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  1. #1
    One website at a time mmj's Avatar
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    Allowing people to unsubscribe

    Hi there everyone. I'm a good little ezine owner and in each newsletter I publish, I give two ways of unsubscribing.

    At the top of the email I mention that unsubsribe instructions are at the bottom.

    At the bottom, I tell them what email address they subscribed under, and where and when they subscribed. I give a link to a web address where they can use my handy form for unsubscription, and I also give them an email address they can send a message to in order to unsubscribe.

    Still, people ignore these instructions, and simply hit "reply" to unsubscribe, sending an email back to me. Why? Were people taught that in order to unsubscribe they ought to hit 'reply' and send a blank message? This seems like an irresponsible thing to do, and an irresponsible thing to be taught to do, to me. It indicates that people are being taught to ignore whether or not an email has an unsubscribe facility. I can imagine naive people all around the world trying to 'unsubscribe' to spam by replying to the spam messages with blank messages. This would be a spammer's delight.

    Why do people do this? Occasionally, people reply to me with comments, hints and tips. That's why I don't want to redirect the reply-to address to an automatic unsubscribe utility. However, I frequently have to manually unsubscribe people simply because they don't read my unsubscribe instructions and send me a blank email.

    What should I do? Should I email them back and tell them to read my unsubscribe instructions? Should I ignore them (after all, I did give them two methods of unsubscribing)? I cannot automatically redirect all blank emails to another address because usually when they reply it's not blank - it's got the rest of my newsletter > quoted in it.
    Last edited by mmj; Oct 30, 2001 at 06:34.
    [mmj] My magic jigsaw
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  2. #2
    Serial Publisher silver trophy aspen's Avatar
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    I hate those people, and personally I either ignore them our say to read the unsubscribe instructions, especially since a third party service manages all that stuff for me.
    Chris Beasley - I publish content and ecommerce sites.
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  3. #3
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    mmj,

    It would appear that you have an easy way to unsubscribe, giving users 2 methods. Unfortunately, the reply to email with remove in the subject box is so common that many users do it automatically.

    I will tell you that as a user nothing irritates me more than an unsubscribe process that is much more complicated than a subscribe process. Perhaps comparing the two processes to see if they are equally simple would be a good yardstick. Sites that force me to visit the web site then hunt for a way to unsubscribe are an example. Grrrrr!

  4. #4
    One website at a time mmj's Avatar
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    My first unsubscribe link is a web link to my optout page at

    http://www.jokesplace.com/optout.php

    The second one is an email address to which one can send a message in order to be unsubscribed. This email is not the same as my reply-to email address. Is this the case with yours?
    [mmj] My magic jigsaw
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  5. #5
    Serial Publisher silver trophy aspen's Avatar
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    My reply-to goes to me, the email they need to send to is list-manager@burstmedia.com

    like I said I just ignore it
    Chris Beasley - I publish content and ecommerce sites.
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  6. #6
    SitePoint Wizard silver trophy TheOriginalH's Avatar
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    You could make it even easier by including their e-mail address in the link as a variable and having it go directly to the "optout.php" script. (you didn't really think you'd hidden the source did you......)


    H
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  7. #7
    HI silver trophy Silverado4x4's Avatar
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    I get at least 50 every time I send out a newsletter. Sometimes I get more, but that's the minimum with 110,000+ subscribers.

    I used to reply with a cut and paste message that said to follow the instructions. Sometimes people even replied to that and asked to be unsubscribed, or just blank messages. Sometimes I'd reply back with them 5 times before they stopped.

    Then I started manually unsubscribing them, and man what a pain that was. I just recently purchased a program that will gather up all of the e-mail addresses in a certain folder in Outlook and export only the "From" address into a text file. I open up the text file, and bulk unsubscribe them. This makes it a lot easier than replying to them with a cut and paste message.

    The bottom line is is to do what you want to do. I know people who get into flaming wars with their subscribers, some manually unsubscribe them, some ignore them, and some do what I do.

    75% of the unsubscribe requests are from AOL Users. They're (generally speaking) hard-headed newbies. The other percentage is from hotmail, yahoo, .edu, and .gov addresses. It's kind of sad when a government employee can't even follow unsubscribe instructions.

    Then there's those people who threaten to tell the post office about me sending them an e-mail that they signed up for.

    But, on the other hand, it may also give you a bunch of traffic by sending them cut and paste messages. A few people have threatened to contact the media, AOL (and what do I have to do with AOL??), etc. My response: Go ahead, I'm trying to get into the media myself.

  8. #8
    One website at a time mmj's Avatar
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    Some of the people are nice enough to say to me that they cannot work out how to unsubscribe themselves. I'm going to manually unsubscribe them.

