Many web sites request a user’s email address: “Sign up for our newsletter!”, “Read an article for free!”, “Thanks for buying our product: here are some discounts!”
Unfortunately, users who provide a valid email address are often relentlessly spammed later. Additionally, access to the email account might be required later, so it can be impractical to use a fake / temporary address.
Instead, email sign-up forms should be more courteous: they should include, along with the “Sign me up for your email list!” checkbox, a second checkbox that presents the option to automatically mark the signed-up-for messages as junk mail (Figure 1).
Previously, a user needed to perform three steps when signing up for a service: 1) sign up, 2) check email, 3) unsubscribe or mark the message as spam. This checkbox entirely removes steps 2 and 3!
This may actually be of legitimate interest to some web sites: apparently, if enough users flag a message from a certain senders as spam, certain large email providers will mark that sender’s entire domain (e.g.“example.com”) as spam. No one wants that to befall their company!
PROS: Saves thousands of hours of spam-flagging work every year. Additionally, any web site that implements this feature sends the signal of being a trustworthy operator (assuming the checkbox actually works), which should help increase consumer confidence in the brand.
CONS: Some hapless individual who is in charge of the distribution of marketing emails will probably have a hard time justifying the sudden reduction in new user subscriptions.