Freegle Tech Report 16-11-30

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Freegle Tech Report November 2016 Posts 20312-20825 Members 114


Chris and Edward updated the system so that the mobile Freegle app (for users) produces alert notifications when you have replies to read - controlled in Settings. This will help members spot replies more rapidly, and therefore get collection arrangements sorted out more smoothly.
Edward has worked with Andrew (TrashNothing) so that it now works with Freegle Direct for groups which are hosted natively (i.e. without Yahoo). We now have our first two groups without Yahoo (Otley and Lewisham), which we are monitoring before switching over other groups that have asked. We have managed to get AOL to whitelist us and hopefully made progress with BT so our main problem of members not getting replies to their messages will improve - though there are still some problems with TalkTalk. Our servers got onto a mailing blacklist, which luckily was reported by a moderator and we then managed to get removed from it; we now have some monitoring to spot when this happens.
Snaply was abandoned some time ago by the owner and the server they used was now rejecting all our posts. Edward has unsubscribed all the associated FBuser emails addresses from the Yahoo groups so if you have any Admins mentioning Snaply please amend them.
A lot of the discussion this month, some of it heated, on this group has been on ‘What is considered to be a viable platform’. This was brought about as a result of discussion on Central covering the AGM . Details of what we do about those considered non viable will be passed onto Development


When groups are hosted without Yahoo, they will inherit the owner/moderator status at the time a switch is made. At the moment the only difference is that owners can promote/demote members, but we are discussing whether to restrict some group settings.
If an email address bounces repeatedly then:
We'll stop sending mail to it.
We'll put a big banner on the Home/My Posts page telling them, and pointing them at Settings.
We'll put a notice on Settings by the email, telling them to change it or if they think it's now working, re-save it (which will reset the bounce).
Please let Edward know if you get any sudden floods from members who stop getting emails but shouldn't. *An email is deemed bouncing if: We've had more than 50 "soft" bounces from it (which mean we got some kind of failure), or
We've had more than 3 "hard" bounces from it (which means it looks like the address is invalid)

New Features.

Adding a Direct member to your group using their email address is now available via Modtools

  • FOP is available again.
  • You can now change members Direct email settings in modtools.
  • You get a count of the numbers of replies to each message
  • Chat notifications now include more information, so members realise it is a copy to them, not the original being sent to the wrong address.
  • You can now add a group description in the settings.
  • You can now rotate the photos after uploading - which previously you could only do from My Posts
  • You can now delete a photo
  • When someone tells us that an item is TAKEN/RECEIVED/withdrawn it will now automatically allow any outstanding requests to be informed. You can still send an individual message to the people manually, and put comments in the TAKEN/RECEIVED, but this way at least people will be told.
  • We can now see members’ comments about your group.
  • You can now configure a mail to be sent out when members join your group, from ModTools Settings>Group Settings.


If you reply in chat on the site or phone app, we were sending an email which contained the same message you just typed as it was requested by moderators. It was causing some members to be confused so they have now been turned off by default, and put a setting on the settings page to allow you to turn them on. We are now getting many less queries in Support about the Chat features and most members have got the hang of it, though some have decided against using it. If you want information about any member or chat have access to information about both the member and anyone responding to their posts. One of the things that can push a chat reply into needing review is the presence of an URL. The most common domains are whitelisted, but this still means that we have to review replies from common freeglers who happen to have a domain in their reply, for example in a signature. Now if a message with such a domain is reviewed and approved, the domains of any URLs within it are whitelisted (after a couple of times, to reduce mistakes). Hopefully this will mean less spam reviewing for people.


We are getting less and less to moderate as Edward keeps improving the catchment of whole domains, and regular formatting.
Q Is there any merit is trying to use the centre of the menu bar on FD pages either for a tag line like 'Freegle is free and legal' or 'Freegle is free to use, but not free to run' or move the donate button from the bottom to the bar?

     A.  It doesn't work on mobile (which has now overtaken desktop) there isn't room, but we could put something  on there for larger screens.  I'm thinking  of saving it for fundraising,  because we could have a horizontal "thermometer".

