Please don't autosubscribe me to summary emails

Discourse adoption is growing and I’ve signed up for accounts on deployments used for support forums for Processing, Hugo, GitLab, and others.

However, it is a little bit tedious every time I encounter one of these sites, because I am always subscribed to summary e-mails.

I frankly am not interested in the community aspect of these sites, I am just signing in to ask a question. I am only interested in the discussion related to my question—which I likely asked a month ago—or perhaps an exist post I found by a web search and want to subscribe to. I cannot provide any input on the threads that the summary e-mail alerts me about.

Please make summary e-mails opt-in.

1 Like

It wasn’t lost on me that signing up to provide this feedback also opted me into summary e-mails for this forum, so I went looking to proactively disable them.

It took me a minute clicking around to find my avatar → my username → Preferences → Email settings. The setting says this:

When I don’t visit here, send me an email summary of popular topics and replies

If I’m not visiting this site, surely it is a good indication that I’ve moved on and am not interested?

That’s not my experience. “not visiting” means that you don’t have your browser open to the site. I agree that the default value for suppress digest email after days might be better at something under 365 days, but there are plenty of sites that I am happy to get summaries for when I don’t visit. It’s just two clicks (from the summary email) to disable summaries, which is faster than wading around to find them as you did.

individual sites can adjust whether and how often summary emails are delivered.

6 Likes

Hi Ryan,

It is up to each site about whether or not they want to enable digest email to begin with, and many communities prefer to keep digests. They are a good way to keep tabs on communities that you check in on every once-in-a-while.

You aren’t going to get these forever if you ignore them. After a configurable amount of time (default 1 year) if the site has not seen or heard from you, it will stop sending digests. Maybe like @pfaffman suggested, we could consider turning the defaults down slightly there.

There is no way of knowing how each user intends to interact with a given community. We make a good attempt to set good defaults across a wide range of users, but there’s no way to ship a one size fits all.

5 Likes

I definitely agree that signing up to ask one question should not opt-in to a year of weekly e-mails, which seems to be the default.

The feature where it stops sending digests seems like a nice one. However, I still feel that it should ask me before sending me e-mail at all.

For instance, there is a tutorial that happens when I sign in, which includes discobot sending me a greeting, etc. How about asking me if I want summary emails?

You could apply the inverse of the existing feature, and detect if I am likely to want summary e-mails, and then ask me. Like, I have spent some time browsing around, or have come back on multiple days and looked at more than just posts that I submitted.

Or send me a single summary e-mail, and have a link that says “do you want to receive more of these? Click here.”

I don’t strongly agree that this feature should be at the whim of the site owner, instead of the user. It’s unsolicited e-mail when I haven’t opted into it, point blank. I bought a shirt once and I started getting daily sales offers from the same vendor. Is this really materially different from that? Is that kind of behavior what Discourse wants to be associated with?

3 Likes

That’s a fair point as Discourse does have other thresholds for banner notifications for this that follow those kinds of conventions.

We definitely appreciate your thoughtful feedback and suggestions here.

2 Likes

Thanks for being receptive.

A last thought: When using the sign-in with Google etc. feature, I understand that the app gets my email address for the purpose of creating a user identifier, but it feels less like I am actively consenting to the use of my email address for contacting me. Is that weird? I expect sites to contact me when I manually type in my address, less so when I just click some sign in buttons.