PM Outbox/Sent Suggestion

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Re: PM Outbox/Sent Suggestion

Post by Lumpy Burgertushie » Mon Feb 29, 2016 10:25 pm

and that was really my point. these types of things are really subjective. you say potato, I say potato.


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Re: PM Outbox/Sent Suggestion

Post by 3Di » Mon Feb 29, 2016 10:50 pm

KevC wrote:The point of the outbox is so that the sender can edit or delete the message before it's been read.
Well, if there was a button for to choice the best answer I would have voted for this.
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Re: PM Outbox/Sent Suggestion

Post by ace604 » Tue Aug 09, 2016 2:30 am

I just created an account just to chime in on this topic.

Found this thread after google after answering the same question to multiple confused users on a board that just switched to phpBB backend. I was also confused at first.

The terminology of "outbox" to mean "sent but unread and still editable" is not intuitive in the world of computers.
Maybe if we were still in the world of paper memos and desks it might be intuitive, but even then ... it wouldn't be, because if it's still in my outbox, when does it get to the recipient's inbox? Oh wait, it's in both places at the same time, right? That's not intuitive :)

How can it still be in my outbox AND in the recipient's inbox at the same time?

The outbox is a magic portal to the recipients inbox :)

In the world of email, a message in the outbox is not visible to the recipient.
In the world of paper and desks, a paper memo in the outbox in my desk is not visible to my recipients inbox.
In the world of phpBB PM's though, something in my outbox *is* in the recipient's inbox already?

This is counterintuitive and contrary to the aforementioned 2 prior existing uses of "outbox" that people have a frame of reference for.

To prevent confusion amongst dozens and dozens of new users to phpBB it would be beneficial for the default name to change to something self-explanatory.

Outbox is not self-explanatory, it requires explanation.

After you explain it, it makes sense, but that doesn't make it intuitive. Intuitive means you "get it" without someone explaining it.

Something like this would probably be "intuitive":
"Outbox" -> "Sent (Unread)"
"Sent" -> "Sent (Read)"

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Re: PM Outbox/Sent Suggestion

Post by Lumpy Burgertushie » Tue Aug 09, 2016 5:11 am

can't argue with your logic but it has been this way for all the years that phpbb has been around and been the most used bulletin board software in the world.

the fact that two or ten or a thousand people may have come here to complain about it does not reflect the case of the millions of users that have not because they apparently do "get it".

I doubt that it will be changed in the near future but you never know.


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Re: PM Outbox/Sent Suggestion

Post by AmigoJack » Tue Aug 09, 2016 7:57 am

ace604 wrote:The terminology of "outbox" to mean "sent but unread and still editable" is not intuitive in the world of computers.
Correct would be "every recipient can see the PM's details and its subject already, yet none of the recipients have read its content, so you're still able to edit it". This distinguishes the parts better.
ace604 wrote:if it's still in my outbox, when does it get to the recipient's inbox? Oh wait, it's in both places at the same time, right? That's not intuitive
Before we call it "Schrödinger's PM" let's face one important fact: reading a PM's content is something different than just seeing a PM's details. You're always talking about the whole PM - maybe people get confused because they don't distinguish either.
ace604 wrote:How can it still be in my outbox AND in the recipient's inbox at the same time?
Think of a flight: just because both departure and arrival are known/planned and both locations know them doesn't mean the plane must be at both places the same time.
ace604 wrote:In the world of email, a message in the outbox is not visible to the recipient.
Believe it or not: a couple of mail servers implemented a feature to call back sent e-mails or replace them with edited versions.
ace604 wrote:In the world of paper and desks, a paper memo in the outbox in my desk is not visible to my recipients inbox.
As previously noted: you're just looking a PMs in whole and compare them to paper sheets. Of course, we could eliminate the advantages of the electronic format - then we'd only have one possible recipient and would never be able to edit yet unread (but "sent") PMs anymore.
ace604 wrote:"Outbox" -> "Sent (Unread)"
"Sent" -> "Sent (Read)"
Yes, this quite a good suggestion, although not perfect either - it still doesn't honor the distinction of being able to edit a PM and not being able anymore.


