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Feature #3175

Replace Announcements with a force-email option on new forum posts

Added by Matt Gold over 7 years ago. Updated over 4 years ago.

Status:
Resolved
Priority name:
Normal
Assignee:
Category name:
Group Forums
Target version:
Start date:
2014-04-25
Due date:
% Done:

0%

Estimated time:

Description

As shown in ticket 2686, group announcements are confusing for users. Admins like them because they can override email notification preferences and ensure that group members receive messages. But often, people in groups try to reply to announcements, and then those messages go to the Commons email inbox. The community team reports that people fine this confusing -- for an admin who is not tech savvy, the difference between an announcement and a forum post is unclear.

What if, instead of having announcements be separated from group forums, we create a new feature for admins that allowed them to create a forum post and to check a box that says something like "this is a group announcement - send to all members of group regardless of email notification preferences"

This would have several benefits:

1. All content would be posted to the group forum, so group activity would be usefully centralized.
2. People in the group could actually reply to announcements and have conversation around them.
3. UX issues would be easier to understand, since notifications of announcements would lead people to the forums.

For now, I think that a simple checkbox in the forum posting interface that ONLY group admins would see would be a good and simple way to implement this.


Related issues

Related to CUNY Academic Commons - Bug #2686: Replying to Group AnnouncementsResolved2013-07-30

Related to CUNY Academic Commons - Design/UX #3564: Consider repositioning Forum link in group navRejected2014-10-16

Related to CUNY Academic Commons - Feature #506: Attachments for Group Announcement PostsRejected2010-12-20

Related to CUNY Academic Commons - Bug #6695: Member reply to announcement goes to Commons addressDuplicate2016-11-14

Related to CUNY Academic Commons - Bug #8200: Announcements has disappearedResolved2017-05-25

History

#1 Updated by Boone Gorges about 7 years ago

  • Assignee changed from Boone Gorges to Samantha Raddatz
  • Target version changed from 1.7 to 1.8

#2 Updated by Samantha Raddatz almost 7 years ago

I think Matt's proposed solution (checkbox on forum postings for admins to override the email settings) could work. My biggest concern is that it would open the door for admin to override the email settings on all of their forum posts, not just announcement-types.

Putting that aside, here's a couple trickle-down things to consider:
1. This assumes that the Announcements section of groups would disappear altogether, correct? Existing announcements would need to be migrated into another area - perhaps as old forum postings.
2. The member should know that they basically can't unsubscribe from ALL communication when they're in a group. This could be accomplished by adding a line of text below 'Your email status is...' that says something like 'You may receive occasional emails from group admin that will override this status.'

#3 Updated by Chris Stein almost 7 years ago

I see your concern Samantha. I think that 1) it's the responsibility admins and group members to manage this, 2) we should make sure the text for the admins reminds them that they are overriding peoples' email choices as Matt's example text does.

I would also add that this functionality has to be easy to see and not a small checkbox buried somewhere.

The question of what to do with the old announcements is a good one. Can you give it another look and see if you still think converting them to forum posts is the best course?

Also good to tell people (#2) that they can't unsubscribe from all posts. Because we can't control or predict how admins will use this I would remove "occasionally" from the text and just say it straight like "Group admins can create forum posts that override these settings and send emails to everyone."

This also reminds me that we don't have a good standard way to explain UI changes to users. I'll create a separate ticket on that so we can start thinking of the best way to do that.

#4 Updated by Samantha Raddatz almost 7 years ago

The question of what to do with the old announcements is a good one. Can you give it another look and see if you still think converting them to forum posts is the best course?

Took another look at this and I'm not seeing anywhere else within groups that old announcements could go. Though, while creating a test group for another ticket, I realized that adding a Forum to a group is optional, and I'm assuming Announcements are not. Therefore, Announcements are currently a channel for group leaders to contact members even if they don't have a Forum. Couldn't removing Announcements be an issue for groups that don't have forums?

Throwing this back to Matt for comment.

#5 Updated by Samantha Raddatz over 6 years ago

Prodding this to see if anyone has strong feelings about it.

As I see it, there are two options if we want to change this:

  1. Announcements are removed all together, existing announcements are either grandfathered in for existing groups and remain OR they are moved into an 'announcements' post in a group's forum.
  2. Announcements and forums are mutually exclusive, so if a group turns on forums, announcements disappear (I worry that would be confusing for people that manage more than one group).
In either case, the following would also need to take place:
  • A warning is added to the user's email settings: "Group admins can create forum posts that override these settings and send emails to everyone".
  • For admins, in form post creation a check box next to the text "send to all members of group regardless of email notification preferences" is added under 'topic status' (thought: would this automatically subscribe everyone to the reply posts on the forum topic as well or just the initial post by the admin?)

