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Don't force users to "Watch a few spaces" on hosted version

For the on premise version there is an article how to disable this

But disabling addons is not possible on the hosted version.

New users are getting spammed with emails for every edit in a space or multiple spaces. The users don't even remember that they selected to watch spaces, all they know is that they need to send all emails from atlassian to a folder which they can ignore, and then, important comments are being ignored too. 

Any way it can be disabled? 

5 answers

1 accepted

2 votes
Answer accepted

My issue is not with the email alerts. My issue is with forcing new users to watch spaces at a stage when they don't know what a space is.

The reality is that they select anything and everything and have no clue what they have done. Then instead of asking me (the documentation evangelist) why they get so many irrelevant emails, they become proactive and efficient by quickly setting up a rule in their inbox to move everything from Atlassian into a special folder, and our newly created doc system has just become that special folder in inbox which nobody looks at...

Not all users are made for document curation and not all users should. As an extreme example, we use Confluence to share certain pages with vendors when we hire them to do a project, and they need some background information. Imagine how they feel when they start getting those emails.

Even those who I wish they would be living by the doc, require a strategic way to get them to do it. People - especially busy people - reject change, and my way of getting people to adopt change is by slowly lure them into a new habit without them noticing that a change happened at all.

Asana does a great job at that. As it allows me to add followers (watchers) to tasks and/or projects, that gives me - the documentation evangelist - the control to lure in users first at the task level and then to the project level.

Similarly, with Confluence, I would create a document and add comments and mentions to people that haven't used Confluence before, and would reject it if they know what plans I have in store for them... as soon as they signup and reply to that single comment, they already took the bait and they are mine…

This force-to-watch feature, forces me to send out a pre-invite email to the user I plan to invite, tell them that I’m going to share a page with them, but before that, they will have to sign up and watch some spaces, they should remember to select only spaces that's relevant to them, or just one space, and here is how to un-watch the space that they had to select just to see the page that I’m going to share with them. Do you realize how silly I sound? 

I understand that by the time it took me to write this, I could have downloaded and installed an on premise version and deactivate the feature smile . But I still like to share my experience.


Oh!  It is not your own instance but the hosted version - I hadn't picked up on that.

Even so I do understand the situation as it ocurs in either version that new people suddenly get swamped with info from the Spaces they have access to.

So it really is part of the "new user instructions" to guide them on setting up their Watch profile.

Either way it is a bad outcome!

Yes alert emails may be annoying, but they do only take one second to scan through

Confluence is a professional Knowledge Management System.

Knowledge is only useful if it is "managed" i.e. that the Users know when new knowledge has been created/modified ... otherwise it just becomes another one of billions of "www" web pages which no one looks at.

But Watches are "self-managed"

on the top of the page they can click the "Watch" icon to select/deselect either the whole Space or that individual page

Then in their individual profile (the drop down menu next to the little person icon top right of the screen) they can manage all their Watch items
At the bottom of the Watched item list is a link to their email settings where there are other controls on what things they get email alerts for - including watches on pages they have edited or commented on


So if they have a complaint about the number of emails they get, the solution is in their own control - that way if they then complain they never learn about anything that has happened on teh system it is their fault smile

IMO this should be reported as a bug.  There is seemingly no way to login the first time without watching an entire space.  As Shrage mentioned, on first login, not only do users not understand what a space is, but they certainly don't understand the horrible notification monsoon they're about to get if they watch a space.  And even still, this is not the actual problem.  The problem is that even if they know all that stuff, they still have to watch a space to do anything in Confluence.  When I, as an administrator, login for the first time, I am still required to watch a space, and then I have to go unwatch the space right away.

An ideal solution would be to remove this screen altogether, because why would anyone ever want to watch an entire space?  At the bare minimum, it should be possible to proceed past this page without watching a space.

As an admin, any time we add new users, we are inundated by requests from people to turn off the notification spam.  They don't realize that there is any relation between that stupid "watch space" page and the pile of spam they are getting all of a sudden because they know nothing about Confluence at this point.  I find myself going into the big spaces and just removing any watchers, because no one intentionally watches a space.  It's all from new users who had to click on a space to get past that screen.  This is a UX nightmare.