I understand the unintuitivity of phpBB's PM system, but once you know how it works you'll find it has the most advantages, compared to other implementations. And yet it's still difficult to label those workflows to single self-explanatory terms. I customized my installation to also display each PM's statuses (new versus old, unread versus read) as that is far more helpful to both recipient(s) and sender. After all the time, the names "Sent" and "Outbox" made the most sense to me and any other names just don't fit better.
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Re: PM Outbox/Sent Suggestion

Post by ace604 » Tue Aug 09, 2016 9:14 am

AmigoJack wrote:
ace604 wrote:The terminology of "outbox" to mean "sent but unread and still editable" is not intuitive in the world of computers.
Correct would be "every recipient can see the PM's details and its subject already, yet none of the recipients have read its content, so you're still able to edit it". This distinguishes the parts better.
My description you quoted wasn't meant to be 100% exhaustive, and neither is yours, because the contents could have actually been read if the board sends email notifications with the full PM contents or if the board offers any type of preview functionality (not sure if this is a feature that exists, but I presume one could implement it).

So I suppose an even more accurate description would be "sent but nobody clicked on it yet (and you can still edit it ... maybe ... if your board supports that feature)"
ace604 wrote:if it's still in my outbox, when does it get to the recipient's inbox? Oh wait, it's in both places at the same time, right? That's not intuitive
Before we call it "Schrödinger's PM" let's face one important fact: reading a PM's content is something different than just seeing a PM's details. You're always talking about the whole PM - maybe people get confused because they don't distinguish either.
"There is no spoon"

There is only the PM. Whether you can see parts of the PM or all of the PM is an implementation detail. In the email notification example the full contents of the PM are already known to the recipient, regardless of whether the on-site inbox PM has been "viewed" / "clicked" / "opened" (insert whatever term you would like to use here).

So we could say "sent" = "recipient has been granted read access to this PM object, and depending on what method they use to view PM's they may or may not have seen the entire contents, a preview, or just see the subject/sender/timestamp.

My gripe (and that of thousands of others according to hit counts for "phpbb outbox stuck") is that the name used "outbox" connotes something very different from the pre-existing frames of reference of the physical desktop outbox, and of the next-gen email outbox modelled after that one.

Physical and email outboxes do not impart "read access" to the recipient, nor are they even notified of the messages existence.

Outboxes for decades before phpbb's existence have meant "something waiting to get sent", not "something 'sent' already and waiting to get opened/read". So when a new user sees a message they hit send/post on, still in the "outbox" they think "hmm, why isn't this in 'sent' folder yet?" it's stuck, something's not working, google/ask questions, OH, that's how phpbb just 'works'. Repeat for every new user that notices PMs in their outbox for any length of time.
ace604 wrote:How can it still be in my outbox AND in the recipient's inbox at the same time?
Think of a flight: just because both departure and arrival are known/planned and both locations know them doesn't mean the plane must be at both places the same time.
I was just trying to extend the analogy to the known frames of reference for "outboxes" where things can't exist in two places at once. This is why people think phpbb PMs are "stuck" in their outbox, because all outboxes they've ever known before phpbb meant that the recipient does not know of the messages existence yet.

Physical and electronic mail have different stages of their lifecycle.
Draft -> outbox -> sent -> received -> read

