Mute Communities subcategories by default?

Continuing the discussion from Mute/switch off categories?:

I’m finding that with the increasing number of geographic categories on this forum, it’s becoming harder for me to keep track of the topics that are relevant to me in the main Latest view. It looks like I can mute the categories I don’t want to show up there so I’ll go do that. However, I’m wondering if it is possible to have community subcategories muted by default, letting users opt in to to the ones they are interested rather than having to opt out of the ones they aren’t interested in. It’s quite likely that for any individual user there will be fewer they are interested in than those they are not. If this is possible it would seem sensible to me. A new user would just see posts from the global top level categories in the Latest feed by default, and then could add any specific geographic community subcategories they want. As it stands now, every user has to filter out any new community subcategory they don’t want to see every time a new one is added.

Thoughts on if this is possible and/or desireable?

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By default your user is not following any content unless you are mentioned, you reply to a topic or you spend 2 minutes reading it (this can be configured on your preferences).

Latest section is not intended to be used to track the topics that you care about, but to list every topic.

The same latest sections can be found in each category, listing all topics within that category.

In order to follow the content you care, you need to set categories and tags as Watching or Tracking, this will place new content from the places you care on the Unread section.

In the upcoming version of discourse, a convenient sidebar will display this content in a more accessible way:

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Yes I know, unfortunately although the following (watching & tracking to be specific) feature is nice for managing notifications it doesn’t seem to be very usable for filtering lists of topics. The Latest section can be filtered to show just topics you are watching or tracking, with a query string parameter, but these urls are not easily accessible in the Discourse UI:

  • https://community.openstreetmap.org/latest?state=watching
  • https://community.openstreetmap.org/latest?state=tracking
    This is also more complicated than what I’m after, since there are the two different states and they are set on a topic level. I just need a list of the latest topics limited to the set of categories I care about.

It may not be intended for this purpose, but there doesn’t appear to be a different section that is intended for this purpose, so it’s what I’m using :grinning:. Muting the categories I’m not interested in and viewing the Latest section is the only way I’ve been able get a list of topics from a selection of categories, sorted in reverse chronological order by last post date. The Unread section is close to what I’m looking for. I can set the categories I care about to tracking and then the topics from those categories will show up there. However, it has a big drawback: the topics disappear once I’ve “read” them. If I want to refer back to a topic, read it again, or if I only partially read it the first time, the topic is no longer in the Unread section so it’s harder to find.

Regardless, the question I’m asking is not about individual user settings. I am instead asking if it is possible to change some default settings for the whole Discourse instance so new users aren’t overwhelmed by the Latest section being filled with all the topics from every different community subcategory. This Discourse meta post shows a “default categories muted” setting that appears to do what I’m suggesting.

I have seen this and it looks good! Of couse we don’t know when it will be released, when this forum will be upgraded, or if the feature will be enabled here. So in this topic I’m just focused on what is possible right now.

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Muting categories by default doesn’t seems to serve well the users who might be interested in the ones you don’t care about. I think it’s impossible to find a list of defaults that fit everyone.

It’s not about muting categories I don’t care about. It’s about muting categories that are intended for subsets of the community by design, and encouraging users to then un-mute the ones they are interested in. If there are 100 national community categories, each new user is probably only going to be interested in a few of them.

Of course this is impossible, and it’s not what I’m suggesting. I’m suggesting that for a new user, the main top level categories like #general and #help-and-support are set as Normal and all the subcatories under Communities are set as Muted. New users are then encouraged to set any Communities subcategories they are interested in to Normal. This way they don’t get overwhelmed right away with a huge number of posts in the Latest section that are irrelevant to them.

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Note that muted categories disable any kind of notification, including mentions and tracking when you reply. This is a terrible user experience if enforced by default.

The way you want to use discourse sections is not how the software is designed.

I just check my unread tab and notifications, and I’m never getting any topic from the communities I don’t track.

