What goes in the activity summaries?

I am wondering what content goes in the activity summaries that are sent out to users if they haven’t visited the forum in the period specified in their user preferences?

First off, it seems to me that if a user is Watching a category then they get an email for every post in this category (i.e. the behaviour is the same as if they had enabled ‘Mailing List mode - Send me an email for every new post’, and there will be nothing from this category in the activity summary). Is this correct?

What happens though if a user is Tracking a category or Watching First Post?

And what happens for public categories that the user has not entered any settings for - are these also included in activity summaries, meaning that the only way to block categories from activity summaries is to Mute them?

I would like certain users to get an email which contains all activity since their last visit (according to the frequency set for activity summary). Am I right in thinking that, if I set the ‘digest topics’ setting to a very high number then all new content will be included in activity summaries?

If I am right about the above, then, as long as I set a very high number for ‘digest topics’, I shouldn’t need to add any categories to users preferences, as they will get all content from the forum in the activity summaries. Again, I would be glad to know if this is correct.

The activity summary is explained here:

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Thanks. Does this mean that there is no way of controlling what goes in the activity summaries? @codinghorror stated in this post that the summaries respect users Tracked and Watched preferences, a recent change in beta 1.7, but I am not sure what this means in practice:


It seems that it is very difficult to get a clear answer about the activity summaries. I have been trying for some time to get an answer, and maybe confused the issue by muddling notifications with emails, but, I would be very grateful to get an authoritative answer as to how the activity summaries are constructed and how these relate to the watching/tracking/watching first topic settings. Thanks.

Yeah. For now, activity summaries are largely hardcoded; for the most part you can just tweak the volume settings:

(p.s. @team we should probably do away with the old “digest” lingo here)

Those are the literal keys for the settings. Changing them is difficult, as it would erase the current values.

(Which is no big deal, provided you’ve never modified the default values in the first place…)

Yes, but how are they hardcoded? In the following way?..

…to include all posts from all categories (except categories that are watched as users get an email for each post in these categories, so they don’t need to appear in summaries as well)
…in the time frame specified for activity summaries in user preferences (unless they have visited the forum in the meantime)
…as long as the threshold for digest topics has not been reached?

Or, in some other way? As mentioned above @codinghorror suggested that the activity summaries respect the watching/tracking/watching first topic settings, and I am confused as to what this means.

Still very much wondering how the activity summaries work. Perhaps the only way to find out is to create some private dummy categories - choose different watched/tracked/etc. settings for these categories, add some topics and replies, and see what emails come through.

This is work that I’d rather avoid if possible, and it still seems strange to me that, despite asking this question one way or another over the last couple of months, I am still no clearer on how the activity summaries work!

If there is anyone who can save me from the fate above, it would be good to hear from you.