XF 2.2 Activity summary email

So you've got people to register on your forum and they've made their initial contribution, but once they've done that, how do you keep those members engaged and coming back to your forum? It's an age-old problem. A user registers, they may participate for a while if you're lucky, and then it's really a toss-up as to whether they will stay and become a semi-permanent fixture of your forum, or you never see them again.

Of all the challenges facing forum owners, this one requires the most creative approaches. There are various existing features that are geared towards keeping your members engaged. They can receive alerts, push notifications or emails when content is posted in threads or forums they watch, or you can manually email members periodically to keep them updated with the latest goings-on at your forum. These approaches aren't always effective as they either require explicit action from the user to designate the kind of content in which they are interested, or they require manual intervention from you to create some sort of newsletter.

There must be a better way, right? Well of course there is, or this would be a really short and slightly pointless post.

Activity summary


The "Activity summary" is an email, periodical receipt of which your members can opt into, which will give them an overview of what they have missed since their last visit to your forum.

A look at the configuration...

Firstly, of course you may switch the feature off entirely if you wish. Though we're not quite sure why you'd want to, as it's awesome.


We then have three values with which we can control the timing and frequency of when emails should be sent. The defaults are reasonable for most cases and are for the most part self explanatory. By default, we stop sending the activity summary email if the user has been inactive for 6 months, users fitting those criteria are probably a lost cause, but you can override the default and continue sending email to these users indefinitely by setting the value to 0 days.

Registered forum members may opt themselves in or out of receiving the email from their Privacy or Preferences pages:


Although the "Receive news and update emails" can be toggled independently of the new "Receive activity summary email", we only display the former on registration, but if checked then we will opt the user into the activity summary emails too.

Of course the user can unsubscribe at any time.

You don't know the power of the dark side

Dramatic and irrelevant quote aside, the real power of the system comes from how you can configure the contents of the activity summary email.

In fact, the activity summary isn't just a list of threads but is instead built up using content sections that you can finely configure. Out of the box, these sections are set up to fetch the latest content, but there are several additional filters to allow you to narrow down the content returned in the way you see fit.

For example, you could have a section return the most active threads based on reply count, or the most popular threads based on reaction score. This makes for a much more targeted approach than simply grabbing the latest items, and will be particularly useful for large and busy forums where it will be important to only return the best content from a sea of noise.


From here you can add additional sections, delete existing sections or change the order that sections appear.

Let's look at how you can change the behaviour of "Latest threads" to only show the latest threads from a specific forum.


What we've done now is changed the activity summary so that instead of showing the 5 most recent threads from any forum, instead it will show only 2 of the most recent threads from a specific forum.

We can see those changes reflected in the email, but you can also add additional sections, even if you have previously used that type before. So we can click "Add activity summary section" and add yet another "Latest threads" section.


This time we'll configure it to pull from the HYS forum. And then we can even add another which can pull from the "General" forum.


Initially, we will be providing an "activity summary definition" for "Latest threads" and "Latest posts", but as you would expect from XenForo, the system is built with extensibility in mind, and there is plenty of scope for third party developers to build definitions for their own add-on content, allowing forum owners to expand the reach of their activity summaries. For our part, we will be extending support for other first-party XenForo content types as soon as possible.
I agree that the activity summary emails should have been off by default. The members should have the option to opt-in and not have to opt-out. Many of our members are fine with having the "receive site news and updates" enabled prior to the upgrade because they know we only send certain types of emails and the frequency we send them.
I see an option in the admin account/settings that allows me to receive the activity summary, it obviously not on as default.
Yes that is what you should use to test it. It works well. The content options for the summary email need improving IMO but that's another matter!
OK. This is GOLD. I'm using this in a private community... and I have it set to start sending if someone has not come around for a day. It sort of is replacing an old email list, and having it send out daily updates to folks who don't want to have to login is great. It actually encourages them to login! Thank you for this feature. I'm sure I can tweet it even more. But, it's acting like the mailing list daily archive email.... but better. Cause once they are logged in (I set them up so that they become subscribed) , it's more specific email updates. So, if they never visit again, they will still get daily updates, unless the unsubscribes, from the email. Brilliant!
And if after all of that you still need to bulk opt people out (or in, which would technically bypass the pause state) then please don't do it with direct database queries.

You can do it via Batch update users:
I run a batch update to sign up users to summary but no mail go out. Are they still in pause state? How can I unpause them?
No, the purpose is to send activity after a period of inactivity. You would risk the possibility of annoyance and an unsubscribe before they are even inactive so it could defeat the purpose. You would be better served with a newsletter or digest, both of which are available add-ons.
No, the purpose is to send activity after a period of inactivity.
I disagree. The activity summary email is superior to a newsletter.

It's a simply change of words from "What you missed..." to "What's going on..."

The stats at the top drive home the activity in the forum - is there an newsletter addon that has that functionality?
No, the purpose is to send activity after a period of inactivity. You would risk the possibility of annoyance and an unsubscribe before they are even inactive so it could defeat the purpose. You would be better served with a newsletter or digest, both of which are available add-ons.
What it really needs is something I have been trying to get going for years - a regular email newsletter based on the member's activity, watched threads, followed members and so on.
Thanks Andy, not quite what we’re looking for and XF already has the feature vanilla: activity summary. I’m just don’t get it either — we can send them a newsletter with an addon — but an activity summary email seem as pestering them — when it extra same thing.
Anyone know how we can make "Receive activity summary email" to default to yes for Connected Account registrations? It and "Receive news and update emails" are both unchecked for members who registered via a Connected Account...
Is there a query we can run to turn this un for everyone?

I recently upgraded to xf 2.2 and ALL the users have disabled this option. But I can't activate via Batch update users.

In bd appears all the users with a NULL in the last_summary_email_date

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