May 20, 2003
Internal (and external) mailing list usability

Recently I was added to an internal mailinglist after signing up for topic service I was interested in. A couple of mails came in from time to time with interesting content, so I didn't bother looking for alternative means of subscription (digests, or unsubscription alltogether). The other day, however, someone emailed the mailing list address with a "Please remove me" request, which quickly spurred 20+ more "me toos". This led me to Google for some info I knew I had mentioned in the past:

Jakob Nielsen writes about Mailing list usability and provides some lessons learnt for anyone managing or considering setting up mailing lists (either that's one-way announcement lists or mailing lists intended for discussion):

To avoid complaints about spamming users, provide an easy way to unsubscribe and explain how in the footer of every single email message.

Some people may say that doing so would encourage users to get off the list and thus lose customers. But somebody who is getting tired of your emails is not likely to be much of a customer anyway. And the more you annoy that person, the less they will like you. Make it easy to get off, and maybe they will get back on some other time.

However, he also helpfully suggests:
Each message footer should contain instructions on how to subscribe. If your newsletter is good, recipients will often forward it to other users, and they need to know how to get their own subscription.

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Thats a good point (including subscription information).

I have been working on mailinglist (opt-in only) list software, and what I have discovered is that many of the spam-killer software triggers on "remove me/unsubscribe" etc. links. It is actually a problem when dealing with proper mailinglists!

In my mind allowing for easy subscription as well as unsubscription is the right way to go, but with many "intelligent" spam-killers triggering on such methods, its almost tempting to just add a website url and have people look up the unsubscribe function and guess what e-mail address they were subscribed with (I guess the later is more of a problem for those of us with zillions of addresses and domains).

Posted by: Jarle on May 21, 2003 12:09 AM

To make both ends meet.

Posted by: Valentine on April 2, 2004 10:22 PM
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