When are users notified via email?

Please forgive me if I’m asking a question that might have been answered in another thread. It has been answered partially but I’d like to make sure I understand this correctly. As far as I know, users are notified via email in the following instances:

  • When somebody responds to that user’s post directly (only if the response follows immediately after the user’s post)
  • When somebody quotes that user
  • When somebody @addresses that user directly in a post

Is that correct? Many thanks.


That is correct, but only if the user’s browser has not pinged the website in the last 10 minutes.

Otherwise we would be mailing a user to notify them about something they already saw in their web browser.

In general, it’s quite simple:

you are notified when someone is talking DIRECTLY TO YOU


you will be emailed if your browser is not currently touching the website (on any device)


Not if a user as set « never » in his/her preferences about email notification and if he/she is not connected from any device.

And correct me if I’m wrong, there is no « warning » about the fact that somebody you have had mentioned (nor replied to) will not be notified.

This could lead to the feeling that « you have written something to someone » but that person would never be informed about it.

This does not take into account the fact that the person is a rare contributor or someone who does not wish to be informed about any discussion. But it can lead to some misunderstanding if you think that you have notified that someone.

And also when you’re “watching” or “watching first post”, or on “mailing list mode”.

Even if you choose never to be emailed you’ll still be notified.


I did a test on a discourse with a friend,

  • my email notification settings are set to « never »,
  • my account was logged out (and not connected anywhere else) for 15h.
  • the discourse tab closed.

My friend poke me but I received nothing by mail and it’s coherent with my preferences. Good.

But, if I was not connected for a long time (days, weeks, month,) if someone poke me, they may think that I would be notified without behing informed that I will not be and that I was not online for a long time.

Maybe, having some kind of warning about this would be nice, maybe be some coloration on the drop down list of users when I use the @someone ?

It’s just to avoid situations where « you think that you are mentioning someone » but that someone is « not here nor notifiable anymore ».

This took me a while to get my head round too, but here’s how I understand it.

A notification happens online within Discourse. You click on your avatar/initials and see the list.

In this context, an email isn’t a notification - it’s just letting you know (notifying you!) about a notification.

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Sort of like an out-of-office email reply.

This would have to be opt-in for the user being contacted, though. Discourse might be able to track “last seen” easily enough, but that does not mean that it has any idea when I’ll show up next.

Is be strongly against anything that exposes my personal notification choices to random users. “Sailsman63 has disabled email notifications, and won’t see your comment until the next time they visit the site” is not anyone’s business except perhaps the site admin.

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I’m not an admin on a Discourse but when I poke @janedoe @johndoe @madamemichu, without having a look on their profile, I have no « quick way » to know that @johndoe and @madamemichu are like distant users and that they will not even receive anything.

Nothing is different for me and they are equally considered as « reachable users », but they are not.
This can lead me to think that I’m talking to some users, but I’m not.

Off course, the lack of answer from them will, at last, make me think that they are not available, not connected or not in the willing to discuss anymore or to participate (at least online) to discussions.

My questioning is more about ringing a bell to me regarding @johndoe @madamemichu before having to wait until… nothing from them.

In that kind of situation I would find really interesting, « earlier in the process » that I have to contact them using another communication tool instead of having a look on their profile to see if they are « connected users » or « disconnected users ».

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If you click on an avatar it says “Read x hours (y hours recently)” or words to that effect. Sometimes there is nothing in brackets, which would provide a clue.


I’m still not seeing how this situation arises.

I would assume that if you are @someone, you are either addressing a specific point that the person made up-thread, (Means that they have been active recently.) or that you are familiar enough with the community to know that the member has some expertise that is relevant to the current discussion. (In which case you know how engaged they are.)

If you are trying to contact someone for forum-adjacent reasons (Member runs a business related to the forum community, and you want to do business with them, &tc.) They should have contact instructions in their profile/usercard. If they are not responsive, that’s on them.

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