Yes, I am aware some clients allow you to attempt to recall sent items, and that some servers support this, but when it is in your "outbox" still, there is zero expectation that the recipient knows of the existence of this message yet.
ace604 wrote:In the world of email, a message in the outbox is not visible to the recipient.
Believe it or not: a couple of mail servers implemented a feature to call back sent e-mails or replace them with edited versions.
This is off-topic because it doesn't deal with the outbox, it's already left the outbox and moved to 'sent' and then you recall it after that. You never have to "recall" a message in an e-mail outbox from the recipient's mail server because it hasn't actually been 'sent' yet.
ace604 wrote:In the world of paper and desks, a paper memo in the outbox in my desk is not visible to my recipients inbox.
As previously noted: you're just looking a PMs in whole and compare them to paper sheets. Of course, we could eliminate the advantages of the electronic format - then we'd only have one possible recipient and would never be able to edit yet unread (but "sent") PMs anymore.
ace604 wrote:"Outbox" -> "Sent (Unread)"
"Sent" -> "Sent (Read)"
Yes, this quite a good suggestion, although not perfect either - it still doesn't honor the distinction of being able to edit a PM and not being able anymore.
This could be addressed this with even more verbose terms, or by inventing new words instead of using misleading words :)

If we called inbox 'foo', outbox 'bar', and sent 'baz', then it wouldn't be intuitive at all, but you could explain it to people and then it would "make sense". That doesn't make those good names :)

But you probably wouldn't get anyone asking "why are messages stuck in my 'bar' box" because they have no preconceived notion of what a "bar box" is, and what a "message stuck in an bar box" implies (which is that because it's not in the "sent" box, it hasn't been "sent" successfully, because outboxes imply something that hasn't been sent :)).

More verbose suggestions:
Inbox
Sent (Unopened, still editable)
Sent (Opened)

I understand the unintuitivity of phpBB's PM system, but once you know how it works you'll find it has the most advantages, compared to other implementations. And yet it's still difficult to label those workflows to single self-explanatory terms. I customized my installation to also display each PM's statuses (new versus old, unread versus read) as that is far more helpful to both recipient(s) and sender. After all the time, the names "Sent" and "Outbox" made the most sense to me and any other names just don't fit better.
I'm not debating the merits of the advantages or disadvantages, just that using misleading terms causes mass confusion.

Having a box named "sent" and one named anything else implies that that something else means "not sent".

But really "outbox" and "sent" are both flavours of "sent". Perhaps "posted" is a good alternative word, but regardless ... they are both the same, it's just a state of being opened by the recipient that is changed.

In reality we know nothing is actually "sent" since everything is on the same server, we are again using terminology from a different "era" of physical or electronic mail.

We use these terms to create familiarity with new constructs such that their use can be intuitive to the user.

We could equally choose terms of "foo", "bar", and "baz", explain what they mean, and achieve the same end results.

By choosing familiar terms we are encouraging the user to make assumptions about what those terms mean ... and in this case "outbox" and "sent" are implying distinctions that do not map perfectly to the different stages of a PM's lifecycle.

email lifecycle:
draft -> outbox (waiting to be sent over a network) -> sent (sent over the network)
-> received (actually received after possible retransmissions by the recipient over the network)
-> read (opened by the recipient)

PM lifecycle: 1 -> 2 -> 3
draft -> posted-but-unopened-and-still-editable -> posted-and-opened

2 and 3 using names from the email lifecycle that connote different meanings leads to confusion.

2 is sent
3 is also sent

we need new names, or the same names for both 2 & 3 with parenthetical descriptions to distinguish them.

Educating the user that "outbox" just means something different for phpbb is a cop-out IMO.

How about we throw out "sent" completely:
1 = draft
2 = delivered
3 = opened

LOL, anyways ... appreciate the responses on a post on an 8-yr old thread :)

Everyone here already "gets it", so there's no reason for anyone to change it for their own sake -- "thousands/millions use it just fine" ... ya, but it's the NEXT generation of users we are trying to help by making things more intuitive :)

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Re: PM Outbox/Sent Suggestion

Post by Brf » Tue Aug 09, 2016 12:19 pm

Brf wrote:You are welcome to change the names of the folders of they confuse you. Simply change the Outbox to Unread, and the Sent box to Read.

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Re: PM Outbox/Sent Suggestion

Post by AmigoJack » Tue Aug 09, 2016 1:10 pm

ace604 wrote:contents could have actually been read if the board sends email notifications with the full PM contents
Vanilla installations don't do that. Modifications which allow that and do not also set the PM in a state not being modifiable anymore are beyond the scope of this discussion. Likewise if you come down arguing on what is possible when modifying an installation then your whole point is invalid, as it "could be" intuitive anyway and you'd be pleased.
ace604 wrote:according to hit counts for "phpbb outbox stuck"
Reading thru the actual results however gives another impression: Other ones are explained immediately.

