Feature Update: Muting in ndThread

Today the ndThread team introduced a powerful new enhancement to ndThread: the ability to mute thread activity and to configure, at the workspace and thread levels, how a user is made aware of thread activity. From the one-line description above, this enhancement does not sound significant, but it will radically change how everyone experiences ndThread.

Our original goal was quite simple: allow a user to mute a workspace or a thread so that ndThread will not make the user aware of new activity in any muted locations. This supports the user who wants to keep an eye on what is going on, if and when they like, but not have that activity forced to occupy their attention. Previously, if a user did not want to be made aware of activity in a thread, the user’s only option was to leave the thread (or the entire workspace). However, leaving a thread eliminates the user’s ability to read the thread, and no one else can @mention that user there anymore. With the muting option, the user can remain in the thread and follow and participate in discussions as they choose, and others can “call out” to the user as needed with an @mention.

As we considered what impact muting would have, we focused more closely on the two ways that ndThread makes a user aware of new activity:

  • Push Notifications (desktop, mobile and email), which a user has been able to configure since ndThread launched: never receive notifications, always receive them, or receive them only for @mentions and direct messages, which is the default.>
  • Unread Indicators (aka “badge” notifications”), which appear on the desktop app in the taskbar, over the Workspace and Direct Message tabs, and over the names of workspaces, threads and direct messages. Previously, users had no control over unread indicators.

This enhanced focus caused us to expand the scope of the enhancement in two critical ways:

Muting at the Account Level

First, we will allow muting to be applied not only at the workspace or thread levels, but also at the user-account level. Muting at the user-account level gives the user the ability to choose how they want to interact with ndThread: as an Opt-In user or as an Opt-Out user?

  • The Opt-In user will mute activity at the user account level. By default, that user does not want to be made aware of any activity in any workspace or thread, but the user can still join as many workspaces as the like. And in workspaces and threads that are significant to the user, the user can choose to opt-in and be made aware of the activity. The Opt-In option was not possible before.
  • The Opt-Out user – which is what all users are today -- will not mute activity at the user account level and therefore the user will be made aware of activity in every workspace and thread the user has joined. But the user can mute any workspaces or threads that are not important to them, opting out.

Configure Push Notifications for Workspaces and Threads

The second critical change was to allow push notifications to be configured at the workspace and thread levels. For example, a user may choose at the account level to never receive desktop notifications, but for a particularly important workspace, that user can override the account-level preference and choose to receive desktop notifications for every message added to that workspace. Similarly, the user might choose to receive an email for every message in a particularly time-sensitive thread, but at the account level receive emails only when the user has been @mentioned.

Other Changes to Consider

There are several other aspects of this new enhancement to keep in mind:

  • Muting does not impact @mentions and direct messages. Those types of messages are too important to be suppressed entirely. Unread indicators for @mentions and direct messages will always be exposed to the user.
  • If muting is applied at any level, then the conversation preferences setting – which allows a user to choose whether to be made aware of all conversation replies or only replies in conversations where the user is participating – will be moot, because muting will block all of the activity at that level, for both regular posts or conversation replies.
  • At any lower level, user can choose to override the preferences set at a higher level. For example, at the user-account level, the user may have chosen to never receive desktop notifications, but for a particular workspace the user can override that user-account preference and choose to always receive desktop notifications, and, finally, for a specific thread in that workspace, the user can choose to override the workspace preferences and receive desktop notifications only for @mentions.

Recommendation

Consider whether you are more like an Opt-Out user or an Opt-In user and configure your preferences accordingly. Either way, for any workspace or thread, configure your preferences as granularly you need in order to get the most benefit from ndThread.

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