Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Plant a Tree, Spam a Friend

I have been in contact with Trees for the Future and frankly I cannot see why they are still partners with Mamasource. Not ONE thing has changed with Mamasource. Not ONE. They still have their email servers configured like those of the common spammer, they still do NOT provide and UNSUBSCRIBE link that actually will unsubscribe you from their daily emails or email digest and they are still HARVESTING and HIJACKING unsuspecting women's email address books on a daily basis.

Artie Wu may claim there is a programming error, but in my research I've found that Artie Wu is not technically challenged. Quite the opposite is true.

And he is still spamming you and other women in the name of moms, trees and breast cancer.

Frankly, I think Artie Wu is a smooth talker and has fooled his partners and subscribers into believing that all this spam is a result of programming errors. With his background with Vividence and all that he's done in the past with "intelligence mining" I find this very, very difficult to swallow. Artie Wu is far from technically challenged. He is a bulldog. He is known for getting information from his competitors with techniques that he won't divulge. His company Vividence, was one of the top places to go to mine data for companies. He sold that company for about $22M and he has top-notch programmers on board. He knows EXACTLY what he is doing.

And yet he still blames all this spam on programming errors, or better yet, on YOU.

I think not.

Please contact the good folks at Trees For The Future and tell them that you are sick of getting spammed in the name of their organization!

Their number is 1-800-643-0001

Monday, March 10, 2008

Still Spamming In The Name of Planting Trees

Looks like Artie Wu is still spamming people in the name of planting trees.

I wonder why Trees For the Future would tolerate partnering with such an obvious scam artist.

This post found on a random blog on March 10, 2008:

"so so sorry if you got an email from me about planting a tree!??! apparently this site, mamasource, which actually sounds like a great idea, hijacks your email list if you go to their site or if you sign up. so if you got one from me, i promise i didn't send it, and if you get a mamasource email from someone else just don't open it or even click on the link. blech. i hate spam."

Monday, February 25, 2008

Artie Wu's Spam Is The Gift That Keeps Giving

Looks like Artie Wu and Mamasource are still up to their old tricks.

Here's a post from a blogger in Scotland:

"Something terrible has happened. Apparently I unknowingly spammed all of my e-mail contacts. I received an e-mail from my sister-in-law a week or so ago (I'm assuming she did the same thing I did, hence the e-mail from her) that had information in it about something called Mamasource. I know I opened the e-mail but I don't remember what I did after that. (Name deleted) has informed me that somehow I allowed it to get access to my Gmail account and it then spammed all of my contacts. So, if I have ever written you an e-mail and you received an e-mail from Mamasource telling you that I want you to plant a tree or something weird like that, I am SO SORRY! I am not really sure what I did, but I didn't intentionally send you all e-mails from Mamasource and I don't really care if you plant trees for me or not. Sorry. I really don't know what to tell you all to do to stop getting these stupid e-mails, but just ignore them, delete them, or if you have Gmail, mark them as spam so they won't come through anymore. Again, I apologize for whatever I did to spam you. I didn't mean to."

Nice, Artie.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Mamasource "How Slimy!"

Here is a recent thread I saw online:

"plant a tree" email

"I'm not sure if this is the right spot to post this - I'll try in TAO as well just in case. But I wanted to caution the mamas here about an email I received recently from a friend through mamasource. It was seemingly innocent enough - one of those "we'll plant a tree for each mama who clicks the link" things. They also offered to check your email address book if you wanted to find other friends of yours that were already members of mamasource - and they wouldn't store your password was the only other instruction there. So I did the change password, check list, change password back thing. After they checked, they asked me if I wanted to send the plant-a-tree email to anyone and they automatically selected 4 people. I said no to 3, allowed one, and thought that was it.

However, they sent out invitations to almost everyone in my email address book without my permission. I received emails from non-mamas asking what it was about, which is how I knew it happened. An invite was sent to my (deceased) mother's account, too... so I KNOW I wouldn't have sent that there. Plus, I had two people tell me that just by clicking the no strings attached plant-a-tree link, they got signed up for daily newsletters from mamasource.

Email attempts to mamasource were first totally misread and then ignored. When I sent an email through my mom's account to get them to end her subscription, they sent one back asking me to reconsider. When I explained the situation, who I was, my personal email address, I'd really like to talk to someone so that this doesn't happen to others, etc, I just received a "we closed this account" email. My other friend who wrote them got much the same response.

I have no idea if they're actually planting trees or not - I hope so for all this. But if I can spare someone else the trouble that I'm going through with them - and the complete refusal on their part to discuss it - I'd like to."


"Wow - thanks for the heads up! How slimy of them!"

"Interesting. I somehow got on mamsource's list of people to annoy, it was related to a mama I had bought something from online. I was like Why did she give them my email? Maybe it was the same scenario as with you, they took her whole address book."

"WOW, Glad I didnt open the few links I got from friends....I just had a bad feeling about it...Thanks for posting."

Check out the MotheringDotCommune forum for yourself.

Artie Wu, when will you stop these practices?

Monday, February 18, 2008

What Other Bloggers Are Saying About Mamasource

I am not the only one blogging about Mamasource. There are other women out there who are just as angry about the spamming, the email hijacking and phishing, and the unethical tactics that Artie Wu employs in the name of community that they too have decided to take a stand for what is right, to tell the world what is wrong with Mamasource.

So many of you love Mamasource...and that's fine, BUT do you love what they are doing to people's email address books? Do you love that they are using non-profits like Trees for the Future and The Breast Cancer Fund to further their agenda? Do you agree with using these charities to encourage people to give up their email address book passwords?

You should be thinking twice about these tactics!

Does it bother you that you CANNOT UNSUBSCRIBE FROM YOUR EMAILS?

