"Out of office" user indicator

Hey there.

I’m a Community Manager for a forum that does a lot of support for our users, and this typically means I have a lot of topics going on at once. When I’m going to be absent, it’s hard to indicate to everyone that I’m not going to be looking at their responses until I’m back.

For example, I’m about to take a long weekend, and while we have no SLA with our users (and we’re allowed to growl at anybody who harasses us for a quicker response), I would love a way to very visibly indicate that I’ll be back on Monday. I don’t really expect our users to check my user profile to find this out.

Does anybody else feel this need, or have some creative solutions?

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The quickest way to do this with no additional customization would be to create a new group… you could call it “out of office” or whatever you need. The group can have a custom flair icon and user title… so you could do something like this:

Screen Shot 2022-05-25 at 3.15.40 PM

Then when someone is gone they can join that group, and when they’re back, they can leave it.

It’s also worth mentioning that the Discourse Calendar plugin has an availability calendar feature that can do something similar, with the bonus of doing it automatically based on a set date range, but at the moment when someone is away it’s only visible to admins and moderators.

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The most creative solution I’ve done on social networks in general is to replace my profile pic with a screenshot of a message saying something like:

Out of office until May 30...
If urgent, call 555-555-5555

The idea is that if people are going to interact with me, they almost always see the profile pic (in Discourse, avatar) first before starting the interaction.

So as a workaround that may work.

Other options include using the Calendar plugin:

Although those indicators may only show for moderator and admins.

Or using PM autoresponder for admins, but that plugin only seems to work for private topics (private messages).

This topic talks about it a little more: Vacation autoresponder for users who are away?

Overall, I still think changing the avatar to a screenshot of a text message is the easiest way, and maybe a secondary way would be to create a theme component that allows people to add a particular type of flair to their avatar or some type of tooltip and icon to it to let people read the text.

EDIT: I like the above suggestion about an out-of-office group that people can join and leave at will:

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@andrei is working on official support for “user status” in Discourse see:

Hopefully we will land it soon!

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