Mailing list subscription netiquette

I try to avoid rants here, but the following has become increasingly common so I’m going to comment.

I consider it a basic form of netiquette to ask people about a mailing list subscription before proceeding to add their name to a list. I realize that most people get too much email as is so if you have to go through asking them first and then requesting an opt-in action then the chances are small that they will subscribe. That said, most people get too much email as is so it’s fair to assume that if they can’t take the time and effort to opt-in then they won’t appreciate the messages anyway. Or perhaps it’s not fair to assume. In the end it’s an empirical question, I guess. I don’t know of any research on it, I’m afraid.

In the least, it would seem courteous to send people an introductory note letting them know that you have added them to a list.

Of course, worse yet is when people add you to a distribution list where you have no way of opting out whatsoever. Thanks to email filtering options, it is possible to route messages directly to trash without ever seeing them.

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