Q. The messages on one Chat have got so long now that the text is completely hidden behind the keyboard. You are typing blind and can’t edit any typos.

    A.This is a common problem with virtual keyboards, and sorry but don't know of a way to resolve this which I trust not to cause other problems. Some browsers do sort out this problem. 

Q. Is there any way you can make it so we can move them around not just resize them?

    A. Not easily. Facebook doesn't let you do that with its chat windows  either so I think it's acceptable.


A moderator found that there was a problem with some events. Those with the start date in the past even though they ended in the future didn’t show. This is being looked into but if you have a problem try changing the start date to the future. Facebook Links from the legacy format for FDv2 have now been changed to the new format (/message/id). A consequence of this will be that the previews should start working (on things like Facebook and Twitter).


To add a member click on members and use the add button at the top. Work has been done to allow mods to have an automatic button which will change messages in all caps to lower case. You can now see more easily how people are feeling and follow up with them if you like. This is on, under Members->Happiness. Moderators were having to keep signing in. This should be better now. Q. A user has just changed their email in settings but In ModTools it says that the user also uses the old email. Is this old email ever used? We don't send to it, but it's used so that: Any posts from that email are associated with that user. If they change back to it, we don't need to verify. If they join multiple groups we can tell. It's possible that at some future point we might handle email bounces by mailing other addresses we have for the user, though we don't do that now. Q. My group is showing No longer linked to Facebook

   A.This can happen from time to time.  If you see this, just link it again.


The app size has now got a little smaller due to tweaks in the build process. It now has app notifications - when you have replies to messages and is available in the stores now. Various stats on the mobile app are here: A new version 1.1.1 of the Android app was released on 29/11/16 featuring the notifications - at last! And the iOS version submitted for review so should be available soon. Android total installs is 22890 and current installs 5231, down from 6949 last month.

iOS total installs is 9797.

The average rating is 3.80 over 86 ratings. Chris App hat


This is how groups which are not attached to a Yahoo group will be referred. For native groups, i.e. those without a Yahoo group, you will soon be able to edit a message after it's been approved. This is via an Edit button similar to the one you're use to on Pending. A test group was created, called Eldrick Test, which is hosted on the platform without a Yahoo group behind it. It was set in an isolated bit of Scotland, so this test group shouldn't inconvenience people. From the user perspective, you can’t notice much difference. In order to integrate with TrashNothing, there is now the ability to subscribe/post/unsubscribe by email. The addresses are: groupname-subscribe@... to join groupname@... to post groupname-unsubscribe@... to leave groupname-volunteers@... to contact the mods These addresses will not be available on the website, because members who post by email generate a lot more work for moderators than those who post using a web interface.

Members have a moderation status, which defaults to approval for new members, and can be changed from ModTools->Members->Approved, or using standard messages.

Trash Nothing. A test group was started by Andrew and Edward and was tested by some moderators who use TN. We have now gone live with using a Direct/TN only group. The first group was Otley. There is a FAQ and instructions at - though please don’t switch without talking to Edward first yet. The Yahoo delays affecting TN applicants should have gone away for the most part at the end of November but if you do still see delays (between when you receive questionnaire responses and when the applicant shows up as pending) it is suggested you Copy their TN addresses if they respond to the pending members and send them and invite. Even if you don’t approve them check you Yahoo logs for any with have bounced and send them an invite. Groups on Direct can Add them there. Q. My posts from TN are formatted wrong.
There are settings within Trashnothing. Mods need to log into their group on Trashnothing and choose the format they'd prefer. TN subject lines come in via Yahoo so they aren't in our preferred format. Look for group settings and follow the links. Set up a mod account if you haven't got one, it triggers a verification email to the owner address

Viable Groups

We must require Freegle groups to use at least one "viable" platform. Tech will determine the viability of different platforms by discussion and poll, to be revisited annually. New groups must be started on Freegle's preferred platform only. Tech will determine the preferred platform by discussion and poll, to be revisited annually. Much discussion and polling on this issue. Results will be passed to Development to decide how to proceed with our decision.

Jean Freegle Direct November 2016
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