    I've decided that the people who send a blank message or a nasty message will get a cut-and-paste response telling them how to unsubscribe.
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  9. #9
    SitePoint Enthusiast ART's Avatar
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    I usually send a request to the list-owner to be removed by him/herself even if they put unsubscribe istructions in the mailing, but I only do it that way in one case - when I, by myself did not subscribe the ezine/newsletter or whatever.
    Browar.pl: Poland's brewing!
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  10. #10
    SitePoint Wizard silver trophy TheOriginalH's Avatar
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    I have a huge problem with unsubscribe functions that do not work. One list (which I never actually "subscribed" to in the first place) continued to send me mails despite me following their instructions to the letter for 3 months. I e-mailed the list owner, and eventually even spoke to him on the telephone, during which, despite the usual "I don't see what the problem is - it's only an e-mail and it's free" rubbish, he assured me he would remove my address personally. The following month, the spam arrived again. Just wanted to throw in the views of a disgruntled user. You really do have to make the unsubcribe process as easy as possible and ensure it works - not doing so can seriously damage your reputation.

    Here's how I combat unsolicited junk in the real world.... Almost all "offers" come with a "freepost" envelope in the uk......these cost the advertiser money when posted......said charges are based on weight......sooo- if you collect all the junk sent during one week, then nominate your weekly worst offender...put everything in their envelope.....send it....you end up costing them a fortune - and hopefully make their roi plunge, meaning the rubbish will eventually stop (if enough do it). Now....if only I could come up with the same for e-mail spammers........

    Sorry - getting carried away there. Anyway - back to my point - making your list user friendly. I think you should study the numbers of people you have trying to unsubscribe in certain ways, and adapt to the habits of your users - simple usability argument. Is there any way you could construct a script which would unsubscribe any e-mail addys where the message is received as sent, but forward the e-mails where the user has written you a message. Alternatively, (depending on the figures) you could have the e-mail deleted automatically, but the messages forwarded for your perusal - that way if they didn't want to be removed you could simple add them again.
    I am not suggesting you do this instead of your usual methods - but as well as. Study your users (whether they love or hate you) and respond to their habits/needs.

    H
    ~The Artist Latterly Known as Crazy Hamster~
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  11. #11
    One website at a time mmj's Avatar
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    Cheers.

    I've changed my attitude slightly. I realised that those people sending me blank replies just wanted to unsubscribe as quickly as possible, and whether or not they ignored the unsubscribe instructions doesn't bother me. I just forward them to my proper unsubscribe address now.

    Also - I'm thinging of implementing security functions where I can have a blacklist. That way, if somebody complains that they were subscribed without their permission, I can put them on this list and they'll never be subscribed again. It protects them and it saves them from the need to complain more than once.
    [mmj] My magic jigsaw
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  12. #12
    SitePoint Wizard silver trophy TheOriginalH's Avatar
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    Originally posted by mmj
    Also - I'm thinging of implementing security functions where I can have a blacklist. That way, if somebody complains that they were subscribed without their permission, I can put them on this list and they'll never be subscribed again. It protects them and it saves them from the need to complain more than once.
    That's a top idea - mind if I steal it?
    ~The Artist Latterly Known as Crazy Hamster~
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  13. #13
    One website at a time mmj's Avatar
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    Originally posted by TheOriginalH

    mind if I steal it?
    I don't mind. You're welcome.
    [mmj] My magic jigsaw
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  14. #14
    HI silver trophy Silverado4x4's Avatar
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    There's one problem with that...when you get a huge list, you will have to go to a paid mail host most likely, and I don't know of any that have that feature. But, you could always use your own server if you've got the money and knowledge.

  15. #15
    Non-Member jigga's Avatar
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    They deserve what they get... they are helping the spammers by verifying that their email address is valid... DUH! OH well, some people will never learn...

  16. #16
    One website at a time mmj's Avatar
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    Originally posted by jigga
    they are helping the spammers by verifying that their email address is valid... DUH!
    Yeah that's exactly right. What bothers me is that they have been taught to do this in the first place. Where do they learn to reply to unwanted emails in this manner? Does AOL teach them to do this? I've never heard of anything like it.

    I mean - I don't really mind, but it's bad for them if they do help the spammers thus.
    [mmj] My magic jigsaw
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  17. #17
    Non-Member jigga's Avatar
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    Well, back in the day, you would respond by typing UNSUBSCRIBE in the subject menu or sometimes you could just unsubscribe by replying, but usually it was spam that said you could do it that way and they'd just sell your name and be done with you... it was a marketing scheme that spammers developed, in fact I remember when spamforums.com were around and the members use to talk about tactics for making spam a little more readable and finding out who has a valid email address and addressing bad ones... I was in one those discussions... this was back when all email was considered 'valuable'... It's pretty crazy to know how much the internet has changed and how ethics have evolved so drastically... to think I was a spammer a long time ago and there was nothing wrong with that and now I hate spam and I'll kill any spammer I can get my hands on... Strange world... hehehe


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