XF 2.2 Activity summary email

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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

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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.

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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:

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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.

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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.

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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.
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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.

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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.
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Extensibility

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.
 

Sukrams

Member
Just wanted to test the feature, but didn't get any mail in my testforum. So I went to the config to configure the function. On top at the section nothing is shown and when I'm clicking "add activity section" I can't add a section, because I should choose one, but there is nothing to choose.

Do I have it to configure in an other way or should I report it as a bug?
 

Russ

Well-known member
Just wanted to test the feature, but didn't get any mail in my testforum. So I went to the config to configure the function. On top at the section nothing is shown and when I'm clicking "add activity section" I can't add a section, because I should choose one, but there is nothing to choose.

Do I have it to configure in an other way or should I report it as a bug?

 

Alpha1

Well-known member
Are there hooks etc in the template?
Is it possible to insert a text or html into the email? For example add a donation button.
 

Sportsoutlaw

Active member
Thanks for pointing this out. Been searching all over the admin area today trying to figure out what I was doing wrong, search finally brought me here.
 

Chromaniac

Well-known member
I had a query about this. Not sure if already answered. Can admins configure this feature to always get the mail in their inbox so that they know what exactly is being sent out?
 

Ozzy47

Well-known member
No they can’t, but....

“Once you've changed the configuration of the email you can click on the "Send test email" button (on the same page where the activity summary is configured) and that will send a test email to your own email account, and that will give you an idea of roughly how the email will look.”
 

Chromaniac

Well-known member
That's true. But the content of the mail would change on a daily basis right? I guess I should put on a feature suggestion because it would be good to know what all content is being sent on a daily basis. Would help in keeping an eye on potential spam that might go through and further customizing it. thanks!
 

Ozzy47

Well-known member
No content isn’t necessarily sent on a daily basis.
A user has to be inactive for the amount of days set. Once installing 2.2 a user will only start getting emails sent once they visit the site, and then are inactive for the amount of days set. Then get additional emails based on the setting for “Send summary email while user is inactive every X Days”.

Spam:
If you sorted by views or first message reaction score (for example) then at least the spam messages would be further down the email, if they're even included at all because hopefully your forum has much more content to offer so the spam ones with fewer replies, or views, or lower reaction score would drop off the bottom of the list.
 

Chris D

XenForo developer
Staff member
There is no single email to send. The email is unique to each user as the content varies based on when their last activity was and what permissions they have.

The emails are also sent continuously rather than on a schedule. In other words today it might send an email to 10 users who have now been inactive for X days. Tomorrow it might send an email to another 15 users who have now been active for X days and so on.

So the only feasible way of testing the content is doing the test email. But I'm not sure why that wouldn't be sufficient.
 
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