Make the alert navbar icon count unread alerts, not unviewed alerts

DragonByte Tech

Well-known member
In XenForo 2.1, the alert navbar icon showed "unread" alerts. In 2.2, this has changed to "unviewed" alerts. I believe this should be "reverted" so that the navbar icon always shows unread alerts.

For power users, the nuance makes the alerts list more useful as there's a greater distinction between alerts that may indicate you need to take action such as view a post to see why you've been mentioned, or go and read a watched thread that's just been replied to versus those that are more informational like someone reacted to a message.
I would argue the opposite is actually what's occurring here.

Consider the following scenario:
  • I open XenForo.com on my phone in bed when I wake up
  • I have 2 unread alerts, one "like" on a post, and one reply to a watched thread

The "Like" is useless in this particular scenario, so I mark that as read without clicking through. I click through to the watched thread, and someone has reported a bug that requires me to look into the code, which I can't do on my phone. I mark that alert as unread.

Let's then also say that it takes a few hours before I'm able to address that alert. I've forgotten the bug report, because I'm an old man and you should get off my lawn 👴

There's now two possible versions of what happens when I open XenForo.com on my computer:
1. I see I have no unread alerts and I go about my day, until another alert comes in, then I see the old unread alert and I go "oh bollocks"
2. I see I have one unread alert thanks to the [1] over the icon, and I go "oh yeaaaah, that thing"

If you do not wish to revert this, would it be possible to introduce a separate small dot, similar to what happens in the browser tab in Chrome, in the bottom right of the alert icon? That way, I would at least have some way of being alerted (see what I did there? ...I'll get me coat) to the fact that I have an unread alert.

It would be vastly preferable for the unread alert counter to accurately reflect unread alerts rather than unviewed alerts, but I would take a small unread indicator if that's the only thing I can get.
 
Upvote 9

Kirby

Well-known member
Hmm, I can understand your thought but I think having a different number on the navicon than on the alert menu but I somewhat fear that this would be pretty consufing to users (and thus could cause a support issues).
 

DragonByte Tech

Well-known member
Hmm, I can understand your thought but I think having a different number on the navicon than on the alert menu but I somewhat fear that this would be pretty consufing to users (and thus could cause a support issues).
I see what you're doing, but you might want to wait until I post something that's actually contradictory to get your payback, my dude.

Under this suggestion, this would be the flow:
Alert icon shows 2 unread alerts -> mark "Like" alert as read -> Alert icon shows 1 unread alert -> click through to the post -> Alert icon shows 0 unread alerts -> Mark post alert as unread -> Alert icon shows 1 unread alert.

There is absolutely no part of this that constitutes "a different number on the navicon than on the alert menu", whatever that means.

Good try, though :)

(Not to mention it's pretty hilarious that you oppose the suggestion that was borne from your post 🤣)
 

Kirby

Well-known member
There is absolutely no part of this that constitutes "a different number on the navicon than on the alert menu", whatever that means.
Sorry, I think I misread your suggestion a bit, I though you were sugesting to have the favicon overlay show the number of unread alerts while the alert menu should still show the number of unviewed alerts.
That's what I meant could be confusing.

So I am not opposing this suggestion :)
 
Last edited:

Mike

XenForo developer
Staff member
So there are a couple things to this, one technical and one not.

For the non-technical one, there's user preference.

Roughly speaking, what we have now is what I'm going to call the Facebook approach -- you open the menu and non-action-required alerts will get marked as read automatically (reactions, for example) while more content-attached ones (watch, quote, mention) will stay unread until you visit the content (or manually mark them as read). However, the new alert counter goes away on open.

The alternative approach -- roughly what I think you're proposing -- is what I'm going to call the Github approach, though we have more concept of auto read alerts. But the general idea here is that the count always reflects unread alerts, so to get rid of the count you need to explicitly mark them as read. The manual action is simply something I don't take and I suspet that is true of others, though admittedly we put our "mark read" link more front and center.

There are advantages and disadvantages to each. The Github approach basically leaves me with the alert bubble constantly showing, to the point that it is basically pointless because it's just in the background rather than denoting something new. Conversely, the Facebook approach gets me looking at the alerts as soon I see them because I know they're new (even if it's probably junk anyway ;)). If there are ones that I wanted to go back to, I can reopen the menu at a later point and they'll still be unread. Obviously the disadvantage here is that they are more out of sight because there isn't a counter reminding you of them.

On the technial point, there is a possibility for unread counters to get "stuck" if you end up with alerts that become unviewable for some reason. We do have some code in place to help with this (and I did just think of another thing that could help), but I could definitely see a fair amount of frustration with showing an alert counter without it being clearable (short of the manual mark read link).
 

DragonByte Tech

Well-known member
On the technial point, there is a possibility for unread counters to get "stuck" if you end up with alerts that become unviewable for some reason. We do have some code in place to help with this (and I did just think of another thing that could help), but I could definitely see a fair amount of frustration with showing an alert counter without it being clearable (short of the manual mark read link).
I can understand that.

How about a solution where when the alert menu is expanded, the counter could be rebuilt. That wouldn't be too different from the current behaviour.

I feel like this would be the best of both worlds.
 

sbj

Well-known member
I hope I am not interrupting the conversation here, I would like to share my experience.

Before I do, I am in favor of a hybrid solution between the "Facebook approach" and "Github approach".

I am using Xon's Alert Improvements addon for 2 years now. It basically let me have the "Github approach" on my forum. The reason why I did this was because people were confused about not getting any new alerts, because of them not visiting the threads they got an alert from.

But the problem is, if you get a lot of reactions for example, it gets pretty annoying to mark every single of them as read. I wake up, I got 30 new alerts for example, 20 of them being reactions. The Github approach makes me to manually mark all of the reactions as read, which is annoying. If I marked everything as read with 2 clicks, then I would lose the other 10 alerts. But on the other side, I believe the alert bubble should not disappear just because I opened the menu. It should "alert" me of stuff. That is its purpose, so I find it odd when the bubble disappears without me taking any action.

Roughly speaking, what we have now is what I'm going to call the Facebook approach -- you open the menu and non-action-required alerts will get marked as read automatically (reactions, for example) while more content-attached ones (watch, quote, mention) will stay unread until you visit the content (or manually mark them as read). However, the new alert counter goes away on open.
So, I like this approach as the superfluous alerts get cleared automatically and the content-attached ones stay unread. BUT why does the alert counter go away on open? This is the part what I don't like. I think the alert counter should still display the unread ones and only clear when I mark them as read or visit the threads.

So I propose a mix between both approaches. Facebook approach for the superfluous ones, but Github approach for the important ones. I believe that would also solve DragonByte's problem and make everyone happy.
 

MK29

Member
I favor this suggestion. It's good if the counter would display the number of unread alerts instead of unviewed alerts.

However, if we decide to continue with Facebook approach and if there's technical difficulties involved in showing the number of unread alerts, then atleast we can have a red dot on top of the bell icon denoting there's a unread alert.

Some kind of notification to remind us that there's something unread would be greatly helpful.

So the scenarios would be,
1. If there's new alerts, which aren't opened yet - it shows the number of new alerts.
2. We open the alert menu, all junk gets auto marked as read, leaving the content attached ones. - now the bell icon shows a red dot.
3. We manually mark them all read, or open those content - bell icon doesn't have any counter or red dot.
4. We receive new alerts while there's already some unread alerts - it shows only the new alerts count, no red dot.
 
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