Use the Internet wisely with subscription-based emails

Posted on March 6, 2005

If you haven't noticed, there's a lot of stuff on the World Wide Web. For some people, that might be a good thing, but for the rest of us, who seemingly waste numerous hours a day, looking for those things we missed (like the Lip Balm Anonymous site), it's somewhat nerve-racking to explore it all.

There is a simple solution to all the madness: just turn off your computer. If that doesn't suit you, and the only thing you can think of that's worse than not using your computer is ... well, you can't even think of anything, then I have another possible option.

Many websites now offer email alerts or newsletters, which allow users to subscribe for those things they want to keep track of, and not worry too much about the rest. But with the explosion of sites that have alerts or newsletters, which ones should you choose?

Obviously, I have no clue, because I don't know what your interests are. First, it's important to distinguish between the email notifications that appear on a routine basis versus those that appear whenever there are special offers. In fact, some subscriptions serve a dual purpose to send out both types of emails. It's also important to consider how often you receive the updates before deciding to sign up. Trust me, this is an integral warning to heed before you start receiving 41,792,019 subscription-based newsletters.

The easy part is signing up; sometimes, it's a little more difficult to be removed from the list. Fortunately, most of the larger, well-known websites allow you to click on a link within an email to unsubscribe. Here's another EXTREMELY important warning: Don't ever click on one of these links within an email that you are pretty certain you didn't sign up for. Many spammers send out emails that look like things you might have signed up for. Once you click on a link like that, the spammers will send you MORE spam, sometimes to the point where your inbox will start looking more like Bill Gates'.

Here's a sampling of some of the types of lists that exist:

General news: Many news sites (Google, CNN, etc.) allow you to select which type of news you want delivered to your address.

Tech news: Maybe it's just because I'm more familiar with them, but there are a wide array of choices here, from general technology (Slashdot) to more computer-based (eWEEK, CNET) to specific groups (Designers Depot for designers, or, for programmers).

Other specific news: From parenting (ParentCenter) to tracking urban legends and email hoaxes (, there's a niche for everyone.

Store alerts: Places like, , etc., send out offers and weekly specials.

If your favorite didn't make the list, don't fret. For instance, I didn't even mention airline specials, like Southwest and Orbitz. As you can see, there are plenty of subscription-based emails to salivate about. I just hope your lips don't get chapped over it.