On a properly configured discussion list an unsubscribe footer is always included; usually at the bottom of the post.   The unsubscribe footer is unique to each user and should never be included in a reply.

Need to trim

Need to trim

List members who are unaware of proper list etiquette may respond to a discussion list post by merely replying, inadvertently copying all the previous footers in the said discussion thread.  Therefore, the List Admin should educate their discussion list subscribers to trim their replies as a courtesy to the other subscribers.  In other words users should be trimming replies of extraneous text that is not relevant to the message topic…including the footer.

Take the case of a list member who decided to unsubscribe herself from the discussion list she on.  She replied to the post  she was reading by asking how to unsubscribe from the list.  She either did not see the unsubscribe footer, did not trust it, or wanted everyone to know she wanted to leave.  AND in her reply to the list, she did not trim off the previous footers, (or her own). Her reply post therefore, contained her unique unsubscribe link and unique unsubscribe email address.

Apparently, several people on the list clicked on her unique unsubscribe link on her behalf—to remove her from the list.   Each time the link was clicked on, the system would change her status to ‘needs-goodbye’, then send her the goodbye letter, and then change her status to ‘unsub’.  The member complained that the program was in a loop.  Common discussion list etiquette (aka Netiquette), if followed, would have prevented this from happening.

This bad habit will not only annoy experienced list users, but can also cause confusion and/or be used to cause mischief (malicious unsubscribes).  If a List Admin allows this to go on, it can also lead to declining membership via people unsubscribing because of the ‘noise level’ of the list.

Users should be taught (encouraged) to use the unsubscribe instructions at the bottom of each message if they want to be removed from a discussion list, as sending remove requests to a discussion list is common and not unexpected.  When such a public request is made the List Admin should just quietly remove the member.    In this case, the subscriber failing to trim her reply, allowing other subscribers to also attempt to remove her, compounded the issue.

Here are a few good links to sites with Netiquette guidelines and advice.  You may want to glean from these and create your own Netiquette guide for your clients.

http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=netiquette&defid=1612856
(Netiquette defined)

http://tools.ietf.org/html/rfc1855
(old advice, but still relevant and the official RFC on the subject)

http://courses.cs.vt.edu/cs3604/lib/Netiquette/Rinaldi/dis.html
(another older reference by the original Netiquette guru)

http://lifehacker.com/5473859/basic-etiquette-for-email-lists-and-forums

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