Love that this conversation is happening, although curious if there’s been some movement since October.
I run a fairly well-trafficked community and since launching under Discourse 2019, the most common question/request/complaint is always around notifications. Simply, the number of options is so overwhelming to most users that they don’t engage with the features at all. I don’t blame them. They just want to be in community, and not spend half their time trying to learn the application. (And, frankly, from a UX standpoint, they shouldn’t have to).
History/Context: my forum has been around since around 1999-2000. We’ve gone through at least a dozen iterations of forum applications. Discourse easily outperforms them all in terms of generating conversation and community. My humble opinion: simplifying Notifications under Categories and Tags with Sidebar reflecting those preferences would only benefit users.
Have them think less, utilize more.
Right now, if I polled my users, very few could tell you the difference between “Watched” and “Tracked” and “Watching First Post.” When you account for the Sidebar (which has been a much needed addition, and I love it), it further adds to the complexity.
So, here’s some hard questions that will probably irritate some (not my intention) because I’m sure there’s history here …
- Why do we have Watched and Tracked and Watching First Post? What’s the history here? Did it come about organically? How has that decision aged? Is there data that suggests these options are actually used, or have they just sort of been there since the beginning?
- Does Watching First Post still make sense? What’s the use case? Are there that many users that would say, “Sure, I want notifications on my categories, but I actually only want the first post in each new topic.”
- Even reading the descriptions of Watched and Tracked for myself, I’m not sure I know the difference.
Is there a world where those three are conflated? Or at least two of them? What if a user just wanted to be alerted to
new topics under
Tag? And their
Sidebar simply reflected those choices. Instead of providing an overwhelming amount of options, what if we just got out of their way so they could focus on contributing to the community?
I know that’s a lot, and I sincerely don’t mean to kick nests. But I do know users. Or least mine. So of course, take it for what it’s worth. Either way, I continue to love the Discourse product, and that interest has amplified with the introduction of the Sidebar.