Stuff that occurs to me

All of my 'how to' posts are tagged here. The most popular posts are about blocking and private accounts on Twitter, also the science communication jobs list. None of the science or medical information I might post to this blog should be taken as medical advice (I'm not medically trained).

Think of this blog as a sort of nursery for my half-baked ideas hence 'stuff that occurs to me'.

Contact: @JoBrodie Email: jo DOT brodie AT gmail DOT com

Science in London: The 2017 scientific society talks in London blog post

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Because you haven’t opened an email in more than a year, your e-mail alerts have been cancelled

This isn't a post being snarky about Nature.com - it's just that they happened to send me this in December last year and it made me giggle and then wonder about people knowing what emails I have or haven't opened. I was reminded of it today and thought I'd dig it out.



I've done a bit of a series of blogposts recently ('fun with paranoia') on some of the various ways in which your data is shared, or links that you share may carry extra information about you. My favourite example is the one in which I searched for volunteering options local to me by putting in my postcode. The address for any page I looked at after that 'inherited' my postcode and I only noticed when I copied the link of an opportunity to share on Twitter.

When you click on a link in an e-lert type of email the webpage collects some information - it probably could work out who you are although I don't think anyone's particularly interested in that. I suspect the body of data is more useful for telling you how many people clicked on something.

Normally I'd never share this great long link
http://www.bfi.org.uk/news/bfi-statistical-yearbook-reports-stand-out-year-uk-film-2011?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=20120816-bfi-news&utm_content=20120816-bfi-news+CID_3cebb6282a05eb1f2edba37963a386d1&utm_source=cm&utm_term=Read+more

This came from an e-lert from the BFI and is a rather fascinating page on the stats of film in the UK and the changing face of how we view films in Britain etc (also there is such a thing as the "BFI’s Research and Statistics Unit", I had no idea). Everything after '2011' is data about how I (although I can't tell if it's specifically 'I' or just generic to 'all who receive this email') reached the page. E-lerts report back to their owners the percentage of email recipients clicking on different sections. There's nothing sinister in any of this, I just find it all quite interesting.

The link I'd share would be the pruned version http://www.bfi.org.uk/news/bfi-statistical-yearbook-reports-stand-out-year-uk-film-2011, much tidier.

Back to Nature though - it's true I didn't open their emails but I'm not certain that unsubscribing me is the best strategy (assuming it's not just a random spam email of course, it looks legit). Perhaps I check my emails on the way to work, clock that Nature have sent me something and then visit their page when I get to my work computer without using any of the links in the email... perhaps now that I no longer receive these notifications I no longer think to do this ;)

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