Sidebar topic list links prefer unread and new over latest

Not good actually…we much prefer the prior version. It makes no sense to click on something called Unread (or New) and have the latest list pop up. Definitely slowing our members down in their reading since now they have an extra click to get filter by Unread or New.

Please add the option to have contextual linking soon - otherwise, the sidebar is not nearly as useful as it was before.


On my forum where I’m admin, I want to see everything. On meta, as a user, I want to filter to context that is more relevant to me and I can’t keep up with it all. Therefore, on my forum, I’d love to default to the Latest view, but here on meta, I’d love to default to the New view.

It looks like people have legitimately different needs for scope of data driving their preferences here.


I agree with this, though I didn’t notice it at first. My answer would be to have a blue dot or something (instead of x new or y unread) and still go to Latest. Or maybe clicking the category name goes to Latest – while clicking x new goes to New and clicking y unread goes to Unread.

I’m not sure I can agree with this at all.

For one, the links aren’t called unread or new. If there’s new content available under a heading then a badge to their right lets you know in the same way a chat or email app would. Take a look at pretty much any mail client, the inbox is annotated with the number of unread topics, but clicking on your inbox doesn’t by default take you to a filtered view of your unread mail.

A power user setting is on the way to allow users to change the behavior of the button, but let’s not pretend that the new default is counterintuitive. It’s the established norm in terms of user experience, which is why there was such a visceral reaction when it shipped the other way around. A heading such as ‘everything’ should take you to exactly that. Categories as an analog to folders or labels should drop the average user in that category, not a filtered view.

There is a category name which is left justified and should bring you to Latest, as you say. The problem is that next to that is “x new”/“y unread”, right justified so quite separate, the same colour as a hyperlink – and when you see a link you expect to be taken to what it describes. It’s not quite like “Inbox (105)” all written together, or even like “Inbox (105 unread)”.

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Making the unread count link elsewhere was discussed and I believe has been ruled out, it’s just too small a target.

If the color or text alignment is an issue for you though I would encourage playing with the CSS on your own instance and reporting back as to how users have responded. The unread counts sit in .sidebar-section-link-content-badge and var(--primary-high) will match the text color of the link. If you unset margin-left on the same class it will bring the two side-by-side.


My forum is about urban development (new buildings, new parcs, etc…), and people want to see everything when clicking on their “favorite” (the ones they chose for their sidebar) categories and tags. Most users are not really invested in following topics or categories, they just browse without engaging with that feature. Advanced users would be interested in a preference. Going to latest has the most appeal for the majority.


I’ve added the following as a theme component and find it an improvement:

.sidebar-section-link-content-badge {
    margin-left: 0px !important;
    color: var(--primary-high) !important;

.sidebar-section-link-content-badge::before {
    content: "(";

.sidebar-section-link-content-badge::after {
    content: ")";

In the long run I might just hide it altogether, but I’ll wait to see what further official changes are made.

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I am definitely in this camp. If it says “7 Unread,” I’d expect to be taken to the Unread list and see just those 7 topics.

True but my email client is always ordered by latest to oldest, so my expectation is that when I click on the Inbox, I’ll always see everything ordered in that fashion, especially since my email client doesn’t have filtered view. I think a possibly better analogy might be the filtered views in Gmail: when I click on the Updates tab, I don’t expect to see all Inbox items. In addition, I see a visual difference in those that are unread, they’re bold and have whatever notification icon my client uses.

In Discourse, to my way of thinking, we’re a bit in the middle at the moment because if we use the filter name, that’s what I expect to see when I click on the link. So to me we’re breaking expectations mostly due to that. For example, at the moment my Categories look like this:


When click on documentation I end up at documentation - Discourse Meta in the Top view. Latest, New (1), Unread (27), and Docs links are available to me, but I expected to go to Unread and the Top view is a very different set of results than I expected to see.

It gets more confusing because when I click on community or announcements, I end up at the Latest view for each of those. There’s often a bit of scrolling I have to do to identify the topics I expected to find, but that’s not a deal-breaker, just a bit annoying when I was hoping to get the filtered list.

So as much as I love the “X unread” link, I would be happy to hide it because seeing it sets an expectation that isn’t met for me.


Quick update … @kris.kotlarek is working on adding a per-user option at the moment.

People (like me) who prefer the link takes you to unread will be able to change the option in user prefs.

We have spun so much time on this and there appears to be no solution that appeases all groups of people so we are adding a per-user option.


The user config is now implemented per @kris.kotlarek

There is a site setting to control the default, but it is hidden form now, to change the default:

On our hosting: contact teams support

On self hosting: SiteSetting.default_sidebar_list_destination = 'unread_new' in a console.


I strongly support this idea:

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


If I click on “Everything” I get - well - everything. If I click on “10 unread”, I get just the 10 unread postings. This is the most effivient and intuitive way. Small klick targets? I don’t think so, at least this should be an option instance-wide.

As it is now, it’s super confusing. I come back some days later, klick on “10 unread” and see: not a single unread post, because they are burried below newer posts. This renders the otherwise interesting sidebar concept near useless.

The new setting to witch the link target of the whole row doesn’t solve the problem imho, we need 2 link targets. Maybe an option to achieve larger link targets would be to get rid of the redundant “unread” text and use a symbol instead? And let the klick-box hover, always an efficient way to get a navigation paradigma across.

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I agree. If you click on “Everything” you don’t just want to see “10 unread”, and if you click on “10 unread” you don’t want to see “Everything”. They are two very different things.

If the “10 unread” weren’t in blue and looked more like information than a link it would be one way round this.

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I think we still want to stick to the constraint of a single click target per item.

Some things I think we could do to reduce some of the understandable confusion that still exists are to:

  1. Think of a better name than “Everything”
  2. Use a different styling for the unread/new counts that doesn’t look like a link

What if instead of “x new/unread” we simply showed a dot indicating that there’s new activity in categories/tags you follow? similar to chat channels in the sidebar. The color definitely makes it more link-like, but I think the text does too. I suspect no one would expect a dot to be clickable.

As for “everything”… something like “all topics” is more specific but might have a similar issue? What we’re really trying to indicate is that it’s a broader bucket than “tracked”, i.e., “latest activity from all topics, not limited by what you track”

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We’ve been using the CSS tweaks suggested above to correct color and position, it has led to much less confusion.

I think the inbox/unread count analogy works really well here.

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A minor feature suggestion for the sidebar: as a user I expected that clicking on the blue ‘unread’ links would take me to the /unread page.



I’ve slipped your post over to this topic @bartv as there has been some back and forth on this idea here. :+1:

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@awesomerobot and @tgxworld just merged this pull request, which I think should address some of the above feedback:

Now when using the default user preference, you see this:

Screenshot 2022-11-02 at 10.57.25 AM

Screenshot 2022-11-02 at 10.57.29 AM

And when you use the “power user” preference, you see this:

Screenshot 2022-11-02 at 10.57.48 AM

Screenshot 2022-11-02 at 10.57.38 AM

So, casual users have a bit less noise in their sidebar, and for everyone, what you see in the links is now more consistent with what will happen when you click them.


I switched to the “power user” mode but TBH I expected that clicking on the category name would take me to “latest” and clicking on the “unread” link would take me to “unread”. But clicking on the category name is taking me to “unread” as well. This is severely limiting the usefulness of the sidebar since it now costs me (a second of confusion and then) an extra click on “latest”.