It should. Because having an unsubscribe link that doesn't actually unsubscribe you is in direct violation of the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003.

You probably aren't aware of how Mamasource's email servers re configured, but it might be of interest to you that they are configured like those of EMAIL SPAMMERS.

Try It!

Try and send an email to abuse@mamasource.com, and an email to postmaster@mamasource.com.

THEY WILL BOUNCE BACK! (and they are not supposed to!)

This site is shady and I'm not the only one who thinks so.

Check out this blog and read Amy's story. Do you really want to belong to a community site that spams people in the name of trees and breast health?

Advice Goddess Blog

I know that over 500 of you have visited this site through my Google AdWords ads. I want you to know that my ad campaign is costing me money, and as a single mom, I really don't have it to spend. It is coming out of my own pocket, and the reason I keep this campaign going is because I feel so strongly that what Artie Wu is doing is WRONG. Plain and simple, he is scamming and spamming you, and it is WRONG!

He's got millions and I have nothing but the compelling evidence I've uncovered, my computer and my convictions.

I am NOT sponsored. No one is giving me money, no one is paying for my time or my ad costs. It is just me, and I have other things to do in my life, but each and every time I find another woman online who has been spammed, who has been scammed, and who has been embarrassed, I find it in me, again, to keep up my vigilance, to keep unearthing information supporting my statements, and to keep shelling out money so more eyes will look at this site.

You must look at the FACTS and decide for yourself if you want to support Mamasource with the way they are doing "business." And yes, it is a business.

Please visit the following blog and read her story and other people's comments. I am NOT THE ONLY ONE who is angry enough to write, angry enough to dig deeper into this supposed community site, angry enough to uncover these shady and unethical tactics for all to see.

Please visit Amy's blog at:
AdviceGoddess Blog

Sunday, February 17, 2008

What Other Women Are Saying About Mamasource's Email Phishing Scam

McAfee Site Advisor doesn't give this site a negative rating...yet, but these user comments aren't flattering:


Rating: Phishing or other scams

"Phishing for email addresses in your address book!!!"

"This site will steal your address book and send unsolicited email to all the women in it. Someone I know received a "flower" (small picture of a flower) from a friend via mamasource.com. Mamasource then offered to let this person send a flower back to their friend. They give you links to sign into your email account (gmail, yahoo, etc...). Then they ask if you want to send flowers to other friends in your address book. If you opt not to send additional flowers to your other contacts via this site, Mamasource ignores this request and sends it to all your contacts with female first names. They then repeat the process of offering those recipients the opportunity to reply with a flower, thus obtaining more email addresses of unsuspecting victims."

"I am sure once confronted with the facts mamsource.com will just say that it was a programming error, but this site should be shut down for their underhanded tricks."

(my note: this is exactly what Artie Wu told me in an email. Programming error. Ya, right!)

Posted at 02/12/2008


Rating: This site spams

"After logging in with an email password for yahoo, it went into my address book and sent flowers to people that I did not authorize. When I logged in to mamasource.com it does not list those flowers that I had supposedly authorized to send. They spammed a lot of my friends from my address book."

Posted at 02/08/2008


Rating: Phishing or other scams

"mamasource.com via "plant a tree" asked for my email password. Technically, this is phishing."

Posted at 12/06/2007


Have a complaint or a spam email from Mamasource? Please forward the email in its entirety to spam@uce.gov, contact your ISP, post to McAfee Site Advisor and everywhere else you can think of.

Mamasource is a spam site and is involved in email phishing. No matter how cool you think this site may be, you need to understand that their practices are not right and this type of spam site needs to be shut down.

Friday, February 15, 2008

The Real Reason Artie Wu Is Building A Community Of Money...I Mean MOMS!

You may like the community at Mamasource, and really, I have nothing against a good community site, but you REALLY NEED TO UNDERSTAND WHY MAMASOURCE EXISTS, and believe me, Mamasource didn't come from Artie's desire to create a site that would help his wife find playdates for his 4 year old daughter, or to "make the job of being a mom a little bit easier."

This is part of an email that Artie Wu wrote to me on 2/10/08:

"But while our budgets are small and our site is not that fancy, our commitment and passion for serving Moms is very personal and real. I started noodling on the idea for Mamasource in 2004, when our daughter was 4 and my wife was having trouble scheduling playdates, and finding time to spend with other Moms due to her work schedule. I figured I would try and build something that could help her."

Great story line. Great hook. But the truth is, Artie wants to make money, lots of money, off of moms like you and me.

Oh ya, and his budget is NOT SMALL, or is he lying when he says in this recent Craiglist ad that "
Mamasource is a well-funded, early-stage Internet startup"?

If you read other posts on this blog, you'll begin to understand that Artie Wu is a master of harvesting information from competitors and has elevated "intelligence mining" to an high art.

I encourage you to read this whole post so that you might see why he wants you to be part of Mamasource.

He is building his subscriber base so he can pimp you all, I mean, connect you all with the providers of the goods and services you'll need in a "highly effective and personalized manner."

I would be inclined to believe there might be a stronger community aspect to Mamasource had I not been privy to his sneaky and underhanded techniques personally, but I can tell you that Artie Wu knows his demographics, and his main goal is to exploit you and take you for all you've got!

After all, this is what he build his last company, Vividence, on. He knows that MOMS SPEND MONEY...LOTS OF IT, and he wants a big piece of that pie, and he is willing to use every trick in the book to get you to sign up, even resorting to hijacking your email address book and spamming all your contacts, without discretion.

It's already been shown that once he has you, he won't give you up. He does NOT provide an unsubscribe link in any emails his subscriber receive, in DIRECT VIOLATION OF THE CAN-SPAM ACT OF 2003, just so he can keep his subscribers subscribed!

