Use 'Reactions' plugin to support emoji responses

@ace, I have to confess that for a long time (since soon after you enabled it) I’ve found the emoji reaction feature quite annoying. When on my phone, I can see the emojis, but there’s no way to see who created it (because when tapping and holding the name gets clipped on a small screen). For me this is worse than not having emoji reactions at all, because without them the person would possibly use the :heart: instead. Even if they wouldn’t, it would be cleaner and less annoying to me to not have the emojis at all.

I’ve been meaning to raise this for years, but it’s never been important enough, and I also don’t like being critical of something (that others clearly like) without constructive feedback. However, earlier this year I noticed that another Discourse forum I’m on enabled emoji support that integrates with the existing :heart: system and is fully useable on mobile as well as desktop. A bit of investigation today shows that this is now an officially supported feature, the ‘Reactions’ plugin:

It also looks like the plugin that I think you’re currently using had been end-of-lifed with the recommendation to move to the Reactions plugin.

So… I know you’re busy, but could I request you move to the Reactions plugin at some point? :pray: Thanks!

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As a counter to this, I prefer it the way it is. I use the emoji usually to register a dislike or skepticism of a particular comment without actually leaving a comment that might get distributed by everyone by email that just says “I don’t like this” or “I disagree” - for me, it’s usually the opposite of a heart, or at least an expression of skepticism, and I’m fine with it being anonymous. (Though of course perhaps I’ve outed myself at this point.)

This is one of my problems with the current system. I think if people leave a negative response they should stand behind it. There was a thread some time ago that attracted a lot of negative emojis and at one point it felt a bit like people were piling on sarcastic ‘responses’ because it was semi-anonymous. (Even on a computer I find it difficult to see who’s reacted when there are multiple ones with the current system.) I don’t think it’s very healthy for the forum and the level of discourse. If it were me I would actually remove the negative emojis from the available responses. IMO they never improve the conversation (even when I agree with the sentiment).

Edit: @ddmiller this is where you can add a load of negative emojis to my post while the current system is still in place :joy:


So, I’ll give an example. Every once in a while you’ll see posts that talk about how Apple has gone down the tubes, Apple just isn’t the same since Steve Jobs died, Jony Ive ruined the company (almost always with his name misspelled btw), Tim Cook is terrible, etc. Responding with an emoji allows me to express displeasure with the post without adding to the email chain with a post of negativity. But I’m generally tired of comments like this myself.

I’ll also do this for on-the-edge-of-rude comments.

Leaving an emoji allows me to leave a signal without potentially adding personal confrontation (if the person who made the post could see that I was the one who added the emoji.) Though, again, perhaps it will now always be assumed me going forward. Which will be ok with me - maybe others can leave a signal of disapproval and hide behind me, not being identified personally.

If there was a similar anonymous upvote/downvote for comments as there is on Reddit, I’d like that, too.

There’s nothing to stand behind. Im just expressing an “I don’t like this” and it’s kind of nice I can do this anonymously. I stand behind using hearts and being identified for liking a comment, though. Im all for highlighting what’s good publicly.

That’s all from me on this.

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To be clear, it’s not actually anonymous. If you’re the only one, it’s easy on a laptop/desktop web browser to hover over the emoji and see you left it. But on mobile with the small screen it doesn’t work.

Aside from the merits or not of being able to do this anonymously, I’d prefer a system that was consistent and well integrated. Plus, presumably the current plugin will eventually stop working or have security issues.

@jzw It sounds like the new Reactions plugin is simply better than the old Retort plugin, and since that’s been end-of-lifed, it would make sense for me to replace it anyway to keep code current.

@ddmiller It’s possible that the new approach will actually be more what you want since the current heart system doesn’t reveal who clicked now.

I’ll take a look once I get this Advanced Data Protection announcement written up.


It doesn’t? Click on the number next to the heart and you’ll see who clicked it:

Screen Shot 2022-12-07 at 16.50.50

Likewise with emojis - hover over them to see who clicked them:

Screen Shot 2022-12-07 at 16.52.40

Even if multiple people clicked the emoji, the pop-up tooltip will list them all:

Screen Shot 2022-12-07 at 16.58.15

But I don’t know how/if this works from a mobile device.


Doh! I clicked on the heart itself, not the number. So yeah, nothing’s anonymous. :-)

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FWIW my objection to the old plugin is practical: it’s not as screen-reader accessible as the native support, in that you can see what and who the reactions are or were from, but you can’t contribute your own due to the modal it uses. So I look forward to being fully included when you update to the in-box support.

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OK, the Discourse Reactions plugin is now installed and active. Now, when you click the heart icon, you can choose from a variety of emoji as well.

The question is, what emoji should we provide? There’s a limit to how many make sense (6 or 8 at most), so let’s come up with a list that encompasses the major ones.

I’ll lead by saying I’m not going to add the poop emoji because I don’t find scatology funny. But I’m cool with there being a couple of negative ones, like :disappointed: and :frowning_face:

This is what the settings look like now.

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I’d suggest a couple of changes to your list:

  • I don’t think :+1: adds anything significant over :heart: to be worth a slot
  • I prefer (and see more use of) :joy: over :laughing:

And two requested additions:

  • :100:
  • :raised_hands:

And a functional note: I can’t get the emojis to appear when clicking on the heart icon on your post – is the plugin definitely active for everyone?

Thanks for spending the time on this :raised_hands:

Oh, also since this is TidBITS, can I also request the following custom emoji?


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I see the emojis when I mouse over the heart – no clicking required.

Just a thumbs down. That’s what I typically use to express displeasure with a post.

Nice idea.

IMHO :heart: and :+1: are a bit redundant. And because this isn’t The Newlywed Game I prefer :+1:. Like @ddmiller, I think having :-1: makes sense too.

I’m not sure what :confetti_ball: is supposed to be used for.

And, like @jzw, I think a thank you is missing like :pray: or perhaps better :raised_hands: since the former has this oddly religious vibe attached to it. At least for me.

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I don’t think :heart: can be disabled as it’s the standard, built in, always available reaction in Discourse.

It started working for me a few minutes after writing that post, so either @ace was still adjusting things or the setting took a bit of time to propagate through.

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Another request from me:


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What about a confused symbol like :question: to indicate content not clear, needs clarification?


Let’s see if we can expand the suggestions as well:

:heart: = “I like the fact that you posted this.”
:+1: = “I agree with what you said in this post.”
:-1: = “I don’t agree with what you said in this post.”
:rofl: = “This was hilarious” (I prefer the tilted one to :joy:, which looks like plain crying to me.)
:100: = “This post is 100% correct and really helpful—100 points!” (This feels to me like an extension of the heart.)
:raised_hands: = “Thank you!” (This seems a slightly forced interpretation; it’s nominally more about celebration.)
:question: = “I found this post confusing” (The confused face :confused: doesn’t look confused to me)

Looks like custom emoji are possible, but what would this mean? What if we we did a version with a + and another with a -, like this, to mean “Apple did good” and “Apple did bad”?

image image

What’s pointing supposed to mean? If you have a question, wouldn’t you ask it?

Anything else?