Turn off all other notifications except group notifications


(Peter Bäckgren) #1

I’m creating small closed areas for small user groups on my main forum just because it’s so easy to do.

Problem is, in many cases these people are then interested only in notifications that are created within this particular group. So any other notifications from the public areas or even for site purposes aren’t relevant to them.

So is there a good way to have people in a group only receiving notifications from their own group and that alone?

Right now I’m telling people to go and mute every category that they are not interested in. Well, that works… but having lots of users do the same seems, well, inefficent.

Similarly, telling people to go and copy paste into muted categories in their settings would work too, except new stuff gets added and then they need to go there, again and again.


(David Taylor) #2

What do you mean by “notifications”?

Users shouldn’t be receiving notifications (read: emails) about any posts unless they are watching the topic, have set the category to “watched” or are personally @mentioned.

If you’re just talking about topics showing up in “latest”, how about setting the category page to the homepage, and then users can click on their desired category to view the category-specific latest page?


(Peter Bäckgren) #3

I actually don’t know if this is notifications leaking, digest-like summaries or what. I’ve asked one user to forward me one of these mail and will set up a normal user and investigate a while.

There is never enough time to investigate but maybe I make an effort this time. Earlier I’ve encountered notifications leakage as an admin, a few times getting a notification about topics I have nothing to do with (and possibly even have muted). It could of course be possible someone has mentioned me and then removed the reference and that has caused it.

And now, while messing around, I think I found something that might be a bit useful. Changing user preferences “default categories muted” could remove some of the problems for new users until I figure out what the users think is excess.


(Peter Bäckgren) #4

Looks like it’s at least the new topics that appear in the summary activity mail. Even if you never have read that category you still get them in the summary.

Investigation continues…


(Peter Bäckgren) #5

Yes, this looks to be the culprit.

I have a forum divided into a public area and several closed areas.

The public area(s) are of course useful for everyone (basic guide to Discourse etc), in addition, some groups/users want to show certain public stuff to everyone.

Problem is, even if you have dozens of closed groups, the public areas leak notifications in daily or whatever the users have set as the notification schedule.

Areas change frequently so setting default muted areas does not work.

Having users mute areas themselves, does not work, Discourse is too new, users cannot handle it, even with instructions.

Not a major problem, but a major nuisance to upkeep or explain (not to mention how many users it drives away = major problem).

Walling off everyone is not a good solution.

Having dozens of Discourses is not a good solution.

I can’t be the only one bringing all my forums under one umbrella, Discourse?

Am I missing something here?

Assigning a user a group (or many) and a recursive/inheritance mute filter would solve all these problems. But maybe I’m just dreaming. I remember creating something like this 20 years ago for a certain software and it was probably as advanced and configurable as any Sql server user database at that time. The inheritance took a few days to design/create, the user interface 2 months because no one could understand how it worked otherwise :smiley: .


(Peter Bäckgren) #6

Ok, after a fair bit of testing it seems new categories just love to leak new topics to unsuspecting users.

In a sense it’s good, another way to see it is that only categories you have visited once should show new topics. I’m sure opinions vary.

Things like this is what drives some people away from Discourse though and I hate losing potential users.


(Robin Ward) #7

Can you give us more exact steps for reproducing the leak of closed content to public areas?

We can’t act on it unless we can see the problem ourselves. The more specific details, the better.


(Peter Bäckgren) #8

I suspect you are now talking about closed areas leaking to admins as that’s the only one I see as bad (and considering it’s notifies an admin it’s not all that bad). Everything else I consider settings issues and something to live with.

Unfortunately I haven’t been involved with the forum where the leaks happened for a while. We did some investigations at the time but I was the only technically competent enough so eventually we just dropped figuring out why. In a sense this was a prime example of a bad leak as I had muted the category or topic and ending up seeing things that was not my concern anymore, which later on effectively made me jump off that bandwagon.

I’ll make a mental note to investigate better if/when it happens next time, starting even with a full forum dump which I imagine would be helpful.

Sorry I’m not more involved, actually running/moderating Discourse forums take time (as in almost full time), time not spent on learning how to use Discourse better or even contribute (apart from some working SSO code I published ages ago).


(Jeff Atwood) #9

I think you fundamentally misunderstand the Discourse permissions model. Every new category is always visible to all users, unless you set up a group and lock down the security on the category in the Edit Category panel. It sounds like you expect each new category to be visible to nobody after it is created?

Discourse is “public by default unless you tell the software otherwise” so statements like

… make no sense to me, the public areas are public, that is not a “leak” that is normal.

If these groups of people have literally nothing in common, then no, I actually wouldn’t shove them all in the same house…


(Peter Bäckgren) #10

Work takes time but finally getting around to answering with tomorrow being a holiday.

I definitely want to have an open site. (Some) Users don’t always want that and like to be in their own sandboxes. Given time that hopefully changes so I’m not imposing restrictions.

