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Notifications overhaul proposal

 

Hi All,

As part of the app development process, I need to decide how notifications are going to be handled. I mentioned this in the previous thread about unread message counts. I have a more fully fleshed out idea now. Please let me know your thoughts.

Notes:

Examples of things that are currently notifications:
- Automated emails to moderators about pending subscriptions/messages
- Automated emails to groups announcing new events (#cal-invite messages)
- Automated emails to groups announcing new chats.

This proposal would result in no changes to how notifications are currently delivered, unless you specifically make changes to your account.

Once we establish how notifications will be handled, it'll be easier for me to add new/long awaited notifications.

Why this is needed:

Primarily, because with the app we want to be able to take advantage of push notifications, and provide flexibility for how people get notified in Groups.io. Also, there is a certain standard/expectation for how notifications work these days, including the use of a notifications center page. It would be good to embrace these concepts where we can.

Proposal:

In the header of the website is a new bell icon with an unread count. Clicking that takes you to a new notification center. This is very much how Facebook and other sites currently work. You can view your notifications in this page. The unread count is the number of notifications in your notification center that you have not yet read.

In your Account, there is a new 'Notifications' page that controls if/how you receive notifications for all of your groups. It will have a series of drop down menus for setting how your notifications are delivered. For this proposal, let's just focus on 'Events' and how it would effect one specific notification, #cal-invite emails. The dropdown would be 'Email only', 'Web/App Only', 'Email and Web/App'. It defaults to 'Email only' for all existing users. The default for new users is TBD. The first time you use the app, there will be some mechanism to automatically change your notifications, if you wish, to an option that includes app notifications.

If this is set to 'Email only', nothing is different to how it currently works. The #cal-invite message is sent to the group, and you receive it based on your subscription settings. No notification appears in your notification center.

If this is set to 'Web/App Only', you do not receive this in email. It becomes a notification that appears in your notification center. If you have granted your app permission, it will buzz your phone.

If this is set to 'Email and Web/App', you receive both the notification as well as the #cal-invite email as sent through the group as controlled by your subscription settings.

In all three cases, the #cal-invite email is still sent to the group. It's just a question of whether you receive that message via email or via notification Regardless of your setting, you will receive replies to the #cal-invite email as you do now, via your subscription settings.

There are other scenarios that we will discuss, but this is core of the proposal.

Thanks,
Mark

 

Mark,

- Automated emails to moderators about pending subscriptions/messages
- Automated emails to groups announcing new events (#cal-invite
messages)
This will require a bit of tweaking of my personal (almost) consistent terminology.

I had reserved the words "notice" and "notification" for messages sent to one person or a targeted subset of people. While "message" was something sent to the group, to appear in the group's Messages. So the former would be "notices" but the latter would be "messages". Mechanistically, messages are subject to a member's Email Delivery and Message Selection subscription options, notices aren't (but may have other controls).

There are already some oddball cases. The Group Guidelines is part of the Member Notices mechanism, but if "Send monthly to group" is checked that behaves like a message. Also Special Notices, which behave as messages but which are exempt from some of the message controls.

The dropdown would be 'Email only', 'Web/App Only', 'Email and
Web/App'.
This seems to lack a 'None' choice. Is that deliberate?

It defaults to 'Email only' for all existing users.
Why not 'Email and Web/App'?

I'm imagining that when this rolls out an existing user will see the new bell icon, click it out of curiosity, and see [empty list]. Meh. Whereas if the default is both then they see [populated list] and now they know what it can do for them. That seems like improved discoverability.

The presentation would likely need a quick way to mark all older notices as read, and a convenient link to the controls in the Notifications page. Maybe each notice in the list needs an affordance (... menu, context (right-click) menu or something like that) to change the setting for notices of that type without having to navigate to the Notifications page.

If this is set to 'Web/App Only', you do not receive this in email.
So that would be effectively (or perhaps literally) the same as muting the #cal-invite hashtag? It might be best if that is actually linked so that unmuting the hashtag has the correct effect even if the message had been suppressed through the notification controls. In other words, I would rather not have to tell people to check both places if they're not getting the invitations.

There are other scenarios that we will discuss, but this is core of
the proposal.
I can hardly wait!

Shal

 

On Thu, Sep 5, 2019 at 09:21 PM, Mark Fletcher wrote:
The dropdown would be 'Email only', 'Web/App Only', 'Email and Web/App'. It defaults to 'Email only' for all existing users. The default for new users is TBD.
Mark,

I like all of the concepts outlined here so far, but I don't understand the benefit of making the default "email only" for this for existing users. It doesn't seem a big deal now, but the pros and cons may come to light after a bit of use.

In any case, I'll get more interested in this when I hear about the kinds of notifications you're anticipating adding. My understanding was always that the "notification overhaul" would include things like a notification to moderators for "sent owner email to member," and also items like a "notify group" option when someone uploads a phone (also currently a big lack, since when someone uploads a photo, I have to notify the group by hand or else nobody sees the photos). But I don't quite understand how these would fit into the scheme outlined here. They seem to be separate.
 
