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Show HN: Email Cleaner: Clean tracking links and pixels from email newsletters (bengtan.com)
22 points by bengtan 9 months ago | hide | past | favorite | 10 comments



Hi Fellow HN'ers,

Author here.

Happy to answer any questions or comments.

----

If you don't mind me hijacking the conversation, I'd like to pose two questions to HN:

> Alternatively, I considered calling it ‘UntrackMe: Remove tracking from email newsletters’. Which sounds better?

and

> I don’t know if it’s worth the effort to do this. Do many people still read emails in plain text?

What do you guys think?

Thanks for reading!


If you can get untrack.me as a domain then you are golden!

Regardless, I think untrackme is more suitable in today’s vernacular.

Many people read emails in plain text and I think a lot of people would like to prevent tracking, but without resorting to plain text. Which your app does.

Only issue I see is that this something that should be directly integrated into email clients, not something I would get a third party app for (how do we trust you to forward emails to - I wouldn’t for work purposes, but would definitely consider for personal purposes).

The bigger issue is not so much tracking but spam in email inboxes from newsletters and other email blasts from distribution lists.

I really liked your clean site and easy to read instructions.


Thanks for the feedback.

> Only issue I see is that this something that should be directly integrated into email clients, not something I would get a third party app for

I agree that it would be better integrated as part of an email client. But that's nothing something I can do. So I'm trying to do the next best thing.

> (how do we trust you to forward emails to - I wouldn’t for work purposes, but would definitely consider for personal purposes).

I agree about the trust issue as well. Which is why I say ... only send publicly available email newsletters.

I don't expect people to forward private/confidential emails. Nor do I want them to.


Privacy is a hot topic right now. Most just turn off the loading of remote assets in HTML emails but there is a certain simplicity to just reading the text. Just today I provided some suggestions to someone on plain text oriented email clients.

As for myself, the issue has never really come up as I have used Mutt since forever. The w3m browser does a great job of converting stuff like HTML tables to well formatted plain text for those times where the text is unreadable or missing. Which raises the question of why that could not work for the newsletter generators. Is the starting HTML really that bad?


Thanks for your feedback.

> Is the starting HTML really that bad?

I think the mailing list service providers just don't care. If they did, they would easily see that extremely long blocks of random text (ie. a link) in plain text kills the readability.


Playing devil's advocate here, but these trackers are useful for the newsletter publishers to know what content is interesting and what isn't for their readers.

On the other hand, I agree with your argument in regards to security.

Alternatively, you could include in the processed email both the original link (tracked) and the destination. Then, you as a reader can decide if you want to be tracked (and give feedback to the publisher) or not.


Thanks for your feedback.

I agree that there are both sides to the argument.

> you could include in the processed email both the original link (tracked) and the destination. Then, you as a reader can decide if you want to be tracked (and give feedback to the publisher) or not.

That's what I initially tried to do, but it was too hard to make it work when the link was an image (or a social media icon) instead of text. I could give it another try but it will have to be another time.


Initially I liked your idea a lot. But in the current set up it is a hard sell: You preserve my privacy (I read html mails), but you get my Email address and newsletters I like. Facebook needs a couple of likes and can create a psychological profile of you. Now it is a question of trusting a random guy on the internet to be better and not sell my data to the highest bidder. Maybe open source could address this to some extend. Ideally a gmail or outlook add-on that is doing what you described, with the option to use a proxy. But I personally would probably not pay for that.


The super-long URLs that you see are already linked to the email address (and other contact details) that you provided while signing up for the newsletter. So, clicking it yourself, or via the the proxy script, will not change much. They really just track whether you open it or not, so they know the popularity of the content.


From the article:

> It’s privacy-by-obfuscation instead of privacy-by-abstention. But it does prevent your web browser/IP address/location from being leaked.




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