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Notifications

Introduction

As of 2020-06-17 you may have noticed a few new system-generated messages in your groups. These were announced in this post on beta, with more background information in this post. This is the beginnings of a long-awaited notification overhaul, discussed in beta over the course of the last few years.

The overhaul includes both notices posted to the group and notices posted only to moderators/owners. It also includes notices that are sent by email as well as those sent by the new web/app notification feature.


Web/App Notification

The big new feature is web/app delivery of notifications.

A Web/app notification is a message that is displayed outside of the web browser or mobile app user interface. They provide the user with timely information when certain activities occur in a group. Such notifications are likely familiar to mobile device users, as most mobile devices have provided this capability for many years. Web push notification for desktop browsers is somewhat newer, as is support for notifications in desktop operating systems.

Web/app notification is available for Notices directed to Owners/Mods, Members, and to the Group; and also for the posting of group messages with hashtags. To receive web/app notification the user must enable it on each receiving device, and per device in the user's Groups.io Account page. See Device Controls and Member Controls below. Web/app notification is opt-in for of each type of Group Notice and hashtag (subject to opt-out by the group), and opt-out for each type of Moderator Notice.


Moderator Notices

Moderator Notices have been sent direct to the moderator only by email. Now the moderator can have them sent by Web/app Notification instead of or in addition to email, as selected in the Moderator's Subscription page. See Member Controls, below.


Member Notices

Member Notices have been sent direct to the member only by email. Certain new types of Member Notices are planned which the member can have sent by Web/app Notification instead of or in addition to being sent by email, as selected in the Member's Subscription page. See Member Controls, below.


Group Notices

Group Notices are posted to the group's Messages/Topics lists, subject to the group's Message Moderation setting. They are then forwarded to members by email according to the member's Subscription settings. Now the member can have them sent by Web/app Notification instead of or in addition to email.

Group Notices are distinguished by the hashtags in their Subject line. These hashtags empower control for each type of notice at the group level by means of the hashtag's settings, and by the individual member by means of muting or following the hashtag, or enabling web/app notification for it, for each specific Group Notice. See Group Controls and Member Controls, below.

Device Controls

The new feature of web/app notifications will deliver notifications to your device or desktop screen, even when your web browser or mobile app is not in the display foreground. This is an additional capability you can choose, over and above or instead of notification by email. Where the web/app notifications appear depends upon the device: on mobile devices they typically appear as icons in a bar at the top of the screen, which you can drag down to open to a list of notifications.  In a desktop OS it may depend on the operating system, on Windows they typically appear as a transitory pop-up near the date/time display on the taskbar and optionally in the notifications list that opens from the icon in the taskbar.

Note: app notifications are not yet implemented in the Groups.io mobile apps.

These notifications are subject to the settings in your mobile device, web browser, and/or operating system. In many cases these may be turned off, or may require specific "allow" settings for the specific app generating the notification.  Check the user information for your device, browser and/or OS for details.

Group controls

Settings Page (moderators & owners only)

There are no new group settings related to Moderator, Member, or Group Notices.

In the Spam Control panel, the group's Message Moderation control applies to Group Notices, with exceptions as noted for specific notices, see below.

In the Member Notices tab the group can define notices which are sent to members under specific conditions. All but Guidelines and Monthly operate as Member Notices, except the member has no controls for them and they cannot be delivered by Web/app notification.

Monthly generates a Group Notice and is subject to group and member delivery controls.

Guidelines can generate a Member Notice if the Send on join box is checked and/or a Group Notice if the Send monthly to group box is checked,


Hashtags Page

The group's Hashtags page lists the hashtags used in this group, including those applied to message topics by moderators (and members, if allowed) as well as certain system-generated Group Notices. Group moderators can use any hashtag to identify Group Notices posted by the moderators.

Listed on the group's Hashtags page, the system-generated group notices are:

  • #cal-invite
  • #cal-cancelled
  • #cal-notice (bypasses the group's Message Moderation setting, for timeliness)
  • #cal-reminder (bypasses the group's Message Moderation setting, for timeliness)
  • #chat-notice (changed from #chat as of 2020-06-18)
  • #file-notice (changed from #file changed as of 2020-06-18)
  • #guidelines-notice (changed from #guidelines changed as of 2020-06-19) (bypasses the group's Message Moderation setting, for timeliness)
  • #monthly-notice (added as of 2020-06-19) (bypasses the group's Message Moderation setting, for timeliness)
  • #photo-notice (changed from #photo as of 2020-06-18)
  • #poll-notice (changed from #poll as of 2020-06-18)
  • #wiki-notice (changed from #wiki as of 2020-06-18)
  • (more on the way?)

