When I was a grad student, I participated in a bunch of conferences, and sent papers to journals and the like.

But now I'm no longer in academia. I've been out for more than three years, and I still get a few emails a week notifying me of new conferences, hotel discounts for those who register, extended deadlines and the other usual stuff.

The thing is that none of these emails offer contact information or ways to unsubscribe from the mailing list. And it's not like they're from organizations I previously interacted with, but they are certainly about my former line of research. They are probably worse than spam, because I don't even think you could report them as spam.

I removed myself from all site registrations I can remember, such as IEEE and ACM, but these keep coming and coming and coming and coming.

How can a former academic get himself removed from all these mailing lists?

  • 1
    Use a spam filter?
    – Zenon
    Commented Jan 31, 2013 at 15:23
  • 5
    You are so cute! By which I mean: unfortunately, you can't
    – F'x
    Commented Jan 31, 2013 at 15:25
  • 4
    Change to a non-academic email address. Oh, wait, you mean you used your personal email address for academic stuff? Oops.
    – JeffE
    Commented Jan 31, 2013 at 16:48

2 Answers 2


Sadly, that sounds like spam, and you should treat it however you'd treat spam.

I'm not sure you should assume good faith on the part of the people sending you those e-mails. I'm an active academic with an e-mail address accessible on my university website, and I receive:

  1. Legitimate conference announcements over e-mail lists used by people in the area, which I could unsubscribe from if I wished.
  2. Announcements from people who actually know me.
  3. Unsolicited announcements from scam journals and conferences.

I receive several of the last category every week (and more, unsurprisingly, than any other category). I do not get legitimate mass e-mails that are not in the first two categories. It's possible that in other fields there are some legitimate announcements sent the way you describe, but I'd guess very few.

In other words: spam is spam, and you should feel no compunctions about treating it that way.

  • I didn't know there were "scam journals and conferences", but it makes sense. Commented Jan 31, 2013 at 16:04
  • 2
    @Panda: Where there's a profit to be made, there would be people trying to make that profit. /cough/open access journals/cough/ Commented Jan 31, 2013 at 16:31
  • 1
    +1 - also note that many ISPs let you report spam to them. This has the added benefit of ruining the spammer's reputation with the ISP and hampering their ability to send future spam.
    – Quotidian
    Commented Jan 31, 2013 at 19:22

I also get these mails, and I have the impression there is no way to cancel these kinds of emails. Your email address is associated with an academic context, and available in public. This makes it fair game for all obscure conferences and journals who want to lure you in.

The solution I see is:

  1. Get a new mail address
  2. Try filter out any mails mentioning conferences and such. Gmail has facilities for this kind filtering based on keywords.
  3. Use a spam filter and let it train on filtering this kind of mails. Thunderbird and other mail programs, and probably gmail have these kinds of self learning spam filters. You just keep flagging it as spam until they are automatically removed from your inbox. Do check your spam box once in a while to catch errors.
  • 1
    Gmail does have what is widely (but not universally) considered to be one of the best spam filters available. However I think it uses all users' spam reports to determine what to filter, so if you're the only one flagging a particular kind of email as spam, it may not have any effect.
    – David Z
    Commented Feb 1, 2013 at 0:08

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