Navigating MPU Talk - Discourse settings help needed

This message is most likely in search of an answer from @joebuhlig or @RosemaryOrchard. Others who like me are new to Discourse might want to wait until there is a response before spending the time reading. I might simply be wrong in my whole thinking here.

I’m trying to efficiently track the MPU Talk conversations. One of the reasons I disliked FB so much, besides the ways in which FB damages or exploits its users, is that I found their approach very inefficient for monitoring unless someone was willing to be in FB all the time. I like forums because I usually can keep up by stopping in periodically. Some places I stop in every day others once a week or less. I only participate in one other forum which is using Discourse and for that I only visit for the answers to specific questions.

In the case of MPU Talk, I am at this point finding it to be less efficient than I had hoped. I am suspecting that it has something to do with my settings. I would like to talk through, how I would like it to work. I am hoping that someone will suggest changes to settings which will improve my use.

First, one thing I’ve noticed is that I repeatedly have to hit the MPU battery icon or use the browser back to feel confident I’m navigating through unread posts efficiently. I know I shouldn’t have to do this. I believe one of Discourse’s purported advantages is that it should flow more readily as you scroll down the page than some of the older forums. I believe my issues are in not fully understanding the UI and how I am interpreting visual clues. It might even be something like a font problem.

My ideal flow would be to enter the application and on the initial screen be presented with messages in the following order:
(1) unread posts to topics which are replies to me specifically oldest response first;
(2) unread messages in topics which I am watching or tracking, I would also like to more fully understand the difference between watching and tracking, how it is controlled, and where those differences integrate into the experience;
(3) unread messages in all categories I am watching or tracking but different from those in (2); and
(4) unread messages in all categories which I am not watching or tracking but are not muted categories.

Ideally, I would pick off whichever topic thread in my initial list I wanted to read and when I scrolled to the bottom of that topic thread, the “Suggested Topics” would then be presented in the same order as my ranking of potential topics to read on the initial entry screen. However, without the thread I had just read unless there was a new entry to that same topic. This is where I feel the current UI isn’t working for me. I don’t have confidence in the “Suggested Topics” and actually believe they are simply wrong, random, or of some algorithm which I have not as yet grokked, and moving me in directions which are contradictory to the priorities listed above. Note, while those are my desired priorities, I don’t believe that I have necessarily been able to set those in my settings.

Now I’ll run you through some screenshots which show what I am seeing with questions.

For this next screen, I don’t understand the third bullet. Why would a topic be considered “unread” if you have read the topic for more than 4 minutes? I believe there is a setting elsewhere tied to 4 minutes. But I thought that was with watched or tracked topics. Is the third bullet an error? Or am I just not thinking straight or suffering from a language deficiency in English?

I’m interpreting the prior screen as telling me I have no topics. However, if I look at the following screen I see a Hardware and Software topic which are in bold. Note, the age stamp would seem to indicate they should have been there when looking at the prior screen.

I then pick the first unread topic from the prior screen, when I scroll down to the bottom, I’m presented with read topics in Hardware and not the unread topic in Software which on the prior screen is there. This is why for safety, I’m jumping back to my entry point. I feel I shouldn’t have to do that. 25

Here are my current notification settings.05

Here I’m going back to the top level. It’s telling me there are two topic threads with new and unread messages.10

However, when I look at the top topics, I see a number of lines where the text is bold thus signalling an unread message. However, only two of the lines have a number within a solid circle. Is it only counting new unread messages and not flagging old unread messages with a count circle? 40

Here are my notification settings. I haven’t touched Categories or Tags.05

To wrap up, any suggestions or thoughts as to how to get it working the way I would like? Am I mis-interpreting, missing, or mis-using some settings? I have played around with my Notifications settings. Is there some delay in their going into effect? Lastly, is this the correct Category or should we put these types of questions in Tech Support?


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I definitely can’t answer everything, but I’ll answer what I can for you! :smiley:

I’m not sure if there’s an option that presents exactly this, but Latest might come close. In your settings > interface, you can set that to be your default homepage.

Settings > Notifications > second option, I have mine set to 30 seconds :slight_smile:
Yours is set to never, it showing you 4 minutes on the previous screen may be a bug (4 minutes is the default) - though I’m still learning Discourse from the admin side myself!

Uncategorised is a good a category as any :wink:
Unless anyone has an objection I think it belongs here - there are similar topics and it’s more of a “about the forums” question.


Thanks Rose. However, latest doesn’t get me where I’m trying to get. Here’s the screen on latest. 23

I’m seeing a lot of topics I’ve read. Also, the bigger issue is that when I click on the first unread one, My 10.5"…, and then scroll down as in this image:

The Suggested Topics do not include “Workflow Workflows, a Collection” from the prior screen. Rather suggested topics is presenting topics which I have already read.

As someone who spends multiple hours a week on Discourse instances, I think I can give you a workflow that may help. So the following is how I personally manage my way through a single Discourse site:

But first, some definitions and clarifications to your questions, which will help my flow make more sense.

