A common complaint I’ve heard about Discourse within Mozilla is the HTML emails.
I had always somewhat dismissed this complaint as coming from an irrational fear of HTML in emails (if it doesn’t belong in emails, does it really belong in phone operating systems?) and, after all, Discourse sends multi-part emails so you can just opt to read the plaintext part. Right?
I now realise I was a bit quick to dismiss this complaint. The issue isn’t so much an inherent dislike of HTML in emails, but rather its overuse. Users want the simplicity of plaintext, but to keep inline links and bullet points.
Hence this proposal for simplified HTML emails, behind a global pref, because I completely recognise this is a pretty specific problem to Mozilla and other communities wanting to use Discourse as a mailing list replacement.
By far the biggest simplification which can be made is by not using tables. They may make layout easier, but make responding inline really rather awkward:
Removing the header would also simplify things, since the most necessary information will already be displayed by any decent email client:
And the footer shouldn’t put so much emphasis on visiting the topic to respond:
When serving as a mailing list replacement, the primary method of responding should be by replying to the email. I’m envisioning a footer a lot more like how Google Groups does it:
Indeed, Google Groups doesn’t even tell you you can respond by replying because, well, it’s email! What else would you do?
I would see an ideal simplified footer being something like:
You received this message because you are watching the Mozilla Discourse “Participation Systems” category.
To unsubscribe from these emails, click here.
Reply to this email to respond, or visit the topic.
To post to this category, send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- No tables
- No header
- Google Groups-esque footer
This is something we’re willing to put development resources into, but want to get feedback from other mailing list communities on, and co-ordinate with you upstream.