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New Feature: Email Notifications

Hi Chowhounds,

We have a code release scheduled for 2pm tomorrow, January 18. There might be about 15 minutes of down time, but the site should be up and running after that.

We're launching email notifications, and coincidentally, someone asked about this a few weeks ago in this thread: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/757506

The emails will be sent to the email address that you registered with the site (you can change that on your profile settings page if you like). If you're opted in you'll get an email whenever someone responds to a thread that you started or commented on. The email will say who responded to which thread, and will have an excerpt from the response and a link to click back into the thread. That way you can decide whether it's something you want to respond to without going to the site and loading the thread.

We know that many people want to be alerted when someone comments on a thread that you either started or commented on yourself. We also know that for really active users, getting emails for every thread you're active on would be overwhelming and annoying.

So we're launching the feature like this: users who post below a certain threshold (fewer than 25 posts over the course of your Chowhound lifetime) will be opted IN to the notification emails. And users who post above that threshold will be opted OUT. To be clear: really active users will not get unwanted emails. At any point you can go to the Notifications tab in your profile to opt in or out.

We hope it's a feature that helps with your Chowhounding -- if you're opted in, you'll be more aware of the activity on threads that you've created or commented on. Let us know how it works for you!

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  1. Finally this feature, long coming and surely needed. Looking forward to it and thanks...

    1. Hallelujah! Finally! Thanks.

      1. Yes thank the lord! Now that Im opted in I can participate and become a more active member. However I have another question: will my email notification let me see what comments gets posted (like on Facebook) or will I only be notified of some action taking place (so essentially will I be able to read comments off my email or willi still need to sign in, etc)?

        3 Replies
        1. re: catzuella

          The emails will show an excerpt of the comment -- so if it's a short post, you'll be able to read it in your email and decide whether you want to click back and participate. In fact, you will probably get an email about this post -- let me know what you think about how well it works!

          1. re: davina

            An excerpt is very helpful and just what was on my mind after seeing the recent increase in +1 and +2 posts. Wouldn't want to follow a link just to read that.

        2. I'm sure it's a great feature, but how is "opting in" people to the notifications different from the people who "opted me in" to emails about generic drugs and making myself bigger? Couldn't people have chosen to opt in themselves?

          I'm glad CH lets me change my email address, at least.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Bill E.

            You seriously don't see the difference between receiving updates on a thread that you participated in and some unknown entity sending you SPAM?

          2. So how do you "Opt in" or "out" for that matter??


            1 Reply
            1. re: Davwud

              I got an email this morning that had this at the bottom:

              So, to sum up:
              • If you're a casual user, you will automatically get alerts. You can opt out on the Notifications tab in your profile.

              • If you're a frequent user, you will NOT automatically get alerts. You can opt in on the Notifications tab in your profile.

              How to find out whether you're opted in or out? Go to the Notifications tab in your profile and see whether the notifications box is checked. You can also change your email address in the Settings tab in your profile.

            2. That way you can decide whether it's something you want to respond to without going to the site
              Doesn't CH/CHOW want people going to the site?

              6 Replies
              1. re: HillJ

                Well, like I said above, sometimes the comment is just a +1 or an ITA..... not much to respond to there.

                1. re: im_nomad

                  im_nomad, oh I agree with the comment you made, the convenience and prescreening factor this offers...but what about the perspective of the site (owners). Isn't the idea to bring traffic to the site?

                  1. re: HillJ

                    It will though I think. Really casual readers will be reminded to come back I think, in a "hey, I forgot about that site" kind of way. If you're already a ch-addict, you won't need reminding.

                    I do see what you mean though, in manner of "hits" to the site.

                    1. re: im_nomad

                      Do casual readers check their account area and bother to use it/fill it in? I don't know...just another I don't get it minute for me. I'd rather visit the site than delete more emails (once read or determined useless).

