From the experiences and questions of several and after some tests, it’s time to summarize the status of notifications and ask for feedback from everyone.

In Discourse the user can decide what he/she wants to be notified about and how.


We can choose a topic, selecting the bell at the right (read the options). Here an example with the “Push notifications” topic:


or an entire category, selecting the bell at the top. Here the “Actualism” category:



Supposedly our Discourse allows the user to choose to be notified by one or more of these means:

By mail
In general, limited to personal mentions. They are configured in Preferences, here:

By cell phones and tablets.
These ar called push notifications, because allow messages to be pushed from a server to a mobile.
They are configured in Preferences, enabling “Live notifications”, but the button is confusing for many. Here is the default setting, with notifications DISABLED (the button is inviting to “Enable notifications” IF you press it)

Here with “Live notifications” ENABLED (the button is inviting to “Disable notifications” IF you press it).

However, it would still not work on iOS devices (only on Androids). Here you can find a more detailed explanation of why: Push notifications - #3 by Miguel

By desktop browsers
Requires “Live notifications” enabled, but also allowing notifications in the browser itself (we have to change this setting on every browser in which we want them to work).
Here how to do it in Chrome, followed by an example of how these notifications will appear at bottom right:

If you installed the PWA application of (more on this at the end), the option is here:

However, with desktop notifications the moment you close your tabs to, notifications cease to come through.

By desktops
The plugin “Push Notifications for Desktop” (that we installed) claims to provide push notifications on desktop devices (not just on mobiles) and so it would not be necessary to have a browser tab open in order to receive them.
Requires “Live notifications” enabled but also to check the new “Prefer push notifications on desktop” option that you will find.

Please activate ALL the notifications methods and provide feedback.

The idea is to know how they are working:

  • On Android mobiles and tablets (but also on iOS, just in case).
  • On PCs
    • by mails
    • in browsers (the ones you use; please inform them)
    • on desktop (on the operating systems you use; please inform them)
    • in the PWA application of, if you have installed it.

A note about this last one: many believe that this application is like those downloaded from Google Store or similar repositories. No. It’s a PWA or web application (you can google the details, but basically our browser generates in the PC an application encapsulating a website without having to install anything ourselves, adding potentially advantageous features to the site -in this case

If you have any questions, please ask.

Hi Miguel - the Android notifications seem to only appear for me through the Chrome browser, which I do not normally use, and they are not immediate anyway if they show up at all. Unlike Slack, Discourse offers no useful mobile application so it would appear that their notification protocols utilize one’s web browser which has demonstrated to be less than functional.

Being computer illiterate, I can’t tell if the following option/workaroud would be relevant, feasible, and free but here it is:

Also saw another open source code for creating a Discourse white label app, but not sure it incorporates push notifications and/or if it’s costly and laborious to run and maintain.

On the importance of push notifications for user engagement (from a discourse discussion on the topic);

As a 20+ year forum admin in multiple spaces, I would blame a large portion of the decline of forum use in the past decade on a lack of push notifications. People use apps now more than mobile browsers and especially for IOS, where native push notification support is not available for websites loaded in Safari, the ability for users to be updated and reminded of new content on your forum in the same way that they are constantly aware of Faceobook, Instagram, and every other app out there is critical to keeping your forum relevant.

There are a lot of notifications vying for the attention of your users. You can’t make the other notifications go away, but to not have any on your own forum is a miss in my experience.

Yes, users who are already used to checking your forums in Safari will maybe continue to do so without proper native notifications, but if you are looking to grow, especially by expanding into audiences that haven’t used forums much, notifications are key in helping keep your site easily accessible to them.

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Hmm the discourse single-site app might do the trick. If I understand it right it’ll make an app that we can put in the App Store that lets users use the forum and does fully integrated push notifications.

It would take quite some doing to set it up though, I’d estimate 10-20 hours of work for me to do it. Also it’s $200 for a developer account on Apple, to be able upload iOS apps to App Store. I believe it’s free on Android. Does anyone have an existing Apple developer account?

I might dig into it over the next week and a half

Thanks, Claudiu. If it works it sounds like it would beneficial.

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I’m not sure I think maintaining a specific app is a good choice in the long run. We have the energy and momentum to set things up now but what about maintenance, in six months? In a year? Skills if Claudiu decides to convert to Christianity? :grin:

We could, again, leverage a chat app to take care of notifications. I realize I’m sort of shouting at clouds but I’ll drop this here anyway: Discord and Discourse - Better Together | Blog

Hi emp - integrating a Discord chat into the Discourse forum, by utilizing a widget as they suggested, sounds interesting enough. Might work.