#6 Updated by Boone Gorges over 6 years ago

Regarding old announcements: It's not a problem technically to migrate them to forum posts (which would, presumably, be closed to further replies).

#7 Updated by Boone Gorges over 6 years ago

Bump - I want to get moving on this if we're going to do it for 1.8. Samantha's suggestion 1 sounds like the right way forward to me. If everyone agrees, I can move forward with it.

#8 Updated by Matt Gold over 6 years ago

Samantha -- I'm not sure I fully understand your proposal #1 above; can you explain how it differs from what I suggested in the initial ticket post? Thanks.

#9 Updated by Boone Gorges over 6 years ago

  • Subject changed from Create new Announcements Functionality to Replace Announcements with a force-email option on new forum posts
  • Status changed from New to Assigned
  • Assignee changed from Samantha Raddatz to Boone Gorges

Matt - I believe Samantha's #1 was specifically about what to do with existing announcement content, which had not been specified in your original plan. I'm assigning this to myself for implementation.

#10 Updated by Matt Gold over 6 years ago

Thanks. So, am I right in understanding that we are now talking about removing Announcements altogether?

#11 Updated by Samantha Raddatz over 6 years ago

Yes, that's the direction. Though after looking through all the tickets tonight, I think we should put this on hold and loop it into a small round of user testing that focuses specifically on the groups interface (related: Issue #3176) to propose the removal to users and see what they think.

I also think this would benefit from the notifications that we're discussing in issue #3501 and would have better rollout if we have that implemented first.

#12 Updated by Matt Gold over 6 years ago

Just FYI on user testing, this is an admin function that many users might not be aware of; it might be something particularly to ask the Group for Group Admins about, and we might not even need to test formally -- perhaps we can consider just starting a discussion in that forum to see if people care about and use that functionality.

Having said that, I am okay with the decision if we decide to remove Announcements entirely

#13 Updated by Matt Gold over 6 years ago

Sorry, just reading through this more carefully. I see that we are now removing Announcements as a special tab, and that group admins will now have the ability to force forum posts out to members, overriding email subscription preferences.

A note: in such cases where a group admin does override preferences, the notification should ideally have some text indicating that.

(thought: would this automatically subscribe everyone to the reply posts on the forum topic as well or just the initial post by the admin?)

I would say only the original post, not replies.

#14 Updated by Samantha Raddatz over 6 years ago

  • Target version changed from 1.8 to 1.9

#15 Updated by Boone Gorges almost 6 years ago

  • Target version changed from 1.9 to 1.10

#16 Updated by Boone Gorges almost 5 years ago

  • Assignee changed from Boone Gorges to Daniel Jones
  • Target version changed from 1.10 to 1.11

Dan, here's a project for you. To summarize, we need the following:

1. A script, to be run once, that will migrate existing Announcements (which are, I believe, activity items with component=groups, action=activity_update) into forum topics in the corresponding group. This migration routine should be written in such a way that emails are not sent out, activity items are not added to email digests, and date/timestapms are preserved. I suggest that you write this migration script as a PHP file that is invoked using wp-cli: wp eval-file /path/to/migration-script.php. http://wp-cli.org/commands/eval-file/ This makes it easy for you to build (no UI) and easy for me to run.

2. Remove the Announcements tab from Groups. I think this just means disabling the bp-group-announcements plugin.

3. Write a new plugin that adds a checkbox to the New Topic dialog in group forums. The checkbox will be visible only to group admins and mods. Checkbox will read something like "Send an email about this topic to all members (checking this box will override members' individual preferences). When checked, send an email to all group members, regardless of preferences :) We want to avoid duplicates, so I think the best way will probably be to unhook BPGES's native email sending for these topics, and to have separate logic for sending a message. The format of these emails can be just like the existing ones, but should probably include language along the lines of: "You received this email because the group administrator marked it as an important announcement.", so they don't get confused about why their settings were overridden.

Paige, I've added you as a watcher, in case you have thoughts about the language and user flow here.

Dan, let me know if this sounds feasible to you, and if you need any more guidance to have a first pass at it.

#17 Updated by Boone Gorges almost 5 years ago

  • Related to Feature #506: Attachments for Group Announcement Posts added

#18 Updated by Daniel Jones almost 5 years ago

Sure I'd love to take a crack at this!

One question that seems unresolved from the discussion above: what about groups that have Announcements but don't have an active forum? Would the script first activate the forum and then pull in the announcements?

Also - should I worry about cleaning the database up, removing all the old announcements, or will deactivating the plugin handle that?

#19 Updated by Matt Gold almost 5 years ago

what about groups that have Announcements but don't have an active forum? Would the script first activate the forum and then pull in the announcements?

