Irrelevant Workflow E-mails

We have a number of workflows set up for course catalogs, each with at least 3 steps. We find a recurring issue when a user takes an action–that is, e-mail notifications are sent to multiple users whether they’re involved or not.

For example: a contributor in the draft step approves a page. An editor gets an e-mail that it’s been approved, but so do the multiple other users in the workflow that haven’t even seen the page. That editor rejects it back to the contributor, and again, each user gets a notification saying the page is ready for their approval. But it’s only ready for one user’s approval.

We have e-mail checked in each step, but I’m not sure the intention here is to falsely let each user know it’s their turn when it’s not. What can we do to fix this?

Hey Matthew,

In your example, when a page gets moved into the Review workflow state, at that point a notification should be triggered to all users who are members of the particular role you have configured to be notified in your workflow’s configuration. Are users who are not members of the specified “notify” role getting email notifications as well?

Also note that, with the current implementation of workflow notifications, the email triggered contains generic messaging, so if you have notification messages getting triggered for more than one workflow transition per role, you might find that it’s confusing for your end users.

We are looking into to allowing for workflow comments in an upcoming release, which would allow users to add comments when they submit, reject, or approve content, so that users being notified have a better understanding of what’s been modified, and why.


To your first question: I can’t say for sure that this is also happening for the Review step. But we know for sure it happens when a user rejects edits back to a user in earlier steps. The e-mails will trigger for multiple users–including the one who’s just passed it on–rather than only the user it’s rejecting to.

I’ve also noticed it when I resubmit workflows as an admin. I’ll get an e-mail, from myself, that also includes others who are not contributors at the base level. For anyone higher than a contributor, it must be confusing to receive such a notification, telling them their content is ready, which your second paragraph speaks to.

The issue for us seems two-fold: users who are not involved in the current action are being notified; and secondly, that notification is a generic one prompting them to do something that isn’t quite yet their turn to do.

I can see how comments could help, and I think they would generally benefit the workflows (our users would love this feature). At the same time, I wonder if there’s a less confusing way to have notifications work. I pictured it like this:

Contributor (gets an e-mail if an editor rejects)
Editor (gets an e-mail when contributor approves or when an approver rejects)
Approver (gets an e-mail when editor approves or when a reviewer rejects)
Reviewer (gets an e-mail when approver approves)
Review State (all users in the workflow get an e-mail saying the workflow is complete. If the workflow is resubmitted, all users get an e-mail stating it’s been resubmitted, and the contributing user is asked to submit changes. Then it repeats.)

How far off am I from how the workflows are already intended to work?

Hi Matthew,

I was just testing this locally, and, beyond the known issue with the email’s language not always being relevant for the workflow transition that has been performed, only users assigned to a role that has been flagged to get notified when a piece of content either gets put into that particular workflow state (either by being submitted forward or rejected backward, depending on the state) get notified. I did notice that if a contributor is able to reject content that they have submitted, they do receive a notification of their own reject action, which may be adding to the confusion here.

As far as users getting notifications when they shouldn’t be, one thing to check is if these users are assigned to multiple roles when they should only be assigned to one. Lastly, if you wouldn’t mind taking screenshots of your overall workflow configuration, as well as your settings for each individual state, that might help clarify for me what might be causing this overabundance of notifications, as well as help me test this locally in case there is a bug here.