--
J

Messages are the sole opinion of the author, especially the fishy ones.
My humanity is bound up in yours, for we can only be human together. - Desmond Tutu

 

On Thu, Sep 5, 2019 at 10:58 PM, Shal Farley wrote:
It defaults to 'Email only' for all existing users.
Why not 'Email and Web/App'?
Shal, posts crossing. I agree with this - I don't understand why this default. I might even think about making it the opposite - web/app only. That seems less invasive and surprising to existing users, who would suddenly get lots of emails they weren't expecting if the default is "email only".
 
--
J

Messages are the sole opinion of the author, especially the fishy ones.
My humanity is bound up in yours, for we can only be human together. - Desmond Tutu

 

On Fri, Sep 6, 2019 at 8:22 AM J_Catlady <j.olivia.catlady@...> wrote:
On Thu, Sep 5, 2019 at 10:58 PM, Shal Farley wrote:
It defaults to 'Email only' for all existing users.
Why not 'Email and Web/App'?
Shal, posts crossing. I agree with this - I don't understand why this default. I might even think about making it the opposite - web/app only. That seems less invasive and surprising to existing users, who would suddenly get lots of emails they weren't expecting if the default is "email only".


If I made the default Web/App only, that would change the existing behavior. People would no longer receive #cal-invite messages in their email, for example. Which maybe is what some/many people want. But it seems like a jarring change all at once without any, err, notice.

Mark

 

J,

I might even think about making it the opposite - web/app only.
That seems less invasive and surprising to existing users, who would
suddenly get lots of emails they weren't expecting if the default is
"email only".
For notifications that already exist I definitely agree with Mark that they shouldn't stop arriving by email (default to "web/app only") merely because the notifications page rolled out.

Perhaps the default for newly created notification types could be "web/app only", but even that I'm unsure about. Maybe that needs to be considered on a case-by-case basis; some new notifications might be valuable to email-only members who would never see it on the web.

Shal

 

On Fri, Sep 6, 2019 at 09:50 AM, Mark Fletcher wrote:
 
If I made the default Web/App only, that would change the existing behavior. People would no longer receive #cal-invite messages in their email, for example.
Mark,

Is that the only example, or are there others? Maybe it will not be possible to maintain 100% of the existing behavior in order to optimize the new plan. I think that's ok in general. Not sure how the calendar "notices" fit into the grand scheme, but to me they are "Invites," which is maybe a different category from "notices."
 
--
J

Messages are the sole opinion of the author, especially the fishy ones.
My humanity is bound up in yours, for we can only be human together. - Desmond Tutu

 

On Fri, Sep 6, 2019 at 10:20 AM, J_Catlady wrote:
Maybe it will not be possible to maintain 100% of the existing behavior in order to optimize the new plan.
OTOH if it's just for existing users, then it seems like no biggie. I see the general default is still TBD
 
--
J

Messages are the sole opinion of the author, especially the fishy ones.
My humanity is bound up in yours, for we can only be human together. - Desmond Tutu

Glenn Glazer
 

On 9/5/2019 21:21, Mark Fletcher wrote:
In the header of the website is a new bell icon with an unread count. Clicking that takes you to a new notification center. This is very much how Facebook and other sites currently work. You can view your notifications in this page. The unread count is the number of notifications in your notification center that you have not yet read.

On the implementation side, I strongly recommend keeping this counter server-side. One of the failures of Facebook is that I read it on my desktop, phone and tablet and since the counts are kept locally, they tend to get wildly out of sink with each other, particularly on device wake up and particularly on my tablet which I use less frequently than the others.  Having this server-side means one source of truth, nothing to get out of sink barring tiny windows and race conditions.

Best,

Glenn

--
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Mark,

I wrote:
So that would be effectively (or perhaps literally) the same as muting
the #cal-invite hashtag? It might be best if that is actually linked
so that unmuting the hashtag has the correct effect even if the
message had been suppressed through the notification controls. In
other words, I would rather not have to tell people to check both
places if they're not getting the invitations.
I see now the flaw in my thinking. Notifications is in the Account, "for all of your groups". In this light the notification setting would override the behavior in all groups, whereas mute/unmute is specific to that one subscription.

As we discuss more scenarios I think I may have more and more reservations about these settings overriding all groups.

I can easily imagine that I may want different notification settings in different groups; especially groups that I own/moderate versus those where I'm just a member. But also possibly based on level of involvement with a given group as a member.

Shal

Sharon Villines
 

On Fri, Sep 6, 2019 at 01:58 AM, Shal Farley wrote:

I had reserved the words "notice" and "notification" for messages sent to one
person or a targeted subset of people. While "message" was something sent to
the group, to appear in the group's Messages. So the former would be "notices"
but the latter would be "messages".
Just piling on to say that distinctions like this are very important to users who are trying to figure things out. "They really mean the same things" will produce "then why two names". The answer to that is rarely short or clear.

A glossary to guide naming and documenting migth be helpful -- forever.

Sharon

Jeremy H
 

On Sat, Sep 7, 2019 at 04:19 PM, Shal Farley wrote:
I can easily imagine that I may want different notification settings in
different groups; especially groups that I own/moderate versus those
where I'm just a member. But also possibly based on level of involvement
with a given group as a member.

Shal
I will - without doubt - want different notification settings for different groups.

Perhaps the way to go is a setting at groups.io (for all groups), with a default of on, and then settings for each group, default off (but which I would turn on for those I want)

Jeremy