He is building up his subscriber base with these unethical email harvesting and phishing techniques, and he has but one reason for doing this. He wants to get his Number One demographic (YOU!) gathered in one place he can "provide you with goods and services."


Unlike his email to me, where he speaks about his "small budget" this Craigslist posting on 2/12/08 tells a different story.

Read this posting on Craigslist and decide for yourself what the Mamasource community is really all about.

SF Craigslist Posting for Mamasource Project Manager (2/12/08)


Reply to: job-571239120@craigslist.org Date: 2008-02-12, 3:54AM PST

Product Management at Marin-based Startup (Sr., Director - level) (corte madera)

Mamasource is a well-funded, early-stage Internet startup taking a deep and unique approach to serving the needs of moms. Since launching in 2007, our online network of local Mom communities all across America has grown at an exciting pace while being featured extensively on TV, radio, and print.

Why are moms so important?

Moms control 80% of U.S. household spending totaling $1.4 trillion annually.

Their #1 source for getting reliable information is via word-of-mouth from other moms - more than TV or magazines, more than the Yellow Pages. - Everyone from the largest brands to the local plumber relies on moms as customers, and they spend $100 billion each year on local advertising.

We are creating vibrant, local online communities where millions of Mom decision-makers come to confer every day around vitally important issues like raising their families, personal well-being, and their household spending decisions. We then connect them with the providers of the goods and services they need in a highly effective and personalized manner.

From day one, you will work closely with veteran founders who have been backed in the past by Kleiner and Sequoia, and you'll be able to count your co-workers on two hands. You will find that building a community for moms that actually works is an amazingly challenging intellectual and technical problem - combining sophisticated algorithms, constant analysis of massive amounts of data, user experience design, and social engineering.

We continually innovate "under the hood" in ways that our members will never see.

Ultimately, what they experience is simply the most friendly, relevant, and responsive group of local moms they've ever encountered online.

We stay focused on our customers, not the latest market or tech hype, and we've got a sensible, well-grounded business model that is already generating revenue. We work hard and love what we do, but we get a big boost from knowing that our efforts make the lives of so many moms just a little bit easier every day.

WE ARE SEEKING our first dedicated Product Management team member outside of the founders, who will:

* Shape our deep understanding of the customer, including her needs and behaviors, through data-driven analysis and gathering direct user feedback.

* Define roadmaps, scope, goals, and priorities for product initiatives.

* Create dev-ready requirements and deliverables and work closely with UE design, engineering, and QA teammates throughout the dev process.

* Define, measure, and manage against global metrics for product adoption, retention, and revenue, up to and including owning P&L as appropriate.

* Execute successfully at the data-driven, micro-optimization level: conversion rates, CTR, etc.

* Help make the company a great place to work and make a difference in all areas of the company's success (it's a startup!)

QUALIFICATIONS: We expect that you will have at least three years professional experience in product management for web applications. We are not looking for any particular domain expertise, but you must possess a true passion for the web and have worked before on highly interactive web apps with a strong consumer focus. Everything we do is data-driven, so you must be a data hound: you're used to living in the data and translating it into informed product decisions. You wouldn't think of making a move without knowing by which metrics success will be measured. You know Excel like the back of your hand. You probably already know SQL, but if not then learning it should be no problem for you. You are equally comfortable optimizing CTR and drop-off rates as you are defining use cases and flows. You must have extensive experience with the ins-and-outs of web applications and the web applications development process. You must be able to communicate requirements at a sufficient level of comprehensiveness and technical detail where engineers and QA teammates can run with them with minimal intervention. Handling corner cases comes naturally to you. You are loved by the engineers you've worked with and are always finding ways to make their jobs just a little bit easier and more efficient. You must be comfortable directly interacting with customers when needed, as gathering user feedback is part of the job.

A degree in Computer Science or other technical field is strongly preferred, but not required. Previous startup experience would be great. Most importantly, we are looking for a talented, driven teammate who is eager to work hard, learn quickly, and wear multiple hats. We encourage all qualified product managers who fit the bill to apply. This position is what YOU make of it: title and level of responsibility will be commensurate with previous experience and growth on the job.

LOCATION: You will work in beautiful Marin County within view of Mt. Tamalpais. We are located minutes from both the Golden Gate and Richmond bridges right off Hwy 101, making us within easy 20-30 minutes reach of San Francisco (a reverse commute!), East Bay, and North Bay. We enjoy all the benefits of being a startup in the SF Bay Area while remaining a comfortable distance from the reality distortion field that tends to permeate SOMA and South Bay.

CONTACT INFORMATION: This is a full-time, permanent position based in Corte Madera, CA. With a small team, we can be generous with equity. We also offer full benefits including health, 401(k), and more. We strongly prefer candidates who already live in the SF Bay Area, but we are willing to consider the right person located anywhere in the US. If what you've read sounds intriguing, please send your resume and a description of why you fit the bill.

PostingID: 571239120

Please write Artie Wu at this Craigslist address (since he doesn't give an address or phone number on his website) job-571239120@craigslist.org

No Spam Policy?

This is what it says on the Mamasource site:

"To protect our members we have a strict no-spam policy, and your personal information will never be shared with advertisers."

But we will hijack your address book and spam everyone in it!

Why is this okay? Can someone please tell me?

Thursday, February 14, 2008

My Letter To Artie Wu

This is the letter I sent Artie Wu four days ago. No response. No reply.

Does anyone think this is unreasonable? Please post your comments!

Dear Artie -

There are really only three things that need to change with Mamasource's practices for me to stop blogging.

1. Stop harvesting people's address books! Which means you've got to stop asking for people's email passwords!

2. Provide an unsubscribe link in all of your email correspondence that really lets people opt-out of your list!

3. Change your email servers so that they are not configured like all the other spammers out there.

That's it. Really. Does this sound unreasonable?

