Freegle Tech Report 17-02-28

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Freegle Tech Report February 2017 Posts 21786-21980 Members 114


Edward has spent most of his time this month on general maintenance and improving what we have. Because someone was doing a presentation about Freegle within Fujitsu, and felt a large map of Freegle in the background showing live posting would be good to have in the background, he has done a new version of our old one. You can see it here.
He has updated our SSL certificates
Added the facility to add photos to Chat messages, and altered it quite a lot to make it less awkward to user on mobiles.
Started a Yammer group which is Microsoft's answer to groups and which we are allowed to use as part of our grant.

Business Cards.

Currently we have a scheme where people can request Freegle business cards, which they can hand out/stick up in places to get more people freegling. It has been adjusted to this easier - initially for us mods, and in time for members too.
Exactly how we do this will change and evolve a bit, but you'll notice a new button on the publicity page ( Thanks to Liz Owen who is posting these out. We may need more volunteers to do that once we open it up to members. Freegle can refund postable and envelope costs. If you are interested in doing this, mail


You can now send images in chats. There's an icon to press (similar to other instant messaging). These images will get sent out to users by email too. We don't turn images in received emails into images in chats however as there are a lot of emails which have images in the signatures - logos etc. Also if we had a spammer who was sending porn pictures, we wouldn't want those to get passed into chats. The only way it could be done is if all chats with images went for moderator review before being passed on to members. Any better ideas would be welcome?
Messages sent to members from Yahoo have always been included in Chat, but we’ve seen a few more spam attacks via this route. Code has been added to check any URLs in reply emails we receive against the Spamhaus blacklist so these should decrease. ( This should also mean you see fewer chat messages to review.
A few changes other changes to chat:

  • The buttons have moved down to the bottom to give more space in the text box rather than using part of the width for the button, which is better on mobile. They are clickable, but without the "button" round them - just icons. This looks nicer, and is similar to Facebook Messenger.
  • There's a new "info" button which allows you to see limited information about the user - when they joined, number of replies/offers/wanteds. This may help some people who wanted to be able to think about that kind of info when deciding who to give to.
  • On mobile, you used to see a badge for unread chats on the "hamburger" menu. Then when you clicked that, you saw the Chats menu with a badge on it. Then you clicked that. To avoid having two steps I've put a badge which takes you straight there.
  • It was a bit jerky and should now be improved.

Q. We had a member on who had an autoresponder set up so for each and every message they would reply "Thanks", "Perfect" "That's great thanks" etc . We stopped him being able to post but now members are getting them thinking they are coming from us.
A He is responding to posts sent via the Yahoo group by email as we now pick these up in chat. Spamhaus should now catch these.
Q. Can we turn chats off for groups like the Tech one as I find them distracting.
A Not at present, , but Edward will fix this.


‘My posts’ tabs were a bit sluggish especially for people who have a lot of them. Changes made which should improve that, and also fix a problem where new replies were not picked up and shown in the messages display when you go to the My Posts.
Mobile and Tablet users were struggling to see beneath the ‘suggested subjects ‘ to put their own in as a result some posts were coming through with incorrect subjects. The number of suggestions has been cut from six to three to try and prevent this.
Q. I replied to a few posts and all the emails have bounced back, with a message to click on the link and try again have you any issues?
A Yes there was a blip and those affected have been asked to send again.
Q. A member has set up a new membership with a new email, can we link it with her old one?
A Moderators can’t though if the member signs in with their old address they can change that to the new one. If you send details to they can do it for you.


Because it was finding an event, and then adding an entry for each date that event has, it was not only swamping the weekly roundups, but also producing a silly order. Changes made will mean that it will now only output the first date for an event with multiple occurrences.


Groups have been approached about sorting out the boundaries for mapping posts over the years many without response. Some group have overlapping core areas, (this is not the same as catchment) there are two sets of boundary lines for each group although a few are missing them. A team is endeavoring to sort those remaining out and contact group moderators where possible.
Norfolk groups which work on a different system, were sometimes treated as a separate entity for mapping and group finding. As there often several low population areas between the nearest Norfolk group and non Norfolk group and some of the latter are only on Yahoo, changes have been made to make it easier for members to to join the group of their choice.


Everyone with a group on Direct or Native needs to have at least one moderator who regularly uses Modtools to moderate, either from a computer with the plugin, or using the IOS/Android apps. Moderators on many groups have been able to update some groups which they do not actively moderate but every week several groups are left without being updated.
Moderators on many groups were getting a lot of stuff for groups they were not actively moderating. Instead of having the options to show messages/members, we now have a simpler "Active" vs "Backup" model.
As part of this, it no longer shows the buttons for Facebook shares on groups where you're only a backup so you need to do your own.
Q Does anyone know whether / how I can get ModTools to work on a Blackberry Playbook tablet?
A Sorry it will not support Chrome or Firefox
Q. In the posts spam we get a lot like this which are usually wrong (Taken Footstool posted on 30 groups.) Won’t we end up getting load more if it is number of times posted across all groups?
A No as once you have marked it as ‘Not Spam’ it will not pick that one up again, so eventually there will be fewer.


Q Set to group and removing from group does not seem to be working.
A Fixed
SSL certificates
This is what allows people to connect using https://. The domains for which we now support SSL are as follows. Because of cost we can’t have them for shortlinks etc.
For the user site (Freegle Direct): - the top level domain, which will redirect you to... - the standard domain for Freegle Direct - where pre-release changes go - my development site, - old domains some people may have favourited, which redirect to - shouldn't be used but there in case a mistake is made
For ModTools: - the standard domain for ModTools - where pre-release changes go - my development site
These are doing very well but it was difficult to know which group they are for. This is now shown.


It was noticed a couple of groups were building up pending posts on the Yahoo group, when approached the mods said they were using Modtools only to approve. A few weeks ago another group was approving via the emails only and the same happened. It was found that none of these three groups had on the Yahoo group with the privs to add and approve members.
Messages even if they are approved on Modtools, will probably not go on the Yahoo group unless is a moderator with the correct privs on the group. Worth checking - but Edward will make this happen automatically.
If you are using an email address which is not a moderator with the correct privs then neither will that work.
It was found that one group had some Yahoo members’ posts being mismatched. A main cause was because the group’s name was in round brackets in emails instead of the normal square ones. Matching is done on a high percentage of the subject line being the same and because the name was not being stripped out it was causing problems. Worth checking yours.


This is like an "in-house Facebook", It's a possible replacement for Yahoo Groups for our discussion forums, if we wanted. The interface is much nicer than Groups, and it looks like you can also participate by email.
A test group was started for it for Freegle Tech, so we can have a play, and decide if it is suitable. Not much activity as we are also trying Chat which is fairly popular. If you want an invitation, mail Edward.

Later we could be able to automatically join people up or at least invite them, based on existing information that we have in ModTools.

Tech Group Report
February 2017

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