                      1. re: HillJ

                        I think many casual readers are also casual internet users. I know this is hard to believe, but there are a number of people who are still mostly off-line. My sister is a baker, and she works long hours, and gets paid so poorly that she can't afford a computer so she uses the one at the library. A couple of times a month she'll check her email.

                        1. re: GraydonCarter

                          GC, that's a good example of a particular type of casual users however can you imagine asking for restaurant recs, a recipe or something time sensitive and waiting until your next log on to receive your reply? This community board is a 24/7 hotbed of immediate information. I believe the point to this CHOW feature is to provide users with the option to log in or not based on the replies arriving...to weed out the noise. Someone who is offline more than on would have a different experience on CH.

              2. I love getting notification of replies, so thank you Chowhound team.

                Now, I do have a comment/suggestion. Many boards I frequent have a similar feature.However they also have an important refinement. They send only one email after the first reply is posted. That email includes a tag line something like: "There may be more replies following this one. You will not receive any more emails until you revisit this thread." This avoids what I've already seen with one busy thread I posted to: dozens of emails each day for several days, just for that one thread.

                As a moderately frequent poster on several boards who likes to be notified of replies, I now find I have a Hobson's Choice. Go back to no notifications or get a ton of emails.

                Could your software do only the one notification per thread?

                2 Replies
                1. re: RandyB


                  If I comment on a long thread (like a Top Chef texas discussion or a WFD thread) I end up getting over 100 email notifications for it!

                  There needs to be a way to reduce the amount of notifications I receive... maybe only a notification if someone replies directly to my comment and not just if someone posts anywhere on the thread?

                  Or if we could turn off/on notifications for specific topics, that would be perfect!

                  I've actually created a new email just for Chowhound because I get so many notifications it clogs up my inbox.

                  1. re: Firenzilla

                    It would be better if it was a batch process, so only one notification was sent out daily if there was a change.

                    Even better would be the ability to check when you'd like to be notififed ... daily, weekly, monthly.

                  1. How about adding the ability to turn notification on/off per discussion? Some notifications I'm happy to see and others are just plain annoying. Just because I commented on a thread doesn't mean I want to be notified when others do.

                    12 Replies
                    1. re: jman1

                      I often think twice before posting a comment in a thread, knowing that I really am not interested in following it.

                      1. re: jman1

                        Wow, do I ever second this suggestion. I've made the mistake of answering a question at the beginning of a thread, only to be slammed with emails for the next few months. At this point I pretty much refuse to post in Not About Food because of this. I don't want to turn off emails because I enjoy getting them for the threads in which I'm active and interested.

                          1. re: HillJ

                            I have been reading that also. But this thread specifically addresses the email issue. People on the other threads keep saying "just scroll past the topics you are not interested in." That is much easier than dumping a few hundred emails!

                            1. re: L.Nightshade

                              True. Yet we all think it's easy to make changes to the site with over a million vocal members. But I haven't seen any word from CH Engr. on any of these requests actually happening, email or posts.

                              1. re: HillJ

                                Oh no, I don't think it's easy at all! I'm amazed it all works as well as it does. It seems to me that most of the concerns expressed are more philosophical, as if withdrawing from a thread is equivalent to shunning some hounds.
                                In the meantime, I'll just keep deleting emails, and be much more careful which threads in which I choose to post!

                                1. re: L.Nightshade

                                  I agree as well. While I'm not a fan of the on/off idea-because I think it will deflate and discourage posting (ie why bother if people aren't going to read me, and who's to know what is "worthy" to others) I understand the frustration. It's buyer beware on all community board though...and newspaper/magazine comment areas...and FB/Twitter, etc. We all have to read with our own comfort-filters on. I try to be careful.

                                  1. re: HillJ

                                    I posted on this topic nearly a year ago. I made my point, but felt this is left to the moderators to hear comments and decide. I wasn't interested in pursuing the back and forth. Today I have 8 emails, and probably more to come. I apologize to any other posters it they are offended by my saying this is annoying. It's not their posts, it's the 8 emails.

