Development Group Report 2016 01

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Freegle Development Report

Jan 2016

Group members 47

Freegle Development is a group where new policies are discussed and voted on and any changes of existing policy are discussed.

January has been an interesting month with some extremely active discussions with lots of members taking part.

Best Practice

We started by continuing Decembers discussion on revising Best Practice. The merits of unmoderating members versus keeping them on moderation were the first to start the new year.

There wasn’t a clear idea of how many people were in favour of unmoderating as soon as possible which is the current suggestion in the best practice guide, so a straw poll was set up to get an idea of what the general consensus is. The results of the poll were that more than half of people voting thought members should be taken off of moderation as soon as possible. Based on this result, it was suggested changing the guidelines in best practice to:

3.3 How long does it take for a Freegler to see the message they have posted appear on the Group?

Best Practice:
Ideally, moderation of messages needs to be at least every few hours . Put members who correctly format their messages on Group settings (unmoderated) as soon as practicable for your team.


  • You will lessen the time you have to spend moderating.
  • Messages will be posted more promptly on your message board, which is good for the person posting as well as those that respond.
  • Moderating once a day is the absolute minimum for a Group to survive.
  • Using ModTools makes moderating very easy - http:/
  • Members are adults, and you can always put them back on moderation if they slip up.
  • Have a rota or system in place so that the team is confident that moderation is taking place throughout each day.
  • Ask Mentors for holiday/emergency help.
  • The fewest obstacles put in the way of speedy messaging will enable the maximum items reused.

There was a poll on the new wording and the result was that 100% of voting members would like this newly worded paragraph to be adopted. The wiki has been amended to show the new wording .

New Platform

There were a few questions thrown up about the new platform that is in the process of being created by Edward. There were questions about the moderation tools that will be available. Edward confirmed that editing of posts will be possible after approval and members will also be able to edit their own posts, with moderation of changes for groups who prefer that. An FAQ page was suggested for a list of new platform suggestions which Edward is going to consider.

Handover of Caretaker groups

The was a request from GAT that there be an amendment to the Caretaker group procedures of handing over groups to new owners. These were the points raised;

1) There were concerns that the caretaker policy did not reflect the GAT policy of avoiding a small number of moderators taking on a large number of groups.

This created some serious discussion. The current wording of the GAT Affiliation Policy says;

  • New groups should come from a local requirement for them. They are intended to be locally run but there are no owner residence rules.
  • Current owners and moderators should not be limited to the number of groups that they run but in order to avoid empire building should recruit and train up local moderators with a view to handing ownership over to them.

The suggestion after much discussion was to change that wording to;

  • Groups should come from a local requirement for them. Our aim is to have locally run and locally promoted groups, but there is no volunteer residency requirement or limit to the number of groups that volunteers run, as long as the set up of each group is in the best interests of the community, the volunteers and Freegle.

A poll was set up and the members of Development were 100% in agreement with the proposed changes. The proposal has now been sent to the Board for adoption or further consultation.

2) GAT requested that they should be able to review the core area of some caretaker groups as they were often created in Freecycle days and some covered extremely large areas.

There was complete agreement to the core area being reviewed from everyone in the discussion, but it was suggested that GAT should review the core area at the point of a group being handed to mentors and not at the point of handover to a new owner.

3) GAT also requested that they should be given the opportunity to input their own experience when considering new owners although because of GATs confidentiality they may not be able to explain any concerns they have.

GATs confidentiality clause is being restructured so that any information that is not sensitive, can be considered when an existing group applies to take on a caretaker group. GAT members are currently able to take part in any of Mentors discussions.

4) Finally, GAT had concerns over a conflict of interests and the way a situation where a group being given to a member of the mentor team was discussed. They wished to ensure that procedures were transparent so that there were no accusations of cronyism.

Mentors and GAT are in agreement that there need to be procedures in place to ensure that all group handovers are transparent and any mentor or member of GAT who applies for a group cannot take part in the discussions other than to give information where required.

The conversation moved onto GATs confidentiality compared to the Mentors relaxed approach and a Google doc was drawn up so we could see where the differences are and tweak both remits where necessary.

It was suggested that GATs reports should reflect more of the work they undertake so people can better understand the workings, possibly leading to more volunteers to help out with the heavy workload. GAT have found for some time now that some members are struggling to contribute to the work on the group.
In response GAT have already addressed the situation of reports and will be posting an improved version on Central in January. They have made some changes to the structure of how each member of the team contributes and they will be spreading their workload a little more evenly. Members of the team who have been inactive for more than six months have been removed.

The mentors remit also needs adjusting especially since they took on the task of looking after caretaker groups and this is being looked at later on.

Mentors have requested that a method of selecting a new group coordinator be put into place. Currently there is nothing written down and it is unknown how a new coordinator should be selected.
It was suggested that a new coordinator should be selected from the existing mentor team and that a deputy coordinator could also be selected to make any changeover in the future as painless as possible. It was agreed to leave the discussion with the mentor team to work out how they would like changeover to take place and they will bring it back to Development later.

Email Etiquette for Virtual Collectives

A small discussion about email etiquette and ways that conversations could be made easier for people to keep up with, whether that be using Googledocs or some other method. There were a few suggestions put forward but none were agreed upon as an alternative to group discussions.

Task 44 GAT remit review

As part of the ongoing discussion re mentors and GAT we are looking at parts of the remit that need updating. The part in question is;


  • To consult with, as appropriate, the Board, Freegle UK Central Group and the Development Working Group.
  • To give monthly reports to Freegle UK Central Group with statisticsof enquiries and pending, rejected and approved applications.The Report links to be listed on the Freegle Wiki for reference, GAT Reports.

Amendments suggested:


  • To consult with, as appropriate, the Board, Mentors, Freegle UK Central Group and the Development Working Group.
  • To give monthly reports to Freegle UK Central Group with statistics and narrative of enquiries and pending, rejected and approved applications, where relevant that fits within the available time and resources of the GAT team and does not disclose confidential information. The Report links to be listed on the Freegle Wiki for reference, GAT Reports.
  • (new bullet point)To maintain confidentiality only regarding personal information of volunteers and any potential conflictual issues with other groups. If there is doubt about what constitutes confidential information, the Board Observer should be consulted.

(note: GAT will consult with Mentors at the point of an application being assigned to a caseworker. This will be a short questionnaire - questions still to be decided.)

A poll will be set up to agree the wording.

Task 41 Caretaker Guidelines Review

The section to be amended is:
When an existing Freegle mod or mod team offers to take over a Caretaker group, the Mentors should:

  • Poll on whether it is in the best interests of the group to hand it over to the new mod/team taking into account, location, capacity, rules and working practices.
  • If the poll doesn't agree to the handover, the group will not be handed over until further discussions have taken place and a new poll is run, but ultimately the Mentors have authority to refuse the offer.

The amendments suggested are:

  • When an existing Freegle volunteer or volunteer team offers to take over a Caretaker group permanently, the Mentors should:
  • (new bullet point) Take into account the Freegle Affiliation Policy.
  • Poll on whether it is in the best interests of the group to hand it over to the new volunteer/team taking into account location, capacity, advice from GAT, rules and working practices.
  • If the poll doesn't agree to the handover, the group will not be handed over until further discussions have taken place and a new poll is run. Mentors have authority to refuse or accept the offer.

It was requested that the affiliation policy be agreed by the Board or Central first, so that it is clear what the Freegle Affiliation Policy is before the poll. This is still ongoing.

Freegle Development would welcome new members to the group to join the discussions.