Monday, February 11, 2008

Moms...Post Your Comments Here!

I know a lot of you have seen this blog, about 228 of you have come in through my Google AdWords ad, but not a lot of you are posting.

I know many of you LOVE the community on Mamasource, and that is great. I have no grievances about the community aspect of Mamasource, just the way that Artie Wu is building his subscriber base and what he is doing to you all without you even knowing.

There are an equal number of you who've been embarrassed, like me, because you've spread Tree Spam and Flower Spam to everyone in your email address book.

If you like Mamasource, write them at support@mamasource.com and tell them how much you'd like to see the site continue, without spreading invites throughout your whole address book.

If you think they are spammers, that is okay too, write them and tell them! If you'd rather report them, then contact your ISP and let them know what's going on. You can also take those emails and forward them, in their entirety, to spam@uce.gov

Above all, feel free to post your comments here for all to see. You can post anonymously, it is okay. I don't care. I only have moderation on so I know when a post comes through, I haven't deleted a post yet.

I really want feedback from all you moms out there!

The Three Things That Need To Change

There are really only three things that need to change with Mamasource's practices for me to let this matter rest.

1. Stop harvesting people's address books! Which means you've got to stop asking for people's email passwords!

2. Provide an unsubscribe link in all of your email correspondence that really lets people opt-out of your list!

3. Change your email servers so that they are not configured like all the other spammers out there.

That's it. Really.

Does anyone think this is unreasonable?

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Mamasource and the Information Age

Mamasource members, do you know who you are? I have a pretty good idea.

I know there are about 112K of you who visit the site monthly, you are mostly female, and you subscribe to Parenting magazine and frequent babiesonline.com. Easy you say? Maybe. But I also know that the majority of you are between the ages of 25-34, make $30-$60K a year, and most of you have children younger than age 6 at home.

Recent keywords you've used include: pregnancy calculator, graco, babies r us, christmas party games, free ecards, jc penneys, santa tracker, the disney store, recipes, target and ron paul.

In addition to Parenting magazine and babiesonline.com, you also visit drspock.com, whattoexpect.com, parents.com, Ebay Baby, Baby Center and you subscribe to Fitness Magazine and Family Fun Entertainment.

I also know that you you share the same characteristics as members of these sites: sahm.meetup.com, members.platinumsynergy.com, platinumsynergy.com, hyenacart.com, thenestbaby.com, mops.org, sheknowsclub.com, workathomeunited.com, my.melaleuca.com, servicescatalog.net, campgroundssearch.com, moms.meetup.com, parenting.com, amazingpregnancy.com, toysafety.org, parentcenter.com, babycenter.com, cookiesbydesign.com, mycmsite.com, and santamail.org.

About 51% of you are regulars, and about 14% of you are Mamasource addicts.

This is all PUBLIC information about Mamasource members. What do you think a person could do with more detailed and intimate information?

Remember Artie Wu's comment in the article titled:

Getting the Dirt - Find out what rival companies are up to

"Vividence brings you the world of your competitor through the customers' eyes," says Artie Wu, CEO and cofounder of Vividence, which was named to reflect its goal of gathering "vivid evidence" on the opposition. "We glean valuable information, then whisper it back into our clients' ears."

Vividence was a company that focused on gathering intelligence from competitor's websites. In the Vividence Research Review, it said that "for marketers and executives making high-stakes business decisions, Vividence delivers groundbreaking research and actionable insight into online customer experiences, market trends, and industry strategies. Unlike traditional market research firms, Vividence combines technology, research, and consulting to provide a totally new way of understanding your customers, competitors, and markets."

When Artie was with Vividence, his company created a program called Vividence Connector for use in survey taking.

This is what was said about that particular piece of Spyware:

"This application is a Browser Helper Object (BHO), specifically a toolbar integrated into a Web browser that displays ads and produces targeted search results. Vividence Connector is a "paid-to-surf" IE toolbar that allows users to rank websites. For ranking websites, users are presumably rewarded with gift certificates to Amazon.com. It is most likely a hoax and may install potentially dangerous software."

Want to know more about these surveys? Do a search on "vividence survey scam" and see what kind of complaints you come up with there. That is a whole other topic, and one which you can research on your own. Suffice it to say, there were a whole lot of survey takers who got took!

This is what was said about the survey techniques Vividence employed on its competitors:

Mining web navigations for intelligence

"The Internet is one of the fastest growing areas of intelligence gathering. We present a statistical approach, called principal clusters analysis, for analyzing millions of user navigations on the Web. This technique identifies prominent navigation clusters on different topics. Furthermore, it can determine information items that are useful starting points to explore a topic, as well as key documents to explore the topic in greater detail. Trends can be detected by observing navigation prominence over time. We apply this technique on a large popular website. The results show promise in web intelligence mining."

And then there is the patent Artie Wu was issued on May 25, 2005:

Full service research bureau and test center method and apparatus

Is it possible he has gone from intelligence gathering with actual human surveyors to intelligence gathering by other means?

Given the techniques he's employed so far, I'd say it is food for thought.

What Other Moms Are Saying About Mamasource

Many have implied that it was just me having trouble with the email harvesting that took place, even Mr. Artie Wu himself in a personal email he wrote to me today.

Upon further investigation,

I can tell you that I am not the only one - this has happened to countless others!

Here are some random thoughts and snippets of other moms who've experienced the same thing, and if you'll notice the dates on the forum, this has all taken place recently.



Random talk from the Urban Baby Community Board:

why do I keep getting e-mails to join mamasource. did they hijak someone's mailbox?

