[RFC] Improved Subscription Options

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Pony99CA
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[RFC] Improved Subscription Options

Post by Pony99CA » Tue Aug 14, 2012 12:38 am

As discussed on phpBB.com in the send email to users when a message is posted to a forum (one of many) and here in the Inclusion of Full Text in Subscription Emails, etc... and Notify me upon replies by default topics (both of which have been requested on phpBB.com, too), phpBB should provide more user options more subscriptions (with appropriate admins controls).

I propose the following:
  • ACP: Add the following options and permissions.
    • A Can subscribe to all posts group forum permission which would allow the user to choose to get notifications of every post via a UCP option, not just the first one since he last visited. This would affect both the forum subscription and topic subscriptions in that forum.
    • A Can subscribe to full post content group forum permission would allow the user to choose to get the full content of the post about which he was being notified. This would affect both the forum subscription and topic subscriptions in that forum.
    • A board-wide (or possibly forum-specific) Automatically subscribe users to forum(s) option to set forum subscriptons on or off by default (but the user could override them in the UCP). This would obviously only affect people who had the Can subscribe forum permission.
    • A board-wide (or possibly forum-specific) Automatically subscribe users to topics they post to option to set subscriptons on or off by default (but the user could override them in the UCP).
    • A board-wide (or possibly forum-specific) Include post content in notifications option to set post content inclusion on or off by default (but the user could override them in the UCP). This would obviously only affect people who had the Can subscribe to full post content permission.
    • A Can get private message content in notifications group permission would allow the user to choose to get the full content of the private message about which he was being notified.
  • UCP: Add the following options (if the appropriate ACP options are set):
    • On the Manage subscriptions page of the Overview tab, list all forums (watched or not) in the Watched forums with a check in the Mark check box if the forum is currently being watched. Between the Watched forums and Watched topics sections, add a Watch marked forums button to turn watching on for marked forums and off for unmarked forums and Mark all forums and Unmark all forums links to mark/unmark all forums.

      Also change the Unwatch marked button below Watched topics section to say Unwatch marked topics and Mark all and Unmark all links to say Mark all topics and Unmark all topics to mark/unmark all topics.

      Yes, one button will watch marked forums and the other unwatch marked topics, but because there are usually a smaller number of forums, that might not be so bad. If you don't like that, split the Manage subscriptions page into Manage topic subscriptions and Manage forum subscriptions (if the user has the Can subscribe forum permission) pages.
    • A Notify me on every new post radio button on the Edit posting defaults page of the Board preferences tab which would allow the user to get notifications of every post, not just the first one since he last visited.
    • A Notify me on first new post since last visit to topic radio button on the Edit posting defaults page of the Board preferences tab (this is the phpBB standard behavior and would be the default). This option and the above would only be available if the Can subscribe to all posts ACP option was set; otherwise, subscriptions would behave as they do today.
    • An Include post content check box. This option would be on the Edit posting defaults page of the Board preferences tab and only be available if the Can subscribe to full post content ACP permission was set.

      BBCode in text-only E-mail could be handled either by dropping the tags and leaving the internal text or by displaying everything, tags and all (useful for the URL= tag, for example); HTML E-mail (if supported) would render BBCode just like on the board.

      You could even handle attachments by attaching them to the E-mail, but I think that would be going overboard (especially for large attachments). Instead, I'd include a line saying "This post has attachments; to see them, click the link above" or something similar. (You might also include an analogous line if subscribed to a forum and the first post is a poll.)
    • An Include private message content check box. This option would be on the Rules, folders & settings page of the Private messages tab or the Edit global settings page of the Board preferences tab and only be available if the Can get private message content in notifications ACP permission was set. BBCodes and attachments would be handled as above.

      Why should I have to log on to the forum to see my PMs? Yes, they're more private that way, but I think that most people consider E-mail to be private enough -- many companies that send you E-mail bills showing how much you owe in the E-mail and how much you paid in the confirmation E-mail.
    • Alternatively, add a new Edit notification preferences page to the Board preferences tab and move all of the UCP notification options there, including Notify me on new private messages, Pop up window on new private message and any E-mail/Jabber settings.

      I prefer this because it allows you to treat topic and forum notifications with the above options. If topic notifications are kept on the Edit posting defaults page of the Board preferences tab, you need to find a place to handle forum notifications separately (possibly on the Manage subscriptions page of the Overview tab, but that's kind of ugly).
Plus, if you could subscribe to the entire board at once (all forums, including any new forums), you wouldn't need the Board Watch MOD.

These options would be especially useful for moderators, especially on lightly-used boards. They could see the content of every post as it came in and visit the board only if moderation was necessary.

Including post content for subscriptions (and possibly group PMs) may not require two sets of E-mail to be generated. Just like the user's name is inserted into E-mail, you could insert the content for some users and empty content for others.

And if people want to use the forums as a mailing list surrogate, why not let them? ;)

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EXreaction
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Re: [RFC] Improved Subscription Options

Post by EXreaction » Tue Aug 14, 2012 4:07 am

It would also be nice to be able to subscribe to topics without getting email notifications. I used to do that all the time on the vBulletin forums I visited because I wanted to subscribe to specific topics, but not be annoyed constantly by email because I check the forum frequently.

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Re: [RFC] Improved Subscription Options

Post by drathbun » Tue Aug 14, 2012 12:22 pm

EXreaction wrote:It would also be nice to be able to subscribe to topics without getting email notifications.
Isn't that what the bookmark is for?
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Re: [RFC] Improved Subscription Options

Post by imkingdavid » Tue Aug 14, 2012 1:16 pm

I do not see a point in adding permissions for this. In fact, I have a Pull Request, RFC, and Wiki page about removing unnecessary permissions and one of them is f_subscribe; there is no benefit that I can see from not allowing users to subscribe to topics. As such, assuming that Pull Request is merged, that permission will no longer be there, so adding further permissions does not make sense to me.

