Content alerts - unpublished revisions issue

30 Nov 2009

The following information is no longer applicable but has been left here for information.


A loophole has been discovered in the current setup of the content alerts function meaning that some content such as news and events will not be getting to all users.

When you create a new item of content you have the option to “send out this revision as a content alert”. If you tick this box AND the “published” box the very first time you create your content, email alerts will go out to all users who have expressed an interest in your content. (This does also assume that you have categorised your content appropriately, so please don’t forget to do this.)

If however you untick either “published” or “send out this revision as a content alert” on the item’s first creation, your content will bypass some of those users. This will remain the case even if you then make a revision to the item and this time tick both the boxes. The reason for this is that in order to receive an alert on your updated item, users have to have “on updates” ticked in their alerts settings alongside the various categories. The “on updates” boxes are not ticked by default in user alerts settings, so some users may not tick them.

This is especially inconvenient to us because many editors prefer to untick the “published” and “send out as alert” boxes when first creating their content because (very reasonably) they wish to review their item before it is made public. In some cases content items undergo several unpublished revisions before the editor is happy to tick the “published” and “send out as alert” boxes. Unfortunately at present the system does not interpret an updated item to be “new” at the point when it is first published – it will consider it “updated” even if you have made 20 unpublished revisions and then publish it on the 21st.

As a result of this the content alerts instructions (both on the “my alerts” pages and at have been updated to recommend users tick “on updates” to ensure they receive all the latest content from our site. At the moment this is the only way to ensure that users get alerts on content that has been previously updated in unpublished format.

Because of this, please remember that you should ONLY tick “send out this revision as a content alert” when you make any IMPORTANT updates to your content. This includes publishing the item for the first time, as well as any substantial changes to the content such as factual corrections, event date changes etc. It should not include minor edits to formatting, typos and so on. The “send out this revision as a content alert” box is currently ALWAYS ticked by default, so it is easy to forget to untick this box when you don’t want to send out your revision.

Please note this whole issue only affects dynamic content such as news, events and features – content alerts are NEVER triggered by changes to static items such as microsite home pages or contacts pages.

We are looking into longer-term solutions to these and other issues and do apologise for any inconvenience this may cause.

If you need further details or help in editing the site please don’t hesitate to contact Richard Cooper on or 020 7451 7346.