Why aren’t posts appearing in my digests?

I get a lot of question on phpbb.com on why digests don’t contain expected posts. Some were definitely due to bugs. While developing the digest extension I recently closed a bug that had shifted the time window for a daily or weekly digest from being based on the user’s timezone to GMT. Downloading and installing the latest master from GitHub is usually a good idea if you are encountering bugs like this.

Digests is built around users having the ability to filter posts. So pretty much any option you select in the user control panel for digests allows you to constrain what appears in a digest.

Here are some of the many reasons why you may not be seeing posts in digests:

  • Your digest type is incorrect. If you wanted a weekly digest but selected a daily digest, you are only going to get posts for the last day. If you selected “None” (no digest), obviously nothing will be sent.
  • Your timezone is wrong. If your timezone in the user control panel (look under Board preferences) is GMT and your timezone is GMT -4 you may not see four hours of posts.
  • You selected first posts of new topics only. In this case you won’t see topic replies.
  • You selected bookmarked topics only. Either turn this off or add some more bookmarked topics to include those you care about.
  • You specified posts in specific forums only. Broaden the forums you want to see or check “All”.
  • You specified you don’t want to see more than X posts in a digest. Once you hit this limit, digests will automatically ignore any other qualifying posts.
  • You specified you only want to see posts that contain a minimum number of words. Make the number lower or set it to zero (0).
  • You specified to show new posts only. Only posts after your last visit date/time in phpBB will be shown. So if you visit the forum regularly during the day, this date/time will be captured by phpBB, even if you didn’t visit a particular forum and never read those posts.
  • You specified to show only popular topics only. If, for example, you have a setting to show only topics with five or more posts per day, only those posts will show. So if there are none that qualify, there may be no digest to send or it will be empty. Popularity is based on recent postings, so for a daily digest the topics must have five or more posts over the last 24 hours.
  • You asked to remove your posts.
  • You asked to remove posts from your foes.
  • You asked to be sent a digest even if there are no new posts. This is basically a “comfort” feature to let you know digests is still working but there’s nothing new you are interested in.

Forum administrators also have a host of privileges that can affect if you receive a digest and what’s in it.

  • They can change the day of the week for sending out weekly digests. Typically it’s Sunday, but they could make it Wednesday.
  • They can also set a cap for the number of posts in a digest. If set this will affect not just your subscription, but everyone’s. Any posts above the cap will automatically be ignored.
  • They can exclude forums from ever appearing in a digest. Conversely, they can also require one or more forums to appear in a digest. (This doesn’t apply if you selected bookmarked posts only.)
  • They can balance the load so that digests are sent more evenly during the day. This could change when you receive a digest, possibly temporarily causing some posts not to appear in digest (or even to appear in a subsequent digest.) They have the option to send an email in these cases, but they don’t have to.
  • They can change any of your digest settings in the Edit Subscribers function. This could cause you to not see posts that you used to see.
  • They can mass unsubscribe users. If you find your digest type is none and you didn’t change this, this may be what happened.
  • They can disable the forum. While it is disabled no digests will go out. Things should catch up once the forum is reenabled.

Some things may affect the timely delivery of digests. Ideally a forum administrator will create a “system cron” so digests go out hourly. If they don’t, then digests may be delivered late as a “phpBB cron” depends on board traffic to kick off digest processing. In this case you just have to wait. However, if you go to the forum you might kick it off and then receive your digest.

Most of these features were features that were requested by users over the years. The popularity of digests then is due in part to meeting the demand of the market.

Updated November 26, 2018 to discuss the new popular topics feature.

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