{Rant} When People Sign Up for Your Newsletter & Report it as Spam

Every now and then I see someone who subscribes to my blog report the email as spam. This annoys me because the content of my emails are not spam and this person opted in to receive the emails. It’s not like I added them to a list without their permission.

Cases where it make sense to report as spam

  • Someone you don’t know emails you about a product/viagra/Russian bride/etc. It’s spam.
  • Someone adds you to their mailing list without your permission.
  • You sign up to receive emails about books and they actually send you content about cheap airfare (or some other totally unrelated topic).
  • You “unsubscribe” from a mailing list but continue to get emails.

Cases where it doesn’t make sense to report as spam

  • You sign up for a mailing list where they’ll update you about new blog posts. You receive said blog posts.

It’s not spam if YOU sign up for something and then get exactly what you ask for. If you no longer want that content, that’s fine. That’s why the UNSUBSCRIBE button is there. But marking it as spam just because you’re lazy or feeling malicious is not cool.

Has anyone ever marked your emails as spam?

(If you use a service like MailChimp, I believe they’d give you statistics about this.)

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I'm a 28 year old California girl living in England (I fell in love with a Brit!). My three great passions are: books, coding, and fitness. more »

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29 comments

    1. Exactly! It’s so lame. I find it really disrespectful when it’s just blatantly not true. Every time someone marks an email as spam, they’re damaging the sender’s “reputation” with their provider a little. And okay, one or two spams once in a while won’t make a difference. My reputation on Mandrill is still “Excellent”. You need tons of people marking as spam in order to do any damage. But still! I just think it’s really rude unless there’s a legitimate reason for it.

        1. I read a bit more about it and it sounds great! I haven’t had a chance to watch it yet though because my husband is currently addicted to The Wire, so we’re working through that first. 😛

    1. I don’t think Feedburner shows you those stats, sadly. 🙁 It’s probably all behind the scenes (like if half your subscribers mark the emails as spam, you get auto banned or something).

      I just think it’s rude if there’s no legitimate reason for someone to mark it as spam, but they do it anyway. 🙁

  1. I’ve been getting your newsletters as span for a while, till I figured out where they were going. But all is fixed now. All I had to do is add your email to my address book. I don’t know why it was automatically going to spam.

    1. I don’t mean when they get sent to the spam folder. That’s totally out of a person’s control. I mean when they get the email and then click the “Report as Spam” button, which is something a person manually does.

  2. If someone accidentally hits the spam button on their email I would imagine it would still show up for you like they thought it was spam. In gmail there are icons (archive is an arrow, spam is an exclamation mark, and delete is a garbage can). I have accidentally hit the spam button instead of the archive arrow a number of times. But then I go into my spam and hit undo. So not sure what it would look like to the blogger.

    But i agree, if someone does this intentionally it makes no sense.

    1. I guess that is a fair point. I can see how someone could hit that button by mistake. I may have even done it once too, but then I did hit “undo” straight after!

  3. What I really love is at my day job when I get angry emails from customers because we send them important updates about our software. Not only did they consent, but wouldn’t you want to know if a platform you spend thousands of dollars on is changing a feature you probably use daily and directly impacts how much money your company makes?

    I also love the complaints that we don’t have an unsubscribe button, even though it’s ginormou, bold, and red so that it stands out.

    1. Oh gosh, that’s horrible!! I’d certainly want to get updates for anything I use super regularly, especially if it’s making me money.

      And lol at the people missing the unsubscribe button. I can totally relate to that. It’s amazing how some people just don’t read. I used to help run a fan site for a game, but it was just a fan site. It wasn’t officially connected to the game or anything. We had an “account problem” form where you could fill it out to get help with your fan site account (like if you couldn’t login, etc.). And in HUGE red text right above the form we said something like:

      “Please DO NOT fill out this form to get help with your actual game account. We are NOT the makers of the game and cannot help you gain access to your game account. This is for the fan site only.”

      And yet we still got soooo many submissions where people were like, “Help I can’t get in-game. Have I been banned?”

      Geeze.