Is Mamasource a new hip thing? i just got a tree planted through it.

no, it sucks, and you're spamming it

Apparently, it's akin to a parasite, sucking off your contact list. Please don't spam it here

okay but i don't know how it would get my contact list.

okay but nobody has told me that they got any emails from me about it. i didn't give out anyone's emails

oh! sneaky

How do i UNSUBSCRIBE from mamasource.com? HELP ME. (there is no working UNSIBSCRIBE LINK!)

mark as spam

i do not want to be a member. how do i get out?

omg me too. they are so annoying!! i dont even know how i am a member!

i'll post it if i do. but they suck.

thanks i am sick of their mail everyday

in the "contact me" section, you can email them. no idea if they will respond

I signed up for mamasource and everyone in my email address book keeps getting 'flowers' sent to them. I don't know how to get it to stop.

my friend planted a tree in my name - perhaps it hijacked her address book, too

I can't get it to stop!!

what is this? i keep getting emails from friends for it

There has to be an opt-out (according to the CAN-SPAM ACT there must be an opt-out!)

I just wrote to them asking to cancel my membership immediately

anyone know anything about mamasource? an acquaintance keeps inviting me but it sounds hokey

what is it?

i checked it out yesterday on advice from someone on ub. it was very hokey.

I'm so embarrassed. I signed up for that mamasource site and it sent a freaking flower to EVERYONE in my address book. I thought I deselected it. Grrrrr.

happened to me too...got a lot of angry emails from people i had not been in touch with for a long time. so bad!

What do you mean "a flower"? And how the fuck does it get access to your e-mail addys?

what is it mamasource.com?


that site is creepy


watch Mamasource - I got spammed when my friend joined and gave them addresses of her friends. It was annoying.

Anyone know anything about Mamasource? Someone sent me an email wanting to plant a free tree on my behalf? I do know this person, but never heard of this.


Do you really think that a site like this is trustworthy??? Do you really think I am barking up the wrong tree here?

Please leave your comments, tell me your thoughts!

Let's get to the bottom of this mess...NOW!

Mamasource's Private Registrar - Protectors of SPAM!

I can understand people registering their domains privately, but what I don't understand is why Artie Wu would use MelbourneIT as his private registrar. If you do a search on "MelbourneIT" and "spam" you will see that they are are the private registrar to many domains that are blacklisted by Whois.

As one blogger said:

"I hope that ISPs and web hosting companies across the world unite in an effort to have Melbourne IT's registrar's status revoked by ICANN."

Artie Wu cannot plead ignorance to these anymore:

1. spam emails
2. harvesting and hijacking address books
3. having spam configurations on his email servers
4. using a private registration company that protects spammers

Come on folks! WAKE UP!

Artie Wu is NOT a novice. He is a super savvy information gatherer and IT person. In fact, when asked about his "intelligence gathering" of competitor's websites he had this to say:

"Vividence brings you the world of your competitor through the customers' eyes," says Artie Wu, CEO and cofounder of Vividence, which was named to reflect its goal of gathering "vivid evidence" on the opposition. "We glean valuable information, then whisper it back into our clients' ears."

Later in the article, and ex CIA agent is quoted as saying:

"ethics is a real ambiguous area. There's a lot of stuff you can do that is not illegal, but is a little sketchy." He warns companies that are tempted to dabble in dubious behavior to think about the business consequences. "As a rule of thumb, ask yourself this: If a newspaper was going to run a story about what I am about to do, how would that affect my business?" he says. "If the answer is that it would make you look bad, you probably shouldn't be doing it."

Maybe you should heed those words, Mr. Wu.


Don't let Artie's Mama story fool you. He knows EXACTLY what he is doing and he is doing it to YOU under the guise of a community for Moms. He has fooled Trees For the Future and The Breast Cancer Fund, don't let him fool YOU!

More on Mamasource Mail Servers

I just received this comment and I'd like to bring it to the top and encourage you all to give this a try:


Said anonymous:

You're right. These email servers are set up for delivering SPAM!

Send a test message to both:


and see for yourself what happens!

Message from yahoo.com.
Unable to deliver message to the following address(es).

mail-domains-abuse@yahoo-inc.com: does not like recipient.
Remote host said: 550 5.1.1 mail-domains-abuse@yahoo-inc.com... User unknown
Giving up.

Message from yahoo.com.
Unable to deliver message to the following address(es).

mail-domains-abuse@yahoo-inc.com: does not like recipient.
Remote host said: 550 5.1.1 mail-domains-abuse@yahoo-inc.com... User unknown
Giving up.

Kate, don't you give up!!!

As you say, something just ain't right!


According to what I can gather, mail servers that can't accept mail to both a "postmaster@domainname" and "abuse@domainname" address are set up like many spam accounts. Then there is the issue of the whole PTR thing:

"Missing Reverse DNS record for MX records. It is required by RFC 1912 that you have reverse DNS (PTR) records for all of your mail servers. If you do not have reverse DNS entries, your email may not arrive some of the strict mail servers.

WARNING: One or more of your mailservers is claiming to be a host other than what it really is

And then there is the matter of Private Registration, which as someone who runs a website, I can understand, but Artie has chosen to go with a Private Registration company, leaving no contact information. And the hosting company he uses has no website and cannot be reached by telephone.

If Mamasource truly is a community site, why on earth is there no contact phone number and only one email address for contacting the site, an email address which seems to only spit out computer generated replies?

There are more questions than answers about Mamasource today.

When Will I Drop This Matter?

There are several things that Artie needs to fix in order for me to let up:

1. Create an unsubscribe link that actually goes to an unsubscribe page, not an email preferences page. A user must be able to opt-out with one-click. At this point, not one of Mamasource's subscribers can do that...not one. This IS in violation of the CAN-SPAM act.

