New! More-relevant discussions interface

Started by Mike Stangel on Thursday, July 3, 2014
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Showing 1-30 of 53 posts
7/3/2014 at 1:37 PM

Geni Discussions are a great way to communicate with other users, either publicly or with just your Family Group via private discussions. Whenever you interact with a discussion or a profile you follow is tagged in a discussion, Geni will notify you (see below for how to turn this off). Since there could be many such notifications, they are held for one day and then sent together as a "digest" email. The types of interactions that will cause you to be notified of new messages in a discussion are:

* You follow the discussion by clicking the Follow button at the top
* You replied to the discussion
* You or a profile you follow is tagged in the discussion (remember by default you follow the profiles you manage / added)

NEW: You will see yellow highlighting behind discussion messages that count as an interaction.

NEW: Once any of these interactions occurs, you will receive notification of new messages to that discussion thread for two days and 10 messages after the interaction. After two days have passed and at least 10 new messages have been posted since your last interaction, the notifications will stop.

You can opt out of receiving discussion digests entirely by de-selecting "new messages to discussions I follow (once daily max)" on the Notifications Settings page or by clicking the Unsubscribe link at the bottom of any discussion digest email.

If you've turned off the discussions digest and want to re-enable it to try the new, more-relevant design, you can do so on the Notifications Setting page:

Private User
7/3/2014 at 3:51 PM

Do not understand what you mean by "messages that count as an interaction"

I want to get the e-mails about the discussions exactly as I have been getting them -- BUT I do not want any mention of them in my weekly Newsletter. Any way to accomplish either of those?

Private User
7/3/2014 at 4:05 PM

Will the Discussion continue to be in my list of Discussions I Follow, even if it is more than two days and 10 messages since my last "interaction"?

Is there any way I can continue to get the messages, even if I am away on vacation (or sick) and not using internet for several days (or just too busy doing other tasks)?

Private User
7/3/2014 at 4:06 PM

This seems like a case of fixing something that was not broken -- what are the pluses to it?

7/4/2014 at 9:40 AM

Hi Lois,

This change does not affect the "Discussions I Follow" list or the weekly newsletter, however I might agree with an argument that we should strip discussion stories from the weekly newsletter since they are duplicates of what you get in the discussion digest.

The problem we're trying to solve with this change is that the discussions digest had a lot of irrelevant information in it. For example, I started following the "Zombies please" thread two or more years ago and every single day the site is emailing me about something in that thread even though I don't really care about it. On the other hand, I'm deeply involved in the "Privacy Changes on Geni" thread and yet the discussion digest would only show me the most-recent post there even if a different message tags me or a profile I follow.

That's why we developed the notion of an "interaction" -- what's going on the discussion thread that is likely to be of interest to you? When you post a message, clearly that's an interaction and it means you probably care to hear about what else is going on in that thread. When someone tags you in a discussion message, we ought to include that in the discussion digest. Or someone tags a profile you follow. These are events we want to surface to you in the email, so you can see which threads probably most need your attention. And hopefully send you less noise.

7/4/2014 at 10:24 AM

Mike Stangel As an example am I suppose to get an email each time someone posts to this discussion? If so I am not

7/4/2014 at 11:29 AM

Angus Wood-Salomon - No. But the daily email containing updates from the discussions you follow, will hopefully be more relevant.

7/4/2014 at 11:54 AM


Private User
7/5/2014 at 10:36 AM

Please, please, please do not include all of that expanded Daily Digest in my Weekly Newsletter!!

How about a choice, in Account Settings -- Notifications - under weekly Newsletter for "include Public Discussion I follow in my weekly summary"?
OR would it be better to have the Public Discussions entirely removed from the weekly summary of recent activity -- and a separate weekly summary for them - which we can choose to have sent or not?

7/5/2014 at 12:28 PM

Private User we haven't made any changes to your weekly newsletter.

I think it's better to just remove the discussion stories from the weekly newsletter. Or maybe only when you haven't turned off the daily discussion digest. I'll give it some thought.

7/8/2014 at 7:15 AM


I've been up all night again because that's just how Artists and Musicians live . . .so my apologies if the wording of my inquiry is not quite as precise and concise as it could be.

