Using a group like a mailing list

When you join a group you are automatically set to track that group’s discussion category. That means you’ll get a notification of each new topic and an updated count of new replies in that category. If a new topic comes in when you are away from the site, you’ll also get a copy of the topic emailed to you.

That’s a good default for forums. If you want to treat your group like a mailing list, there are few changes to make that work.

Email preferences

To start, change your email preferences:

  • Make sure both Email me . . . settings are set on “always”. This will ensure you get an email whether or not you have visited the site recently.
  • Change the setting called Include previous replies at the bottom of emails to “unless previously sent”. That way you can see replies that were sent before you joined the group. If you want, you can set it to “always” so that you can read the context even if you’ve deleted the previous emails.
  • If you want an expert of that each post is replying to, check the Include an excerpt of replied to post in emails box.
  • Uncheck the box labeled When I don’t visit here, send me an email summary of popular topics and replies. That way you won’t get an additional digest of topics that were already sent to your inbox.

After to make your choices, be sure to use the Save Changes button. Your preferences should look something like this:

Screenshot 2024-01-11 at 12.42.37 PM

Watch your group’s category

In order to get notified of every reply in addition to every new topic, you’ll need to change your tracking preferences. You’ll need to remove your group’s category from “Tracked” and put it under “Watched”. So if you want emails for each new post in the General category, your preferences should look like this:

Screenshot 2024-01-11 at 1.31.08 PM

Posting and replying by email

When you want to respond to a post via email, just reply to it as normal. That should send your reply to the forum so that it’s like any other post.

If you want to start a new thread[1] you can send an email to the category’s email address. You should be able to find that in the “About” topic for the category.[2] You can also use the slug from the category URL:

Add that to the hostname:

Note: the group email must be in the To: or CC: header. It doesn’t work to BCC to the group.


If you want to stop getting emails, select the link at the bottom of any email to get a page that looks like this:

Screenshot 2024-01-11 at 2.41.49 PM

You can also stop watching the category.

What if something goes wrong?

If you don’t get emails that you expected to receive, there are a few things to check:

  1. Did you save your settings? Sometimes I’ve change a setting and forgotten to use the “Save Changes” button. Double check your email and tracking preferences.
  2. It may take a few minutes to get the email after a new topic or reply has been posted. This is so the author has time to make edits if they notice a typo.
  3. You won’t get copies of your own posts.[3]

Please let me know if you have any questions or email issues by replying below.

  1. Or “topic” as it’s called in Discourse. ↩︎

  2. For example, the General category’s About topic is About the General category. ↩︎

  3. There is a setting to make this work, but it’s awkward and risks sending out a great many emails that people don’t want to read. If this is something you need, post in #site-feedback and I’ll reconsider. ↩︎