How to use the Tracking and Watching settings

many users are not aware that they can actually customize their default views in a number of ways. for example users can set their content alert notifications to only notify them of new activity in specified categories or topics; these are the alerts that appear under both the bell notifications icon tab in the user menu at top right of screen (click/tap avatar) and the notification badges on the forum categories page).

i will explain how to customize your category and topic tracking so that you will only be alerted to the forums and discussions you are interested in. There are actually two different ways to do this (or override/ change the settings) - using the Tracking seeings in your preferences, or from any category topic list page. i will start will the former, then make changes to my settings with the latter in order to demonstrate.


Setting up Tracking in your profile preferences

to get to your settings in the the Tracking configuration panel, go to your profile preferences (click/tap your avatar in top right corner then the person tab, then gear icon preferences).

go to the "+ Tracking" tab second from right (note that "Notifications"tab is your Likes and Live notification settings if you're on desktop, which are different things - confusing i know but i'm didn't make it that way lol).

you will see some drop down settings under the Topics heading. the meanings should be obvious and feel free to set these how you wish. it is the section under the Categories heading that we are concerned about:

there are four drop down selection boxes that you can set: Watched, Tracked, Watching First Post, and Muted. you do not have to set them all, but they are hierarchial how they work. also note the different bell icon for each - this is the specific alert that will be shown under the bell notification icon on your user menu.

for clarity and because i know a number of you (like me) come from a time and place where some of these terms had different labels:

  • category = forum
  • sub-category = sub-forum
  • topic = thread
  • post = comment

the Watched setting

selecting categories in this drop down (you can pick more than one) will notify you of all new topics and posts in that category you choose, and depending on your device you should even see a count on the notification bell icon. if you click "show" it will give you the resulting query so you can verify this is the content you want to be notified for on that particular setting.

the Tracked setting

here you can set the system to only alert you when anyone posts a new comment in any of the categories you select. the alert will also show the total number of the new posts in the categories you select. clicking "show" will again display the resulting query.

note that since the Watching setting also does this as part of it's function (it supersedes Tracking), only the categories you did not select above are shown in this drop down box.

the Watching First Post setting

this allows you to select the categories in which you only want to be alerted to new topics for. the description is a bit misleading. the first post is the OP (original post). technically the topic is the thread title.

note that since the previous settings supersede and include this configuration, only categories you didn't select above in Watching and Tracking (if any) will be available for selection.

the Muted setting

This setting should be relatively obvious - you will not be shown any alerts of anything about new topics in these particular categories, and they will not appear on the categories or latest pages. clearly the previous settings supersede this one and you will only be able to choose categories you did not select above (if any).

click "Save Changes" and you are finished. you may have to play with a combination of the settings to get the alert notifications you prefer.

Changing the Tracking and Watching Alert Notifications from the Category View

when you go to a specific Category page with the topic list you will see the bell icon up in the top right corner beside "+ New Topic". the specific type of bell icon will depend on what you set your Tracking settings (or the last time you updated from this view).

You can click on this icon to see or change what your settings are for that category:

note that selecting a new setting here will change the category tracking configuration that you set in your profile preferences above.

please feel free to ask questions about these settings here.

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