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?

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About the Author

Michael Anderson
I have loved technology for as long as I can remember - and have been a computer gamer since the PDP-10! Mobile Technology has played a major role in my life - I have used an electronic companion since the HP95LX more than 20 years ago, and have been a 'Laptop First' person since my Compaq LTE Lite 3/20 and Powerbook 170 back in 1991! As an avid gamer and gadget-junkie I was constantly asked for my opinions on new technology, which led to writing small blurbs ... and eventually becoming a reviewer many years ago. My family is my biggest priority in life, and they alternate between loving and tolerating my gaming and gadget hobbies ... but ultimately benefits from the addition of technology to our lives!

2 Comments on "The Outcome of My ‘Unsubscribe’ Adventure"

  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.

  2. 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 …

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