A workaround for your specific usecase seems to track all categories and tags you care about and bookmark the following url

https://community.openstreetmap.org/latest?state=tracking

In the coming discourse version you will be able to have the sidebar with your favorite content more handy.

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Es ist möglich: unter dem letzten Beitrag links neben dem Antwort-Button befindet sich das Menü “Weitere Aktionen” Dort wähle “Aufschieben”

Thanks for the pointer. The Defer (Aufschieben) option was not visible in my interface. It seems it is disabled by default and you have to enable it in preferences. This is helpful and seems like having it enabled by default would make sense.

I must say I am quite frustrated by your statements here, @nukeador. I put forward what I thought was a reasonable suggestion for all users. In response you’ve repeatedly told me I’m using the software wrong, and mis-charactarised my suggestion as a single user specific, niche use case. To me this comes across as quite condescending and I don’t appreciate it.

My suggestion is admittedly not ideal (as is often the case with Discourse it seems), but stating that the software is not designed for this is just factually incorrect. I’ve read a number of threads on meta.discourse.org discussing the available settings for muting some or all categories by default so that users can opt-in rather than opt-out. This is an intended use case for communities with a wide range of categories and users that are expected to only be interested in a subset.

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Fully agree, the feedback we get from long time (old) forum users is that they feel intimidated by the large amount of (mostly irrelevant) information. In my case I already added more than 20 categories to my ignore list. Telling every user how to locate the respective settings in their user profile adds an additional burden for inexperienced users.

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The way I ended up “solving” the “noise” problem was sticking to mailing list mode and using filtering rules to handle the received emails. Filtering by top-level forum and by user is possible; the downside is that there might eventually be a lot of busy top level forums to copy and paste rules for. Filtering by tags is less important since tag use on e.g. the old help site couldn’t be relied upon, although it would be a worry if an attempt was made to have logically very different forums shoe-horned into one, separated only by tags. “New thread” posts are obviously not possible until that has been turned on per forum.

A major advantage is not having to use Discourse’s UI for reading or replying, so no more text boxes whizzing off the top of the screen.

Is it easier to tell them how to remove caregories from the ignore list instead?

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Somehow this hidden/muted category concept is indeed a bit weird. Think opt-out vs. opt-in as mentioned earlier on.

Ideally, you would only see a few predefined categories, which are relevant for your local community. Once you’re a bit more familiar with the platform, you could add further categories you’re interested in. If you’re happy with the predefined list, there’s nothing else to do. This is at least how many messaging platforms work.

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Couldn’t replies automatically unmute a topic?

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Are you certain about notifications on a mention? I muted many of the community sub-categories. I am not familiar with their area and also do not speak their language. So why would I want to be notified about some latest posts in their category?

But if someone would mention me, for whatever reason, then it might be still nice to have a notification.
I hoped to have a notification in the top-right area or even by email.

Considering a direct mention less important than a category-mute sounds like a bug to me.
Was this logic already discussed up-stream?

image

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I apologize, that was never my intention.

I only wanted to put the pros and cons of your proposal, that in my personal opinion introduces a few issues by forcing a full mute to some categories to everyone, that will directly impact anyone interested in the named categories.

Are you sure about that? The explanations of the different notification levels don’t say that mentions or replies are muted, only:

My understanding of that “anything” is that you won’t get mentions or notifications about replies to you, because the Normal level describes clearly you get mentions and replies to your messages.

Do you have a “playground” instance somewhere, where you could simply try this?
Then it would be less speculation about the exact behavior.

If this is the “price”, then at least for me it is still worth it. I am absolutely not interested to see any notes about new content (/latest) in Serbia, Belgium, Russia, Mexico or the other local communities I do not participate. And if that is the only way to filter, than it’s like this.

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If you want to make a test topic in the Thailand category, you could just delete it after. I have that category muted, so you could @ mention me to test if I get a notification.