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An auto-response is an email that is sent automatically in reply to another email - they are most commonly used by people who are on holiday. Unfortunately there have been instances where unscrupulous members have set up auto-responses in order to try and harvest items from Freegle communities, or advertise services. These messages don't always come from an email address that is subscribed to a community. Additionally email accounts (particularly hotmail) can be hacked into so an auto-response may have nothing to do with the account holder (the page spammers  has some useful tips on this).

How to recognise an auto-response:

  • The message will arrive almost as soon as a post has been made - they can even arrive shortly after sending a special notice or an admin to the community!
  • They usually don't mention the item offered by name – they may say something like ‘I’d like to have that’

What to do about auto-responses:

  • Encourage members not to give their items to the first person to respond (see Fair offer policy ) as that means harvesting autoresponders do not get an 'advantage' over other members.
  • Encourage members to only give items to posts that mention the item in their initial response, or show other signs that someone has read the post.
  • If the auto-response is offering a service or advertising a product, search the membership list for the email address or similar.
  • Set any member who seems to be auto-responding to moderation and 'no emails'.
  • If the autoresponse is advertising anything, contact the member and politely inform them that using Freegle to advertise is not allowed.
  • If you feel that the autoreponse is more than an innocent 'holiday' or 'out of office' message, you could consider issuing a warning.
  • If you feel the intent is to advertise or harvest items, inform other Freegle mods by making a note on their membership details in Freegle Direct Modtools.

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