As said before: I added the statuses to be visible to each PM and recipient - maybe screenshots will give you a better understanding:
20160809 outbox.png
20160809 sent.png
ace604 wrote:Physical and email outboxes do not impart "read access" to the recipient, nor are they even notified of the messages existence.
On both things you always have to expect complete loss without being informed - neither of them have a guarantee to even come at least back to you. Apples and oranges?
ace604 wrote:Outboxes for decades before phpbb's existence have meant "something waiting to get sent", not "something 'sent' already and waiting to get opened/read"
This is not true, even for today, if you still want to compare it to e-mails: those are waiting in the outbox as well before ever being transmitted to the mail transfer agent, and as such moved to "sent".
ace604 wrote:they think "hmm, why isn't this in 'sent' folder yet?" it's stuck, something's not working, google/ask questions, OH, that's how phpbb just 'works'. Repeat for every new user that notices PMs in their outbox for any length of time.
And you see how a feature that actually gives the user more control is vastly misunderstood, so eliminating the feature would "help" most people? There are countless other examples of this scenario. Let's kill the outbox and nobody can edit PMs anymore. Let's also kill democracy and nobody wastes time, energy and nerves on elections. :roll:
ace604 wrote:all outboxes they've ever known before phpbb meant that the recipient does not know of the messages existence yet
Yes, I perfectly understand this. Confusion by improvement.
ace604 wrote:Physical and electronic mail have different stages of their lifecycle.
Draft -> outbox -> sent -> received -> read
No. People are used to know that for both all unknown things can happen that will never lead to the status "received". So they project those experiences onto PMs. PMs can only get lost when i.e. deleting an account with all its references. PMs are by far more reliable than e-mails and only few people seem to know. So which direction of thinking is the wrong one? None.
ace604 wrote:More verbose suggestions:
Inbox
Sent (Unopened, still editable)
Sent (Opened)
Yes, maybe. I "solved" it my way. Another idea would be to simply have a banner text when listing Outbox and Sent, with both explaining its purpose. Why not creating a ticket describing the improvement?
ace604 wrote:thread :)
There's also a reason why the whole software uses the term "topic", yet only few people want to see the difference. This may be somewhat the same thing as what we're discussing here. ;)
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Re: PM Outbox/Sent Suggestion

Post by ace604 » Tue Aug 09, 2016 7:22 pm

Brf wrote:
Brf wrote:You are welcome to change the names of the folders of they confuse you. Simply change the Outbox to Unread, and the Sent box to Read.
Can I do this? I'm not a web developer, mod, or admin of any site. I'm "just a simple user".

I'm not confused. I *was* confused.

That's the issue ... the names are non-intuitive, causing a lot of confusion amongst new users.
After someone explains it, it's no longer confusing.

If the names were intuitive to begin with, no confusion would result, and everyone can be happy.

If you like the old names you can rename them back :)

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Re: PM Outbox/Sent Suggestion

Post by KevC » Tue Aug 09, 2016 7:27 pm

As a user, no. You would need to ask the site owner to do it.
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Re: PM Outbox/Sent Suggestion

Post by ace604 » Tue Aug 09, 2016 7:48 pm

AmigoJack wrote:
ace604 wrote:contents could have actually been read if the board sends email notifications with the full PM contents
Vanilla installations don't do that. Modifications which allow that and do not also set the PM in a state not being modifiable anymore are beyond the scope of this discussion. Likewise if you come down arguing on what is possible when modifying an installation then your whole point is invalid, as it "could be" intuitive anyway and you'd be pleased.
I'm not a site admin or anything ... I don't know what the vanilla installation does or doesn't do, I just know that the site I use sends emails with the full contents of the PM, and the new names for PM boxes are "Inbox, Outbox, and Sent", and LOTS of users are posting all over the site complaining about "PMs stuck in outbox".

