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The E-Card Hall of Shame

"But I didn't know that was a Flowgo card!" you say. Well that is an easy mistake to make. Flowgo, Mailbits (TAFmaster), SuperTaf, or Funntaf have hundreds to thousands of sites that send cards, games, jokes, and unsuspecting to the unsuspecting, along with an opt-in by deceit payload.

Here are links to help you find some of these operators. Flowgo, proudly displays a list of its member sites. As of March 12, 2004, these are:

  1. http://www.gotlaughs.com
  2. http://www.funtown.com
  3. http://www.bigfatbaby.com
  4. http://www.justaywow.com
  5. http://www.halfanorange.com
  6. http://www.lolfun.com
  7. http://www.castlemountains.com
  8. http://www.send4fun.com
  9. http://www.debsfunpages.com
  10. http://www.funone.com
  11. http://www.funstun.com
  12. http://www.funnygreetings.com
  13. http://www.ishaah.com
  14. http://www.yourbabyphotos.com
  15. http://www.blesstheday.com
  16. http://www.cutestuff.com

To find sites using Funnytaf forms, just click here. This runs the search for link:funnytaf on Alta Vista.

For sites using Supertaf forms, here is the click here to check. Yes, there are a lot of them.

For sites that use Mailbits (TAFmaster), here is the link that lets you see the entire and up to date list.

How to Make Sure Your E-Card Provider is Ethical

Of course with lists as large at the last three above, it is inconvenient to check whether a site is affiliated with a particular unscrupulous provider. A good strategy for sending on e-cards or sending e-cards from a provider with which you are NOT familiar is to send the e-card to yourself first. Don't just blindly send anything on because you like it. First: examine the URL. Here is a typical e-card URL:

http://www.spiritisup.com/timeforfriends.html

Type in the URL for the index page for this site into your locator bar. You do this by leaving out everything in the URL that is to the RIGHT of the / after the com. In this case, the URL you type in is

http://www.spiritisup.com

Now choose a card from their selection. Choose one randomly or one you don't care about too much or one that looks interesting. Content doesn't matter. Take your time. Click the tell a friend or send this page link. Generally a link that says tell a friend is bad news, but clicking it won't hurt you. Scroll slowly to the bottom of the form. If you see a lot of checked off boxes, you have hit a dishonest operator. DON'T SEND THE CARD, and avoid sending any e-cards from that provider. In this case, Spritisup.com is a Mailbits (TAFMaster) user. By the way, a tell a friend form that will not let you send an e-card to yourself for a test also indicates an unscrupulous provider. Ethical e-card providers let you send yourself an e-card and welcome such testing.

If you do not find a tell a friend form with a lot of squares checked off or you find a different kind of card sending form, send the e-card to yourself. Await the pick up letter. If you do not receive one, you have found a nonworking e-card provider. This sometimes happens. If you do get a pickup letter, examine it carefully. Make sure the FIRST LINK leads to the card and the card alone, not to a newsletter or mailing list subscription along with the card. Also you may want to check the pick up letter for advertising. Is there too much of it? The amount of advertising varies sharply from one e-card provider to another, and ads do nothing to make either you or your recipient happy.

This sounds like a lot of work, but after the first two or three times, it becomes second nature. A good way to get in the habit of responsible e-card sending is to be the one who initially sends a card or chooses a new card rather than just sending on anything that is received. After a time, you will develop a list of trusted providers for sending e-cards. One way of stopping opt-in by deceti fueld by "send it ons" from an unethical e-card provider is to send e-cards from ethical providers instead.

And yes, the web is the kind of place where one has to check and vet e-card providers. That is just the way it is. That is why this site exists.

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