The motivation for this feature request is explained in this question.


Edit to add more detail : When I click my user name at the top of Stack Overflow, the info tab is the default. Then select prefs tab lower down. Bottom right is a link to tag subscriptions. Over on the bottom left is a heading "Miscellaneous" with one option: "Allow email notifications when I subscribe to questions or tags". Could a new option be added there (ticked by default to match current behaviour): "Include a one-click no-login-required unsubscribe link on notification emails".

  • 2
    Could you explain how you would like this to work? In other words, what alternatives would you find acceptable? Oct 26 '11 at 0:16
  • @Chris Ok, done.
    – Matt Dowle
    Oct 26 '11 at 1:17

This may be the first legitimate "don't let me unsubscribe" I've ever seen.

However, we're not going to implement it.

As The Unhandled Exception points out there are some legal concerns, and it's also just plain "good neighborly" to make it really really easy to unsubscribe. On top of that, we'd have to handle support of those users who accidentally enable this "no unsubscribe link" feature or do so intentionally and then want to unsubscribe.

It's just too narrow a use case, with too many edge cases, to do.


I don't think this is going to be done, for a few reasons.

First, it would only benefit that single situation you mentioned. (In fact I have voted to close this as "too localized")

Secondly, that link is there for a reason, and your users are clicking it for a reason. It's an easy way to prevent the emails from being sent.

Thirdly, The CAN-SPAM act requires:

Your message must include a clear and conspicuous explanation of how the recipient can opt out of getting email from you in the future

If the message was not a "one-click no-login-required unsubscribe link", but rather some other procedure, your users would probably still be clicking it.

Have you thought of having these emails sent to a script which strips out the link and forwards to your list, possibly with an explanation of what it is and where it came from? I hear there's a great site for asking questions about programming, maybe someone on there could give you some advice? ;-)

UPDATE: (now with more seriousness, less snarkyness)

Here's some questions generally related to what I speak of:

  • Last paragraph : thanks for advice.
    – Matt Dowle
    Oct 26 '11 at 8:19
  • I think the user(s) who are unsubscribing may misunderstand how to configure mailing list traffic. Nobody has it coming into their regular inbox. Users either follow the mailing list (without subscribing) via a newsreader or have an email filter to move subjects starting "[datatable-help]" into a folder automatically. If they understand this, then I doubt they would want to click unsubscribe. The motivation for the request is so we users only have to check one place for new questions.
    – Matt Dowle
    Oct 26 '11 at 9:46
  • 1
    @MatthewDowle - You seem to be making a lot of assumptions about the behavior and preferences of your users. You should ask them what they want! I only found one case where a user agreed that it was good to have these questions on the mailing list. No open disagreements, but I can push that "unsubscribe" link from anonymous access to the archives!. Oct 26 '11 at 12:02
  • 1
    I found a list user who was confused: "it was definitely confusing the first time I received them. It's not clear that I got those messages because I was subscribed to datatable-help", so I think even more so that you should be sending these emails to a script which modifies their contents and then forwarding them on to your list. (I was being serious about this... and did not mean to offend with my snarky link to Stack Overflow) Oct 26 '11 at 12:54
  • @Kevin The authors are users, too (probably the most active 'users' of the mailing list). I mark posts I need to come back to for example, so it's quite helpful to have all questions/problems in one place. The 'one case' is not just a user but a co-author too, btw.
    – Matt Dowle
    Oct 26 '11 at 16:13
  • @The Thanks. Are you suggesting I run a script on my own machine 24x7?
    – Matt Dowle
    Oct 26 '11 at 16:16
  • Yes, that's what I was suggesting. It doesn't have to run 24x7, you could pipe email into it via a filter... so you could set up a special email address which, when mail is received, launches an instance of the script and pipes mail to it. The script could then forward that along to the list. Oct 26 '11 at 16:18
  • @MatthewDowle do you have a hosting account with email forwarders set up anywhere? I know cPanel makes this very easy for example. Oct 26 '11 at 16:25
  • @The This is great and very helpful. Fyi, I maintain this R package in my free time (generally commuting on the train morning and evening using a netbook and mobile wifi). I don't have a personal machine that is switched on regularly. But also I don't know PHP or cPanel and I don't think I have a hosting account. www.feedmyinbox.com has been suggested - could that do it?
    – Matt Dowle
    Oct 26 '11 at 16:53
  • @MatthewDowle I don't have the time to help you with a PHP script right now, someone in chat might be able to? If this is an open source project please contact me off-site and I may be able to help you with a cPanel account. Oct 26 '11 at 16:56
  • @The Yes it's open source. I'll leave it for now but thank you very much for the offer.
    – Matt Dowle
    Oct 27 '11 at 8:42

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