Apparently these are easy to rename ... hopefully the site can rename them, I was just going through the effort to creat this phpbb account login to "chime in" to let people know that the issue from 8 years ago hasn't gone away ... new users are still confused en masse by the default names.
ace604 wrote:according to hit counts for "phpbb outbox stuck"
Reading thru the actual results however gives another impression: Other ones are explained immediately.

As said before: I added the statuses to be visible to each PM and recipient - maybe screenshots will give you a better understanding:
20160809 outbox.png 20160809 sent.png
I'm not a web dev or admin or anything, I'm just trying to provide feedback.
ace604 wrote:Physical and email outboxes do not impart "read access" to the recipient, nor are they even notified of the messages existence.
On both things you always have to expect complete loss without being informed - neither of them have a guarantee to even come at least back to you. Apples and oranges?
Complete loss of what? You mean the piece of paper I put in the outbox on my desk gets blown off in the wind and falls in the trash? Sure, ya. OK? So the metaphor isn't 100% solid, but it's a metaphor that's commonly used, and has a strong preconceived notion for people.

An outbox and inbox are boxes on my desk that people put pieces of paper in.

If I expect the recipient to see the message, someone needs to pick it up out of my outbox, and take it somewhere else. They can take it directly to the recipients office and put it in their inbox.
They could take it to a common mail room and but it in a publicly accessible cubby-hole.

Whatever.

That's how physical "outboxes" work.

If one puts a message in their outbox in the morning, and they come back from lunch and it's still there they might ask their secretary why it hasn't been delivered yet.

Email outboxes work in a similar way since they are an inidcation that an email hasn't been sent yet. You've submitted it to be sent, but maybe you aren't connected to the network yet, or you have a delay baked into your settings, or whatever.

If you click "send" on an email, and then look a while later and it is still in the outbox, you think ... hmm, what's up with that, my message didn't get sent.

phpbb PM "outboxes" work differently than those 2 above, so I humbly suggest (as many others have already) that "outbox" is simply the wrong name for this.

New users to phpbb send a PM, they see the message go to outbox. Later on it's still in outbox and they wonder "why isn't it in 'sent'". Then they post messages on the site, or resend the PM wondering if there was an error. Probably thousands of man-hours world wide have been wasted on this :)
ace604 wrote:Outboxes for decades before phpbb's existence have meant "something waiting to get sent", not "something 'sent' already and waiting to get opened/read"
This is not true, even for today, if you still want to compare it to e-mails: those are waiting in the outbox as well before ever being transmitted to the mail transfer agent, and as such moved to "sent".
You just said the same thing I said. Emails are waiting in the outbox to get sent. What part is "not true"?
Perhaps "something waiting to get sent" was ambiguous?
In the case of email, you have clicked "send", it moves to outbox, where it waits to ACTUALLY get sent over the network. This is what I meant by "waiting to get sent".

phpbb outbox isn't "waiting to get 'sent' " ... it has for all intents and purposes ALREADY been "sent" (even though 'sent' is also the wrong word because PMs aren't actually 'sent' either, right? :)
ace604 wrote:they think "hmm, why isn't this in 'sent' folder yet?" it's stuck, something's not working, google/ask questions, OH, that's how phpbb just 'works'. Repeat for every new user that notices PMs in their outbox for any length of time.
And you see how a feature that actually gives the user more control is vastly misunderstood, so eliminating the feature would "help" most people? There are countless other examples of this scenario. Let's kill the outbox and nobody can edit PMs anymore. Let's also kill democracy and nobody wastes time, energy and nerves on elections. :roll:
I'm sorry, did something I say get misunderstood to make it sound like I said the feature should get eliminated?
If so, that was not my intent. I don't think I said that.

I just think the names are misleading and confusing. I'm not the only one obviously.
ace604 wrote:all outboxes they've ever known before phpbb meant that the recipient does not know of the messages existence yet
Yes, I perfectly understand this. Confusion by improvement.
your sarcasm(?) is going over my head.

