"Transactional Emails" Not Available For Toggle in Web Interface

I was frustrated with receiving unwanted emails through iNaturalist, of the sort “New updates (date)…” and I used the unsubscribe link in the email, which turned them off.

Unfortunately, the link to configure email notifications in my profile / account settings:


Does not show this option anywhere. This seems a major oversight, because it was the first place I went to try to turn off these notifications.

Also, I have my email client configured to display emails in a text-only format, which I do for privacy, security, and spam reduction purposes. The unsubscribe link is presented in such a way that it is not isolated or separated, and thus neither easy to click nor to copy-and-paste, instead being enclosed in “<” “>” characters. It is also EXTRAORDINARILY long. Like it takes up a whopping 6 lines of text. This looks really ugly and is annoying to copy and paste.

The email also links to the following link:


With the caption “Update subscription preferences” but this is misleading and leads to poor user experience, because it doesn’t take you directly to the page where you can update preferences, instead you need to click another button (“Notifications”) and because it doesn’t say email, it isn’t immediately clear which one to click.

I think this situation could be improved in multiple ways:

(1) Make the unsubscribe link shorter
(2) Make the unsubscribe link appear in isolation and be clearly visible in a text-only email format
(3) Make the email link directly to the single URL that configures email preferences without forcing the user to then figure out where to click and click a second link on that page
(4) Make the email preferences page show toggles for ALL the email types.

I am reporting this as a “bug” and not a feature request because unwanted emails are an imposition and because we, the subscribers, hold power over you in that we can at any time choose to report emails as spam. I have chosen not to do this, because I want to support iNaturalist, but I find that the difficulty of unsubscribing from emails is a major imposition and a violation of basic trust as a user.

It’s always important to err on the side of respecting the user’s privacy and making it as easy as possible to unsubscribe.

Here is a screenshot of the page that was reached when I clicked the unsubscribe link, showing a type of email not covered on the other page linked:

I’m a little unclear by what you mean here, as you definitely can turn off all iNat emails, or only selectively receive certain emails, in your profile settings.

When you go to that link, toggling the third option to ‘yes’ shows you this menu

Is this what you’re referring to or am I misunderstanding your comment?

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this is a strange claim to make; what do you believe would be achieved by reporting these emails as spam, given it is a simple process to stop receiving them, as I noted above?

If you toggle that third switch to no, you will no longer receive any emails regarding notifications or updates. I have it toggled off, and I do not receive any emails.


Probably not possible, at least with the current set up. The link is generated by SendGrid, the email service we use.

Something we can look into but I can’t make any promises.

I added a github issue here for the URL: https://forum.inaturalist.org/t/transactional-emails-not-available-for-toggle-in-web-interface/39379 I agree it’s not ideal that we currently don’t take you to the correct page in Account Settings.

As @thebeachcomber says, it basically does - those are the “transactional” emails.

Thanks much for opening the issue to display the “transactional” issues. That is a significant improvement here and I appreciate that. Having the link go directly to the appropriate page would be an even better improvement!

You could communicate with SendGrid and let them know that your users are not happy with this setup. This wouldn’t fix the issue overnight, but it might spark them to improve their system long-term.

I recall looking for outgoing mail providers a while ago. SendGrid was one of the major players so I looked into them pretty thoroughly, and I noticed that they had these and other shortcomings of their systems. I asked some tough questions of the sales reps and they were unable to answer the questions to my satisfaction. The inability of addressing shortcomings like this, was part of why I did not go with them, so I have no doubt that they are aware of the problem, especially if their sales reps talk to their engineers and give feedback (I would certainly hope they do, they do in any competently-run company!)

I ended up going with another provider and have set up a system that works to my satisfaction.

I recognize I may be “weird” in some ways, like what bothers me is not necessarily the same as what bothers other users, but I do find very long URL’s to be an imposition because I always read my emails in text-only format, and I recommend others to do this as a security measure – and I would point out that if others did this too, it might curb a significant portion of spam, hacking, and phishing scams.

Having a reputable site like iNaturalist use long URL’s contributes to normalizing a behavior that IMHO I would never want normalized. Just because most other big players do it, doesn’t mean it’s okay. You could say the same sort of thing of the disregarding of consent in many aspects of society, for decades it was totally normalized, but that doesn’t make it okay. I think the two behaviors are in many respects parallel, like invasiveness of email marketing is something I see as a matter of consent, it’s like these little creeps into personal space, like, tracking images and tracking people’s data when they open emails, all these impositions that have become completely normalized in our society.

It’s like, sending the message “If you view your emails in text-only format, making the email look nice for you in particular is not a priority to us.”

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