The S-Files: Getting the most out of Comment Notify

Tech Support Case Studies

If Facebook has shown us anything, it's that website users like to get timely notifications via email if there is something new to be seen on the site. Acquia Drupal includes the comment notify module that can help achieve this goal for your site. It sends email messages to content authors and commentators whenever new comments are added to content. There are ample subscription options to suit everyone, and an unsubscribe mechanism so that nobody has to endure unwanted items in their inbox.

The first thing you'll want to do is set the permissions for the module correctly. Here's a screenshot of the pertinent permissions. The biggest decision is how you want anonymous users to be treated.

If anonymous users can post comments, and if they are to get notified, they need to be able to leave their email address. This is configured on the content type edit form, and must be configured per content type.

The comment notify module lets content authors specify whether they want to get notified of comments on their posts. This is done via their user profile page (q=user/x/edit). Note that this is a total on/off switch, there's no per-post or per-content type setting for this.

This is what your site visitors are presented with when writing new comments.

The default texts in the emails sent by comment notify are somewhat verbose. I succeeded in making the texts more compact. The templates can be changed at q=admin/settings/comment_notify

Here's the template I used for Default mail text for sending out notifications to commenters:

Hi !name,

New comment for "!node_title"
!comment_url
!node_teaser

!commname says " !commtext "

Best regards,
Webmaster of !site

Unsubscribe:  !link1

And here's the template I used for Default mail text for sending out the notifications to node authors.

Hi !name,

New comment for "!node_title"
!comment_url
!node_teaser

!commname says " !commtext "

Best regards,
Webmaster of !site

Note the difference between the two templates is only the Unsubscribe: !link1

Have fun with the comment notify module. Sometimes simple modules like this make a big difference in bringing visitors back to your site.

Comments

Posted on by Greg Knaddison.

Great writeup!

I'd also suggest changing the value at q=admin/settings/comment_notify for "Available subscription modes" to be just one or the other. The right one to choose is a personal preference, but having a checkbox instead of a checkbox+radios is much simpler on your visitors which should encourage them to use the system.

Posted on by rokr (not verified).

Just one thing. If you allow anonymous users to be notified you should verify the e-mail address. Otherwise a third person could be spammed while someone used his/her e-mail address.

If you want subscribing without commenting you can use alternative modules like "watcher".

cheers, Ronald

Posted on by jhibbets (not verified).

We used this to improve the comment functionality on opensource.com. Our users provided feedback that there was too much going on in the emails (using the default settings). We updated the Acquia Drupal system with a template similar to the one posted above and have gotten great feedback on the usability of the comment updates.

Thanks Acquia!
Jason Hibbets