I don't think renaming "outbox" to "sent (unopened, still editable)" is confusing.
I don't think renaming "sent" to "sent (read)" is confusing.


ace604 wrote:Physical and electronic mail have different stages of their lifecycle.
Draft -> outbox -> sent -> received -> read
No. People are used to know that for both all unknown things can happen that will never lead to the status "received". So they project those experiences onto PMs. PMs can only get lost when i.e. deleting an account with all its references. PMs are by far more reliable than e-mails and only few people seem to know. So which direction of thinking is the wrong one? None.
ace604 wrote:More verbose suggestions:
Inbox
Sent (Unopened, still editable)
Sent (Opened)
Yes, maybe. I "solved" it my way. Another idea would be to simply have a banner text when listing Outbox and Sent, with both explaining its purpose. Why not creating a ticket describing the improvement?
I'm not a web developer or anything, can anyone create a ticket? I'm surprised nobody has done anything to improve the phpbb experience for new users on this topic for 8 years.

So, I clicked on that link and started to try to create a ticket.

"Default names for outbox and sent folders cause a lot of confusion with new users"

But I'm at a loss on what "component" and other fields should be. And is this for "phpbb3" or something else?
Should I put "phpbb3" and "PMs" for the component? Any labels?
ace604 wrote:thread :)
There's also a reason why the whole software uses the term "topic", yet only few people want to see the difference. This may be somewhat the same thing as what we're discussing here. ;)

Thanks for taking the time to reply

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Re: PM Outbox/Sent Suggestion

Post by ace604 » Tue Aug 09, 2016 7:51 pm

KevC wrote:As a user, no. You would need to ask the site owner to do it.
Thanks, I've already done that.

I just thought I would try to contribute "upstream" and make the same request "at the source" here, for the benefit of all mankind ;)

If you search google for "phpbb outbox stuck" you get tons of hits across all sorts of different forums that are all the same ... people complaning their PMs aren't getting sent.

People replying to explain "that's how it works for phpbb".

Over and over again for tons of different sites ... if we could brainstorm a more intuitive name than "outbox" and "sent" it would prevent all this confusion.

That was my only goal here. I thought it was a noble one :)

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Re: PM Outbox/Sent Suggestion

Post by Brf » Tue Aug 09, 2016 7:55 pm

Text is only text, just like any other language string. In another language they would not be called "Inbox" and "Outbox", but their equivalent in that language. Therefore, their names can be changed, much as they are when they are translated:

Code: Select all

	'PM_OUTBOX'					=> 'Outbox',
	'PM_SENTBOX'				=> 'Sent messages',
If you have a problem with the default names, then this board is not the place to suggest changing it. That sort of thing should be suggested on the area51 development board.

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Re: PM Outbox/Sent Suggestion

Post by ace604 » Tue Aug 09, 2016 7:59 pm

Brf wrote:Text is only text, just like any other language string. In another language they would not be called "Inbox" and "Outbox", but their equivalent in that language. Therefore, their names can be changed, much as they are when they are translated:

Code: Select all

	'PM_OUTBOX'					=> 'Outbox',
	'PM_SENTBOX'				=> 'Sent messages',
If you have a problem with the default names, then this board is not the place to suggest changing it. That sort of thing should be suggested on the area51 development board.
Thanks, I'm not a webdev or anything, that code doesn't help me out :)

I just googled the issue, found this 8-year old post (with many posters along the way every few years up until 2016) and thought I should reply with my feedback. I created this account just to reply to this post.

The post is "PM outbox/sent suggestion" ... if this post is in the wrong forum shouldn't the whole thing be moved to a different board?

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Re: PM Outbox/Sent Suggestion

Post by Brf » Tue Aug 09, 2016 8:06 pm

ace604 wrote: if we could brainstorm
This particular forum is for "discussion" of phpBB. If you actually want to participate in any sort of future planning then Area51 is the place to be posting.

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