Just to make sure I have this right . . .because for me what is happening with the new plan is that;

1) Anytime I post to a discussion, that post appears, to me, in the "new orange box" when I view the discussion.

2) Anytime someone "tags" me in a Discussion their post is seen by me in the "new orange box" when I view that Discussion.

3) Anytime someone tags a Profile I Follow in a Discussion that post is seen in the "new orange box" by me when I view the Discussion.

So, if I create a post in a discussion, and someone tags me in that same discussion, and someone tags a profile I follow in that same discussion, I will have had three "official interactions" on that thread although I have only actually interacted with that Discussion one time.

Is this correct?
And if so how does that affect the length of time for which I am scheduled to be notified of new posts on said thread?

Just curious,
-Lloyd the Third

Private User
7/8/2014 at 9:46 AM

Clearly I do not understand these changes - Please Explain ---
My Daily Digest for July 7 does not include anything from "Privacy Changes on Geni" ( ) - Why is that?

7/8/2014 at 12:27 PM

Unknown Profile you've got it exactly right. The discussion (and some of the messages, particularly the "interactions") will appear in the daily digest email for two days after the last interaction, and/or 10 messages. The reason for the 10-messages rule is, suppose you post a discussion asking for more information about your great aunt, but nobody replies for six months. When somebody does finally reply, you probably ought to be told about it!

I have to say, though, since we released the changes I think we may have a bug that's causing discussions to be included even after the 2-day rule, when no further messages have been posted. We're looking into that.

Private User - it certainly appears it should have. You posted messages on the 6th so the 2-day rule should have included those at the very least, not to mention all the times I tagged you in response. :-) Can you forward the email to me? I'll send you my email in a PM.

7/8/2014 at 4:25 PM

It seems to me that associated with this new alerts regime there is a new "rule" regarding notifications about Family members posting new documents.

Every morning i have an email to notify me that a new document has been added when in reality it is just someone confirming a Smart Match, it is rather annoying as this is basically the only email i get from Geni as i have switched off all notifications other than requests and Follow notifications.

7/9/2014 at 7:06 AM

Mike, it looks like you are one of the primary movers & shakers for the Notification changes. I left my comments @
I don't want to repeat them unless you think it is necessary. I am not happy with the changes! So please take a look at my comments there. If that isn't the appropriate place for them, please feel free to delete them or put them where they will do the most good (after you have read it.)

With this new system, it takes longer to get to the most current additions even when I click on the "view ####". I used to click on that & it took me to the current additions; now it takes me to pg 1!!! I know, picky, picky, picky--just takes longer to get to what is current!!!

It would be nice if a notification about a NEW discussion be sent to the Geni community so we are aware of new discussion and then have the option of following it or not. *** May be put it under a heading "New Discussions" in the weekly notification (is that the same as the Newsletter?) & include a connection to it. Then we can go to the site & it will be up to us to decide if we want to follow it or not. Put them all together at the beginning or the end rather than mingled in with all of the other stuff. Just a suggestion...

Private User
7/9/2014 at 9:57 AM

Mike Stangel, I noticed that when I click on the link in my email to "View All Recent Activity" for my Family and Friends added documents (which by the way is just me and not my family and friends -seems it should exclude myself), it logs me out of Geni when trying to take me there.

Private User
7/9/2014 at 10:04 AM

Disregard Mike... that is email to my dummy "normal user" account, who is in the family group of my real account.

Private User
7/10/2014 at 9:27 AM

My Daily Digest for July 9 contains ONLY comments from Privacy Changes on Geni - all the long ones truncated (end in "..." so if paying attention, can tell), - a line with just "..." to show where skipping one or more comments entirely --

Specifically - I start with truncated version of comment by Dan, then truncated version of comment Mike made at "8:29 am" on July 8 in which he tagged me, then the next comment after it (short, so complete) -- then a line with "..." - in which many are skipped - then a nontransaction comment, then two by me, then two nontransaction comments (one truncated), then one where I am tagged, a nontransaction one, then another by me -- and that one was at "3:24 pm" on July 8 - lots more after that, but I just "..." to indicate more.

so it mainly just shows my own comments and those where I am tagged. I get a separate e-mail for those where I am tagged - and usually the day after, I can still recall the gist of what I wrote - so none of that is particularly helpful.

