Unsubscribe me!

I’ve cleared up my subscriptions to online mailing lists considerably. But I have been unable to unsubscribe from four categories of email –

1. Hotel California – I get an email. I click on the link that says “unsubscribe” and I get to a page that offers me the option to subscribe, but not one to unsubscribe. Alternatively, it is a page of my subscription preferences and every single email variety is set to “do not deliver”. But, of course, I am still getting emails. What the heck??

I’d love to just hit a “report” button and have the site do the investigation to fix the issue instead of my having to find a customer service email and follow up.

2. FOAF1 abuser – A friend at one time or the other sends out a huge mass email. Every single email address is visible. A FOAF then copies all the email addresses and spams everyone going forward. You’d think getting off these lists is easy. Not. I wrote to one of these FOAFs requesting to be taken off the list. He writes back that he can’t check every email blast that he sends out and instead the mutual friend should have been more careful (?!?!)

People! Don’t expose my email to spammers! Where’s the sense of responsibility?!

3. Annoying acquaintance – The person sends five emails a day. Ok, sometimes less. But these are all stupid forwards about flowers, pets, kids, rainbows and other crap. Now, if the person is a friend, no problem – email back and tell them to take you off. But the acquaintance situation is harder. I don’t know the person well and don’t want to seem rude. This bucket also covers the random relative to whom you can’t possibly say “What’s wrong with you?? STOP emailing me!!!”

4. Scare Forward – I particularly hate these. Hate is actually not a strong enough word. Abhor. Despise. Detest. These are the emails with a threat at the end of it – “if you don’t forward this to your 3 million friends in the next 16 nanoseconds…” or “This email has been around the world 496 times…”And of course, there are the religious versions of these that invoke Ganesha, Jesus, Sai Baba and every other god, demigod and saint known to man.

I take special pleasure in dealing with those. First I find every person in the chain who has forwarded it to others. Then I dig up my canned response – a stern talking to about email abuse, how despicable it is to forward threats, the potential legalities of spam etc. – and I send it to all of them. Then I delete the original, refusing to inflict it upon others.

A subset of this are the fake emails – urban myths. Instead of checking Snopes, people blithely forward on the crap. Well intentioned, but so incredibly useless.

Yes, I know that it is very easy to hit the delete button. But why should I waste any time, even if it is the 10 seconds needed to process these stupid emails??

Unsubscribe me already!


  1. Friend Of A Friend 

  • Shri, how are you getting your email? Maybe setting up a filter that sends certain types of emails straight to the delete folder is in order? I have done this for a few types of stubborn, unsubscribable emails over the years and it saves a ton of time.

  • Shripriya

    Hey Jeffrey – I pop gmail and .mac into the Mail app on my computer. So, set up a rule in Mail, I think, yes? I think category 2 and 4 are harder to set rules for, but 1 and 3 should be fairly straightforward…

  • Krishna

    Can I get a copy of the canned “don’t bug me” message? And agree on the mail filter rules. In fact you can filter all 4 categories to a “read only if I have free time” directory and avoid dealing with them 🙂

  • You and I must have the same relative who sends out those emails. Wait, ….

  • Shripriya

    @Krishna – Sure. It is quite… er… “strict”, so be prepared.

    @4th Umpire – LOL! Naughty, naughty!