I had always feared clicking on unsubscribe links in junk mail because I feared such action would be confirmation of my existence and would ironically add me to even more junk mail. I still think this is true for real junk mail: viagra spam, make money quick schemes, etc. However, the other class of junk mail that I get fall into a different category: industry newsletters from companies such as HPCWire, Greenpages, Platform computing, Thoughtworks, Vidyo, etc. This class of e-mail are likely caused by my registration at sites where I downloaded trial software, where I subscribed to an industry magazine, or perhaps gave my e-mail at a conference.
Over time my job function and priorities shift and what was interesting to me then is not interesting now. Thus, I launched a campaign to reduce the junk mail I have to deal with on a regular basis. To this end, I have been religiously clicking on the unsubscribe link that is in every one of these e-mails over the past few months. I believe all mass-mails are obligated by law to provide these links. What has been the result? It works! How do I know? Every time I unsubscribe from an e-mail, I shuttle the e-mail into a special folder. After doing this for 2-3 months, I just checked how many duplicates I have in there; duplicates being defined as e-mails in which I unsubscribed, then continue to get more e-mails from the sender. I am happy to report that I only have two duplicates in this folder! The net result so far is that I get about 75 less e-mails a week, more or less.
So, if you are like me and you are more or less afraid to click unsubscribe then you can probably feel a little better about it if my experience is any indication of the truth.