This means you’ll be given a notification when there is a new post on the topic or a post on any topic in the category or tag that you are Watching. So, as you would expect, this has the potential to lead to a large number of notifications on a forum like this one.

A topic will automatically be set to Watched if you created the topic.

These topics will show a number in a green bubble next to a topic like the picture below. They are topics you want to keep an eye on but you don’t want a notification on. So think of it as one step down from Watching.

This status will be automatically set if you reply to a topic or if you’ve spent more than four minutes reading through the topic. So if you have the topic open for four minutes or longer, it will trigger this for you.


These are topics that are marked as Watched or Tracking that have posts you haven’t visited yet.

Topics that you haven’t opened at all.

Joe’s Workflow

  1. I typically set my homepage to Latest. You can do that here. I do this because I like to scan the latest topics just out of curiosity. This is handy when I only have a few minutes and want to see if there’s anything quick I can respond to.

  2. From there I go to Unread. This lets me see the topics that are either my own topics with new replies or topics that I’ve shown an interest in by replying to them or marking them as ones I want to track. These are easily the most important to me in some way.

  3. My next step is New. But I only go here if I have time. It lets me see everything that I haven’t opened or visited in any way.

  4. Finally, I go to my Bookmarks. As I go through each of these previous lists, I will bookmark topics I want to come back to later. Think of it as a reply-later for Discourse.

Let me know if there’s a piece of this that doesn’t answer your questions. I know I didn’t address your questions directly. So be sure to follow-up with me on this. I’m Tracking. :wink:

Last point, if you’re really really new to Discourse, I highly recommend sending a private message to @mpubot and say hi. You can interact with the bot to learn how to do things in Discourse.


Thanks Joe.

I’ll try your workflow. Having the definitions for Watched, Tracking, and Unread is very helpful and I think will let me get my arms around things. I was interpreting Unread as simply all messages which were Unread and then feeling that wasn’t what I was getting. I now understand it is Unread and ( Tracking or Watched).

In terms of the Suggested Topics, some times that seems to be pointing me where I want to go and at other times it doesn’t. Any insights into how those are determined?

They’re determined based on keywords, categories, and tags. They also take a bit of time to calculate. Given the speed with which MPU Talk has developed, I would imagine it’ll take a few days or a week for those to fully catch up and gain accuracy.


To add to what @joebuhlig wrote…for maximum efficiency I recommend taking some time to learn Discourse’s keyboard shortcuts, starting with the features that you use most frequently.

I find that they’re pretty easy to pick up, thanks in part to their consistency. For example, g + jumps you to a place in the format (e.g. g + h for Home, g + n for New).

You can pull up a “cheat sheet” by pressing ?. And it’s possible to use these keyboard shortcuts on a Mac and an iPad with a hardware keyboard



:+1: to that, Tim.

That’s level two for me. I’m on my Mac most of the time, so I’m using j to work my way down a list, f to toggle my bookmark, o to open a topic, and g+h to go home.

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Thanks to all. On the Mac I feel I’m moving around with greater efficiency. The shortcuts was a great suggestion. Even though I knew they were there I hadn’t tried them out. As @timstringer pointed out they are easy to pick up and make a big difference.


Related I have Discourse notifications enabled but the notifications work fine on my Mac but I don’t get anything on my iPhone 8…anyone else have this or have a solution? It says “Note: You have to change this setting on every browser you use.” and has Enable Notifications to be able to be selected which I thought I’ve done.

As it stands, there’s not a way to get push notifications on iOS. I’ve talked about potentially creating a whitelisted iOS app for MPU Talk via OneSignal, but I haven’t gone down that path yet. And a disclaimer: that would be something I’d need to discuss with the David and Katie before I start.

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Totally fine, that said there’s also not email notifications unless I need to select something in settings.

Check out your user preferences. There’s an email section that lets you fine tune those. But also look at the Categories piece. If you add a category to Watching or Watching First Post, you’ll get emails about the topics in those categories.

@joebuhlig, is this possible? I’ve already set my default page to latest. Great. I’d like to “browse” through the latest posts, similiar to scrolling though the facebook timeline.

If I click on the latest post, is there then a keyboard shortcut to take me to the prior post? I’d love to be able to “page” through recent posts, in their entirety?

BTW, I found this post to reply to using the search feature, instead of just starting a new thread. Nice!

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There’s not. But you can hit u to get back to the previous screen and j or k to navigate the list from where you were. That’s how I do it.

Also, if you hit the ?, you can see the full view of the available shortcuts.

Been playing with it this morning. You’re right, more intiuitive than I would have thought! I’m skill skipping certain topics that are not in my world, when in the Facebook days I would probably have skimmed as I passed, but this is a much better way to roll though the posts!


This is a great tip, but it’s not super discoverable on an iPad. It would be nice if a link to the Keyboard Shortcuts cheat sheet appeared in the hamburger menu on the iPad the way it does in a desktop browser.