27

I've been trying to figure out why I find the new inbox so annoying. No doubt part of the issue is just that it's different. Some of it is definitely because I prefer the previous behavior in some of the areas that were specifically targeted for change. But today I finally characterized a group of related technical issues that genuinely makes the new inbox harder than it should be for me to use. I hope this can be improved.

The issue is about how notifications are presented in the inbox when there are multiple unread notifications associated with the same question or answer:

  • the default inbox view collapses all the notification for each question or answer into one item, AND
  • it uses the most recent one, AND
  • when I mark the notification read, either by clicking the icon for that purpose or by navigating to the associated post via the provided link, only that specific notification is marked read, not any others associated with the same post.

That pretty often produces a scenario where I open the inbox, click on a new notification, read through several new comments, and then find that I still have unread notifications for some of the comments I just read. Also, because it is the notification for the most recent one that gets marked read, the new most-recent notification for that post is further down the notification list, often among notifications that I've already acknowledged. Sometimes it's far enough down the list that it's not even visible to me until I scroll.

Also,

  • it is confusing that the new-notification count on the inbox icon in the banner often does not match the the number of new notifications that are actually presented in the default view when I open the inbox.

I therefore request these new / modified features:

  1. When I mark a notification read, either by navigating through it or simply by clicking on the icon for marking it read, all the other notifications that have been collapsed into it should be marked read, too.

  2. The new-notification count displayed on the inbox banner icon should match the number of new notifications that will actually be displayed to me when I open the inbox.

5
  • 3
    It's been a known issue (1, 2), although a standalone post may be worth it. Commented Feb 22, 2023 at 15:30
  • 2
    Yep, it's an issue the team's aware of, and hoping to improve. (I think there might be another question post or two about the same issue, though they may have been closed as a duplicate of the inbox improvements announcement.)
    – V2Blast
    Commented Feb 22, 2023 at 17:47
  • 3
    While I agree the current behavior is annoying and should be changed, it's actually the same behavior as existed with the old inbox with the difference (in this specific area) being that the old inbox implicitly clicked "Mark all as read" every time you closed the inbox. So, if you just manually click "Mark all as read" before you close the inbox, then you'll get nearly the same behavior. The problem is that the old behavior of how to display/handle multiple same-type notifications for the same post really isn't compatible with individually marking notifications as read.
    – Makyen
    Commented Feb 22, 2023 at 18:24
  • 2
    @Makyen, you seem to be saying that if I take an extra step when interacting with the new inbox UI, I can achieve the same results that I did by default with the old UI. I accept that, but it does not seem reasonable to me to characterize it at as the new behavior being the same as the old. Commented Feb 22, 2023 at 18:36
  • 5
    @JohnBollinger The current, pain-in-the-rear behavior is because nothing was changed in how the inbox displays multiple, same-post-same-type notifications and nothing new was added to mark as read all of collapsed notifications when one of them is clicked. That old way of collapsing the same-post-same-type notifications into just displaying the most recent one is what the old inbox used to do, it just wasn't as much of a pain in the rear, because everything got marked as read. So, the new behavior is just a layer on top of some old behavior and clicking "Mark all as read" bypasses it.
    – Makyen
    Commented Feb 22, 2023 at 18:53

1 Answer 1

27

We've addressed the issue in the topbar inbox with the notifications of the same type related to the same post not being marked as read when the newest, unread one is marked as read.

With this fix in place, you will continue to see the most recent entry of each type (as before), and when marking it as read it will also mark as read any other unread entries of that type for this post.

The collapsed notifications will also count as one for the purposes of the unread counter. This way the number of unread notifications will be equal to the unread notifications seen in the global inbox popup.

The full inbox on stackexchange.com, and the topbar inboxes Area 51, and the chat sites don't merge notifications, and so the number of unread notifications shown may not match the number of unread notifications shown there. All collapsed notifications are shown there.

We hope that helps!

2
  • 11
    Is there any visual indication (in the inbox list itself) that what appears to be a single message is actually a collapsed group of messages? Would it be possible for you to add some kind of indication (i.e., do you have the metadata available in the code that renders the inbox view)? Even something as simple as changing the icon on the right from a single envelope to stacked envelopes would go a long way to making the behavior more obvious. (cc @Yaakov) Commented Jun 29, 2023 at 9:22
  • 6
    @CodyGray-onstrike nice idea. It might be possible. No promises, but please add as a separate post (much easier for us to track and respond to than in a comment). Commented Jun 29, 2023 at 10:40

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .