D. Štrbac

Un/subscribe is an Anti-Pattern

The common practice of unsubscribing from message senders has become so ingrained in our routine that we rarely question it. But why should unsubscribing and subscribing be actions controlled by the remote sender rather than something managed locally? Why does an external party get to determine whether we accept or not something in our own inboxes? Why are our subscriptions distributed instead of being local?

A relevant analogy for this idea is RSS (Really Simple Syndication). However, RSS often requires a distinct client or view, whereas most of us frequently check our email. Advertisers and content authors recognize this, and that's why email subscriptions have become a norm. As a result, RSS is practically obsolete while subscriptions are ubiquitous.

One could argue that RSS missed an opportunity by concentrating on website updates. Instead, it could have been integrated into email and email inboxes. Rather than delivering posts, it could have preserved its subject and body structure, offering a more seamless integration with our email experience.

In this scenario, periodic content would autonomously categorize itself as such and be retrieved by readers who have an interest in it. Advertisers and content creators would not have the authority to dictate readership; it would invariably be the reader's decision.