The Outcome of My ‘Unsubscribe’ Adventure


Back in mid-November, I wrote a post asking if those ‘unsubscribe’ links in emails of reputable companies actually meant anything. Carly wrote a follow-up post about how companies used junk mail blasts as targeted marketing, because it was surprisingly effective.

So now it is about six weeks since I wrote my original post, making it nearly two months since I started trying to dump unwanted emails. How did it go? Amazingly well!

Through Cyber-Monday I saw only a slight decrease in unwanted email, but immediately after that I noted a sharp decline, followed by slower drop-offs, and then a couple of reappearances between Christmas and New Years, and nothing since. Sadly I clicked something over the holiday break that has led to 2-5 real spam messages a day coming through, but overall I am pleased.

Here is how it broke down:

  • A few sites like were amazing – ONE click and I was done. I haven’t gotten an email since. THEY will get my future business.
  • Most sites such as Walmart, Best Buy, NewEgg, and others used at least all of the ‘up to 10 days’ before leaving me alone. But once gone, they never returned. I hold no grudges with any of them.
  • Circuit City / Tiger Direct is like Zombie Whack-a-Mole – they seemed to be gone, then returned, then left and then came back … then I thought they were gone, and then I got an after Christmas Tiger Direct ad. NEVER going there again.
  • MeritLine was great for a couple of cheapie electronic connectors and a 2-for-1 deal on earbuds for the kids, but they had gotten to the point of several emails per day, and I STILL get the occasional one in spite of attempting to unsubscribe at least 50 times at last count. No way … I would pay more rather than deal with them.
  • But the worst has to be Viacom – the owners of MTV/Nick. The frequency of emails has abated, but they are the worst sort of Zombie Whack-a-Mole because of how much stuff they own. Just after Thanksgiving they accounted for at least a dozen unwanted emails PER DAY. I stopped getting MTV stuff after a couple of weeks and a dozen unsubscribes, but was getting stuff from other properties, and each time the unsubscribe site looked different. I also went to Facebook and Twitter to be sure I wasn’t in any way connected to them anymore. I don’t care what they are giving away … I will never click ANYTHING of theirs again. Like ever.

As for my mistake … despite being quite happy with my current job, I still get job alerts from Jobster on ‘Scatterometry’, a field I was very fortunate to be involved with when it was just starting and have published some significant work and spoken about at technical conferences. Basically it is an extremely math & physics intensive light scattering based measurement method that can accurately describe the lines on a computer chip too small for even electron microscopes to measure. A couple of cool sounding jobs came along, and I clicked to look, which took me from place to place and had me think I was at the actual company, but it was an encapsulated site, and I soon realized that I was likely to get spammed … and I was right. A week or so ago I was getting 5-10 spam mails through to my inbox, which has dropped to 1-2 a day with diligent flagging.

So … two months ago I was doing the ‘half hour of housecleaning just to get to the email I cared about’ routine Carly described, with dozens of emails across several accounts that were simply deleted because I didn’t want them. Now when I am feeding the animals and making coffee in the morning I typically have 12-15 total emails that arrived overnight, ALL of which I have subscribed to or are from actual people I know.

Now when I get an email at some point during the day, there is a ~90% chance I actually want to see it! Definitely a success in my book. How about you? Have you tried unsubscribing? How has your experience been?

Categories: Gear Bits, Rants and Raves

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2 replies

  1. My experience has been very similar, even to the Viacom nonsense. I get the feeling I’ll *never* stop getting Nick spam; it’s infuriating. But I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how easy most of the other unsubscribes have been.

    • Viacom is definitely the worst. Looked in my Yahoo Mail spam this morning and there was a Viacom (VH1) … but not in Hotmail or anywhere else … so while they may never go away, at least they seem to be hitting my spam folder now …