"You have no unread topics" is a lie

(Michael Downey) #1

Personally, the whole “Unread” concept has always confused me, even as a power user/admin of a Discourse site. I just clicked over to the “Unread” tab a moment ago, and saw the following:

Now, I haven’t read all the topics on Meta – not by far. But I’m being told I have no unread topics? Lies!

Surely there’s a better way to explain this to confused users like me?

(Ankur Sethi) #2

Yes I found this a bit surprising as well. I suppose they start off a new user with no unread topics? But it doesn’t make sense to me either because I created an account here yesterday. So does it only give you updates on threads you have visited? I know it will after I posted because:

You will receive notifications because you posted a reply to this topic.

(Jeff Atwood) #3

The blank empty area there could arguably be a little better used to explain what unread means, link to your user preferences, etc.

(Michael Downey) #4

That’d be an improvement, but I’ll still challenge someone to think of a better word than “unread”. I’d try to suggest one, but I’m not 100% sure understand what it actually is, myself. :slight_smile:

(Jeff Atwood) #5

Well, the hover tooltip tries to.

topics you are currently watching or tracking with unread posts

Of course then you really need to explain what watching and tracking mean, too… perhaps

topics you have expressed an interest in, either explicitly via the notifications control at the bottom of each topic, or inferred through your actions in the topic, that have unread posts

(Daniel Gagnon) #6

If I can use two words: “continue reading”.

(Gerhard Schlager) #7

“You have no unread topics.” could become “You have read all topics you are currently watching or tracking.”

(Kevin P. Fleming) #8

Well, now that the barn door has been opened… I too have found this phrasing confusing, because an ‘unread topic’ would be a topic I have never read. At all. Thus, that would be a new topic.

In this case, Discourse is trying to tell me whether or not there are unread posts in any of the topics in which I have expressed an interest (via tracking or watching). That’s a pretty significant difference.

“You have read all of the posts in the topics you are tracking or watching.”

(Jeff Atwood) #9

@neil I need separate copy here. Can you create a multi-paragraph string with embedded HTML markup (links, etc) that only appears when

  1. The /new page is empty
  2. The /latest page is empty

And appears like so:

(well not in pink, obviously, but in that location in the standard color.)

I do feel like we are missing a key “teaching moment” here, and adding strings seems easy.

(FichteFoll) #10

How about “Updated”?

Consistent new indicator
(Neil Lalonde) #11

Teaching moment has been added. :school:

(Jeff Atwood) #12

OK so let’s try


By default, topics are considered new when they were created in the last 2 days.

You can change this in your preferences.

Note that there is technically an exception to this for new users, we reset new state to the date/time they created the account, so they are not overwhelmed by new indicators. Not sure if that needs to be mentioned or not.


By default, unread indicators will only appear for topics that you have:

  • Created
  • Replied to
  • Read for more than 4 minutes

Or, if you have explicitly set the topic to Tracked or Watched via the notification control at the bottom of each topic.

You can change this in your preferences.

Open to suggestions for improvement here.

(Soviut) #13

Why not name it “watching” or “listening”?

(Erlend Sogge Heggen) #14

Frankly I always felt like the Watching/Tracking terminology was quite off. There’s no clear difference between the two. “Tracking” sounds like the more all-encompassing one to me, as in:

  • Let’s go track some reindeers, vs
  • Let’s go watch some reindeers

We’re really talking about different degrees of the same thing, so why not lump both into one, with an added distinction instead of two distinct words. Anything with a + would work better for me, e.g.:

  • Track
  • Track + Notifications


  • Follow
  • Follow + Notifications


  • Subscribe
  • Subscribe + Notifications

Then Unread could be renamed “Tracking” for instance and you’d be able to make an immediate connection. It would also solve the problem of frequently having to say “blablabla --in the topics you are tracking or watching”.

I remember that was a tough distinction to make in translations as well - heck, I can’t even remember what I landed on… Had a look, it’s not super logical, might have to come up with something better.

(AstonJ) #15

I commented about this in another thread. Why not call it something like Watched Threads and it lists all threads the user is watching/tracking - with the ones with new posts highlighted in some way.

People will often want to view threads they are watching - not just the ones with new posts.


I think tracking or watching are fairly equivalent. Subscribe sounds more aggressive, and makes sense if notifications are going to be pushed (i.e., emailed).

(Luke S) #17

Of these, I like Track. From other contexts:

  • Follow implies a person or company that you want all updates on.
  • Subscribe, as @boomzilla said, feels like signing up for emails. (orthagonal in discourse) Also implies getting information that is not available to the general viewer.

(Erlend Sogge Heggen) #18

I agree with you both, @boomzilla and @Sailsman63.

In other words, I’d like to see “Watched” be replaced with “Track + Notifications”.

(Michael Downey) #19

This is a good start, but should this really be using the <footer> tag? We have a “real” footer on our site (you know, with copyright, Creative Commons, etc.) that we style in a particular way and this content got all its styling.

"Unread" language should not use <footer> tag
(Jeff Atwood) #20