2. Quit harvesting people's email addresses! I am not the only one whose email address book was harvested. There is no indication that users can select individual contacts from their address books like you can in other social networking sites. Once an unsuspecting person submits her password, those flowers and trees go to everyone in their address books and they don't go away, the requests keep being sent out again and again. This IS spammy and unethical. And using The Breast Cancer Fund and Trees For the Future to solicit moms in this way? Pathetic. Also, the page you get when you sign up at the site is a blatant pitch page encouraging moms to enter their email passwords for flowers, a page that says "this is your only chance!" and I find this very alarming.

3. Fix Mamasource's mailservers that are currently configured like those of a spammer. Read the post on the DNS report for more information on that one. I wish someone more technical than myself (which is about anyone) would comment on the current configurations and why they are configured like they are.

Why This Blog Exists

I've been criticized for questioning Mamasource's intentions and believe me if there is anything I'd love to see happen in this world, it is planting of more trees and wiping out breast cancer. Really. I can't think of more worthy causes.

That is how I got sucked into this whole ordeal in the first place. I wanted to see more trees planted. Look what happened...my friends got caught up in this because of my exuberance to plant more trees. In my defense, I Googled Mamasource before I hit "submit" because I saw all the accolades about the site. I thought they could be trusted. Everyone was raving about them. And then the emails from my friends and family came pouring back in. First I was embarrassed by own own stupidity, and then I got angry.

Who does Artie Wu think he is that he can con people like this? He builds this massive community site, builds it up in the media, aligns himself with worthy causes like Trees for the Future and The Breast Cancer Fund and then preys on his subscriber base.

This is why I created this blog. I have a busy life, and I don't really have the time for all this, but I feel strongly enough about what I've found to keep pushing on.

The only thing I can verify at this point is that he is violation of the CAN-SPAM act by not providing his subscribers a way to opt-out. THIS IS FACT. That alone should have the FTC looking at him closely and should have anyone involved with Mamasource a little nervous.

Then there is the whole "enter your email password" thing on his invites. Enough people have come forward to say that they never got the chance to select recipients from their address book, that the invite went to everyone in their address book, that you should all take notice, that you should question Artie Wu's motives. You should know that even if this is legal (I am not sure how legal it really is) it is truly unethical.

This is a post I received last night and I am posting it here to show you I am not the only one show who has questioned Mamasource:

"I've been spammed several times by my unsuspecting friends, who I am sure only wanted to plant a tree. I, like alot of people i'm sure, want to be kind to our environment. However, something bugged me about the fact that when I didn't respond right away, the email requests just kept coming. It smelled like spam; so before i clicked on the link, I decided to google mamasource first, and i ran into your site. Great job in helping me avoid a spam nightmare!! Thanks! I'll be reporting them to the site you suggested."

Posts like this keep me moving forward, and keep me on the Internet researching Artie Wu, Arthur F. Wu, Vividence, Vividence Spyware, and all the techniques Mr. Wu has created in the past that mine intelligence from websites. I firmly believe that not only is Artie Wu spamming his Mamsource subscribers, but he is building up a huge database of information for his own personal gain.

I signed up for the Mamasource site, well I thought I signed up, but only got as far as the spam page, featuring The Breast Cancer Fund's logo, telling me to "Enter your Gmail email password to look up Moms you know on Mamasource...Mamasource will not save your Gmail password." They go on to tell me "This program is limited to newly registered members, and this page will be your only opportunity to participate - both joining Mamasource and sending Mamasource Flowers are 100% free." Well, I didn't fall for this (think I am going down that road twice?) and when clicked "don't send flowers" I was directed to a page where I found out I wasn't even signed up for the site. Can someone explain this to me?

Some comments I've seen on other blogs include:

"I joined Mamasource this morning look for cakes/bakeries for my daughter's upcoming birthday. Now a couple of my friends have emailed me and thanked me for the "flower"? In my profile(on mamasource) it shows members I have invited, flowers I have sent...whoa! Hold on, I didn't send anything to anyone. What is going on?"

"What a shady way to spread your website...now everyone in my gmail address book will get a flower? Oh niiice....So not cool."

This is why this blog exists, this is why I spend my precious time doing the research on Artie Wu, Vividence, intelligence mining and mailservers. This is why I've looked into his DNS stats. Do I really want to know what PTR is? No. But I do want to know why he doesn't have mailservers that point back to his Mamasource addresses. Why they don't point to abuse@mamasource.com, why "one or more of (his) mailservers is claiming to be a host other than what it really."

I wonder why this father of two would start a site like Mamasource. After all, he sold his company Vividence, for about $22M, so I am sure he didn't start this company just to "make the job of being a mom a little bit easier."

These are questions that need to be asked...I hope someone can answer them.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Why Can't You Unsubscribe From Mamasource?

According to the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003...

"Your email must give recipients an opt-out method.
You must provide a return email address or another Internet-based response mechanism that allows a recipient to ask you not to send future email messages to that email address, and you must honor the requests. You may create a "menu" of choices to allow a recipient to opt out of certain types of messages, but you must include the option to end any commercial messages from the sender."

Well, lo and behold, Mamasource does provide an unsubscribe link, but guess what? YOU CAN'T ACTUALLY UNSUBSCRIBE! This link takes you to an email preferences page, where you can change the following:

Email me a Daily Digest of the latest requests, news, and activity on Mamasource.
Email me each time a new request is made on Mamasource.
Email me each time I receive a new response to one of my own requests.
Email me each time I receive a new personal message.

Does anyone see an unsubscribe option here?

Check out the "unsubscribe" page for yourself

It is plain to see that they do not allow you to enjoy a "one-click opt-out" or let you unsubscribe without hassle. They do, however, make it very easy for you to unknowingly spam all of your friends, relatives, and acquaintances with trees and flowers with a simple click!

