Freegle Tech Report 17-01-31

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Freegle Tech Report January 2017 Posts 21322-21785 Members 116


A quiet month on the group with a myriad of questions, and small bugs being reported and promptly sorted. The two main items on the agenda were the discussion of opening Facebook Groups for each Freegle group; and a suggestion by Edward of creating a black hole where members suspected of selling items on could have their requests dropped instead of forwarded. The website had a bit of a wobble but pleased to say that the backup kicked in after a few minutes and everything was back on track without human intervention. The work done to try and improve our Google rankings is carrying on and statistics and clicks are looking promising, but we hope to get them a lot better yet. Community events can now have pictures to help with advertising and we hope with members and mods being able to snap photos and pop them on. The edit format on ModTools has changed a quite a bit, but only on messages created on FD.


There is now a pop up on using this feature asking what you want the enter key to do to prevent members and mods sending multiple messages by accident.<br Now that the What's New emails are coming from an address at our own domain (groupname-auto@...) rather than the Yahoo -owner, you may see some auto-replies. There is some filtering to strip these out still needs some improvement but there will always be the occasional one that gets through though.<br

Q Is there going to be a report spam button on chat?
A.There is an option to report a chat - inside the dropdown.<br Q. Looking at this newer screen shot, both sides of the chat are in the same colour on the same side without any break to show time. It is not clear who wrote what.<br A.This is because one member included the reply from the other member in his email so they basically came from the same member.


  • A video of a member clicking on Find my Location button - which failed to work (might be their phone set not to allow) so then they clicked on the postcode input box to enter the postcode manually, they then went back to the Find my Location button again(because it's a big button?) A change is on now so when typing stuff into the postcode input box, the button disappears and the input slides across. Please give feedback.
  • Mails about stuff you have searched for or requested were causing some complaints from members and moderators so a change to clarify why it's returning specific results, will be included
  • Although BT are now forwarding most of our emails it was found that there was a three day delay between one being sent and received by the member.
  • Some posts were going out as if from the group mod address when they were being generated by Freegle. This has now been corrected and now makes it clear it is not from the group mods.
  • With any mail that we send out, there will be some fraction of users who reply even if we ask them not to. There are various options for what we can do: Send the replies back to a human, send them to a black hole or send them to an auto-reply which says something like "you shouldn't have replied to this - if you want to contact the volunteers then mail..." No final decision made as yet.
  • The way we sent out What's New emails to FD users had a problem, in that if you were replying to a message from a non-FD user, then that reply wouldn't go back via our platform and so wouldn’t show up in your own chats, it also meant we couldn't track it. A change has been made so it should now go through us. Let me know if you suddenly see or get reports of any weirdness in replies.
  • There was a problem with passing on the email to the member for a few people An email was sent out saying ‘I'm afraid we couldn't deliver your mail. If you're still interested, please reply to this mail, and we'll do better this time! The member needs to do just that if they happen to email the group.
  • Separate function for FD members to agree times and send reminders, will eventually be implemented. Doubtless we'll have lots of entertaining discussions first
  • We were shown an example of the kind of message that's going to get sent, just once, to people who have more than a certain number of successful freegles (10,possibly). This asks them for their stories. We have received some nice replies which are going on the home page.
  • We had an example of a member who is definitely selling on items he is receiving from other members. It was suggested that we have a black hole where and requests and replies to posts by members like these can be dropped. It has been found that banning just means they go incognito and have to be rediscovered.
    Responses were varied mainly because it is felt that some moderators may use it with insufficient evidence or because of members breaking their group rules which would have a knock on effect on groups which have different rules.

Q. Is there anyway to search for the post history using a member's email address via Freegle Direct.I find it helpful to know how close they are and to see what sort of member they are?
A. Not yet. It is on the list to look at as it has come before. Some groups dislike the idea because it can discriminate against new members so if I added it groups will want the ability to turn it off.
Update - there will soon be a little info button in the Chat window which provides basic information.
Q How are people using FD supposed to know about the promise/unpromise thing may I ask? Is it explained anywhere that members can see?
A.I think the idea of promising something is fairly intuitive. I've seen a number of positive comments about it from members, and so far it's been used 8530 times - so it looks like quite a lot of folk are understanding it.
Q.. What does the promised button do?
A. At the moment it just acts to let both parties know who is going to get it. In time it will let other people know it's tentatively taken, and hold replies.
Q. I received an auto repost advance warning email for one of my wanted messages. I decided to withdraw my request and clicked the blue withdraw button on the email but it did not take me to the post.
A. Thanks this was an old link I have updated it to one which signs you in.
Q. Regarding the Completed Posts section in this "What's New" email aren’t the reply buttons confusing and superflous?
A. Yes I will remove them.
Q. The unsubscribe button is clear but takes the member off the group whereas the one for stopping emails is much smaller. Can they be reversed?
A. This is deliberate, people who get most annoyed are those who clicked to unsubscribe mistakenly thinking that they were leaving everything, and then go ballistic when they get more emails.
Q. Just went and marked as taken and it has appeared as an offer in MT but not on FD AFAIK so far. It has been removed from FD so I cant post a taken
A.When you mark as TAKEN it bumps the time of the message, as a way of making TN spot it. This is a bit confusing, and may change, but it doesn't mean the message has been reposted.