That's a great question! I wonder how many groups have that set-up; is there any quick way to check? In any case, yes, activating a forum and then pulling in announcements sounds reasonable to me, though let's hear what Boone thinks.

#20 Updated by Boone Gorges almost 5 years ago

Would the script first activate the forum and then pull in the announcements?

Sounds good to me. I'd be surprised if more than one or two groups fell into this category. They'll never notice.

#21 Updated by Boone Gorges almost 5 years ago

  • Related to Bug #6695: Member reply to announcement goes to Commons address added

#23 Updated by Daniel Jones over 4 years ago

This series of commits adds some of the basics for this ticket: https://github.com/cuny-academic-commons/cac/compare/a1cb572c6b...21e864f8ee

1. Adds the checkbox for overriding user email settings on topic creation. Note - right now it doesn't override the poster's own self-notification settings.
2. Adds a notice to the email notifications about their settings haven been temporarily overridden. All users will get this notice, not just the ones who are set to an option other than "All Email"
3. Adds a script (to run via WP CLI) that gets a list of ALL announcements, converts them into forum topics in the group (without creating activities or notifications), and then deletes them from the database if the new topic was successfully created. The announcement's date and authorship is conserved.

Let me know how this is looking!

#24 Updated by Boone Gorges over 4 years ago

Hi Dan - I haven't tested yet - wanted to ask a couple questions first - but it's looking great at a glance. It turns out to be simpler than I'd expected, so nice work :)

- What happens when cross-posting to multiple groups? The filter-based technique for overriding group settings suggests that forcing an announcement in one group will do the same in all cross-posted groups as well. Is that correct? Or perhaps I'm wrong, due to the async nature of cross-posting (filters wouldn't be applied on subsequent runs)? Either way, the interaction between the two is somewhat confusing. Perhaps when you check the announcement checkbox, the cross-posting interface (and functionality) could be disabled, with a message explaining that this is the case. This could use design feedback.

- Does running bbp_insert_topic() in the migration script trigger email notifications? Theoretically, this function would trigger the creation of BP activity items, which would trigger emails.

#25 Updated by Daniel Jones over 4 years ago

Thanks Boone!

1. I need to look into the interaction with cross-posting. I like the idea of only allowing one at a time though.
2. bbp_insert_topic() does not create activities or trigger email notifications. It's basically just a wrapper for wp_insert_post(). It's what I use in BP Multiple Forum post as well, and I need to run a separate loop to create the activity items for the cross-posted topics. You can find it in bbpress/includes/topics/functions.php. This means that it also doesn't run some of the security functions that a higher-level call does, except the sanitization that gets run in the course of bbp_parse_args.

#26 Updated by Boone Gorges over 4 years ago

bbp_insert_topic() does not create activities or trigger email notifications.

Gotcha - I see now that bbPress hooks its activity-creating tool to 'bbp_new_topic', which occurs in the bbp_new_topic_handler() wrapper, not in bbp_insert_topic(). Thanks!

#27 Updated by Daniel Jones over 4 years ago

I've added some JS to disable multi-forum posting when overriding email preferences: https://github.com/cuny-academic-commons/cac/commit/30af92d53a03e1990995377669012a0c1ee4dace

#28 Updated by Boone Gorges over 4 years ago

Thanks, Dan! I've had a run through, and things are mostly looking good. I had to make a mod to the migrator so that it worked with what appears to be some legacy BP data: https://github.com/cuny-academic-commons/cac/commit/eb2f6a2bf016993ab0c416e3b65063ab6f8956b6

Post dates for migrated posts still are not working for me. They're being set to the current date/time. Why not just pass 'post_date' and 'post_date_gmt' to bbp_insert_topic()? It looks like these values are passed through to wp_insert_post() (see the comment in wp_insert_post() beginning "if the post date is empty").

#29 Updated by Daniel Jones over 4 years ago

Oh I see! My issue is that I was assuming that since bbp_insert_topic wasn't filtering the date values explicitly that it wasn't accepting them. Here I've just pulled that logic into the main function, and it seemed to work for me. Let me know if this works!

https://github.com/cuny-academic-commons/cac/commit/8d03fc01710ab77c370a2fee89d655fa5f11eb72

#30 Updated by Boone Gorges over 4 years ago

  • Status changed from Assigned to Resolved

Great! These changes look good. I'm going to mark this resolved. I've made a note in the release notes to take care of the migration after deploying 1.11.0. https://github.com/cuny-academic-commons/cac/wiki/Release-ACTION_REQUIRED-list

#31 Updated by Boone Gorges over 4 years ago

  • Related to Bug #8200: Announcements has disappeared added

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