See the CAN-SPAM ACT of 2003 here.

If you are sick of getting these emails, I suggest you forward them in their entirety to spam@uce.gov!

Stop these people from gathering your information and harvesting your email address books.

It just ain't right!

Mamasource's DNS Report - What Does It Mean?

I've received the same auto-generated reply from Mamasource for a week now. The names of the customer support person have changed, but the email is the same. I am not a technical person, but I was curious about the emails I've been receiving, so I did a little online investigation into the source. I really don't know what all this means, exactly, but I am hoping that some of you techies might know better, so please comment on my findings.

From what I can gather, the emails coming from the host IP are not configured the way they are supposed to be. In fact, configurations like this generally mean that the emails are from a spam source, not a valid and trusted source, but then again, as the results say, the results many have come from cached info, not current info.

Can someone decipher this for me?

DNS Report

Missing Reverse DNS record for MX records. It is required by RFC 1912 that you have reverse DNS (PTR) records for all of your mail servers. If you do not have reverse DNS entries, your email may not arrive some of the strict mail servers.

WARN Mail server host name in greeting WARNING: One or more of your mailservers is claiming to be a host other than what it really is (the SMTP greeting should be a 3-digit code, followed by a space or a dash, then the host name). If your mailserver sends out E-mail using this domain in its EHLO or HELO, your E-mail might get blocked by anti-spam software. This is also a technical violation of RFC821 4.3 (and RFC2821 4.3.1). Note that the hostname given in the SMTP greeting should have an A record pointing back to the same server. Note that this one test may use a cached DNS record.

FAIL Acceptance of postmaster address ERROR: One or more of your mailservers does not accept mail to postmaster@mamasource.com. Mailservers are required (RFC822 6.3, RFC1123 5.2.7, and RFC2821 4.5.1) to accept mail to postmaster.

WARN Acceptance of abuse address WARNING: One or more of your mailservers does not accept mail to abuse@mamasource.com. Mailservers are expected by RFC2142 to accept mail to abuse.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Please Wait...Importing Contacts

This is the text of the page you get when you sign up at Mamasource...this is amazing to me!

Please comment and tell me your thoughts about getting into people's email address books this way. It is one thing to get an email invite and be naive enough to enter your email password (like I did!) but to get this straight away when you sign up on a "trusted" site like this? Seriously now folks, is this ethical? Is this legal? Can someone please tell me, because I don't know.

What I do know is that this is sketchy and I still smell a rat.

Here's the text of the webpage:


Breast Cancer Fund (logo here)

Next step: Who else do you know on Mamasource? Find out and help prevent breast cancer. (are they even affiliated with the Breast Cancer Fund?)

For a limited time, when you look up Moms you may know on Mamasource and send flowers to non-members, we’ll make a donation to the Breast Cancer Fund for every Mom who sends a Mamasource Flower.

* For every Mom who sends a Mamasource Flower, we’ll make a donation to the Breast Cancer Fund, the leading national organization focused on identifying the environmental causes of breast cancer and preventing the disease.

* This program is limited to newly registered members, and this page will be your only opportunity to participate (oh come on!) — both joining Mamasource and sending Mamasource Flowers are 100% free.

* The more Moms who send Mamasource Flowers, the more we will donate to the Breast Cancer Fund. (I'd really like to know if they are affiliated with the Breast Cancer Fund...and if they are not, watch out, I've had too many friends and family members go through breast cancer to have this be be a scam!)

Look up Moms now using your Gmail Address Book:

Check your Gmail Address Book:

Gmail Username: (deleted)

Gmail Password: (not given!)

Enter your Gmail email password to look up Moms you know on Mamasource. Mamasource will not save your Gmail password. (no, they'll just harvest every single name out of there they can!)

Secure Transaction

The number of Mamasource Flowers you send will be shown on your profile.

Mamasource will not save your login information. It will temporarily and securely be used to retrieve your Gmail address book contacts.

Don’t send flowers (this is a link you can use to bypass the page)

Importing your contacts, please wait one moment... (not sure where this came from as I never entered by password!)

© 2007 Mamasource
Have a question? Contact Us (there is no phone number, and I have received all the same auto-generated reply when I've used this address, which BTW is support@mamasource.com)


I hope I'm wrong people, but none of this adds up.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Mama What?

"Mama What???"

This was in the subject line of an email I just received from a girlfriend.

This is what she had to say to me:

"did you sign me up for some mother's group? or is it spam? i cant imagine you would think it appropriate!"

OK, I made a HUGE mistake. It was late. 2 AM actually. I'd been up for two days with a very sick 7 year old and I was feeling a little, I don't know...alone. While I am online, I get this invitation to plant a tree, and being a kind of outdoorsy, tree-hugging kind of girl, I thought I would pass on the tree. I mean, who doesn't want to plant a tree? And yes, I entered my email password....I know, I know! (did I mention it was 2 AM?) I've since changed it, but still that doesn't erase the fact that I entered my password. You all know NEVER to do this, right?

Over the next few days, I began getting emails from people I hadn't heard from in ages. I was kind of shocked, because I hadn't picked anyone from my address book to send the invite to. I mean afterall, the email dis say "enter you password and we'll keep it private." (I already have beat myself up for this, you don't have to!)

I even got emails from myself to myself! (I have a couple of different email addresses)

It was obvious I'd been had, so I changed my email password right away (you should do this if you haven't already, and continue to do it regularly, stupidity or no stupidity) and thought the matter was over, but I kept getting emails from friends (at least they used to be friends!)

The one reply that caught my eye was from my sister-in-law, who said her 10 year old son got the tree invite. Ya, I am sure I would have invited him to Mamasource!