If these groups of people have literally nothing in common, then no, I actually wouldn’t shove them all in the same house…

Maybe I’m trying to be too effective. Thing is, when you have many minimal forums the cost issue alone makes it worthwhile to bring them all under one umbrella. You can then manage with one set of instructions, one site to maintain… the benefits are numerous. And I’m certainly not doing this because I’m lazy, just as an example of the new problems I ended up with… users are using both Finnish and English so I have to duplicate everything that is important enough in several languages (not adding Swedish and Arabic yet :slight_smile: ).

… make no sense to me, the public areas are public, that is not a “leak” that is normal.

Yet, users complain, almost not at all though (the scare is of course they just silently go away considering this site to be spamming them). This is why I could see a need for two different levels of notifications. One that adds any new posts as a notification. One that only adds notifications from areas that you have visited. If you would like to force people to acknowledge some new category you could always do some sort of “@ all” in it’s header to wake people up.

Let me rephrase:

A previous Discourse site has so much traffic you got notifications all the time as new categories and everything got added on daily or at least weekly basis. I would suspect this is common when a new site is set up and hundreds or thousands of users appear in a short time period. The site naturally lives. But, it’s also very discomforting to new users when they get swamped by notifications. In the beginning you probably only want notifications from the stuff you are really interested in. Later on you might have time to explore. Personally I turned off notification mails altogether as I started to drown in the “new stuff”. And I consider that bad.

Finally, one of the reasons I’m having problems is that originally I expected new groups to come in and join certain closed ares in batches. So I could set a default primary group and they would immediately see their own stuff. Setting a default group newer worked, I had to tell users to wait until I see they have arrived and then manually add them to their correct group. Users also arrived though my SSO solution which means they can select their alias during the authentication procedure. This also means they do not actually appear on the forum until they have authenticated themselves, so I could not attach them to a group in advance.

If there are known problems with the primary group getting assigned upon first login I can investigate more. Upgrading to the newest version right now anyway in the background (thus some time to write).

Got a bit lengthy, but should give some understanding that Discourse is good enough for people to try to bend it to what they actually need :wink: .


(Jeff Atwood) #11

This doesn’t really make sense, as out of the box in Discourse you are only notified when someone is speaking directly to you:

  • someone replied to your post
  • someone mentioned @yourname
  • someone replied to your topic you created

Now if defaults have been changed, anything is possible… but out of the box, trust me, Discourse will only notify you when someone is very clearly and explicitly talking directly to YOU.


(Peter Bäckgren) #12

My bad, I use the term notifications for anything arriving. Notifications work, it was the “new topics” the daily/weekly digests send out for categories a user has never visited that annoys people.

Partially this is because the site lives a lot at the moment like I explained above. Which again is because of all the different user groups being under one umbrella.

The real issue is the fear of losing users because Discourse is “too active” by default.

When I started with Discourse two years ago one of the first things I configured was getting rid of the daily digest just because it felt like spam (read: I’m an old effective dog that has been using computers since the early 80’s :wink: ). I suspect most users, even when instructed how to, are not capable of doing that. Since I actually think the digest is useful, when not having too much unnecessary stuff, I’ve set the User preferences default to 3 days instead of 1 day but that’s about the best I’ve been able to do (more than explain how to remove the digest altogether).

The thing here might also be that lots of users come from Facecrap and get really confused by Discourse. For them less is better. The main reason for people leaving has been “there is too much going on”.

Anyway, there’s not much point taking up developers valuable time for such a moot issue :smiley: . This was more of an insight into how normal users and site admins might see things, which could or could not be valuable.

(It might be that messing around with user preferences like “default other new topic duration minutes” and starting to mute categories etc I might create something that works well enough - when I really only want to “mute all new categories by default for new and existing users”)


(Jeff Atwood) #13

A daily summary is unusual. When a Discourse launches, it is in bootstrap mode until there are 50 users. Only in bootstrap mode are summaries sent daily.

Bootstrap mode is turned off after the site reaches 51 users; @techapj can confirm but as I recall, the summary frequency is set back to weekly at that point for all users.

Anyway, thanks to @sam’s excellent work unsubscribing from the digest is a one-click affair if people are uninterested.


(Arpit Jalan) #14

When the bootstrap mode is disabled the site setting default_email_digest_frequency reverts to weekly, so it will affect the new users created after the bootstrap mode without affecting the preference for existing users.


(Peter Bäckgren) #18

Ah, the problem being an admin and setting up the sites is that it’s quite a chore to set up a “normal user” and then remember to set up a new “normal user 2” some months later to get the feel for how things look for normal people. It is just too time consuming to switch between being an admin and a normal user yourself. Not to mention the browser cookies (read: notifications & al) go haywire if you switch users by doing logout without actually closing your browser before logging in again. Since we developed a “better” anonymous system with a reused queue we really hit major problems because of this “logout, close, restart, login, do whatever, logout again, restart, login as yourself” horror. Every time you forgot to do it properly you ended up in “user not in sync” mess.

Back to weekly sounds like a perfectly good idea. Having the 50 first users suffer unless they know how to change daily to weekly or whatever is not that bad. The 50 first are probably your most important users but my problems are getting more and more moot all the time :smiley: .