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.
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

I would post a notice or a thread on your site letting everyone know that they can turn them on via settings.

You shouldn’t be enabling it for your users unless you have been given consent by the recipient or they do it themselves. In some countries signing up users for email without their consent is illegal, so just be careful.
I'm a member of a discourse forum. There is a suite of email outreach features I would love to see in XF.
  1. I seem to be asked every year or so what categories I'm interested in, and subsequently subscribed to those categories. Apparently the same happened with tags.
  2. It auto-subscribes me to topics I have spent time reading via the "Automatically track topics I enter", defaulted to 3 minutes.
  3. I get regular emails about new topics in these categories, that have those tags, or new posts in threads I have spent time reading
This keeps me coming back, even though I don't post there very often. I only get notices about topics I'm interested in, so there is no reason for me to unsubscribe and I don't feel like they are wasting my time making me read about new topics in categories I'm not interested in.

Are there any plans for something similar in XF or the activity summary email? This kind of targeted, personalized email outreach would help my community a lot.
@Reflect Great suggestion. However, I'm concerned that it might not receive the attention it deserves in this thread. I would be happy to support your idea by upvoting it if you could post it in the suggestions forum, where it can reach a wider audience and receive more feedback.
I have 2 questions:

a) I added 2 more activity sections in XF/ACP, but they do not show up in the test email. What could be the reason for this?


b) How can I edit the settings below so that I can use this manually or automatically as a newsletter to send for all users, not just to inactive users?


Or can I change something in the code dor this?
I have 2 questions:

a) I added 2 more activity sections in XF/ACP, but they do not show up in the test email. What could be the reason for this?

View attachment 287536

b) How can I edit the settings below so that I can use this manually or automatically as a newsletter to send for all users, not just to inactive users?

View attachment 287537

Or can I change something in the code dor this?

Generally... for this you have to enable a few config.php options... not sure which one it is exactly

It's one of these two.

$config['debug'] = true;
$config['development']['enabled'] = true;

I actually think it's the first one.. but dont' take my old age memory for gospel.
Bear in mind by default we stop sending emails to users after they have been inactive for over 6 months and effectively we only send the email to inactive users who have visited since you upgraded to 2.2.

How can I deactivate this limitation in the database?
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