Am I just being silly in not being able to find it?
Any mass email functionality?
For what purpose.. what's your goal? What are you trying to accomplish? Can you provide an example?
The ability to send out an email to all users. Its kinda of useful I suppose. Particularly when an announcement is made, etc. Newsletters, etc.
Making it easy to email potentially thousands of people at will seems like a bad idea... even if it were on a PM level it seems like it would be too easy to abuse.
Maybe... just pin a topic and assume active users will see it? If it's a status/announcement thing it's probably safe to assume they don't care unless they frequent the forum anyway
A plugin allowing users to opt-in to a newsletter controlled by a mailing service (Mailchimp, Constant Contact) while creating an account on Discourse wouldn't be too complicated... and seems like it would be a much better way to handle the newsletter usecase.
I would have thought the use case here is obvious...?
I mean the system is already set up to do this, no? (Digest emails anyone?) Users can opt out which is fine... so I don't see the problem in manually created newsletters. If Discourse is trying to be a mailing list replacement this functionality is essential.
That I've never seen another forum software not have it.
Though I'm loving Discourse.
Digest emails aren't manually sent by admins and users have an option of not receiving them. If I sign up for a forum, make a few posts, and never visit it again, I don't want admins to have the ability to potentially email me on a whim as part of a massive group. I guess if there was a setting I'd feel fine about it; the whole thing just seems awfully spammy to me.
I think there's a difference between a mailing list and email marketing... and a mass email just seems more in the territory of marketing to me.
Mailing lists do go to all users, but in Discourse's instance would you have a thread created to accept all responses to a mass email? How would that work? Isn't the benefit of Discourse as a mailing list replacement the segmentation and noise reduction created by topic-based conversation?
Anyway, I admit I may be too protective over email.
Curious: how do other forum platforms handle it? Do they just let admins send out custom emails whenever they want?
No you're not. One of the things I like about discourse is that those insane people who want a mailing list can get their daily digests, but I have the option to only stop in and catch up when I feel like it. Even a once-a-quarter "where you been?" email is Spam from my point of view.
I also agree with @Sailsman63, you are not too protective.
That gives an even better point imho, which is that you clearly aren't interested in what they have to say. Ergo any email to you is spam. And the way (topic-based-conversation) and options you do have as a user of discourse take great care about that imho.
However, I do see an important usecase for such a feature: security and important system notices. Let's say the admins of a forum switch to another login-system and want to give their users a heads-up about this or – even worse, but we have to consider it – the system got compromised and passwords have been reset or private data might has been leaked. In this case I'd consider it the Administrator duty to inform even those, who've not been active as their data might as well be compromised. Neither of those are critical and wouldn't be able to be done through an export function I suppose though and I am absolutely against the marketing-approach of things.
On that, though, discourse does know more about the activity of community members than a random mailchimp or many other tools. One feature I particular like about meetup is their selective "email", where you could say only those should receive the email, who are registered for a certain event or have RSVPed yes in the last x-month. We do use that feature as a last-minute notification of changes (for e.g. a different venue or time), when it is unlikely the receivers have the possibility to look at meetup.com again before the change is due. If it ever comes to an "Event"-Archetype, I assume we do want this kind of feature on that at least ...
As you can see I am highly undecided on this but I do see relevant use cases while being against a common easy way of spamming people...
the system got compromised and passwords have been reset or private data might has been leaked
good point, that's a totally reasonable use case
Yeah and unfortunately it is something you have to anticipate to happen at some point ...
Why? We only store very hard-core hashes. Even if your Discourse database was posted in a public location, that wouldn't expose any passwords.
Would expose emails to some extent.
I think this is a really rare scenario and shouldn't be considered something you would base any kind of regular typical mainstream functionality on.
This is reasonable but I think the scope is more specific to a topic. E.g. Everyone that replied to the "Party on friday!" topic should be notified. Sort of like a @name mention on steroids, but again, scoped to the topic only.
I very much this idea from @awesomerobot.
Also thinking generally that a simple export tool in admin might solve most of these cases to help admins manage their users - e.g. export to CSV a list of all users that can then be imported into another tool. For my community, I use another open source tool called CiviCRM for relationship management, send out newsletters and other membership related tasks. CiviCRM has a pretty awesome data import procedure.
Another approach might simply be to use SSO with another web app that handles newsletters etc so that this info is captured in the other tool already and is always up to date and ready to be used.
The real point to have such functionality is to make it easier for sending mailing, no matter the reason. If you really need to, you can still do it, as @tobiaseigen said. There might be legitimate reasons to do a global mass mail, but how many of those reasons justify making it easy to do so? Would you really need to send more than one per year? Also, for security reasons, a forum shouldn't store any of your sensitive data anyway, as @codinghorror said, so it's not like there's anything that urgent to communicate.
Think of deleting all your files / formatting your hard disk. You want to be able to do it eventually, but it shouldn't be too easy that you'll trigger it by mistake or that you'd be tempted on doing it. I also don't think this is a tool that should go in the common day use command prompt, or Discourse admin panel.
That being said, Discourse is open source. Fork it and build your own mass email if you really need to. Much easier said than done... At this point of development (beta stage and all), making it built-in on the original version would indeed be a bad idea as it has high potential to be abused as email marketing.
how about a simple popup on homepage whenever the user is logged in. i could use that feature to announce something important
- please set your real name on your profile page
- we made a very super important topic about new policy, please read it
then there are two buttons [dismiss once] | [dismiss forever]
how about a popup on ocassion / event / holiday? To put a season greeting or something, like christmas or new year
We just had a major release and I'd like to make sure all our users get notified directly... even if they no last-seen date.
I'm in a similar situation, and after doing some research and thinking, I've concluded that this is not Discourse's problem. So here's a workaround.
Two very important caveats
- There could be a law against this type of mass sending, depending on where you're sending to/from.
- If you follow bad practices, you risk having your sender address (possibly even your root domain; I don't know exactly how these things work) marked as spam by major services like Gmail.
Personally I don't see an issue with sending out an e-mail to users who signed their e-mail up to the equivalent of a mailing list, as long as the opt-out is prominent and super simple.
How to do mass sendouts with your Discourse userbase
There are many ways to do this. I will list two that I would consider reasonably safe.
Sync users with WordrPress and use one of its Newsletter Plugins.
If you'd like to method #1 every year or so when you have a major round-up announcement to make, you could just export and import again, since any good newsletter service will ignore duplicates and track opt-out users for you.
Longer term, a far more desirable solution would be this:
Yeah.. mass email isn't really the right solution.
Posting it, and making sure that people know how they are consuming the forums is the right action.
Then people can click the link & go to the forum & post, or just hit reply (the reply functionality wouldn't work with any external service.. and is certainly not going to be a universal need for all discourse operators.