                                    With most forum software, the managers/moderators have a range of options. These may involve no additional work for the them, just a choice. Here is a common reply advisory email format I receive on many sites. It might satisfy most people. The language should be self explanatory.:

                                    "This topic has received a reply since your last visit. You can use
                                    the following link to view the replies made, no more notifications will be
                                    sent until you visit the topic."

                                    If this is on option on Chowhound software, I would recommend it to the moderators here. Then if you post on some thread that has hundreds of followups, you one get one email until you ready to revisit the post.

                                    If the moderators like things as they are, so be it. I'm grateful for their work either way

                                    1. re: RandyB

                                      The Site Board is specifically for bringing topics to the attention of Mods but it's also a thread that will experience comments from fellow CH's.

                                      There is no reason to apologize for asking a question.

                                      Emailing the CH Team directly might help.

                                    2. re: HillJ

                                      I think people should be able to turn off the email notifications that they themselves receive. I have topics that have literally gotten me hit with 100+ emails in 2 days.

                                      Maybe a daily summary confirmation? Once (or even two or three times) a day: "There has been 87 new posts on the topic: Top Chef Texas 01/25/12."

                                      The posts you have already read are automatically collapsed, so you can get right to the new ones (or click expand all if you want to see old ones)

                                      Yes I want to be reminded that there is new posts on a topic, but I don't want 100 reminders a day. It gets excessive really quickly and discourages posting IMO.

                                      1. re: Firenzilla

                                        In all the time it's been an option I've never used email notification or rec'd a single newsletter from CH. Given these experiences, I probably never will.

                                    3. re: L.Nightshade

                                      Most of the sites with discussion/forums that I participate in allow email notification on a per-discuss thread basis. It's probably a bit of a misfeature to have not designed it that way. I do agree that it easier to have one setting to check, but it's technically possible to implement notification per-discussion.

                                      P.S. I believe that chow has rolled their own software and are not using a standard forum package (educated guess). So, I suspect that they would have to implement a feature that allowed for a different sort of notification.

                          2. I am having trouble opting out of the notifications feature. Are others having this problem as well? I really do not want to be notified every time someone responds to a thread.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: BAnders

                              Did you try to opt out via the link in your emails, or through the settings on your profile? If the former, how long ago did you click the link?

                              1. re: BAnders

                                This seems to be the problem others have had.


                                I think someone on Chow did something because after my post in the above link, I stopped eventually getting emails.

                                BUT ... I told people if they had to ... just unsubsribe me from everything and that is what happened.

                                If you look at my profile page, the digest boxes are still checked, but I no longer get the Chow Digest.

                                I'd sort of like to get the Chow Digests, but don't care all that much. The point is that something screwy is going on with the subscribe/unsubsribe boxes.

                              2. I have this setting enabled, but it ceased working some time ago. What's with that?

                                5 Replies
                                1. re: equal_Mark

                                  EM double check your email settings. I thought I was having the same problem as well, all of a sudden one day I stopped getting my Chow notifications. Turns out my email service provider must have changed their settings or something because all my Chow notifications were being directed to my "spam" folder.

                                  Don't know if that is your problem, just thought I would share the info.

                                  1. re: jrvedivici

                                    No, looked into that. CH Notifications are not hitting my mail server at all.

                                    1. re: equal_Mark

                                      Well sorry about that, that's about the depth of my tech knowledge there for ya.

                                      I'll tell you what I'll do, everytime I see a new comment on a thread you're involved in I will send you a "Heads Up EM" email to notify you! Best I can do my friend.

                                      (I am of course kidding)

                                  2. re: equal_Mark

                                    Hi equal_Mark.

                                    Looks like your email address got bounced in our third-party provider's service for some reason. I've cleared it so hopefully your notifications will start showing up now.

                                    1. re: DeborahL

                                      Yay! I just assumed I P-O'd the Mods one too many times... ;-)