Unlisted topics notify users if their posts are linked

Further to Unlisted topics become listed via references it seems to also be the case that Unlisted topics can be revealed by other means too.

We created an Unlisted topic today, and in that Unlisted topic we placed some links to Listed topics.

We were surprised when someone posted a reply to the Unlisted topic!

One of the posts we linked to (in the Unlisted topic) seemed to have triggered an email notification to the author of the Listed topic to which we linked:

We then did some quick tests…

It would also appear that if we: Create an Unlisted topic, and in that topic we place a link to a Listed topic, then the person who’s post was linked to (in the Unlisted topic) also gets notified in the top right too:

1ead2b890494dbc9c7c36701d49fddf019627525

Happy to provide further testing if you guys are unable to fully replicate :+1:t2:

Sorry, re post title: Unlisted topics become visible if linked to Listed topics

Perhaps ‘visible’ is the wrong word - they’re not visible to everyone.

‘revealed to some users’ may be a better title?

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What’s the use case here? How are you trying to use Unlisted Topics? It sounds like you’re conflating unlisted with private.

Unlisted is the equivalent of archiving an email in gmail, all you’re doing is removing the listing under a given category. The topic is still there and respects the ACLs set on the category it’s placed in.

Are you trying to use it to hide posts entirely except from particular groups? Unlisted public topics are available to anyone with the link, which includes the Google search index if the link to said topic is visible to anonymous users. People can interact with it in the usual way and they will be notified of participation just like normal.

If you link it from another topic, that link is obviously going to work, it will behave like normal.

Staff can also use Grey Arrows Drone Club UK to see all unlisted topics.

If you’re trying to moderate topics and move them out of the public eye and don’t want users including the OP made aware of any comments/actions taken against the topic then you need to move it to a category only available to staff or similar limited group. If you’re trying to post a topic to a limited group then you need to use groups and categories to achieve that.

Hi @Stephen !

Our use case scenario in this instance is that as a club, we run a series of challenges and competitions for our club members.

Often, we (the club committee members) will draft a new topic in advance of the challenge start date and post it as an Unlisted topic, so only our club committee members can see it.

Then, on the given day, we Unlist the topic in order to unveil it to the world :slight_smile:

Yup, understood.

Also understood :+1:t2:

I agree.

The issue here is the opposite of this.

We never link to unlisted topics, because we’re fully aware they’ll then be ‘out in the wild’.

The action of us linking to a ‘Listed’ topic has in turn made the Unlisted topic reveal itself to the people that posted the topics to which we linked / referenced.

If I can give you a working example from earlier today :slight_smile:

Earlier this morning we created this topic, and we ensured it was flagged as Unlisted at the time of posting it. We have always been under the impression only the admins could see it (and of course, anyone else who had the link, even non-members). But as we never share the link, it was always considered safe.

So in our new and Unlisted topic are a series of links to ‘examples’ (normal ‘listed’ topics elsewhere on our site), so people are clear on the requirements of our competition.

The blue ‘Example’ links in this screen shot are the normal / listed posts to which we linked:

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The action of us linking to these Listed topics, from our Unlisted topic, has then sent a notification to each of the people that created those topics. And possibly also to people who are tracking those same topics I assume (we didn’t test that part too).

So the authors of those five topics to which we linked in our Unlisted topic were all notified of our shiny new Unlisted topic by the site and also by email (depending on their preferences) :scream:

This issue is very similar to Unlisted topics become listed via references and it’s as if the topic-reflection issue was fixed in that issue but not the notification / email side of things - which is then letting the proverbial cat out of the bag.

Yep, so that’s well outside the scope or purpose of unlisted topics. This isn’t a bug, it’s not the right tool for the job at all.

Create a category for your committee drafts, assign a group which represents the members to said category and draft everything there.

Once the post is final, recategorize it out of the protected category into whatever public category you wanted it in.

Shared drafts are also a thing, but it still requires the use of categories and groups:

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I disagree, I’ll come back to this in a moment :slight_smile:

Granted, that may well be the case and we will probably do as you suggest or simply post our drafts in the Staff category and go from there :+1:t2:

So coming back to the issue of this being a bug or not…

I don’t quite understand how the issue of Unlisted topics become listed via references was seen as a bug and the issue we have here of Unlisted topics being leaked by notification to some users, is any different?

The concern is the same, unlisted topics are announcing / revealing themselves in certain situations.

Because a topic link is a publicly visible reference to something you’ve decided you no longer want to be as visible, as opposed to being private.

Consider the other use case for unlisting a topic - to make a topic less visible without recategorizing it and making the topic completely inaccessible. In that case it’s still appropriate to make users aware of responses and interactions specific to that topic. Alerting someone that their post was referenced within the topic is a part of those interactions. If a user is mentioned in an unlisted post they would be notified, so why wouldn’t they expect to be notified if their post was also linked?

Groups applied to categories are there to ensure that only a specific audience can see or be alerted about specific topics. Links between topics are enumerated against the access control in place, in use this means that different groups can see different inbound/outbound links summarised, this is by design.

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Interesting!

I was completely unaware of that one.

Given the above, they entirely would :+1:t2:

Thanks for your help @Stephen :+1:t2:

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This is the wrong approach. There is a feature for this already, see Shared Drafts: Allow staff to collaborate on posts before publishing

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Depending on whether or not the “club committee” members are staff, you might want to consider a restricted category to house the drafts, that way notifications are not sent out to members who are not part of the committee.

I think a way to not change much with how you are doing things would be to post text URLs - not links - to the referenced posts. eg.

What do you think about this idea?
https://forum.example.com/t/ideas/1234/5

I think the point is that once the post is made public the URLs become clickable. Converting text URLS back to links requires an extra step in editing, introduces more margin for error and still doesn’t prevent the post from being stumbled upon, whereas the recommendations above do.

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