Some settings need better descriptions

As an admin, I’m starting to feel that the more I explore Discourse settings, the less I know. Twice in a short time, I’ve struggled to figure out how behaviors are controlled:

When I’m dealing with user-level or category-level settings, there’s no indication that there’s a global override. The search functionality in the admin settings page is great. Really. But if I don’t know that I should be looking for something, or what to look for, it doesn’t help me.

I’m sure there’s a manual somewhere I’m supposed to have read. And, it would be awesome if there were hints in the UI…

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Is there any place the description for the settings should be improved? You’ll need to attack this on a setting-by-setting basis. Does the explanation for the setting sufficiently explain it? If not, how can that description be improved?

I’m super open to copyedits that make the meaning of the settings clearer.

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I find looking at the settings from the plugin tab quite useful for scoping out what each plugin can do:

Clicking on one of those ‘:gear: Settings’ will group all the admin settings for that plugin together, and give a bit of an overview.

(Apologies if this is too obvious, and you’re already aware)

For me it’s less about copy edits than it is about knowing there’s a global override in force. For instance, on the question of getting an email when you’re assigned a topic, I thought it was about this user-level setting:
When it turns out this has nothing to do with it, and there’s no indication at the user level that there’s a global setting preventing initial notification. It’s not clear to me that this setting’s description should be edited to include mention of that global setting. but if I had something like this

As a user, I would know what to ask for (and that I could ask) and as an admin I would know what to look for.

So it’s a problem with a specific plugin, the assignment plugin? Then I’d expect the discussion to be there.

Thanks for the tip @JammyDodger. It assumes that I know what functionality is built in and what comes from plugins, but I appreciate the pointer. :smiley:

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@codinghorror I gave two recent examples. The other is also from a plugin, so okay maybe this is just about plugins. But the point I’m trying to make is that as an instance admin, these relationships: global vs granular, and plugin versus built-in aren’t clear to me. And beyond that, other than simply clicking through and reading every single setting description, I don’t see how they’re supposed to become clear to me.

Sure; the easiest “fix” is to improve the specific descriptions inside the site settings, and/or the plugin documentation. So I’m trying to winnow this down to smaller, actionable elements. We are very open to copy improvements, and most products are in fact a bunch of words on the page, so never underestimate the power of a copy change:

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