Users arbitrarily notified after tags added

Hi there,

I’m wondering if someone can help me troubleshoot this situation.

The organization whose Discourse installation I run has hired someone to go back and tag a lot of old topics, in order to make them easier to find. So far, so good, except that one user has complained that they are getting email copies of all the posts that are being tagged. I can’t figure out why this use in particular is receiving these messages.

In the Emails tab, these messages are showing up as “user_posted.” The user in question is a moderator, and is watching the category but did not herself participate in the thread.

Any thoughts?



Sounds like this is working as intended…

  1. Your moderator is watching the category.
  2. This means that she is automatically watching every new topic in that category.
  3. Notifications are generated for every action in a watched topic, including edits… Such as editing tags.

This moderator probably also has “activity emails” (second option under preferences>emails) set to “always.” There has been some discussion on improving the copy for that setting, as it does include activity from watched topics. See

1 Like

Maybe I should’ve been more clear. The user in question is not the only one who has set this category to “watching” and yet she is the only one getting emailed about the tag updates…

So, cross-check what email settings the others have…

They’re exactly the same (except the moderator has a few unrelated categories muted). That’s my point.

Ahh… That part wasn’t stated before.

Are the notifications that she’s getting just “normal” activity updates, or are they related to the migration queue?

If the first, I’m actually surprised that other users aren’t getting these emails.

  • Perhaps their inbox filters/sorting are are blocking these emails, or placing them in a subsidiary box that the user doesn’t look at?
  • Perhaps many these users habitually have a tab open for your community? This will suppress email notifications under most settings: “email when I am away” rather than “always”

Luke, she’s getting sent the initial email in the topic. (I expect that this is because the first post is marked as edited when tags are added.)

I checked the admin email tab, and no one else is being sent these emails, just her, so I don’t think it’s an inbox issue. We have a few hundred users, and most of them interact with the forum via email only, so it’s pretty much impossible that everyone has tabs open.

Very puzzling to me!

So you are all looking at if this moderator is watching the category, but this sounds like she’s simply watching the tag. Have her check her notification settings for this tag by going to /tag/tagname and pressing the :bell: button in the top right.

Richard, thanks for thinking about this, however these are brand new tags that did not exist prior to the tagging effort, so no one is watching them.

Today, I see that other users are similarly being emailed as tags are being added to various topics, but there’s doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason as to why certain users are getting emailed, i.e. there are lots of users watching the category who aren’t getting emailed, the users in questions haven’t posted in these topics, and they’re definitely not watching the tags. I used Data Explorer and the people receiving emails haven’t even viewed these topics either.

Remember, ‘watching’ a category means “automatically ‘watch’ new topics in this category.” Topics that were created before a user started watching the category are not affected.

I’d guess that:

  • Your moderator has been watching the category for longer than any of the other users have (therefore has a bigger backlog of topics that she’s watching)
  • The person doing the re-tagging has been working methodically from older topics toward newer

If she’s really finding this frustrating, she can turn off her email settings until the re-tagging project is done.

Luke, I take your point, but there are dozens of other people who were watching the category at the time of the original post, and none of them have been emailed. And, as I mentioned in my last reply, now other users – with the same email notification settings – are getting some of these messages too, and the moderator that I mentioned before isn’t getting these.

Any ideas? Bug?

Perhaps? I’ve kind of been hoping that the devs will chime in here, but a couple of things yet to look at:

  • visit YOURSITE/admin/email/skipped Are there any related/relevant emails here? Why are they being skipped?

  • Have you double-checked the notification settings for some of the Topics in question? We’ve been talking about the category all along, but category settings only set a default for new topics. Users can change this per topic, even if they do not interact with the topic in any other way.

Try this:

  • Pick your moderator, and another user that has gotten some of these emails (Call them ‘User B’)
  • Select three topics:
    • One that generated an email to the Moderator but not ‘User B’
    • One that generated an email to ‘User B’ but not the Moderator
    • (If available) One that generated an email to both.
  • Check the notification settings for each topic for both users. Compare. (You can do this by impersonating the user and visiting the bottom of the topic.)

No relevant emails, nothing being skipped related to these posts.

I tried all 3 scenarious and they’re all exactly the same: watching the topic because they’re watching the category…

Okay, good to know.

I think we’re back to re-framing the question. With the settings and notification status that you’ve verified:

We should not be asking “Why is she getting these emails?” - that’s expected behavior!
We should be asking “Why isn’t she getting emails for all of these topics?”

  • How many emails a day has she been getting since this started?
    • Has she hit max-emails-per-day-per-user? (defaults to 100, I believe)
  • Has she been getting emails for other activity?

Hi Luke, thanks for your help with this. Agreed, this is more of a “why are these users getting notified seemingly arbitrarily” question.

About 10 or so per day? That’s about average. Nowhere near the default limit.

Yep, receiving messages for a new topic in a watched category that was just posted today.

Total? Including the new ones about the updated/tagged posts? That’s… way fewer than I was thinking, based on the earlier parts of this discussion. (Not that I’m trying to minimize, just… not what I was expecting.)

  • Have you checked what the actual max_emails_per_user_per_day is on your instance?
  • Do you know about how many posts are getting re-tagged per day?
  • Are we talking about separate, single emails for each affected post, or a “condensed activity summary” version?

10 would be an average day; the tagged posts added an extra 30 or so. It’s not a super-busy forum, but it’s busy enough that I never hear the end of it if something goes wrong. :slight_smile:

Yes, 100 (default).

30-50 or so? The tagger was initially restricted by the default max_edited_per_day but I removed the limit yesterday.

Separate, single emails.

Okay, that makes more sense to me.

~30 email notifications for 30-50 updates? Seems about right for someone who is watching the category.

She has almost certainly changed the settings on at least some of the topics. If not:

  • Is the tagger also working in other categories, where perhaps she is not watching?
  • Are there any subcategories here? Notification settings are not inherited. If you have a category “Cars” and subcategories “Datsun” and “Yugo”, watching “Cars” will not automatically watch “Yugo”

Small prediction here, keeping in mind that you’ve implied that your userbase is… vocal… when the forum does unexpected things:

  • If your tagger really goes to town and makes use of that freedom, your mod (and anyone who is following a lot of topics in the areas that the tagger is working) are probably going to be getting… many… more emails. Probably hitting that 100/day cap.

Doesn’t look like it!


Nope again! :slight_smile:

Yeah, I’ve sent a pre-emptive message to expect some weirdness so hopefully that will head off things. But I’d still love to know why the notifications are so arbitrary!

Alternatively, if there’s some way to disable notifications for added tags that would be ideal…