We are working on our CAN-SPAM compliance, and have our Unsubscribe wording the way we want it. Our app mainly sends e-mail when it is notifying users of various work-related events. If a user unsubscribes, their email is added to a blacklist, so notifications are generated for them, and then not sent to unsubscribed/blacklisted addresses.

How would you word reversing an unsubscribe action? We have considered "opt in", "opt back in", "resubscribe", and "subscribe". The Opt In options are inconsistent with the Unsubscribe wording, but is accurate to what's happening. Resubscribe and Subscribe are consistent with Unsubscribe wording, but is not really what's happening, since the address is being removed from a blacklist, and the unsubscribe action is being reversed.

  • 2
    I just wanted to say: thanks for doing that. I accidentally unsubscribed from a list of a facebook game that I really wanted to keep getting emails from, and they completely hadn't thought about that and made it a pain to fix. :p
    – neminem
    Oct 20, 2014 at 22:41
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    Users don't care for implementation details. Why are you taking them into account when naming the action in the UI? The action name should be consistent among themselves, not with the operations that are actually performed by the implementation, and which may be changed in the future for no good reason (from the user point of view).
    – Bakuriu
    Oct 21, 2014 at 15:19
  • Resubscribe.... Oct 21, 2014 at 18:43
  • I'm no expert, but it seems to me that if a user unsubscribes he wants to actually be removed from the system, not just blacklisted. One possible reason is security, for instance not wanting to be the target of spam attacks.
    – clabacchio
    Oct 22, 2014 at 12:54
  • @clabacchio depends on the type of system. If the user is still registered to login, but want to unsubscribe for notification updates, it would be impossible to remove them from the system.
    – Joe
    Oct 22, 2014 at 13:14

3 Answers 3


Does the user need to know the specifics of what's happening?

Resubscribe or Subscribe would seem to be more consistent for the user as their perspective would be more with regard to whether or not they are receiving the notifications and not so much the how.

  • Yup, keep it simple. :) Oct 20, 2014 at 20:56
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    From my POV, "Resubscribe" has a significant difference from "Subscribe": I would expect "Resubscribe" to just ask me for confirmation and skip the usual questions that we are asked when subscribing, since the system already has that information...
    – thkala
    Oct 21, 2014 at 15:26
  • You can very easily make resubscribing for existing users easier than subscribing without having to go into convoluted wording on the button. Do this: When a previously subscribed and self-black-listed user chooses to subscribe again, simply take them to a different screen or a pop-up than a first-time subscriber "Would you like to reactivate your previous subscription?" Yes short-cuts the deal, and just takes them off the black-list, No takes them to the normal first-time subscription page. Just a suggestion, but you get the idea. Oct 21, 2014 at 20:33

One of the clearest examples of those I've seen went something like this:

That's it, you've been unsubscribed!

Didn't mean to unsubscribe? <Subscribe again>!


If the user has just clicked 'Unsubscribe' then you might show 'Resubscribe' to afford them an option to Undo.

However, if some time has passed then just show 'Subscribe' as its essentially the same regardless if they were previously in the White List.

Or best yet is just to simply say 'Subscribe Again' after the Unsubscribe action. You are preserving the original label, adding an indication of Undo option and keeping the verbs concise.

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