You can now add a picture to a community event. This should make them more engaging. I often see a poster for an event, and take a photo of it to remind myself to post it. To help with that, we also try to spot any text in the image, and put it in the boxes for you. It's easier to sort that out than type it all in from scratch.
Q. I noticed that members need to be logged in before being able to use the unsubscribe button on the community event notices.
A.This is an old link I will update it.
Q. A member has reposted an event which is already showing is this necessary?
A.No don’t approve they are moved to the top in date order and will remain until the date of the event has passed.
Q. How do I change an event that is not showing from FD It just seems toshow events up to (8th Feb)and the one I want does not show:
A.It just shows the first 20 so make sure you are using the specific group tab so you do not see more.


The Board requested Edward to work on some kind of better integration with Facebook. We have a bunch of Facebook pages, but you can't Freegle on them. Some experimenting and prototyping has now been carried out.

  • Facebook buy and sell groups are a competitor to us they are used because people are hanging out on Facebook anyway and they find them easy.They also have some of the same disadvantages of Groups - the posts aren't structured, they're often not marked as completed, there's no good way to search and people abuse them.

Through Facebook's API:
We can post onto a group semi-automatically , you won’t be able to post an actual "for sale" type post (even for £0), but can post a message/link like you're used to sharing yourself. You can access what is on a group that you manage automatically, and delete stuff.
There are some things we can't do:
You can't post this way to groups that you are a member of, only groups that you manage. Existing groups might or might not be receptive to making one of our volunteers a manager of that group
You can't post as the group, only as yourself. You can't can't use your existing Facebook page to mask your own identity).
You can't intercept personal messages from people on the group. I'm not sure if you can prevent them occurring.
You can't embed an app into a group (though there are some rumblings along those lines).
Edward is interested in any ideas for other ways to integrate with Facebook. A few groups have been set up and activated to see if the response makes it worth pursuing.
Nothing is happening imminently on this. It needs groups not pages to participate, so it is worth trialing a few to see if it is feasible. If implemented it will be completely optional.

  • Linking of pages to app for the purpose of publicity fails occasionally if you have not logged into the page for a while or have changed a password. Worth checking the publicity posts are being published from time to time relinking if necessary.


If you change the postcode on modtools, then it will choose a new area. If the area shown for the postcode isn't what you want it to show on your group, then you should fix that by changing the areas on your map settings, so that it will get it right for all subsequent messages and so the location in bracket above is a link to the map settings, which will save a bit of time finding it.
Q.We have a member who either autoselected the wrong postcode or typed incorrectly so it's mapping to a Sheffield postcode instead of a Shrewsbury one . I can edit the info on the post but it is still mapping to Sheffield? Can we change it?
A.In this example, where the user typed the wrong postcode, I have now enabled you to correct the actual postcode that the message was mapped to.


                  Mobile app stats January 2017

Various stats on the Freegle mobile app are here:
The app was updated to version 1.1.3 on Android and iOS in January.
Total installs are 38013 and the average rating is 3.74.
Various stats on the Modtools mobile app are here:
Q. On the app, I am finding it impossible to select a date when putting notifications on hold for a holiday period. Today it is just giving me January to choose from as an end date I can't easily find a way to get it to display February or find a way to manually enter the date without the pop up calendar. Is it just me, or have others had this problem?
A. It's a little tricky, but it is possible. There's a >> icon at the top right of the date picker.
Q. How do I delete messages from the Freegle app on iPhone? "
A. It works the same as the website. So: for your own messages, the options are TAKEN/RECEIVED or WITHDRAW.
App hat

Mod Tools

FYI, there are a variety of things ModTools can do in the background for other mods or groups.It will do any bulk ops that become due
It will do this for groups where you are a moderator even though you do not moderate the posts. This is useful for groups where they do not use modtools themselves or are away without internet. However it can show your name in their Yahoo logs and if you don’t want it to, you will have to use a different Yahoo ID on that group and unconnected to the one used from modtools.
Fairly recently, what FD shows has changed from just being the subject line to being constructed from the three parts for search engine optimisation reasons - we can then use some special magic which identifies the item as a physical thing, which may help us. When you change one of these and save it, it will updated on the server, construct a new subject, and for groups using Yahoo edit the Yahoo subject to match. This is complicated and on dev only so please try and report any problems.

Q. I have a record on Modtools of a member having joined my group, but I have not seen an 'Approve' email to the Yahoo group. He has an application sitting in another groups pending members but he has two memberships already so I don’t want to approve unless you can link all three of these addresses up on all the groups he's on.
A. I've done that for you so it will.


If you want to dispense with Yahoo you can now do so. Some help is available here:

It was discovered that changing the group name at the same time as switching caused complications, so we are advised against doing this.


Today I happened to notice that I have one bouncing Snaply member and removed them. Is it worth removing them all centrally in case we get penalised by google et al for all the bouncing?
Yes. I unsubscribed them from the Yahoo group after the app stopped working. I think it's reasonable to delete them from FD too, but I'll leave it a day or two in case anyone objects to that.


Several people had approved LinkedIn messages to members, which meant we were no longer trapping mails from them for review. I've removed that whitelist, and mailed the folk who did that, so you should be able to block them in review now.

Freegle Tech Report Jan 2017

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