In fact, I don't see a need for any of those ACP settings (subscription should be completely and entirely up to the user and should default to off upon registration).

I however, like the idea of allowing the user to choose how fine-grained they want their subscriptions, and automatic subscriptions, if they want them, are a good idea as well. In any case, by deafult everything should be as least-invasive as possible (i.e. don't send any emails they don't ask for).
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Re: [RFC] Improved Subscription Options

Post by Pony99CA » Tue Aug 14, 2012 9:50 pm

imkingdavid wrote:I do not see a point in adding permissions for this. In fact, I have a Pull Request, RFC, and Wiki page about removing unnecessary permissions and one of them is f_subscribe; there is no benefit that I can see from not allowing users to subscribe to topics.
The Can subscribe forum permission doesn't prevent users from subscribing to topics, does it? I thought that it only prevented users from subscribing to the forum (which meant that the user wouldn't get notified of new topics or replies to topics that the user hadn't already subscribed to).

UPDATE: I asked about the meaning of that permission in your topic.
imkingdavid wrote:In fact, I don't see a need for any of those ACP settings (subscription should be completely and entirely up to the user and should default to off upon registration).
A lot of users have requested the option, so I included it in the RFC. Users should certainly be able to control their subscriptions, but I don't see a problem if an admin chooses to automatically subscribe users by default to save them the effort. Admin's board, admin's rules. :) I would have a problem if the user could not unsubscribe, though.

Remember that default subscriptions are probably for smaller boards with fairly unsophisticated users. Using automatic subscriptions on a large board would probably hurt performance (espeically if they also turned on every-post notifications).
imkingdavid wrote:I however, like the idea of allowing the user to choose how fine-grained they want their subscriptions, and automatic subscriptions, if they want them, are a good idea as well. In any case, by deafult everything should be as least-invasive as possible (i.e. don't send any emails they don't ask for).
Yes, that's the more important part of the RFC. I just wanted to make it reasonably comprehensive, but setting defaults for topic subscriptions is a simple change. (However, automatically subscribing people to forums is quite a bit more work.)

There's also the group of changes to the Manage subscriptions page, which was in response to DavidIQ's suggestion.

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Re: [RFC] Improved Subscription Options

Post by MichaelC » Tue Aug 14, 2012 11:08 pm

imkingdavid wrote:I do not see a point in adding permissions for this. In fact, I have a Pull Request, RFC, and Wiki page about removing unnecessary permissions and one of them is f_subscribe; there is no benefit that I can see from not allowing users to subscribe to topics. As such, assuming that Pull Request is merged, that permission will no longer be there, so adding further permissions does not make sense to me.

In fact, I don't see a need for any of those ACP settings (subscription should be completely and entirely up to the user and should default to off upon registration).

I however, like the idea of allowing the user to choose how fine-grained they want their subscriptions, and automatic subscriptions, if they want them, are a good idea as well. In any case, by deafult everything should be as least-invasive as possible (i.e. don't send any emails they don't ask for).
+1 to all of that.
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Re: [RFC] Improved Subscription Options

Post by Pony99CA » Wed Aug 15, 2012 1:13 am

Upon reading Davi'd's post again, I think that I may have misinterpreted some of it (I read it during lunch and a conference call :)). I thought that he was opposed to automatic subscriptions (which Can subscribe forum would affect), but I see his final paragraph seemed to be OK with automatic subscriptions.

However, maybe he's just opposed to the Can subscribe to all posts and Can subscribe to full post content permissions. Those are crucial to the granularity part of this RFC -- not every admin may want their users subscribing to all posts or including the content of the posts in the E-mail. In discussions on phpbb.com, some users felt that those would obviate the need to visit the board, so those users would definitely want these permissions on their boards. Neither of these permissions prevent the user from subscribing -- the former just controls the frequency of notifications (every post/reply or the current once-until-you-visit-again model) and the latter just controls whether or not the user can have the content included in the notification.

Would Can request notification of all posts and Can request full post content in notifications make them more obvious?

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Re: [RFC] Improved Subscription Options

Post by EXreaction » Wed Aug 15, 2012 2:17 am

drathbun wrote:
EXreaction wrote:It would also be nice to be able to subscribe to topics without getting email notifications.
Isn't that what the bookmark is for?
That is what some people might use bookmarks for, yes, but bookmarking should really be for keeping track of a small number of topics so you can find them easily. Subscriptions should notify you when a topic you posted in or want to pay attention to has replies. The current subscriptions system could be used, the only difference would be that a subscription method option would be added and, when subscribing to a topic, the user would have the option of choosing which method to subscribe by (no notification, email, jabber, or other methods of contacting users that phpBB supports or adds support for).

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Re: [RFC] Improved Subscription Options

Post by drathbun » Wed Aug 15, 2012 12:56 pm

EXreaction wrote:...the only difference would be that a subscription method option would be added and, when subscribing to a topic, the user would have the option of choosing which method to subscribe by (no notification, email, jabber, or other methods of contacting users that phpBB supports or adds support for).
Got it. So you still want to be notified, but notified in some method other than email. That wasn't clear to me from your original post, thanks for the clarification.
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Re: [RFC] Improved Subscription Options

Post by EXreaction » Wed Aug 15, 2012 3:14 pm

Also, I would absolutely love it if we could do some rss feed of the notifications for each user (perhaps with some secret key per user for authorization).

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