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 email@example.com 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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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 email@example.com 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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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!