Moreover - NONE of the postings - including my comments - on July 9 are included in the July 9 Digest - just July 8. On the other hand, my comments in this post on July 8 were in my July 8 Digest. Before the Digest changed - the July 2 Digest had comments that were v. early July 3 where I am, end of day July 2 out on west coast.

Believe the old way always had the last post of the "Geni Discussion updates" for/from the date it was from/for (west coast time), told you how many discussions you were following had new comments, told you how many comments that day in them (total) -- I like all of that better than the current way.

7/10/2014 at 9:49 AM

Alex Moes confirming a SmartMatch or RecordMatch has always generated a notification about a new document. I'm not sure why this notification may have changed for you, though. But if it's ignoring your notification settings (?), that's definitely something I'd want to fix.

Patricia Ann Scoggin by means of introduction, I'm the general manager of and a software engineer by trade. I did see your comments but decided to wait while we released a new set of bug fixes -- for example, today's email should fix the link to take you to the last-read message in the discussion. As for new discussions, we typically get 30 new public discussions per day so I'm afraid that would be too much noise to put into the daily digest. After the dust has settled a bit I'll go back through the feedback we've received to decide if we need to make adjustments. Unfortunately I can't promise anything -- we have to strive to satisfy the most number of people, which is difficult when everyone has different usage patterns for discussions.

Private User I wondered if that was the case -- classic symptom.

Private User the intent there was to give you the message before and after each interaction, without necessarily listing every new message (because that could be dozens). I can see your point about your own messages, though -- maybe in that case we should show the two responses after yours, and exclude the one before it. We did remove that header that summarized discussions being followed, new comments, etc. -- if enough people found that useful, I'd be ammenable to bringing that back.

Private User
7/10/2014 at 10:37 AM

Mike -Sometimes the next comment or two immediately after what I say are in response to what I said, sometimes not. Either way, they may be of less interest to me than other comments.

And since I can - and do - get an e-mail each time I am tagged - what is the advantage of seeing the message before and after each time I am tagged, plus the one where I am tagged - in the Digest??

Can others chime in and let me know if they find it useful -- is this a case of some like chocolate, some like vanilla (ie different folks have different preferences) - or ???

The old way - Seeing the last comment of the day in each Discussion I chose to Follow - gave me some idea what was possibly being focused on in that discussion then. Now, unless I comment, I see nothing. And - you may have noted -- this discussion, despite comments by me on July 8 (which appeared in the July 8 Digest)- did not have any entry in my July 9 Digest - so so much for the 2-day rule.

Could you offer those of us who prefer it a way to get the old way back - on our settings page? OR to indicate - by discussion - we want a specific Discussion in our Digest with at least the last comment of the Day -- whether you call it Follow or some other term (so perhaps three choices, not just Follow and Unfollow)

Mike - I wonder if this new Digest-method is more useful for you since you are looking for issues to address, problems folks are having, etc -- but not for those of us who were following Discussions because we felt they had interesting information or suggestions, or wanted to watch the argument play out, etc.

7/10/2014 at 11:06 AM

Private User thanks for the feedback, I'll take it into consideration along with what others have to say. I didn't change this for my own benefit, though I can say that the discussion digest was just noise to me because it included discussions I started following years ago, but have no interest in hearing about daily. I'm certainly open to hearing from others.

Private User
7/10/2014 at 11:34 AM

Mike - I know you didn't do it simply to benefit yourself - but thought perhaps your vision of what folks would find useful might have been influenced by what you found useful. And that your situation might differ from that of many of us.

re: " the discussion digest was just noise to me because it included discussions I started following years ago, but have no interest in hearing about daily." - why would "unfollow" not be a solution?

I wish more folks would chime in - either for or against -- or perhaps most do not care -
Any idea - in notifications - how many/what percent even have email me a daily summary of "new messages to discussions I follow (once daily max)" turned on?

