Summary/digest email often cuts off topic titles


(Dave McClure) #1

The summary/digest email often cuts of topic titles:

I think this is unfortunate because:

  1. Sometimes it’s hard to tell what the topic is about from the cut off version.
  2. There’s usually a lot more room
  3. Titles already have length restrictions and are designed to convey the meaning of the topic concisely
  4. Titles are the thing most frequently edited for clarity, so chances are higher that it’s already been “vetted” by the community.

I looked for a setting to disable this abbreviation or increase the character count, but I don’t see one.

I vote for never trimming topic titles in these emails. If the community wants to enforce shorter titles, there’s already a setting for that. Don’t further trim the title in these emails.


(Tobias Eigen) #2

I agree entirely with all of your points. There’s valuable info in the titles that is missing from the email summaries. That said, nobody in my community has ever complained about this… but then I haven’t asked them either.

I raised just this point in the (very long and now closed) summary email feedback topic last year, but I don’t think I really got much of a response from the discourse team beyond the general idea that the email summary is not supposed to be the main way that people keep up on discussions. The purpose of the email summary is to drive people to the forum and the huge font in the titles is supposed to help with that.

Interestingly - while reviewing these emails in mandrill, I noticed that the plain text version of the email summaries does not truncate the titles.

Maybe one solution would be to display the rest of the title in smaller font instead of just truncating it with ....

I suspect the discourse team would be open to looking at tweaking the email summaries if they had mockups to look at or even pull requests, but it’s likely not high on their priority list at the moment.


(Dave McClure) #3

I think the suggestion here is also very much in line with this purpose.


(Sam Saffron) #4

@neil what do you think here? Should we be trimming titles at all, should the amount of trimming be configurable?


(Stephen Chung) #5

Are the titles actually trimmed with ellipses added or is it done via CSS ?


(Neil Lalonde) #6

I’m pretty sure the feedback on the new summary emails included a request for long title to be truncated like that. Can’t find it though. I don’t think adding yet-another-setting for this is right though. And email client css support is terrible (note the use of tables for layout), so using overflow ellipses is not an option. Not remembering the early feedback, I think it’s probably fine to include the entire topic titles and let them wrap.


(Jeff Atwood) #7

The problem is very very long titles on mobile. So I would just increase the cutoff a bit.


(Tobias Eigen) #8

I agree about the issue with these big titles becoming very long on mobile, but am still not keen on the cutoff, for the reasons explained above. Valuable information is getting lost.

What about having the first 5 or so words huge, then instead of truncating the rest displaying it in a smaller font?


(Sam Saffron) #9

Just putting this out there then…


(Tobias Eigen) #10

Good point. But on my site, topic titles get edited down by moderators so they are meaningful. More often than not more meaningful than the first lines of the post body.

I’d rather see the rest of that ridiculously long title than the body.


(Sam Saffron) #11

My vote is just to double our current limit, and live with it for a bit. I think that is already significantly better than what we have now on desktop.


(Jeff Atwood) #12

Maybe not double, but could increase some. You guys need to really look at these emails on mobile, not desktop.


(Dave McClure) #13

Maybe the styling for mobile is the issue in that case? Should the font be smaller there?


(Jeff Atwood) #14

Doesn’t matter, mobile has priority. Mobile continues to eat the world.


(Sam Saffron) #15

Keep in mind styling options are terribly limited in email


(Tobias Eigen) #16

I have been monitoring all the email summaries for other discourse sites I joined, and have noticed a trend - most of them have short titles that look amazing on mobile. They are on one or two lines despite the huge font of titles, which is easy and pleasing to the eye to scroll through.

But there are other sites including my own that often have longer titles and in those information is lost, as raised by @mcwumbly in the OP. I agree with him. These are long typically because they have been curated by moderators to be as meaningful as possible - like headlines. This is valuable when sharing opportunities with deadlines or events. Take this example - first screenshot from mandrill with very narrow window like mobile, and second screenshot from the web view.

I’d love to be able to display full, untruncated titles in email summaries, perhaps using a smaller font so it doesn’t overwhelm. If paying clients of yours have the same need, would you consider adding this as an admin setting?

Alternatively, I suppose my moderator team could always replicate the title in the first line of the post. That way the important details won’t get lost.


(Dave McClure) #17

I still think the best way forward here is to:

  1. Not truncate ever.
  2. Adjust the font size so that things look reasonable on mobile with titles that are 2x as long as the current limit.

Be happy with this because we:

  1. Understand that absurdly long titles are unlikely to both last long enough without being edited and be “hot” enough to make it into a digest/summary.
  2. Accept the fact that on rare occasions, a longer title will get through and not look awesome.

(Jeff Atwood) #18

I believe @neil was going to increase the title length truncation limit. Beyond that no specific value can satisfy every need.


(Neil Lalonde) #19

I increased the max length from 60 to 100.

Adjusting font size based on screen size isn’t as easy in email as in a web browser since places like gmail and android don’t support media queries in html email, so some other hack is needed.


(Dave McClure) #20

To be clear, I was suggesting just taking a second look at adjusting the font size to be a bit smaller on all screen sizes. I think there’s a little room to decrease it in such a way that is a more fair compromise for mobile and web users.