Hi Nathan, I understand you. And in fact, I am one of those instructors that you described in your paragraphs two and three. This is why I most routinely use "separate groups."
However, yes, I did discover that if I wanted my student groups to discuss the same topic of mine, there was this feature to "post to all groups." Cool, that what I always used. So I think that I know exactly what you mean.
Along the way, I also discovered that if I wanted to make a comment to all groups, and have it show up by itself, I could post to "All participants" (not post to all groups) and my comment would go to all. It never bothered me that students could not reply to this. In fact, if students could reply, this could (might) incorrectly get students discussing my open post instead of keeping discussions within their groups. So, this is why I believe that not showing a "reply" when using separate groups was Moodle's correct behavior.
In my courses, under each topic, I always have an "Ask any question" forum. It does not use groups. The purpose of this forum is for any student (or group) to ask questions in an "open" forum. All students see it, and all students can reply (and discuss.)
So far, no bug. Just correct behavior from my perspective.
But, you do make a good point about exposing the "post a copy to groups." In fact, one could argue that all there are only 3 "advance" items (pinned, send with no delay, and post a copy to all groups) and that these should always be exposed. You haven't mentioned "pinned" and "send with no delay" but clearly others could say "Why hide these?"
Well, you are not into Moodle's UI. This method of hiding things instead of showing all things happens all over Moodle. And one might say it happens consistently all over. There are these "hidden" items that should always be exposed. And I think that this becomes your main argument, if you don't mind me saying in my own words "Why is 'post a copy to all groups" always not shown?" So, you have to convince the Moodle UI folks for this "feature request." I still don't see it as a bug. At best, a feature request.
But I can see the Moodle UI developers saying "no." They might argue that when a course has groups, the instructor is using a more advanced feature, and therefore "post to all groups" should not be shown, it could be confusing, and therefore it remains hidden under "Advanced."
One also must keep in mind that Moodle allows "visible" groups. So Moodle needs to be careful what it shows when either visible or separate groups are used.
As you pointed out, earlier versions of Moodle (prior to 3.8 or some other earlier number) "post copy to all groups" was showing. Yep, I seem to recall this too. But somewhere between version 3.0 and 3.9 the UI developers have been making changes, which they believe add to Moodle's consistency and "ease of use." Well, some of us don't agree. I have seen this kind of discussion over the last several years, and I think I even have one or two feature requests in Tracker where I believed the old interface was better.
This UI stuff is always evolving and changing. However, it appears to me that the Moodle UI team is very open to ideas. In fact, at GlobalMoot, I recall Martin saying that the focus of Moodle 4.0 is with improving Moodle UI. So we are all encouraged to continue making suggestions.
So where does this leave me? 1) Not a bug. 2) Yes, I would have no problem if all "Advanced items" always showed. 3) Until "post a copy to all groups" becomes always exposed, your instructors are going to have to remember to intentionally do this. 4) Moodle is not breaking 5) As you say "we have gotten lost in the weeds of groups versus groupings" support that when one is using groups (or groupings), it is fair to consider this "advanced." 6) Maybe someone else can step in. 7) Andrew Nicols, a person who I don't think I personally have ever met (but I really respect) has correctly said "this is a design feature" (meaning that when one posts to all participants with visible groups, a "reply" should not be allowed. 8) No, Moodle cannot warn the instructor that a student is not in a group. Groups are used for all kinds of purposes, so expecting Moodle to know the instructor's purpose is unreasonable. For example, I might want to create a group called "students with disabilities." Having Moodle say "you have 35 students not in this group" is meaningless. Besides some of these students might be in other groups. In my summer course, I had 3 groupings that contained 17 groups. "Groups" are an extrememly powerful feature of Moodle, unmatched by any other major LMS, and learning how to use them correctly takes time. I was a Moodle user for around 6 years before I got the courage to start using groups. However, if you really want to know which students are not in certain groups, you could write some custom SQL
to do whatever you need to do. 9) Sometimes it takes advanced instructors to use an advanced LMS. Quite honestly, that is why some schools choose a different low-end LMS. They don't want to confuse instructors (and their IT staff) with too many features.
Wow, sorry for my lengthy replies and a lot of numbers in the above paragraph! I might still have some remaining energy. Let's see what you and others think.
One more thing... I do see your comment to reopen MDL-68659
. Nope, I doubt that it will be opened as a "bug." (Just my opinion.) However, you might want to suggest that it be re-opened as an "improvement." Sometimes this works.