I am not so sure.

In our system, the default for all new Users and Spaces is no watch settings in the Spaces.

And the Users Watch Email Alert settings are all turned off.

So we have to work REALLY hard to get people to turn on their Daily Alert settings and then choose to Watch the Space.

perhaps there is something in the system administrators tool box to decide how this is handled.

If the "Subscribe to Daily Updates" is turned on in the User's Watch>Email Settings (dammed annoying they are so hard to find!!!), they will get one email per day.

The problem for multiple emails every few minutes being almost SPAM is the fault of the person editing the page .... the editor needs to be thoughtful and down near the Save button in edit mode, UNTICK the "Notify watchers" check box.  If it is left ticked, every save is notified to the Watchers instantaneously.  That check box will remain as you last set it for all your future edits.  As unticked, the only notification is the Daily Updates email

Forcing users to do something is one of the most stupid ideas in modern web development.  If I want to watch a space, I can click on the button - I don't need someone else deciding I HAVE to watch a space just because I have a new ID.

Agreed. You can skip creating an avatar, but for some, inexplicable reason, you can't skip watching a space.

Worse than them maybe not knowing what a space is, I just verified, and there is no verbiage about "watch".  It prompts you to "star" a few spaces.  IF YOU STAR A SPACE DURING THIS ONBOARDING EXPERIENCE IT IS AUTOMATICALLY WATCHED.  If you star a space afterwards, it does not watch the space.  This is terrible.  The vast majority of my users have starred our main company space.  Some of them have complained about the number of emails, and some have set up rules to delete ALL messages from Confluence! Can anyone say Alert Fatigue? Now they don't get the ones they actually wanted!!!

Agreed on this. What's the argument for having the feature in the first place? 

The issue about receiving email alerts of changes in a Space is a conundrum.

On one hand you want the new Users to quickly fall into the process of using the system and seeing what is being created/edited by the other Users ... an argument for having Watch facility fully enabled ...

On the other if they are set up as automatically watching every Space they join they could get inundated with all sorts of things they know nothing about and potentially many such emails in one day from even one Space ... an argument for leaving everything turned off initially but with the problem that first of all they join a Space where they don't know of any activity so makes them question why they joined as well as the problem of educating them on how to turn the alerts on ....

As I have said many times ... as a Knowledge Management System with collaboration, "knowledge is not knowledge unless you know when new knowledge is created or edited" .... inherently that means the Users need to be informed of activity in their Space.  We could take the old manual approach of sending out emails to your Users in that Space "I have just added some content - please have a look ..." You will of course recognise that this means there is at least one email to be sent to everyone for that change .... but why not have the system do exactly the same thing but automatically.

But we have to remember there are three things that are at play here about which and how often alerts emails are sent out.

First whether the system administrator has set all new Users to a Space to have their eye icon set to <<Watch all content in this Space>>.  Our system has it turned off so given we have some 450 Spaces all with different Space "owners", we know a lot of our 4000+ Users don't have it turned on so they never know what is happening in the Space .... IMHO a bad outcome

The second part is of course setting the <<Email settings>> ... annoyingly hidden away via the User's Avatar, select <<Watches>> then having to scroll to the bottom of the page to get to the link to <<Email Settings>>.  I recommend the Users make sure they turn on Blog Posts and Daily alerts as well as show what has changed.

And the third - arguably most important - is in the control of all the other Users when they are editing a page.  If they simply UN-TICK the <<Notify Users>> option next to the save button, then the only alert that is issued is the daily alert.  If it is left TICKED, every time they save the page, another email alert is sent to the Watchers ... most annoying if they are reading a page, spot a typo, correct, save then spot another typo ....

So if it is turned on, everyone will complain they are getting a flurry of new emails

If it is turned off, Users never know what is happening, or the other Users have to send out their own email advice of a change.

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