Rename "Defer" to “Mark Unread”

Wouldn’t “defer” be more understandably called “mark as unread”?


Is ”defer” difficult word to understand? Its finnish translation needs a bit understanding how things work, but there is layout question too: ”mark as unread” or in finnish ie. ”muuta lukemattomaksi” are both way too long. Then a button, that is not so often used, would steal most of the space — at mobiles anyway.


Hey jidanni :slight_smile:

Thank you for the suggestion. So far (in many years), I have seen no report of people confused by this word (I’m also aware it’s an opt-in option).

It’s noted, but I don’t think it will be changed unless it’s a frequent request.


I mean what other app calls it that? They all call it Mark as unread.

Defer sort of sounds like there’s something evil in your mailbox, and you going to have to face it sooner or later.

And the message is already there, so you’re not deferring it. You’re deferring dealing with it.

But okay let’s say we deal with it. Then it’s still there. Then we deal with it again and still there etc.

Okay now let’s take the concept of delete. When we delete it we delete it.

But when we defer it we don’t defer it because it is already there.

Anyway could you please help out and preserve our English language by not using terms that stretch the imagination? Thank you.


If I recall correctly that’s why the feature was added. We had some internal use case where we wanted to say “I don’t want to deal with this now” so it would be marked as unread and deferred for later.

Right, it’s likely not widely used… and for those that use it, they haven’t encountered the language as a barrier (at least not enough to report it back to us).

This is how a lot of our work on Discourse goes. We get a lot of reasonable suggestions like this, but we tend to prioritize work based on what’s getting the most complaints (and/or that helps produce income and sustain the business)… so a suggestion like this could sit around for months or years without much momentum, it’s nothing personal.


In fact, one frustrating thing is that discourse does not do a good job in (at least Chinese) localization. I’ve always been in the habit of tweaking translations for my own forums, because really, there’s a lot of confusing language. A lot of this comes from locale differences.
As a discourse user for many years, maybe I have become accustomed to blunt translation, but this post reminds me, maybe @jidanni actually has a point.
One thing is the “Defer” mentioned here. In the Chinese context, people never say “defer a topic” but say “make the topic as unread”. This makes it so that the first time I saw this button, I had to try it myself to know what it meant. There are many such things, such as “flair”. Its Chinese localization translation is “天赋”, which means “talent”, totally bewildering.
But of course, this is entirely up to the forum admins. They can always adjust any text.
(I seem to be off topic?)
(I’m very happy to join, if discourse needs me to do something in Chinese localization.)


Kind of you aren’t. If Dan thinks it have to change he can speak to admin and ask. I’ve tweaked a lot texts, even finnish translations. That means too if that admin likes defer more and doesn’t change it, Dan is quite alone.

I would hide that button for good, but I’m using it every now and then.


You can contribute following this guide :slight_smile:


The only reason the Lord sent me here to the worldwide number one main Discourse bulletin board adjustment site, is to adjust the defaults for the whole world, so the world will be a better place.

Defer 中文意味著擱置,放涼,耽擱,反正很糟糕。叫大家翻譯害人害己。

Furthermore, asking translators to translate funny odd meanings that have been convoluted just increases the mess exponentially. It’d be better to stick with direct uncreative terms. Even if they are fuddy duddy.

And I suppose many translators, perplexed by the distorted English, would experiment with the item and see what really does and then just describe it in their own language.
Then somebody might as well translate that back to English.

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We generally roll with the “rule of three”. This is the first complaint so the general recommendation is to customise the text on your own site. If others agree and it becomes a “think” we’ll consider a core change.


Oh we would love it if you joined the translation team for Chinese and fixed the source of the issue. We rely on people like you for the Chinese translation to be good. Totally understand that Chinese is like the opposite of German, you can cram so much meaning in so few glyphs.


Simple proof of my point.

  • Mark as read
  • Mark as unread


Crystal clear.

What would be the Discourse equivalents?

  • Defer
  • Undefer

Even typing the latter, my browser puts a red line under it. Meaning unknown word.


Has the defer function vanished? Or been renamed in such a way that I can’t find it?

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Hello :wave:

Nope, still there! It needs to be enabled in your Preferences > Interface > Defer.


I’ve never clicked “Defer” before today. I don’t think I ever knew what it would do, until reading this topic. If it had been called “Mark as unread” I would have understood. I wouldn’t have thought of complaining.


Yes, I’ll support the “complaint” that defer should be named according to common convention “mark as unread”.

I’ll add that it should be part of the default toolset and does not need to be a hidden preference by default.

In fact it’s a very worthwhile feature, in my view: I use a number of phpbb forums and I don’t think I have a way to mark anything unread there, and I would prefer to.


Kind of makes one not dare take a peek at things if one has to catch a plane soon, lest one have no time to finish reading the now “permanently marked as read” item.

I see now that “defer” can be enabled by the admin as a site-wide default for all accounts (including changing it for existing accounts.) But I maintain that it’s poorly named and should be enabled by default for new installations.


Hey folks :wave: We’ve updated the label to Enable mark topics as unread to clarify this setting’s behavior.

We’ll talk more internally about possibly enabling this setting by default, to give members more tools around managing their reading. I’ll follow up here once we have a decision on how to proceed.


We updated the button labels for this feature for further consistency / clarity, e.g.:

However, we’re not satisfied with that icon, which symbolizes “record” more than “mark unread”. In email applications like Gmail, the closed envelope icon is used for “mark unread”…but that’s doesn’t feel quite right in the community context.

CleanShot 2024-04-03 at 08.49.27

We’ll keep thinking on this, but feel free to throw out any ideas :slight_smile: