PM Outbox/Sent Suggestion

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crystalsc
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PM Outbox/Sent Suggestion

Post by crystalsc » Sat Jan 05, 2008 6:49 pm

I'd like to add a suggestion. I hope this is the right place to do so as I'm new to phpbb and am unsure.

When you send a pm, it sits in the Outbox for quite some time. Some experienced users told me this is because it doesn't move to the Sent folder until the recipient receives it.

This is EXTREMELY confusing to new users who end up sending the pm multiple times because they fear it's not going through.

I would suggest rather than sitting in the Outbox it goes into the Sent folder but have some sort of notation that it has not been read yet (perhaps a red "x" or something). Because, well, if it's sent - it's sent.

Thanks.

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Re: PM Outbox/Sent Suggestion

Post by KevC » Sat Jan 05, 2008 7:47 pm

The point of the outbox is so that the sender can edit or delete the message before it's been read.

You can rename it yourself in the languages/en/ucp.php file if you want. Just search for outbox and change the wording on the right of the screen.
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Re: PM Outbox/Sent Suggestion

Post by ElbertF » Sat Jan 05, 2008 7:51 pm

crystalsc wrote:Because, well, if it's sent - it's sent.
Actually, you can still cancel (and edit) messages in your outbox.

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Re: PM Outbox/Sent Suggestion

Post by Techie-Micheal » Sat Jan 05, 2008 8:36 pm

It is just like your email. The outbox in your email is for pending emails that have not yet been sent. PM's are pending in the outbox because the recipient hasn't picked them up yet. Before the email leaves the outbox, you can still edit it or cancel it altogether. The same holds for private messages.
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Re: PM Outbox/Sent Suggestion

Post by crystalsc » Sat Jan 05, 2008 8:46 pm

Oh. Very interesting. Renaming it might be nice. Is there a pre-determined amount of time that it sits in the outbox? Can that be adjusted by the board admin?

(btw Kevin...that's one of my favorite Bond quotes "No, Mr. Bond. I expect you to die." :D )

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Re: PM Outbox/Sent Suggestion

Post by ElbertF » Sat Jan 05, 2008 8:48 pm

It stays in the outbox until the receiver opens it.

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Re: PM Outbox/Sent Suggestion

Post by crystalsc » Sat Jan 05, 2008 9:11 pm

*headdesk* sorry. Blonde moment.

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Re: PM Outbox/Sent Suggestion

Post by squidbe » Mon Jan 28, 2008 10:50 am

Gotta agree with the OP. This is unusual behavior and, hence, somewhat confusing -- in fact, I've never used another board where a PM showed as being in an outbox after it was submitted (almost always shows up in some kind of "sent" folder). It would be much more intuitive to have it show up in the "sent" folder but with some sort of "unread" marker (if that's necessary at all). As a new phpBB user but a long-time user of other forum software, I'm actually kinda surprised that this functionality exists by default. It amounts to a forced read receipt -- I certainly would prefer not to have forced read receipts. But I digress...

Anyway, not the end of the world, but I really do think this could be made clearer. I'm sure there're new users who send duplicate messages because of this confusion.

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Re: PM Outbox/Sent Suggestion

Post by Eelke » Mon Jan 28, 2008 1:13 pm

I too agree with the OP (although indeed, it's not the end of the world, it's easy enough to explain to new users what happens - it is a recurring question, though). I don't really care what other board software does, as long as this board software works intuitively :) In this case, it's down to terminology. I understand why the email-terms are used, but the source of the confusion is that the various stages a PM goes through are just not equivalent to the stages an email goes through when in the same "mail box".

In case of an email, a message enters the outbox before leaving the user's system (or possibly their email server - what matters is that the reciepient at that point is completely unaware of the message). A user can understand intuitively when an email moves from their outbox to their sent box; either because they configured it to do so automatically, or because they take explicit action. In case of an email, "sent" means just that; the email was sent away. It doesn't say anything about what happened to the email on the other end (there might even have been a problem delivering the mail).

In contrast, in phpBB's PM system (which, despite parallels in usage, works very differently from email, of course), the sender has no control over when the message moves from the outbox to the sent box, it is the recipient that controls when the message moves. Additionally, when a message is in the sender's outbox, for all intents and purposes (i.e. from the users' point of view) it already is in the recipient's inbox, ready to be read.

In other words, a message in the sender's outbox is "sent" as well, because the recipient is aware of it. Essentially, what are now called "outbox" and "sent" box, are two different flavours of a sent box; one with messages that have not been opened yet by the recipient and can still be edited by the sender, and the other with messages that have been opened and can therefore not be edited any longer to avoid confusion.

I am not sure what would be the best terminology, maybe it would even be best to merge the outbox and the sent box into one screen and just flag messages, but I do agree that the current behaviour is unintuitive.

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Re: PM Outbox/Sent Suggestion

Post by Techie-Micheal » Mon Jan 28, 2008 2:08 pm

I'm sorry, but I don't agree at all. I think it is very intuitive, and makes it clear as to whether or not the recipient has received it. Only thing I think needs to be done is adding a description.
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Re: PM Outbox/Sent Suggestion

Post by Eelke » Mon Jan 28, 2008 2:20 pm

I think that's rather contradictory... How can something need a description and be intuitive at the same time? I can't make my point any clearer than I did above, so I won't try. I think it is unintuitive, especially when compared to email (which people will intuitively do), that goes through the same states, but where the states have a different meaning.

I'm not saying it is a big deal, or that it is impossible to understand (in fact, it's quite easy to understand, once explained, techy people may not even need an explanation), but those are not the same thing as intuitive.

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Re: PM Outbox/Sent Suggestion

Post by Techie-Micheal » Mon Jan 28, 2008 6:29 pm

Eelke wrote:I think that's rather contradictory... How can something need a description and be intuitive at the same time? I can't make my point any clearer than I did above, so I won't try. I think it is unintuitive, especially when compared to email (which people will intuitively do), that goes through the same states, but where the states have a different meaning.

I'm not saying it is a big deal, or that it is impossible to understand (in fact, it's quite easy to understand, once explained, techy people may not even need an explanation), but those are not the same thing as intuitive.
Because I find it intuitive and easy to use, but others may not. I don't think there is anything wrong with it. However, I think removing the outbox is absolutely the wrong way to go. I cannot stand using bb software (or anything that has PM functionality) that doesn't have an Outbox. It simply makes sense to have it there.

However, if there is confusion, the only thing I would agree to changing is adding a description. Anything else is unnecessary and counter-intuitive.
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Re: PM Outbox/Sent Suggestion

Post by Marshalrusty » Mon Jan 28, 2008 8:38 pm

The behavior of the inbox/outbox/sentbox will be changed in future versions of phpBB. The inbox/sentbox will likely be combined and an extra column added to show whether the message has been read, and by whom. Everything is still very tentative, but watch the commits in the future.
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Re: PM Outbox/Sent Suggestion

Post by statm » Wed Jan 30, 2008 2:24 pm

I always have liked that idea of the Outbox. You have the opportunity to change your "sent" message or delete it or whatever and by it being in the outbox I know I am not to late. I have to agree this approach is intuitive. And if anything only needs a description so others can learn of its benefits. I cannot agree that having a description makes it unintuitive however. But, since its being changed in the future I guess this is a moot point.

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Re: PM Outbox/Sent Suggestion

Post by Eelke » Wed Jan 30, 2008 3:12 pm

This is not about the functionality (I have little if any problems with that), this is about the terminology. I have already explained why I think the term "outbox" (and to a lesser extent the term "sent") is incorrect/unintuitive. The change Marshalrusty is describing addresses exactly the problems I have with the terminology (I assume he means the outbox and sent box will be combined, not inbox and sent box, as he says).

[off-topic rant]Incidentally, if the PM system is going to be reconsidered, I would like to take the opportunity to draw the attention to the "whispers" feature of the Vanilla board software once more. These basically are personal messages, but within the context of a board topic; to the recipient (and the sender), the message would appear as a "normal" post within a topic (of course distinguished from "real" posts in some way, e.g. with a different color). I think this makes a lot of sense for a bulletin board package; when you decide to write somebody a personal message on a board, this is usually in reference to something on the board, so why not make this context implicit to the personal message? Currently, PMs are basically not much more than a localized version of email. It has its benefits for protecting users' email-addresses, but that's about it and there are probably other ways to do that.[/off-topic rant]

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