, and the email the notified person receives is the same as an @ mentioned person gets so if they decide to reply by email, the reply will reach the topic.

I personally like the 2nd option, but I’m sure others will want to disagree with me.


I prefer option (1) @codinghorror , your call? (1) is a lot easier to do (simply removing code) and the feature as it stands is already problematic cause the “ping” gives you absolutely no context of why you are being pinged.


Yeah, I also prefer option two. I feel like we should give the “Notify” feature a chance and try to fix it instead of removing it altogether.


But at the end of the day, I don’t really care, as long as we can remove the danger, I am happy.

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Of course, but I think we could easily turn this situation around.

Hence, my proposal. :slight_smile:

We could go with this approach.

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Could that approach be open to abuse? Would there be a record of what is written there for moderation? (ie. How easily could it be used to send ‘secret’ messages)


Well is the “Flag” feature also open to similar kinds of abuse?

It could follow the same rules put upon regular replies.

Can’t that already be done through private messages?

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I was thinking primarily of sites with PM disabled, but the Watched Words can help auto-flag/block/etc in PMs as well.

The ‘something else’ flag topic goes to the moderator, so it kind of moderates itself. :slightly_smiling_face: And the option to send a PM flag is removed when you disable PMs.

Ah, but that sounds the same as sending a PM?

(I’m on a site where all conversation is kept on the public boards, and no one can be trusted to chat privately :slightly_smiling_face:)


Ah, true. I’ve never seen a Discourse instance disable private messages though.

Yeah, true.

Maybe there could be some sort of “Notify” logging system available for moderators? All responses sent through the “Notify” feature could go through a basic filter before being sent.

Maybe the “Notify” feature should be disabled in Discourse instances like yours then.

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Yes, it may be an edge case. :slightly_smiling_face:

At the moment, it’s not a popular feature on the sites I use, but relatively benign (not including the OP :slightly_smiling_face:). I don’t know if adding messages is possible, but I thought I’d throw my concerns out there.

If you’re using this alongside PMs, what would be the main difference/usefulness of having a separate Notify Message?


Yeah, I figure that’s because it wasn’t easy to find until now. Assuming it isn’t removed, I’d expect its usage to increase significantly over the coming months.


Sure if that is what you and Tobias think is best then I agree.


The removal is now merged :ship:

From the inception of meta we have 377 usages of this feature.
In the last week it was used 5 times.

2 times to notify an anonymous user.
1 time to bug @codinghorror about the topic discussing this feature
1 time to test on discobot
1 time which may or may not be legit.

Feature is mostly abandonware and for very good reason.

Looking wider into the industry Facebook have 2 features that are similar:

  1. User poking: - which is implemented pretty much the same as the old notify, except that you can only poke a user

  2. Mobile only “Send” feature. Which lets you send a DM to a user of your choosing with the link pre-filled.

So if you have a hyper social feature not implemented by the biggest social network in the world, there is probably a reason (or two):

  • Lack of context - sharing with no context causes tremendous amounts of mental load on the share-ee cause you are stuck scratching head and asking “why?”

  • Asymmetrical warfare - trivial sharing like this is radically less work for the sharer than the sharee

  • Enormous amounts of alternatives that are better - PM link, DM link, email link, paste link in chat, in some cases whisper, in some cases mention

So we have a feature that is largely abandoned, only used by a handful of power users, ripe for abuse (and is abused regularly on meta).

Friction is a feature here, not a bug.


Rest in peace! You won’t(?) be missed!

Ah, that would be me. I was just testing it out… :grin:

As a compromise, would Discourse be willing to offer the “Notify” feature as a #plugin?


We certainly will not build it speculatively, we will wait a month or two and see what shakes out


This works as Notify is not really new just renamed. Interesting it took a few years and a rename for ppl to see it as a problem.

Simply make it so it can be enabled or disabled.


And it’s also gone. :ghost: