In class tonight, I had my students practice using a discussion forum in preparation for an online module where we will be using a discussion board over a two week period.
I made it a point to show them how to subscribe to the forum if they wanted to receive emails of posts by clicking the "Subscribe to this forum" link at the upper right hand side of the forum window.
I also showed them how to change the setting in their profile to receive individual emails of posts or a daily summary.
What I failed to point out (or realize) until later is that the default setting in the use profile is to have a student automatically subscribed to any forum they post to unless they select othewise from the drop down.
So, when I checked my email tonight, I have about 50 emails of forum posts, because I replied to several and didn't think to change that subscription setting before each one....I assume most of my students will be in the same boat.
Now, I know that in the profile, I can change the default setting in forums to "I don't want email copies of posts to forums".
It seems the "I don't want email copies...." should be the default setting in the profile.
email encourages interaction
True, but too much email can actually discourage interaction. The current default has a side effect - many of my users for example are put off (some outraged) by what they see as a flood of messages clogging their mailboxes soon after they've joined a Moodle course.
As an alternative, for new installations, I usually modify the mdl_user table to have the autosubscrive value set to 0. This makes "I don't want email copies..." the default in the user profile.
I would agree with Przemyslaw here.
Whilst I take Martin's point about interaction, I am often surprised by the vehemence of people's negative reaction to "unsolicited" e-mail. I think "unsolicited" includes stuff you get that you did not ask for explicitly.
Having the option to change the default in site/course settings would seem like a valid compromise to me.
If it is the case of chosing the lesser of evils, then imho the current default should remain. I feel, perhaps naively, that it is better to attempt to educate/inform participants up front and deal with those who are offended rather than opt out all particpants by default at outset and then have to attempt to get them involved as the course progresses.
The emails fom the course will only be "unsolicited" if the course is not adequately introduced. Although this should be an easy thing to address, I accept that not all trainers (in my experience, and teachers I suppose) are prepared to be the bearers of "bad news", preferring to duck the issue and blame the "system" later.
I respectfully diagree with you logic Ray. When it comes to email, I think systems should always default to "opt in".
Also, my course was adequately introduced...missing covering one setting doesn't mean inadequancy or that someone is ducking an issue or blaming the system.
I think this system is great....and with the very "helpful" tip about changing the value in the database, it really becomes a nonissue for me now.
Normally I'd agree, but this is education and in all the cases I've studied it has helped enormously to have email set this way. Including on this very site - the percentage of complainers is tiny, but the amount of fast interaction is very very high.
The opt-out link is very easy to use and included at the bottom of every email.
There is also an opt-out link on the forum posting form itself (with a help file) - once you select this the first time it is sticky.
I understand your viewpoint Martin I just disagree with it on this issue.
The fact that the system can be changed to suite the needs of individuals using the system (i.e. changing the value in the database as suggested in this thread) is one the great things about open source. We all have access to the code and if we want the system to operate a little differently, then there's usually a way to make that happen with a little "know how" and sometimes a little help...like provided in this forum.
Again, I think you and the others involved in developing these open source systems are doing a great service....I have used some of what I consider the best open source software available Wordpress, phpBB, and a few others, and now Moodle to help public schools and nonprofit organizations do things that they otherwise couldn't afford to do. So little things like this is no big deal, but it is always nice to have options
Beneath the recent endless addition of options to turn Moodle into a very flexible tool I'm still struggling to keep focus on the reason I started this project in the first place, which is to promote better education for all people according to the latest research. Occasionally I draw a line and this happens to be one of them.
I think an opt-in default should be made an option for some forums in some situations.
Thanks for the tip Przemyslaw...I didn't know you could change that setting so easily in the database.
One follow-up question...you said you change the database setting in new installations, but if I make that change in the database of my current installation with course that are in progress, will it unsubscribe people who are already subscribed to forums?
I do have a news forum and a questions/answers forum that some students have subscribed to and I wouldn't want them to become unsubscribed by me making this change. If that's the case, then I may wait until next term to make the change. Thanks.
Great...thanks for the feedback Przemyslaw.
- the option of being able to subscribe just to particular threads. This was discussed before in another thread a while back. That would offer an alternative.
- the option of receiving an email from a thread indicating that there may be more than one response, but, one has to come to the thread to see. (There is definitely at least one response since the time one has visited the thread.) The email would contain a direct link to the thread. This could be another alternative.
Here is how you can change the default settings:
1. Open File=moodle/user/editlib.php in a html editor (e.g. Dreamweaver)
2. Search for "autosubscribe" and you'll find this line of code:
3. Alter this text to read as follows:
4. You might want to use this opportunity to alter the default for tracking forums. It is currently set to 0=false. I prefer that new students would have this on since it allows them to easily see what posts they have not read. To do this, change the code as follows:
--> $mform->setDefault('trackforums', 1);
5. Save your changes and PUT the revised editlib.php to your server. This will allow all future subscribers to have the autosubscribe set as "false" [=0] and, if you used step #4, to have the trackforums set as "true" [=1].
Catherine of Siena Virtual College
Thank you so much for this post! Really got me out of a bind.
Thanks for this post. Helps alot. Now I just need a code snippet for modifying all the users that were already created with the old defaults ;)