Notifications - email updates and their readability

manarth's picture

I'm sure most of us here get daily update emails from g.d.o. and I'd guess many of you are, like me, mildly irked at trying to read them. I thought I'd take a stab at trying to lay them out so they're more readable.

In the long run, I'd like to see beautifully crafted HTML emails, but thought some small spacing and layout changes would be a lot quicker and easier to do than full-blown HTML.

Here are my main critiques of the email as it stands:

  • The updates read as a river, nay, a veritable flood of text. Some spacing could help separate topics.
  • Comments on a topic duplicate the title, leading to long lines with the title duplicated many times.
  • "Read more" before a link is often unnecessary.
  • For a comment on content, the comment's title is the most important/relevant information, so this should be front-loaded (i.e. come at the start of the line).
  • "Updates for $content_type" is redundant; it's an update email, so it's already apparent that it's an update.

I've had a go at laying the content out again in a text editor, adding simple spacing and making minor changes that should be absolutely do-able within the email template. I'm not entirely happy with the outcome (because my fixed-width text editor doesn't match the variable-width font used in my email client), but I think it's a good starting point for discussion.

I've attached the text of the initial email content, my first revision, and screenshots showing how they appear in OS-X mail. I've also added the text to a gist -

If anyone has any suggestions, I'd love to hear them…and if anyone else is working on this, or can suggest who is, I'd really appreciate a nudge in the right direction :-)

notifications-email-from-g.d.o.-initial.png308.43 KB
notifications-email-from-g.d.o.-rev1.png173.3 KB
notifications-email-from-g.d.o.-initial.txt5.31 KB
notifications-email-from-g.d.o.-rev1.txt3.55 KB


One more thing, not getting

Hadi Farnoud's picture

One more thing, not getting email for your won reply messages. that's not necessary. I'd be happy to create a patch for it. anyone interested to help?

Have you worked with og and

greggles's picture

Have you worked with og and notifications?

Start there and see what's possible :)

Nice use of white space.

mgifford's picture

I like this idea. Might actually get me reading the notifications from g.d.o....

Notifications are important for community engagement

autopoietic's picture

I really strongly agree. with @manarth and @mgifford. I want to be involved with the drupal community, and the easiest way to get drawn back in to conversations would be via email notifications.

At the moment, 90% of the time I delete and groups emails because they are unintelligible. Every once in a while I click one of the many unexplained links within the notification (at random), to go to the content and find out what it is actually about.

Drupal groups could (and should) be exemplary in terms of these sorts of community cohesion details, so it is a little upsetting that it is one of the least relevant emails in my inbox.

I imagine a significant improvement where a [optionally] HTML based, configurable email digest lays out teasers for new contributions in the threads I am following, with the post title as a clear heading, and new comments referenced by their titles, dates, authors, not abstract urls.

On a side note, I specifically sought this issue out on drupal groups because I felt strongly about it. It was difficult to find. I have no idea whether this post is the most relevant forum, or how I could help move this forwards. Any pointers from a more engaged community member would be very welcome, especially as to how I could contribute ideas or endeavour towards the betterment of drupal groups itself.