Best Practices for Mailing List Unsubscription

Having spent the past too many hours gearing up for inbox zero or some such, I’m pleased to say almost every mailing list now includes an “unsubscribe” links (even those which I never signed up to! Which I avoided clicking on as they are probably a dodgy way to get you somewhere else). I assume this is some requirement of Spamhaus etc which the lists must follow to avoid falling in the spam folder, which affects their spam status in GMail etc. Also, if lists make it hard to unsubscribe, users will mark them as spam, which is also detrimental to their status on GMail etc.

After hitting “unsubscribe” many times, here’s what works well (of course, this is just from the perspective of an interested user):

  • While most let me unsubscribe immediately, some require login. This is a bad move as I assume many users simply won’t bother, especially if it’s some list you signed up to years ago. Interestingly, those which unsubscribe immediately fall into different categories – some are off-site, so you can only unsubscribe. Others are onsite and once you unsubscribe, you’re also logged in, which is possibly a security risk (maybe a reasonable one, but I don’t think they’ve always considered this happens). In a few cases (e.g. LinkedIn I think), you can unsubscribe, but then you have to log in after that. A fine example of the awesome Amazon-style “semi-logged in” state.
  • A good practice is to provide settings for what you want to receive. But not too many options! LinkedIn is particularly verbose with its new group feature – turns out each group has its own mail settings – a handful of checkboxes for every group. Just say no!
  • Some have a delay of up to three days, which is not just an annoyance, but breaks the UX principle of immediate feedback. You unsubscribe, then you see a new mail a few hours later and think maybe you didn’t unsubscribe after all.
  • Automatic Unsubscribe is best, but as with all “shoot first, ask later” style interfaces (e.g. Auto-Save), you also want to provide an “Undo” facility. One list did that, with a “Did you really mean to Unsubscribe? Resubscribe“. Smart.
  • Some said “We’re sorry to see you go” etc, but a smarter thing I saw was “You can still keep in touch with us on Twitter and Facebook“.

Gadget Spam. Podcast Spam. All in One Excitement-Packed Piece of Juicy Spam.

Gadgets AND Podcasts – these spammers really know how to target me…no wonder it slipped the GMail spam net.

My name is Christy and I am currently an intern at a small business intelligence company, BLEEP, working in their Software as a Service division, BLOOP.

My reason for emailing is that I’m curious of whether or not it would be possible to submit a gadget for a possible podcast. has already had one podcast by BLOOP, from BLAAP, and we would love to have another on your site. BLEEP is a free SaaS site that allows users to upload and customize data, then easily share their new visual almost anywhere on the web. Hope to hear from you soon.

Thanks so much,



p>I’ve often thought I should put together a spam gallery. This will be my first contribution.

Thanks For Your Comments, Friends

I’ve been wondering why I haven’t received blog comments for a while now. Assumed there must be some spam issue, but only today did I investigate it – triggered by a Dugg article on Akizmet’s false positives. (Akizmet is the WordPress web-service-based spam filter.) Akizmet has done a great job at separating definites from possibles, but it hardly let any real comments all the way. So I ended up having to moderate 250-odd comments over the past month, with about 35 false positives.

I probably haven’t heard about these problems because (a) they were in moderation, not marked as spam; (b) who remembers to go back to comments they left? (I don’t have any of the commenter ID plugins installed; maybe I should?); (c) my mail is equally full of spam lately.

The most interesting post in this regard was my advocacy for tableless forms, which surprisingly to me, was overwhelmingly supported by commenters.

I don’t like this because I generally like to reply to comments. I’ll go hit a few now…

Got Captcha? Antispam on AjaxPatterns

I’ve been blabbing on about how I’m going to open up the AjaxPatterns wiki for as long as it’s been online (about a year), blah blah, talk is cheap. Anyway, it’s a few steps closer now. The main issue has been protection against spam – some entrepeneurial folks behind numerous proxies have discovered there’s a good niche market among Ajax developers for fake watches and cheap pharmaceuticals, and AjaxPatterns is just the thing for their cunning Long Tail marketing strategy. I wish these measures weren’t necessary, and they certainly won’t be foolproof, but hopefully they’ll let us grow a bunch of useful Ajax content without too much interruption. After The Ajax Experience, I realised how much more there is left to document and how much people want to hear and say.

So these are a few things you’ll see at AjaxPatterns.

  • Captcha – just implemented. Let me know if you have any problems. Unfortunately, it does go against accessibility, but contributors who have difficulty with it could always mail me contributions. Hopefully, mediawiki will incorporate captcha at some point, the kind of project where the resources for a more accessible solution would make sense. Mail me if you want more info on the implementation.
  • Links to book version Implemented, but not live. Each pattern page will link to the corresponding book version (well, a close-to-complete draft). Even if a spammer messes with the pattern description for a short time, there will be a permanent link to the corresponding description in the book.
  • Word/URL BlackList Based on Spam Blacklist. Sorry, no examples involving discount Rolexes.
  • Backup strategy Another measure is frequent snapshots of the whole thing (that’s always been there) .