Will Discourse ever gain ignore user functionality?

(Grandy Peace) #1

The ability to put users on an ignore list has always been a hot button topic at the “third places” I have frequented over the years, from BBS software up to current-day web forums.

Are there plans to add ignore functionality to Discourse?

(Michel Billard) #2

I’m guessing this could easily be a plugin that you add if you need it. However, if someone is a nuisance to you, it’s probably a nuisance to others and should probably be removed for everyone (banned) otherwise the community is at risk.

(Clay Heaton) #3

It’s been discussed heavily by the developers and is on the roadmap. They didn’t want to include it at launch.

(Grandy Peace) #4

@mix I’ve run several web communities over the years; I’m well aware of what can happen when a true trouble maker is allowed to hang around. Actual web communities don’t always have obvious problem members. Indeed, a given member can be generally accepted but loathed by some portion of the rest of the population. The ignore feature is a potential way to solve this, for better or for worse. I’ve been on both sides of the argument, and on both sides of the aisle (as a community member and also as someone helping to keep the place running well). I am also aware that modding such a feature in is a possibility. But it doesn’t answer my question. I’m both curious to know if it’s planned, and if the Discourse devs are ultimately philosophically for it. I do know the answer to the former; @clay thanks .

(Doug Moore) #5

I would also love to see an ignore functionality for topics. With the “unified inbox” approach that Discourse (at least currently) has, there are topics I know I will just never look at and would like to reduce the noise on the topics page.

(Jeff Atwood) #6

You could ignore topics, even at launch, by setting them to muted in the notification control at the bottom of every topic. But this is a request to mute users not topics. I am not against it per se but I believe it is a “treating the symptom not the disease” solution so I have very little enthusiasm for it.

It is a very complex feature that is easy to get wrong and hard to implement, that is used by very few people based on the polling I’ve done.

(jon) #7

Is there a way to block someone from private messaging you?

(Jeff Atwood) #8

No, but this is one of the things we will address for sure when it comes up. We had discussed this very case before as a potential risk.

(Michael Brown) #9

Just to weigh in as I’ve thought about it since @pirxdanford asked:

Unlike traditional user forums where the corrective action is to ask an authority figure to step in and swat down a misbehaving user, our goal for Discourse is to allow (and encourage!) the user community to police itself while giving them the power to do so.

Hopefully this will be enough; I think giving participants the ability to easily ignore others avoids the process of giving the ‘troublemaker’ notice of what he’s doing wrong. Sometimes it’s not deliberate behaviour, yet sometimes it’s accidental.

Rather than having a bunch of users ignored (which can lead to fragmented conversations), I’m hoping that the feeling of a community, together, asking a problem user to change his behaviour can better lead to Civilized Discourse.

Now, there will be times that this doesn’t work or when the community doesn’t agree. So ultimately I think we’ll eventually need to have have the ability to ignore, but I would hope that it’s used more as a last resort.

(Pirx Danford) #10

To be fair I only used it once in another forum system, but that was a prime example of it being necessary.
besides me ignoring that user, the only way would have been to ban that one, but even cause his tone was rude and crude and he generally pulled stuff into negativity - it was not against the forum rules and from time to time he did contribute useful things.

So the disease was not curable and frankly not worth wasting time over it.
Ignoring him worked really very well for me there.

Well and apparently when a new community forms some strange people will emerge, so there was someone on the stonehearth forum writing just to ignite controversy and I searched for the ignore feature, cause why bother anyone with making a fuzz of something so unfuzzyworthy?

Anyway I am pretty used to the way moderated forums work so I am very intrigued how you will pull off community driven regulation, especially in the situations when some forum agitator heats up the masses and the mob emerges on a witchhunt.

What I don’t believe in is that all people are basically so much alike that a community could and would act together as one person, so I just don’t embrace the illusion that if I find something annoying or even offensive, others will share my view.

A rather unobtrusive way of achieving the desired effect could be this:
have a new toggle button on all postings that toggles visibility, if not visible show a small one line statistic of the given posting with user, time posted, amount of words, amount of citations, amount of users mentioned (symbol to show oneself also was mentioned).
Now on ignored users the visibility is set to minimized from the start, but you can easily open it with the toggle button, so if a discussion is really important the danger of it becoming fragmented is not so great (good point there @supermathie).