  4. I also think part of the problem is people not knowing how to use an email client. They probably think it’s the same thing as unsubscribing.

  5. I have marked emails that I subscribed to as spam but only because I unsubscribed (several times) and I even emailed the authors to ask them to manually remove me from the mailing list. Yet, I still get one every week in my regular inbox (not my spam mailbox) even though they already told me they removed me from the list… it’s annoying.

    Nereyda @Mostly YA Book Obsessed recently posted: Waiting On Wednesday (125)!
    1. Yeah that falls under my mention of cases where it’s fine (“You “unsubscribe” from a mailing list but continue to get emails.”). I’ve marked emails as spam when I got added to a list without my permission.

      It’s just when people opt-in themselves and then report it as spam (even when there’s a perfectly functional unsubscribe button).

        1. Wow that’s annoying >_< If you have Gmail you can set up to auto delete/spam those emails, hahaha. Just using filters. I had the worst experience with Riffle. I signed up for their beta aaaages ago but never did anything. Then they started sending me messages, and their "Unsubscribe" button just opened up a new email message to a certain email address. So I'd send a message via email saying "Unsubscribe" and never got unsubscribed. Did that like 5 times. Then I raged at them on twitter and they said they'd sort it. They didn't. Then they finally changed it to an actual online form, so I unsubscribed there. Then I kept getting them. Then I raged AGAIN on twitter and they finally removed me... God. That was awful.

  6. It’s bothered me when Gmail has marked my blog emails (since I subscribe to my own blog to make sure everything is working) as spam and makes me worry that someone has marked my blog emails in order to make Gmail think that? I couldn’t find anything in Mailchimp about that but didn’t look too hard either yet. Completely agreed, though, it seems kind of malicious for people to do that when we’re just trying to be useful to them D:

    Anya recently posted: Princess of Thorns Giveaway!
    1. Aw that sucks. 🙁 There are a couple possibilities:

      * Definitely if tons of people have marked as spam. It would have to be a lot though, I reckon, unless combined with:
      * If you don’t have the anti-spam set up with your domain name (proper MX, DKIM records and stuff).

  7. I’m ashamed to admit this might be me. I have a tendency to press the spam button in accident instead the delete (after reading the posts, I delete them so I won’t clog my email). Usually I catch my mistake an unmark it as spam, but I know some have gotten past me by the fact some newsletters will appear the next time in my spam book instead of my email, which then I’ll mark them as “Not Spam”.
    So… I’m really sorry! Please don’t hate me! It’s an accident! *sobs*

  8. The only exception should be if the poor user was literally forced to subscribe by these annoying popups – it’s like “Hey here’s something on Google that looks interesting, I’ll check it out… oh it’s about cats, nice let me scroll down a bit… ***DOWNLOAD YOUR FREE EBOOK ABOUT SOMETHING TOTALLY UNINTERESTING AND SPAMMY – ENTER EMAIL ADDRESS HERE*** oh fuck off already, bye your site sucks” (strong language totally justified given how many sites do this).

    This kind of “newsletter” in my opinion definitely deserves to be considered as spam and their authors should either stop or get their blogs shut down. I hope one day the major email providers like Mailchimp will implement a clause forbidding these forced subscriptions in their TOS.

  9. OMG YESS! I just had this happen to me not too long ago and I was kind of surprised because the e-mail they marked as spam was totally on topic. I’m a bit nervous of it happening again and it makes me wonder if I’m sending out too many newsletters (I send them once a week), but I guess there’s sometimes no stopping people haha.

    1. It’s soooo annoying, but honestly it’s nothing to seriously worry about. Sadly these people exist and you’re never going to 100% get rid of them.

      * People forget they’ve signed up for stuff.
      * People get tired of emails and report it as spam instead of just unsubscribing.
      etc.

      I know it’s hard, but we just have to try not to take it personally. Your newsletter is probably awesome and I’m sure the frequency is fine—it’s just that there are some annoying people out there and we’ll always see those now and then! Grr!

  10. ^^^^^ THIS! ^^^^^
    It’s the ones who then leave really nasty messages in the unsubscribe form filled with expletives that makes me worry about their mental health.

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