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> Responsible email publishers use lack of opens as a signal to reduce volume of emails sent and, eventually, unsubscribing you automatically.

That does not remotely sound like the behaviour of responsible "email publishers". Responsible behaviour is to only email people who asked for it, and to stop when they tell you to stop. Clever trickery to spy on people is not the behaviour of responsible people.

If their intention was as you say, it would be really stupid and unreliable trickery, not just because some systems might load the images without the user reading the email, but also because the user might read the email without loading the images. And even if they were to only and reliably load on reading, reading the email does not in any way imply that the user wants to receive it. Lots of people open email before throwing it away. Some mail readers show a preview which may be enough to read the message. Does that count as reading or not?

No responsible organisation would rely on this kind of trickery, and no organisation that relies on this can be considered responsible in their handling of email.

Agreed, it's a terrible idea. I've been subscribed to the NY Times' "morning briefing" email for a long time. I'm using an IMAP client, and I never bother to load the images for this, because all I want is a text summary of the day's news.

They recently sent me an email saying something like "we noticed that you're not reading our email, so we're unsubscribing you." Apparently I hadn't been loading their tracking pixel/script/CSS, so they thought I wasn't "engaging" enough. This was despite the fact that I clicked on links to full articles, which had all sorts of tracking info embedded in a redirect.

A responsible email publisher offers a clearly-visible "unsubscribe" link at the bottom of the email, which will unsubscribe you with a single click. No nags, no checklists of email categories, maybe an "are you sure?" page at most, with equal-sized "yes" and "no" buttons. One or two clicks, and I don't hear from you again.

A dodgy email provider is more likely to "use lack of opens to reduce volume." If I don't trust some company to actually unsubscribe me when I ask, I'll just filter their domain directly to the trash. Clicking on spammers' "unsubscribe" links is usually a bad idea.

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