At this point, I went to unsubscribe from all things Mamasource and found I could not. The "unsubscribe" link went straight to a page for email preferences, and I can tell you there was not one preference for removing yourself from the list. This is in blatant disregard of the CAN-SPAM act which regulates commercial email. By this time, I was getting pretty angry. Yes, at myself too, because I, like many of you, know better. It was the lure of that darn tree.

My new slogan for Mamasource is:

Plant a Tree, Spam Your Friends!

I started to wonder if I was the only one having trouble with Mamasource, propagator of SPAM, harvester of emails, so I started to do some research. I found that a lot of people really liked this site, but I couldn't get past the whole SPAM and EMAIL HARVESTING tactic which is just, well lame!

When I found out that the founder is Artie Wu, the former founder and CEO of Internet market research company Vividence, and when I got past the "he's a man?" thought, my next thought came out as "Shame on YOU Artie Wu!" at which point the dogs woke up and put their tales between their legs. Seriously Artie, how can you SPAM people like that? How can you not provide an UNSUBSCRIBE link that actually unsubscribes people? Did you learn these dirty little black hat techniques from some underlings at Vividence, or did you teach them to your team yourself? Maybe you just waited until you could form your own little online community. Can't you build your subscriber base without resorting to these underhanded email marketing tactics?

"CONNECTING moms in your community"

should be changed to...

"COLLECTING moms in your community!"

I pulled some very interesting comments off the Internet from other people who had similar problems and I am going to share them here. Of course, because I value people's privacy, I will not share names, screennames, URLS or any other personal information about the posters.

Please feel free to include YOUR comments here about Mamasource as a website (a lot of women like it) and about these questionable email campaigns they are launching (plenty of women don't like that!) Anyone with any information on CAN-SPAM and harvesting emails in is welcome to reply as well. I want to hear YOUR thoughts on this matter.

To report spam, simply forward the email in its entirety to spam@uce.gov and if you really like Mamasource, do them a favor and write to them and tell them you don't approve of their non-compliant use of email. Tell them it is shady, tacky and ILLEGAL!

What other people are saying about Mamasource's questionable email practices:

"i used to be a member of mamasource and it used to be okay. i changed email addresses because i tried for a year to unsub and it wouldn't let me and was ticking me off royally!"

"I tried unsuccessfully for a while to unsub from the INDIVIDUAL emails because it got to be so many. I finally just switched it to the daily digest, so it's not flooding my mailbox all day, but I usually delete them without looking at them now." (note: contact them directly and they will unsubscribe you)

"I joined Mamasource this morning look for cakes/bakeries for my daughter's upcoming birthday. Now a couple of my friends have emailed me and thanked me for the "flower"? In my profile(on mamasource) it shows members I have invited, flowers I have sent...whoa! Hold on,
I didn't send anything to anyone. What is going on?"

"What a shady way to spread your website...now everyone in my gmail address book will get a flower? Oh niiice....So not cool."

"I recently got invited there to plant a tree or something, by a friend of mine. So, I clicked the link and did the tree thing, but when it asked for permission to invite others by getting into my email, I bailed. I thought it was kind of weird." (smart girl!)

"I received the tree planting invite from a family member and I was disappointed when it signed me up to mommasource. Maybe I'm naiive but that email was really misleading. I'm not interested in being a part of something that has to be sneaky to get members."

"a forum spamming my friends, a little tacky on their part."

Mamasource may be a great site, but they harvest people's emails using this tree planting tactic. When you sign up with them, they do not provide a valid way to opt-out or unsubscribe. This is shady and against the CAN-SPAM act that regulates commercial emails. Beware of these emails, and this scam, and never enter you email password when prompted. Please mark these emails as spam and contact mamasource to tell them you disapprove of their spammy email tactics! If you'd like to report their emails to the FTC, simply forward them to spam@uce.gov

You can also write to them, but I am sure you will get an email much like the one I received. I am quite positive it is set up as an auto-reply, because I have received several of the same emails.


This is Linda at Mamasource Member Support. Thanks for your message, and we are so sorry for any inconvenience.

Email address book contacts that are checked and highlighted in bright yellow are only contacted during the registration process if the button is clicked to "Select Moms and Invite". In this case, those highlighted contacts receive an invitation to join Mamasource.

As you requested I have gone ahead and canceled your account.

Please let me know if you need any assistance and I will be happy to help you.

Again, we are very sorry for any misunderstanding, and apologize for any inconvenience this has caused.

Mamasource Member Support


I don't know of anyone who was able to select anyone in particular. That invite went out to everyone in my address book, including my nephew!

Again, please post your comments here, I don't care if they are anonymous or not, and hit your "report spam" button, forward the email to spam@uce.gov and write Mamasource if you really want to see them continue as the beloved site they seem to be. Their email address (for the auto generated email response) is support@mamasource.com

If you like the service they are offering, demand they quit using shady tactics to grow their customer base!

Oh, and one more thing, in all the searches on "mamasource spam" I did, I kept seeing their anti-spam stance for their site:

"Mamasource is a free service, but to protect our members we are an invitation-only community. We have a strict no-spam policy, and your personal information will never be shared with advertisers."

This part kills me! A strict anti-spam policy? On their site maybe!

For more information on the CAN-SPAM act, please visit:

The FTC's page on CAN-SPAM Regulations

P.S. You know, the reason I am so furious (yes, I am mad at myself too) and created this blog, is because Mamasource is supposed to be a respected site and valuable resource for MOMS...not some SPAM generator.

Just so you know, I have no objection to the site itself (so far) but to the creepy and illegal SPAM techniques they use. I never report SPAM, I am far too busy and with gmail, it gets filtered quite nicely, but this has raise my hackles. Maybe it is the MOM in me!

Please post your thoughts on this illegal and tacky behavior below!