Private User
7/10/2014 at 11:36 AM

On the other hand, think I'm getting sort of fond of the yellow-highlight in the Discussion itself - making it very easy to find where I commented or was tagged.

7/10/2014 at 1:24 PM

In regard to the digest: I pretty much ignored it for a long while, but I've taken a look at again.

I agree with Lois' point that I'd rather see the few "most recent" postings rather than the ones surrounding my post (if mine is not one of the "most recent"). Having the (nice!) yellow "highlight" (in the actual discussion) makes it easy to go back to find my previous postings anyway.

I *do* like the idea of 'dropping off' of discussions I'm no longer posting in after a few days, but I haven't been looking at it long enough to (a) see if it makes a difference, or (b) if the 'rules' might be tweaked a bit.

7/10/2014 at 2:56 PM

I had most e-mail notificatios turned off ( I mostly use the screen) . I enabled the weekly one this week, but have not gotten one yet. I will try some of the others notifications next week.
it will take some time before I can comment on the those changes.

I do like the yellow markings in the discussions.

7/10/2014 at 3:09 PM

I have a quenstion about the screen

How are the discussions ordered on this screen?
I had hoped that discussion that had a posting that I did not read yet would be on the first screen, but that is not the case.
Is there a way to sort them?

I sometimes see an indication about unread messages, but they are sometimes difficult to find. Is there a way to easily find those messages?

7/10/2014 at 4:15 PM

I've always received the notifications regarding Smart Match confirmations on but never before received emails.
It's not actually that obvious which of the notification settings would be controlling these emails, i have most of them switched off.

7/10/2014 at 5:18 PM

Job Waterreus the "Discussions I Follow" page should be ordered by which discussion has the most recent message. The ones that have messages you have not read, will have the discussion subject in bold. To my knowledge the best way to see the ones you're being notified about is to scan this page for bold titles.

Alex Moes I agree it's not entirely clear. I suppose we could just add some text to the notification setting, indicating it includes confirmed matches..?

Private User I guess I don't unfollow those discussions because when I have time, I'll pop onto my followed discussions page and scan through them. Mine may be an atypical use case, though, because I often feel obligated (due to my job) to follow discussions I might not otherwise.

Dan Cornett thanks for the feedback, I'll certainly take it into consideration.

7/10/2014 at 10:07 PM

1) You may receive 30 new discussions a day, but the rest of us have no idea of what they are. How are we to know if we would be interested in any of them??? Maybe add an option in our "Notification" section to be "Notify daily of New Discussions (yes) (no)". That way we would have the option of being notified of this or not. Then this could be at the end of the day as the other notifications take place (Title: "New Discussions started on..." or something similar.) We could then go to those we might be interested in to see if we want to follow them or not & then go from there.
• Is anyone else interested in learning about new discussion options???

2) In our "Discussions followed" add the option(s)
• "Follow & be notified daily (Yes) (No)" (or something similar) so that even if we don't contribute, we can follow the discussion past that 2 day limit.
• As I said, I like to read or sometimes skim thru the Curators help discussion even when I don't contribute anything. One can learn from problems others have & the suggestions on how to deal with them...
• Don't we already have the option to discontinue following a discussion? If not that should be another option.
• Or maybe add "Cont. to follow but Discontinue daily notifications" (Yes) (No) as an option for each discussion... (Maybe you aren't as interested in this one as you were to begin with, but still want to check on it now and again???)
• You could maybe list all of the options at the top with #'s, then put the #'s at the top of columns w boxes before each discussion title so we could click on our choice for each of the discussions. (does that make sense???) This would allow us more control over the notifications we receive for the discussions we follow.

3) I agree with Lois, I don't particularly like seeing all of the comments in the end of the day notification for the discussions--toooooo long! I liked the old way with the last comment only being shown & # of comments, or the start of the first comment for the day in part & # of comments... This is just the notification that there are comments there & why we go to the discussion!!!

4) The yellow is ok, but I think I can find my name easily enough.

5) There are times I wish we had formatting options here in discussions!!!


Private User
7/10/2014 at 10:12 PM

Great idea Pat, I just ignore the discussions if it does not concern me, but just incase i prefer to join all projects and discussions, well you never know what you may learn :)

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