Private messages - need unread indication/count on inboxes

(Jerome Spaargaren) #1

Right now, the private message inboxes don’t indicate whether they contain any new messages.

For example, if there is a new message in the “Monday Test team” group inbox, it’s not indicated when the user first visits their private message inboxes:


All that is shown by the bold texting of the inbox name is which one you are currently in (and our users are getting pretty confused thinking that the bolding is not being shown when it should be).

And conversely if there an unread message in the user’s personal inbox, but they are browsing the “Monday Test team” group inbox, there is no way of the user knowing:


As far as I know, other than through the notifications, there is no way for a user to “find” new messages in their inboxes - once you click into the inbox you will see the blue dot notifications but that doesn’t hep you when looking at the inbox list. If there are a large number of group inboxes (well even a small number), requiring the user to click into each one to check whether there is an unread message in there is not at all optimal.

Can the inboxes be provided with an indicator as to how many new messages they contain?

Maybe a bit like Outlook?:


(Jeff Atwood) #2

NONE of this is true. The notifications are all at the upper right, on your avatar like so:


Click through on those notifications to drill directly into the place the reply is.

We have no plans to implement even more display counters for this, in {x} different places.

(Jerome Spaargaren) #3

Understood, that is indeed a good way to access notified messages (providing they are not dropping down in your notification list). However, there is a big difference between notifications and unread messages, which is quite critical.

You receive notifications for every new message in a group - but only if you have the group set to “Watching” for any new message in that group.

However, there are four other notification levels for private messages (same as for regular topics):

  • Tracking
  • Watching First Post
  • Normal
  • Muted.

If you have a message topic set for any of these, you will not be notified of all new messages in a group.

So there will be unread messages sitting in your group inboxes which you will never know are there, if you rely on the method you are suggesting (relying solely on notifications.)

Obviously, these notification levels for private messages other than Watching are there for a reason. You may, for example, not want to receive an email for every single private message which is sent in a group. But you may wish to be notified if you are @mentioned or replied to, and you may wish to have count of unread messages in a topic - in which case you may set it to Tracking.

I don’t think many people will understand that if you set a message topic to Tracking, you will never see any indication of there being unread, un-notified, messages there for you.

There is also a site setting for default notification level setting for all groups - which you can set to any selected notification level (we have that set to Tracking.)

(Jerome Spaargaren) #4

However I clearly wasn’t talking about notifications - I said

other than through the notifications, …

So, I was talking about e.g. un-notified group private messages. To me, this response is quite similar to saying “you don’t need Latest topic list because topic notifications exist” … specifically groups for private messages could be much more similar to a category and allowing a user to choose not to be notified of every single message in a group, whilst keeping a track of unread messages, would make groups in Discourse much more functional.

I must be able to state the problem more clearly - so I will restate one of the problems I was referrring to;

There is no way to tell that there are unread messages in a group inbox, if the message topics are being tracked.

In private messages, there is no equivalent to Latest. Tracked just go into the group inbox, where they are forever more hidden.

You will only see the count of unread messages against a message topic if you click into the group inbox, which you have no reason to do because it doesn’t show that there is anything new in it.

Is there no solution to the problem?

(Mittineague) #5

There is a solution. If you don’t want to miss any group messages set the group to Watching. You will get Notifications and need to look for missed messages only if they have been Archived.

Why? What problem(s) do you have with Notifications when they will do what you want? i.e. let you be aware of unread messages.

(Jerome Spaargaren) #6

Hi @Mittineague thanks for your reply.

I think I have explained above that Notifications don’t tell you about unread messages, if you have set your notifications to Tracking or Normal. To me, the solution you are proposing is like saying “why do you need a Latest topics list…” or “why do you need an Unread topics list…” [insert any way of reviewing new posts other than through notifications], “…when you have notifications which tell you when you have an unread post.” That solution of course would rely on me setting every single topic to “Watching” and I would have an unmanageable notifications list… and I would be spammed by notification emails.

It’s not me that needs to set every group to Watching, it’s our poor users. If they set their notification levels to Tracking or Normal, they will eventually find out that group messaging is dysfunctional because they won’t see those messages coming in.

(Sam Saffron) #7

Years back we used to show counts on activity, messages and so on. There were 2 big issues.

  1. Likes Given (100) and stuff like that got very confusing, cause you could have 1000s of likes and a lot was aggregated in the stream.

  2. People were generally confused by the (10) numbers, does it mean participants, unread, everything and so on.

  3. It was very very expensive to calculate these numbers, caching this is very hard.

(Jerome Spaargaren) #8

Thank you, @sam.

I do wonder if there is a solution which might work which is not too expensive to calculate, e.g. just indicating against each inbox that there are unread messages in it (e.g. a light blue dot.) And/or to have an unread topic list for messages.

in the meantime have implemented a work-around, which is to reduce the notification types for private messages down to just two (the comments above emphasize that we need “Watching” - then we also need one “Not watching” where users don’t expect any form of notifications.) Four notification levels are in any case probably OTT for messages.

We have therefore disabled user settings for Normal and Muted notification types for messages, and renamed Watching to “Subscribed” and renamed Tracking to “Unsubscribed.”

Thanks all.