Slightly aside, scrolling to near the bottom of the page, there’s an image of a post from someone who seems to be working on an interesting summer project. I wonder how it turned out. Looks relevant to our notifications issue.


Oh wow there’s a discord widget for discourse: How to display "Discord Widget" in a dropdown button - tips & tricks - Discourse Meta

So we can pop open the chat from within discourse

I think this would solve all the problems. Discourse is main entry point and then for chats people can chat without logging in somewhere else.

Orrrr… or we could do it in Zulip. I still haven’t given up on Zulip merging the public feature soon enough™. I think the summer of code plug-in works well with Zulip too. The main benefit I see with Discord is that we’d get voice chat and video chat, which might come in handy. Not sure if Zulip has those (I know there’s a Jitsi integration). Anyway, just throwing out suggestions.

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Or wait, I like your suggestion more @claudiu

The options, the choices :scream:

My own report is this:

Phone (Android with all permissions enabled):

  • I am not receiving notifications in any way

PC (Windows 7):

  • I receive well notifications by mail
  • I receive well notifications by browser (Chrome)
  • I do not receive desktop notifications
  • I receive notifications through the PWA application of (must be open).

@Miguel I found this plugin for a chat integration: Babble - A Chat Plugin - broken-plugin - Discourse Meta

and this one for “Who’s Online”: Who's Online Plugin (discourse-whos-online) - plugin - Discourse Meta

Could you try installing them when you have time?

I think they might solve all the chat issues - by providing an actual chat and without requiring another software or site or login.

Note: I had trouble figuring out how to use the chat on their demo site but the trick is, after logging in, to click the megaphone icon on the bottom-left, to pop open the chat. I’m hoping when there’s new chat messages it will show a badge to that effect.

Also possibly admin’s can’t read the chats easily, though I’m sure it’ll be in the backup, which admins will have access to. But I think this is par for the course – we trust Slack to keep all our messages private, so we must trust the admins to do the same. We might want to reduce how many have admin access if that is an issue, though I prefer spreading it around :slight_smile:

OK, although I just installed the encrypt plugin…

I think we are mixing here two separate issues that must be treated separatelly: Notifications and Private messages. It was decided to try the encrypt plugin to deal with the private messages issue.

Would the plugins you propose specifically solve problems with notifications?

Well it’s a matter of trying a bunch of stuff and iterating to see what works best.

Hmm these plugins will solve the chat problem, but not the notifications problem…

OK, but what is the chat problem? The privacy issue? (that Admins can read private messages)

I’d say we’ve already veered into something else. We were discussing integrating with discord or other in order to enable some sort of push notifications by piggybacking on already existing apps. The private message issue would be solved by either installing the encryption plugin or by using an external chat app. A chat plugin won’t make a dent in either issue, as Miguel said. We never really had a chat problem, did we?

Exactly, @emp. That is what I’m trying to understand (because we are right here, chatting! :smiley:)

The “chat problem” refers to the issue of having a chat vehicle as well as just a forum vehicle, to wit:

(messages not quoted here as it’s from a private venue)

So there are three separate issues:

  1. notifications
  2. chat
  3. truly private messages

The encryption plugin solves #3 fully and thoroughly - not even the public backups will have the messages be readable.

The babble plugin would solves #2 and partially #3.

Having a separate discord with a plug-in will solve #2 and partially solve #1 – messages written here still won’t have #1 resolved, but messages posted on discord will have #1 resolved.

In terms of solving #2 I would prefer Babble plug-in since the integration looks nicer than Discord and it keeps everything under one roof – and Discord is not open-source and not self-hosted, which is a nice bonus of the self-hosted Discourse.

Oh, but I reaally thought that “that ship has sailed”! :smiley:

But if you and others see the need to also have a chat, I understand, even if it’s not my case.

The ship sailed in terms of the main venue being a forum – but if we can get the other “for free” then great :smiley:

The main issue I personally had is with splintering the community, people having to decide where to post what etc. But if it is all integrated then this issue is very minimized.

Incidentally the single-site-app example I tried works to send me notifications on my phone. If it also worked with the Babble plug-in, then that would be fantabulous indeed.