Send Watching email notifications based on ‘post read’ not ‘site seen’

Our users found this hard to understand, and meant they didn’t get emails about topics they were watching because a tab on their browser somewhere had the forum open (we assume, hard to track down false negatives).

We’re using some topics as de-facto mailing lists, with limited replies to announce things like meeting times, so it is very important they don’t miss these.

We would like a preference where you receive emails unless the user has read the watched topic specifically, rather than just active on the forum.

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There is an option for mailing list mode that will send all new posts as e-mail. The settings can also be adjusted for individual notification types to always send e-mail instead of the “only when away” e-mail setting which may mean away for ten or more minutes.

However these settings are on the user not admin side, and would not work if a user has muted a topic or category then no e-mails will be sent for those.


As @anon65426961 noted, users can set an option so that they are always emailed, even when they are active on the site at the time the email is created. By default, users will have the option set to be emailed “only when away.”

You can use the default email level site setting to update the email option for all users on your site. To do this, change the setting from its default value of “only when away” to “always.”

After clicking the checkmark button to save the setting, you’ll be asked if you want to apply the changes historically:

Click the “Yes” button to update the option for existing users on your site. Otherwise only new users will get the updated value.

Thanks for the explanations. I had found all these options before, but our experience is that the “only when away” feature did not correspond to users expectations. They didn’t receive updates when watched topics were updated, but they didn’t read the replies. The supposition is that they had the forum in an open tab but didn’t look at it, but they were registered as “on the forum”. Or perhaps they did visit the forum for a specific reason and didn’t see the notifications of changes to watched topics.

They are happier with the “always” option as they know they will get an email for their watched topics, but it does make the forum noisier in general, which can turn others off.

Yes, that’s why I’m suggesting changing the setting from its default value of “only when away” to “always.”

Is the problem that the “always” option does not meet this criteria? Since notifications are created immediately, I am unsure how this could work. Let me know if I’m misunderstanding what you are looking for.

If users are getting too many notifications, another notification level to look at is “Watching first post.” With that notification level, users will only be notified when a topic is created in a category. They will not be notified about the topic’s replies unless the reply is a direct reply to their post, or they are mentioned or quoted in the reply.

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The problem seems to be the expectations of users, solution is for them to surrender expectations.

There are the summary emails that can be sent for unread topics.

For the only when away feature would have guessed that means only when logged out would that work.