Sorely lacking from the Hashtags page is a method to search, sort, or select for just the system-generated hashtags. Instead they are listed alphabetically along with any ordinary topic hashtags used in your group.

The #cal- and #file notices may be familiar as the only system-generated Group Notices implemented previous to this overhaul.

Note: If one or more of the above hashtags doesn't yet appear in the list that means the related notification hasn't yet been issued in your group. Moderators/Owners can proactively create the hashtag, or wait until Groups.io updates all groups' Hashtags page.

Moderators and Owners will find that the Edit button on each hashtag has been renamed Edit Tag. This opens the Edit Hashtag page for that hashtag. 

See also the Hashtag Page section under Member Controls, below.


Edit Hashtag Pages (moderators & owners only)

These pages provide the same capabilities to control these Group Notices as they previously have to control topics with the given hashtag.

It will likely prove useful to choose a distinctive Tag Color and apply it to all Group Notice hashtags, to visually distinguish them from ordinary topic tags in your group's Hashtags page.

To prevent a system-generated Group Notices from being posted in the Messages section of one's group the Moderated option is the only effective choice.

The No Email option can be used to allow Group Notices to be posted in the group's Messages and Topics lists, but not send them by email to members.

Member Controls

The usual Hashtag controls apply: a member may mute these hashtags to prevent receiving them by email, or follow them if the member's Message Selection option is set to Following Only. A new button appears on each hashtag's entry in the group's Hashtags list to access these controls.


During activity

A change as of 2020-06-19 adds a new Notify Members checkbox to the Upload Photos page and the create/update Wiki page, unchecked by default. Moderators are always notified (by email and/or web/app) of these actions, regardless of the Notify Members checkbox.

This change also reverted the Notify Members checkbox on the Upload Files page to unchecked by default (it had been made checked by default on 2020-06-17). The effect of the reversion is to stop or reduce the unexpected posting of notifications, which led to complaints posted in the GMF, Group_Help, and beta groups). It also negates one of the primary benefits intended by the notification overhaul, which is the ability to be notified when such actions occur in one's group.

Note: the reversion is considered a "stopgap" measure, until a better implementation can be devised. It is likely to change again.

There will be a delay of four to eight minutes from taking the action to when the email notification appears. This allows "combining" multiple actions of the same type into a single notification. (Added as of 2020-06-24.) The web/app notifications are sent individually without being delayed or combined.

If you perform a particular activity you will not receive an email or web/app notification for that activity.


Account pages

Members will find a new Notifications page in their Account. This page has a control to enable web/app notifications to be sent to the member's computer or mobile device. These notifications appear in a location and style that is specific to each operating system or device. On mobile devices they often appear in a banner at the top of the screen. On Windows desktop devices they appear next to the Task Bar, just above the date/time display.


Hashtags page

Members will find a new Mute/Notify (or Follow/Notify) button on each hashtag listed on the group's Hashtags page. This button brings up a page with two panels:

  • Email - allows the member to Mute (or Follow) topics with this hashtag
  • Notifications - allows the member to enable web/app notification whenever a message is posted in a topic with this hashtag.

Web/app notifications only take effect if the member has both enabled them on the current device and have been enabled for the given hashtag.

In the Hashtags page a bell icon appears next to each hashtag that you have enabled for web/app notification.


Subscription page
(coming soon)

Soon members will find a new Notifications panel in their Subscription page to control Email and/or immediate web/app notifications:

  • When someone Likes a message (on the way)
  • When someone posts to a chat that you are subscribed to, but not currently viewing (on the way)
  • (more on the way?)

This list controls notification for activities not associated with a hashtag. Web/app notifications only take effect if the member has them enabled on the current device.


Subscription page
(moderators & owners only)

Group moderators and owners have a Moderator Notifications panel in their Subscription page (renamed as of 2020-06-24). As of 2020-06-15 it has been enhanced to allow selection of delivery by email, web/app notification, or both (or neither) for events within the group:

This list controls notification specific to group moderators and owners. Web/app notifications only take effect if the moderator/owner has them enabled on the current device.

If you perform a particular activity you yourself will not receive an email or web/app notification for that activity (but other mods/owners will). In the case of spam unsubcription you will still receive a web/app notification if it was you that was unsubscribed. Likewise for storage limit reached, even if it was your upload or posting that crossed the limit: you will still receive a web/app notification.


Email footer

If the Email Selection option on your Subscription page is All Messages, then the footers of messages you receive by email have a Mute link for each hashtag in the message's subject. This allows you to stop receiving email delivery of the related notification type.

If your Email Selection option is Following Only then message footers by email contain a Follow or Unfollow link for each hashtag in the message's Subject. This allows you to continue or stop receiving email delivery of the related notification type.

 

The official Groups.io user documentation is in the Groups.io Help Center.