What kinds of notifications are MVP?

We talked early on about notifications. For MVP, what events should generate on-site notifications and what form should those notifications take? (Something like an inbox that lights up?)

I think we want to notify at least for:

  • new answer to your question
  • anything that @-addresses you (if our comment system supports that, which I assume it will)
  • edits to your posts

What about edits to answers to your questions?

What else?


If we have rep, then upvotes should give you a notification. I always enjoy seeing the green light telling me I got more rep on SE.


I’m not sure if this needs to be MVP, but we should think of getting notified about posts that got edited after we downvoted or voted to close.


IIRC, we opted for more discrete “trust levels” rather than reputation. They should be definitely notifications.

I think the way Discourse (the forum software we’re currently on) handles this is quite good (except for us not having private messaging).

Co-Design supports header notifications.

Possible, however I’d make it either opt-in or opt-out.

Additionally, I’d say:

  • you gained a trust level
  • your answer was accepted (if we support that)
  • moderator messages
  • a welcome message linking to a tour/FAQ page
  • suggested edits
  • comments to your posts, with the option to turn off (except for pings)
  • (possibly) some consolidated vote information (“You have 3 new upvotes and 1 new downvote on this post: X”), similar to how Discourse manages it with likes

We could also support notification for @cellio’s events, that you can get for other people’s posts, which you can “follow”, however that shouldn’t be MVP.


Related older discussion: MVP: Notifications

Proposed for MVP: we notify users for:

  • new answer to your question
  • anything that @-addresses you (comment pings)
  • edit to your post
  • suggested edit to your post
  • your question is closed or reopened
  • gained trust level (includes welcome message for new users at TL0)
  • message from moderators
  • new comment on your post (see post-MVP refinement)
  • voting activity on your post (could be aggregated) (will explain below)

Not MVP but later:

  • answer to your question is edited
  • refine comment notifications to allow muting specific posts/threads
  • maybe: post you “subscribed to” is edited or gets a new answer (this covers the “downvoted and then edited” case but gives control to the user)
  • email notifications after some delay

About voting activity: since votes convey information to the author and can be missed in casual use of the site, we should let the user know that a post is getting votes in either direction, even if we don’t have a reputation score. That is, this is notification of votes, not rep changes. Long-time users on SE might remember when you could get this kind of information on per-site metas; same idea. I don’t know whether we should generate an event for every vote or aggregate them, say, hourly or do something like what SE does where they become additive per post until you look at them. The how needs some design, but the what is: yes, notify people about voting activity on their own posts.

I don’t think that should extend to comments; comments will outnumber posts and that could become noisy, so if we do it at all we have to enable muting. And that’s too complicated for MVP.


Something like Discourse’s notification levels (seen to the right and bottom of this page with the little bell) could work well too. And I think it would be useful for users to be able to set the notification level for each question, tag, category, and community.

“Normal” would be for:

  • (suggested) edits to your own posts
  • comments on your posts
  • @ comments in questions you’ve participated in? We’d want to limit the potential for abuse here. But a site could also allow general @ commenting like on a SE Team

“Tracking” would be applied to questions you ask (but you could also manually set it, or unset it) and would notify you when

  • there is a new answer
  • question is closed/reopened

“Watching” would notify you on

  • edits to existing answers

But you could mute all of this with “Muted”.

For a tag/category “tracking” would notify for new questions, and “watching” would notify for new answers (or in other words, automatically set questions to tracked).

And like Discourse, there could be a user setting to change the default status for your own questions, or for questions you answer.

Discourse also uses these statuses to change how a topic is shown on the topic list. Similarly we could do the same in Q&A: tracking/watching could highlight the question in some way. It’s basically an expansion of the “watched tags” system of SE.

We may want to use different labels for these.


Nice! I like this refinement.

I suggest having no notifications for MVP. It’s meant to be minimal, after all. Notifications are not essential for a functional site.

A certain amount of notifications is critical for a functional site. Both for regular users (encourages repeat visits and more activity - which helps build up the site content & encourage use by others) and for moderators (to know what is going on without having to be “on” the site all the time).


And I suspect building notifications in from the beginning will be considerably simpler than adding them later. So some form of notification system should be in the MVP, even if the specific notification categories change later.

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