Sidebar topic list links prefer unread and new over latest

Continuing the discussion from Try out the new sidebar and notification menus!:

The current logic for all the “topic list” links in the sidebar is as follows:

  • If there are any unread go to the list of unread topics
  • If no unread, but any new topics, go to the list of new topics
  • If no unread or new, go to the latest topics

If you find you have a lot of new topics you don’t care about, consider using “Dismiss New” to clear them out. You can also tune your user preference for “Consider Topics New When…”

That said, here’s a topic where you can share your thoughts and feelings about the current behavior.


It’s counter-intuitive at least for me. I’m sure a lot of the members on my instances will think the unread topics listed are all the topics on that category.


Hum… it never occurred to me to use the dismiss button… I was probably revolving around latest and its “last visit” line too much… Maybe it’s the new emphasis on the number of unread that catches the eye (blue in the dark theme really pops out, more than white in the menu) :thinking:


First, this is incredible work. THANK YOU.

We’re a high volume forum. The “Everything” is a bit confusing, since our default view has been “Latest” since our inception. If we could dictate this, that would be preferable. Right now, the UX feels (focus group of 1 over here …) as though “Everything” would bring the user back to the listing of latest topics.


I don’t like this.

If I click on a category in the sidebar I expect to see the contents of that category.

Definitely not the “unread” list (which I think means topics with unread posts rather than topics with no read posts, but I’m not sure).

Incidentally I think “new” means new topics whereas “latest” is latest posts.

For me, I’d rather always see “latest” when I click a category name.

Maybe this could be a user option.


Also the “Everything” sidebar option goes to the “Unread” page, which seems silly as Unread (whatever it means exactly) is almost always going to be a subset of Everything.


In the past we considered this being a user option, I am not against bringing it back if enough push for it

Our long term plans are to have a brand new concept in Discourse


  • new topics
  • new posts

So the “new new” would be a single bucket for both and a we would no longer show all these words on sidebar, you would just see (8) and it would take you to the 8 new things mixing new posts and new topics in 1 list

This terminology also improves clarity, today

New = new topics = unread topics
Unread = new posts = topics you are tracking with unread posts


I think this is the crux of it for me. Category links should behave the same everywhere. Showing unread via some and latest via others is inconsistent and confusing.


Agreed, I don’t understand this either.

“Everything” would conceivably “Latest.” Read and unread.

“Unread” would be “Unread.”

I did a straw poll of 6 moderators. I asked specifically for feedback on the links under “Community.” They confirmed my suspicions …

  • “Everything doesn’t appear to provide ‘everything.’”
  • “Maybe it’s our set-up (we’ve had this forum in one incarnation or another for over 20 years) but I was confused because I’m seeing posts that are 3 days old at the top, and there’s no way that’s when the latest post was made.”
  • “Why invent new terminology? Just have ‘Latest’, and ‘Unread’ and ‘My Posts’ as the top three links?”

It is workflow thing. I see this:


I want to look at the 2 unread bugs that need triage, already read all of the other bugs.

Why take me to latest and force me to click one more button.


Agree on this as well.


Which makes perfect sense for a support forum.

Not sure how it applies to a community forum, where you don’t dispatch of a thread just because you read it.


I’m pretty amenable to exploring bringing some user preference back for this behavior and rethinking what the defaults are.

One of the things the sidebar aims to do is put more power into users’ hands to decide how they want to engage with a given community (that’s what the preferences for the categories and tags sections are all about). We also plan to add custom sections in the future (starting with a single custom section).

There have been plenty of discussions about being able to reorder sections and items within sections as well.

So I think this is probably a case where a user preference makes sense.

At the same time, we’re trying to balance that out with two other concerns:

  • Enabling theme customization to be maintainable
    We want the basic site structure to be somewhat fixed so site admins don’t have to support many simultaneous layouts for a given custom theme
  • Enabling site admins to establish some amount of consistency
    Site admins can better support their users if they can make some common assumptions about how their users are interacting with the site.

That’s a bit of a tangent to the current discussion, but just wanted to share a bit more about what is guiding my (our?) thinking overall for the design of the sidebar.


I think that all makes sense, though from anecdotal research, few of our users actually take advantage of leveraging their preferences. Football fans are a very … homogenous group. :slight_smile:

The ability to set a default from the admin, while giving users the ability to manipulate from there seems ideal.


I agree. Admins should be empowered with some of these design decisions for their own communities.


So make the 2 unread a link to the unread posts?


Click target is too small, we went through this exercise before. I am with @mcwumbly that I don’t mind adding a user option.

Still struggling with why so many people have such strong reticence to just “dismiss unreads…” if it is unread and just not so important dismiss it, then the link takes you to where you want. Part of the problem here is unread hoarding.

That said, I do agree we want users to have agency and a user pref here is something I am not against.


It’s very hard to persuade by analogy (because people sometimes find it easier to focus on the differences) but with email you click on an account and expect to see all its emails, until you filter them by unread, flagged etc. Also, your businesslike approach to unread posts on the forum here is a bit like the “zero inbox” approach to emails – it’s probably quite rare with emails, and people often take an even more haphazard approach to forums.

Edit: I realise it’s also difficult to persuade with “people sometimes” and “people often”! I think on Wikipedia they’d add a “Weasel words” tag :slight_smile:


Just to add one positive case. I added the #documentation category to my “watched” categories in the sidebar. Today I saw 5 new topics. That’s great! I usually do not have time to just browse through the documentation. But 5 topics? I clicked through them because I was interested in most of them in one way or another. The last one seemed not interesting to me already by its title, so I “dismissed” it and now have an inbox zero :slight_smile:


Well — I saw those just normally as new topics. I still can’t understand what is the point to show same information in several places or chop it in the smaller pieces.

But it is perhaps just me, because so many think this improves UX big time. My users asked me to remove new one because it’s clutters and increases noise, though.

I really really really hope the team will spare the old one as an option. But as said, old one will disappear eventually.

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