Computer: Email: Spam: Avoidance
Standard email list unsubscription protocol   (+3)  [vote for, against]
To unsubscribe, click here

Just to be clear, I'm not talking about spam here. I get a lot of email from companies who I've given my email address to, and who send emails to me with detailed, working, instructions for unsubscription. The problem is, often I can't be bothered to download the email, scroll to the bottom, click on the "Unsubscribe" link and do whatever it says.

So, I propose that there should be a standard unsubscription method. It would probably be done by forwarding the email and your email address to an email address supplied in a header field of the original email. This would mean that unsubscribing to emails could become a feature of your email client. So, without having to open the email, you could select it and choose 'Unsubscribe' from a menu.

Adhering to an easy unsubscription method like this might seem counterproductive to the companies sending out emails, but in fact they don't want to send emails out to people who aren't reading them anyway (but who find it easier to delete the email rather than unsubscribe), and if it is generally known that it will be easy to unsubscribe, more people will sign up for these emails.
-- hippo, Nov 19 2003

RFC 2369: Use of URLs as Meta-Syntax for Core Mail List Commands
See section 3.2. It is still a URL, but since its in a standard spot in the mail header, a good client can give you a button to activate it. [krelnik, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 21 2004]

Some applications that support above
[krelnik, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 21 2004] Unsubscribe_2ecom
Halfbakery idea from 2002 [pashute, May 20 2008]


I don't know about more recent bulk mail programs, but the ones I used long ago (before spam, when such programs were only used for useful purposes) had a standard way of unsubscribing - reply to the email with "unsubscribe" as the subject. Done.
-- Worldgineer, Nov 19 2003

I think this already exists in the form of a mail header with the name "List-Unsubscribe:", but I'm trying to dig up what RFC describes its use.

[update] I found it, it is RFC 2369. See link.
-- krelnik, Nov 19 2003

[krelnik] Interesting that there's something close to this - do you know if anyone actually uses it?
-- hippo, Nov 20 2003

Googling on "List-Unsubscribe" returns about a half million hits, mostly archived messages, so it appears a decent number of list managers support it. Yahoo Groups supports it. See second link for a list of apps the authors of that spec collected that intended to support it.
-- krelnik, Nov 20 2003

Interesting. I wish more email clients, and more of the mail I get, used it.
I'll delete this idea soon.
-- hippo, Nov 20 2003

random, halfbakery