Request to move the category tags to the end of the subject line in mailing list mode

You’re totally right. And this is something I had not even realized at the time.

Ok.

I think we should see this as a usability blocker. People can’t actually see what the email discussion is about and I feel this should override any conventions. Additionally, as @Sven mentioned, this would likely not impact a lot of filters as they should filter with “in subject” rather than “beginning with”.

So I would be in favor as well of this. I can send out personal emails to everyone affected. But cannot move without mod consensus. @Plexus any thoughts on the subject?

The reason following conventions is important is that flouting them surprises users, and they find it weird and puzzling and a hassle to adapt existing workflows to the outlier. This isn’t a hard and fast rule, just a generalization. For example, if I’m subscribed to 10 forums via email, and 9 of them say the name of the forum at the start of the subject line, then the one that doesn’t would annoy me. Why does it have to be so weird? Just go with what works, I’d think.

How do most forums handle this? Maybe they don’t include the entire category hierarchy in the subject line. One option is to remove those and only keep the forum tag in the subject.

Thanks for your feedback

Yes, I think the goal would not be to remove the forum tag. Perhaps just shorten it as you suggested.

I haven’t investigated how other forums do this. But on the mentioned discussion there were some suggestions of moving the category tag to the end. I would also be fine with your suggestion of having it removed entirely, keeping only a short forum tag [Qubes Forum] in the subject line.

I don’t know about “most”, but I also follow the Whonix forum and there it has never bothered me. The difference there is that the tags in general are shorter and I haven’t observed much nesting of categories like here.

However, shortening the tags and flattening out the hierarchy would affect all forum users, not only the ones using mailing list mode. I think it’s a minor annoyance if we make the change though and it would preserve the standard.

Imagine if this would simply be [Qubes OS][Feedback/Forum] … it wouldn’t be a big deal.

Hum. I think flattening it out is disproportional. And not really something we should consider unless we realize there is en masse user confusion here.

Agreed. Without flattening, here is a concrete proposal on shortening to
review / discuss / improve:

[Qubes OS Community Forum] --> [Qubes OS] or [Qubes Forum]

[General Discussion] --> [General]

[User Support] --> [Support]
[User Support/Hardware Support] --> [Support/Hardware]
[User Support/Guides] --> [Support/Guides]
[User Support/HCL Reports] --> [Support/HCL]
[User Support/Testing 4.1] --> [Support/Testing 4.1]

[News] --> [News]

[In your language] --> [Local]
[In your language/Deutsch (German)] --> [Local/Deutsch]
[In your language/汉语/漢語 (Chinese)] --> [Local/汉语/漢語]
[In your language/Español (Spanish)] --> [Local/Español]

[Feedback] --> [Feedback]
[Feedback/Forum Feedback] --> [Feedback/Forum]
[Feedback/Website Feedback] --> [Feedback/Website]

Maybe it is possible to only flatten it out in the email headers? So it
would look like this in email only …

[General Discussion] --> [General]

[User Support] --> [Support]
[User Support/Hardware Support] --> [Hardware]
[User Support/Guides] --> [Guides]
[User Support/HCL Reports] --> [HCL]
[User Support/Testing 4.1] --> [Testing 4.1]

[News] --> [News]

[In your language] --> [Local]
[In your language/Deutsch (German)] --> [Deutsch]
[In your language/汉语/漢語 (Chinese)] --> [汉语/漢語]
[In your language/Español (Spanish)] --> [Español]

[Feedback] --> [Feedback]
[Feedback/Forum Feedback] --> [Forum]
[Feedback/Website Feedback] --> [Website]

… basically if there a subcategory, print that one only?

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Yes I’d like to have these categories move to the end of the line, as
that would be treating them like true “tags” and also clean up the email UX.

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I’d be in favor of [Qubes Forum] (or some variation) rather than just [Qubes OS] because we also have at least four other Qubes mailing lists.

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Unfortunately there was little reaction (good or bad) to my renaming proposal. But that is honestly also my second choice.

Instinctively I give @adw’s concerns a lot of weight, because of his experience and contributions. On the other hand I can’t really see any scenario where moving the tags to the end of the subject line would harm (other then maybe a filter that can easily be fixed). It would clean up the mail UX a lot as @tasket pointed out and make it better for those of us interacting mostly by email.

Since the forum is still quite young it might also be acceptable to still tweak things a little. Could we maybe give the original request a try and see what happens? If it really causes issues, we could reverse easily … right?

A compromise could also be to have the subject line look like this:

[Qubes Forum] My important question (User Support/Hardware)

Remember that my concern is conditional on whether there is an established convention for emails from discussion forums, and – if there is one – what exactly that established convention is. If there might be a good reason that forums standardly do it a certain way, I think we should at least thoroughly understand what they do and why they do it before deciding to buck the trend. But this isn’t a huge deal, and maybe no one else will notice or care, so my concern is not a strenuous objection by any means.

I just spent and hour searching the web and I couldn’t find anything
approximating a convention or standard when it comes for forum
notification email subject lines. It appears the topic of this request
is not that unusual at all, especially with forums that have long names
(shorten name, tags at the end etc.)

My totally unscientific impression is that a majority of forums these
days run on discourse. Discourse itself in it’s documentation readily
embraces and supports changing the subject line format.

In the respective discussions I haven’t found anything about a standard
or convention. The discourse developers have paid attention to the mail
headers and made sure emails thread nicely in Thunderbird, Outlook,
Kmail and others.

Maybe the explanation is as simple as thinking in a tree structure. If
you look at a forum as a tree you would have the name as the root, the
categories as branches and the threads as leaves. So maybe it’s natural
to write it this way as a subject line … just like a path?

Thank you for researching that, @Sven! In that case, I don’t have any objection.

I do like your compromise solution, since it would help to avoid mistaking forum emails for personal emails (sent directly from one person to another), but most MUAs nowadays probably already have tools to help categorize those, so not a big deal.

It seems like a consensus is being reached.

@adw, which proposal in specific are you referring to? (Sorry, I didn’t get it):

Ah, I was referring to:

1 Like

Then I think we should move forward with this. Just to make it clear, this will affect every discourse user. Not just mailinglist mode subscribers. (For the better, I think)

Poll

Given the fact that it affects everyone and significantly increases the email usability, I think a poll at this point is not needed. Just more of a heads up to those users as they are the most likely to be using category filters.

Action Plan (proposal)

This is just a proposal. I can deal with implementing them. Just wanted to know if it’s a good plan of action.

  1. Change subject line to be in the form of:

    [%{site_name}] %{optional_pm}%{topic_title}%{optional_cat}
    
  2. Notify email mailing list mode users about the filter change.

  3. Add pinned post on #feedback:forum-feedback forum with notice about this change (unpin after 1 month)

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Sounds good to me, but out of curiosity, what is %{optional_pm}%?

2 Likes

That’s the [PM] tag for when someone sends you a private messaege. It was already there.

All done! @adw @Sven

The pinned topic announce this change is the following:


When implementing this I just had a minor issue which was that it didn’t include a space between the topic title and category:

[Qubes Forum] Email filters may break: forum emails subject changed[Feedback/Forum Feedback]

It is now fixed. But at least one batch of emails contained that mistake.

2 Likes

No complaints so far… And a way better email experience for everyone!

:partying_face:

Thanks for bringing it up @sven!