Plugin Idea: periodic email-digest, summarizing activity in all tracked categories, tags, and threads

Ahoy all, curious if you might offer feedback on the following. Perhaps you have a good solution to this problem already? If the idea has traction, I’d love feedback and may support an open source plugin.

I am involved with a forum that is a bit too popular and too broad. By that, I mean from a typical user’s point of view, there is a lot of new content being created and discussed over a large set of areas, much of which is of no particular interest to that person. This means content they are likely to benefit a lot from gets hidden in the noise. This “too broad” issue is often an issue even within categories.

Why not use the existing tag/category notification feature? Subscribing to specific tags and categories is one solution, however, I feel many grow annoyed by all the individual emails. Users on my forum have only reluctantly set these up.

I’d like to offer people the ability to subscribe to specific tags, and instead of receiving emails as topics are created or replied to, have a periodic email send a summary of all the activity in the tags and categories they are subscribed to.

What I am suggesting might be something like;

  • Have a “Subscribed Categories and Tags Email Digest” section under u/USER/preferences/notifications.
  • Have a digest-frequency setting (e.g daily, twice weekly, weekly, etc)
  • For each user with this feature turned on, every {digest-frequency}, iterate over watched categories and tags, ignoring muted.
  • Create an email each user summarizing the activity in these categories and tags.

For example, an email that looks something like;

Email Digest of your Subscribed Categories and Tags

Over the past X Days:

tag: poobar

2 new threads, and 3 continued discussions under tag: poobar

category: funtimes

5 new threads and 10 continued discussions under category: funtimes

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What’s Your budget for this?

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Does it need to be within email?

I ask because it could be possible to add a couple user settings: one for categories and one for tags. Take those settings and generate a custom topic list based on the the users preferences. Then you could like to this custom list in the nav items if they have selections.

Not sure how it would work if you wanted to filter based on category AND tag at the same time, but not the same tag in a different category. But that could potentially be a v2.

Just another idea to throw out.

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Just exploring the idea at this stage.


I personally would push email, mainly because the use-case I am arguing for would be a compliment or alternative to the current “Activity Summary” email (“Since your last visit…”); focused on people who aren’t stopping by the forum regularly.

For forums like the ones I am involved in – with broad sets of interest – the top picks in the Activity Summary email are usually hit or miss for any individual user. But if this email could focus on what that user is most interested in, I think it would be more effective as giving the person a good reason to return to the forum and stay engaged.

But, just an inchoate idea now.

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That most likely falls under #feature

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If you do it the other way around, by having people mute categories they definitely aren’t interested in, the weekly summary email already sort of works this way.

That of course requires users to be away from the site for a week to get that email, though, but it definitely will not include any content from muted categories.

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