Guide to interacting with this site by email

(big thanks to Fedora for the original version of this page)

While this forum’s primary interface is web-based (or via an open source app for Android or Apple iOS), it is also designed for interaction via email. This post is a guide to using those features.

Getting Notifications via Email

Normally, Discourse will send you notifications via email only when you’re not active on the web site. (While active on the site, you’ll get a numeric indicator over your user avatar image at the right of the bar at the top of each page — this serves as your “inbox”.)

To get mail for notifications that happen even when you’re using the site, visit User Preferences: Emails and change the email settings from “only when away” to “always”:

There are a number of other useful options there too, including the Activity Summary, which gives you a daily, weekly, or monthly summary of what you’ve missed if you don’t visit often. (More details on

How to Choose What Topics You Get

See Tips and tricks: what do you need to know about Discourse platform for a guide to Categories, Tags, and notification subscriptions.

The short version is: Watching a tag is the rough equivalent of subscribing to a mailing list. You can watch a whole category if you like, but this is like subscribing to a whole bunch of mailing lists.

Filtering Incoming Messages

If you are getting a lot of email from this site, you may want to have your mail client automatically organize it into folders. In order to make this easy, each message has a standard List-ID header matching the category. For example Community Blog comments have this header:

List-ID: Ansible | Project Discussions <>

The exact format for creating a filter will depend on your mail client. In Gmail, a filter for the above would match list:(<>).

Email from Discourse also includes several nonstandard headers which can be useful for advanced filtering and sorting.


The -Id headers give a numeric value which can identify a specific post (reply) or topic. X-Discourse-Category gives the same information as List-ID but may be easier to parse.

X-Discourse-Tags is likely the most useful, as will contain a text list of the tags that apply to the topic, and on this site, each tag is effectively its own subject-based mailing list.

There is also a Feedback-ID header, which contains a hint about the reason a particular notification was generate. You could use this to handle different types of messages with different urgency.

Feedback-ID: ansible:user_replied:discoursemail

What about Gmail?

Unfortunately, Google does not provide an easy way to filter on arbitrary email headers, making this more complicated. If you’re using Gmail but your own email client, you can’t filter on the server but can use client filtering features, of course. Or, if you are using a Google account (like a corporate one) which can run Google App Scripts, you can use those to process incoming messages. See Google Apps Script to filter emails from Fedora Discussion in GMail - Fedora Discussion for details.

Replying to Threads

When you get a message your inbox, you can simply reply. Top-posting is fine, as Discourse will attempt to trim extraneous quoting.

You can also reply with:

  • +1, <3, or to “like” a post (Like clicking the little :heart: on the web interface.)
  • watch to watch the topic thread
  • track to track the topic thread (notifications and therefore email only when @ mentioned)
  • mute to mute the topic thread

Starting New Threads by Email

New topics can be started by email — simply direct a new message to

Your message will need to come from an email address you have associated with your account. You will also need to have an account at at least Trust Level 1.

There is not a mechanism for tagging incoming posts, and there is a risk of impersonation — and, we’re always fighting against spam. Therefore, these messages go into a moderation queue.

If this feature becomes problematic, we may have to disable it. But we do want to make the Ansible Forum available to folks who prefer to primarily interact via email, so hopefully we won’t have too much trouble. (We may also look at developing a bot to automatically categorize and moderate incoming posts.)

Note: this post is a wiki. Anyone with at least “basic” site trust can edit it. Please feel free to improve and extend! I’ve set replies to this post to auto-delete after a week — you can use them to discuss potential improvements, or, if you like, to test the email features.