This would increase the forum functionality because for example you could now use the visibility toggle to minimize postings between a red line of a discussion and focus more easily on creating a relevant posting taking into account the postings that were done before. Maybe even making them minimized while you address the points from within them.

And for the ignored PMs maybe it would suffice to have a predefined ignore message box in the messages area and messages by people on the ignore list would go there. The user could set in his profile settings if that message box should be visible or not, leaving the handling of those messages to the user.

Phew… sorry for the wall of text, hope the read was worth it for those who tackled it.

(Jeff Atwood) #11

You should read through some of the discussion at

(Pirx Danford) #12

Yes, yes I can see that the way I would imagine an ignore feature would more resemble a mute feature indeed.
Good catch.

But I somewhat disagree with your interpretation of the poll you mention here:

I would read it like “more than half of the forum users would use such a feature and the teeny tiny minority that normally can ruin the forum experience for everyone else is smart enough to just ignore the forum enemies.”

Anyway as I suggested above adding a min/max version of postings and using this for muting would only increase forum functionality and would allow to have ignore lists as side effect.
I believe its a pretty simple and elegant solution, as it would also not require as many changes as a full out ignore (nuke them from orbit) approach to other users content.

(Jeff Atwood) #13

That is an incredibly generous interpretation of the word “rarely”.

(Pirx Danford) #14

In what way? 54% do use the feature.

(Thor) #15

I know this is an old topic, but I must say I’m quite disappointed this still isn’t in. I get it, you don’t see a big need for it, but honestly, this can be a big deal in some situations. I went about looking for this functionality today because of a user that, while not directly breaking forum rules, is downright rude in almost all posts I’ve seen, completely unwilling to participate in constructive debates, etc. etc. I could go and flag every post (s)he makes, but frankly, individually they’re not bad enough to take action and (s)he almost certainly not get banned or reprimanded for it. Meanwhile, (s)he grates on me with the majority of posts (s)he makes on topics I’m debating and is making the environment downright unfriendly. Your way leaves me with only two realistic approaches: always skip past posts I see from this person, or leave the community altogether. I don’t really see either as satisfactory.

(Jeff Atwood) #16

If that community doesn’t push the bad apple out, it will be a dead community soon enough. Might as well leave now if the moderators are unwilling to take action.

Either a community pushes out the negative, or it withers and dies:

Ignoring problem users is a short term and short sighted solution.


I have no strong opinion on the ignore function. I see how it could be a useful relief for some users. I also believe that such functionality has the potential for creating disjointed discussions. And then there’s the issue of who would implement the feature if it were even desired (perhaps the most important issue of all)!

But the question of whether it is an important feature to the community at large is an interesting one. The data you mentioned from the Quarter-to-Three survey were of questionable quality, unfortunately. Any survey that has an option for “Obligatory shit bonerz option goes here” will raise some concerns about scientific validity! The survey does have over 100 respondents though, which is a pretty decent number. Like most forum polls, the respondents are a convenience sample, but that might not necessarily be a dealbreaker.

Most problematic was the wording of the options. The first two choices (“Lots. I have multiple users in it all the time.” and “Rarely. Only when absolutely necessary.”) were somewhat loaded and double-barreled. Those two options can mean different things to different people. Even dismissing concerns over recall bias and other common survey pitfalls, this question probably should have been measured with a simple integer (or integer range) for the number of users on respondents’ block lists. Partly because of this wording problem, you and other members here have differing opinions on what the survey means about users’ interest in an ignore feature.

If I rarely use ignores, does that mean it is unimportant to me? Maybe not, especially if those few uses increase the sustained enjoyment I experience in the community. Sometimes it’s only one or two people that rub someone the wrong way, even though all rules are being followed and civility is maintained. But from the poll, it’s impossible to know if the feature was being used rarely because it wasn’t important or merely not needed more than that.

On the more practical question of implementation, it seems like users who want this functionality should pursue something like Stylish for their needs.

(Jeff Atwood) #18

Civilized mute (notifications only) is coming in Discourse 1.3.