Freegle Tech Report 17-04-30

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Freegle Tech Report April 2017 Posts 22246-22429 Members 115


Very little obvious changes this month. Edward is working hard to find ways to improve our platform, and reach out to non members, to improve donations, and address any issues brought up by members and moderators. He did break something in the ModTools app which necessitated Chris doing a new release.


There was a demand from members to have something which removes a chat from the list on the chats page. Inevitably, once this was done we had members and moderators who had removed a chat and then get confused when they get a message sent to it, and can't see it.
There are two solutions to this.
When you get a new message in a chat, "unclose" it, so that it will appear in your list again.
Allow people to see and access old closed chats (e.g. via a button to show them).
It was decided that 1 is better than 2, as it would sort out those complaints we have had so far. 2 requires someone to notice a button and click on it. So we will try one first. This does mean that if you have someone pestering you and you want to ignore them, then their chat will keep popping up.
Q. A member has been sent a photo twice and it is not showing in Chat.
A. I expect the other person has sent the photo by email. We don’t accept photos by email because of the potential damage of spam photos getting through.


Subject lines. Some posts once approved seemed to lose information on their subject line, often after edits. If you notice any please let Geeks know. Email Addresses All groups have an email address for posting messages, but please don't encourage people to post by email. It's much more likely that:
They'll mail from the wrong address - which will not work.
They'll post incorrectly.
Their mail will go missing and they'll wonder why.
They'll forget to add a photo.
Subject line will be wrong
The email address is needed for TN to work but it should be given only to members who refuse to post any other way.


Work has been done to change the way we display images. Part of our award from Microsoft gave us a $5K/year allowance on their cloud platform Azure, which has a CDN. As we had had to design the previous system to save costs , it was a bit of a patch up.
Let Geeks know if you see anything odd with them. We still load them into the DB - we don't want to stop people posting if Azure is down or slow but:
We don't bother caching them on disk any more (keeps the code simpler).
Quite rapidly, but in the background, we move them out of the DB onto Azure (keeps our DB smaller).
Once we've done this, we link to Azure instead of our own servers (reduces load on our servers).
Questions and Answers.

Q. I did some test posts on the owner email address and did not receive notification. Jacky received one though!
A You do not get sent notifications if you sent the email. If we get any to an incorrect address they are sent to Geeks who will forward any that they can work out who they are meant for.
Q Will there be a place on FD/modtools, for moderators to add links etc similar to the links or files section on yahoogroups? I would like to add some links to pet rescue sites and a few other appropriate links for reuse resources, but I would prefer not to refer members back to the yahoogroup.
A.You can stick them in the Welcome emails or in the group description via modtools if there are not too many.
Q. Are the "what's new" unsubscribe buttons working?
A Yes but some of the notifications can remain if members are removed via the Yahoo group . They should be removed via modtools.
Q. A longstanding member says that she is not receiving replies from other members in response to her offers.This is becoming an increasing source of annoyance for members. I changed her settings hoping to rectify this but she now gets posts for a group she has never been connected to.
A This member joined the other group via Yahoo in 2009 so maybe she has forgotten.
Email is being overwhelmed by spam and spam filters are getting tougher. Since our mails are about free stuff and contain badly written text, they are the kinds of things spam filters don't like. Hotmail is especially bad. Ask support to check any you can’t.
Q. I saw it mentioned on Central about having Key Words which can be picked up if in a post and sent for moderation. Or maybe we already do this?
A We don't have any of this at the moment, but I'm thinking at some point of adding.
Keywords that show a warning message to a member ('borrow' might show 'Most groups don't allow loans' or something).
Keywords that send posts to be moderated (all the warning ones plus perhaps some other ones where you don't want the member to be alerted).
These would be configurable on a per-modconfig basis, but with a global default.


Q. I'd like to show my groups’ events listing on another site (PACT), eg in a sidebar, so a condensed listing would be best. At the moment it looks like you have to be signed in to see the events listing. Is this sort of thing on the radar?
A There is a plugin that you can IFRAME in use to do this. Edward doesn't think it's likely that anyone would write specific code to do this, but Chris may write a Drupal plugin.


The code needs to be restructured a bit - at the moment it assumes there's only one Facebook page (or group) per Freegle group. But if we have posting onto other Facebook buy and sell groups, then there will quite often be more than one Facebook group which we'd want to post onto. So if you see anything odd over the next few days, let me know. Things like posts not appearing on the page, or coming back into ModTools after you've already shared them.

I've done the join up and delete completed posts part.
Publishing on to other people's groups isn't possible with the standard Facebook API. I'm considering whether to try something similar to the plugin to make it work. It may be possible to publish if you are made a page admin and then later demoted (which sounds crazy, but that's what it says). I still need to put posts from other members on the group through ModTools for moderation onto the Freegle group.
I think I've found a way to post onto existing Buy & Sell groups (i.e. ones which we aren't admins on), which would then act as a way of advertising Freegle to a relevant audience who might not know us. I'm going to experiment a bit more with this, and get it usable on my own groups, and then see whether doing this does actually result in new members.

Q. A message appeared two days ago in my facebook notifications but I couldn't access it. It wasn't on the freegle chat feed and couldn't be found again anywhere on facebook.
A We've put them there for ages. It's useful for people who don't check their email or emails that don't get through. You can control whether it does it from Settings, at the bottom. If you see another one you can't access, though, I'd like to know.


. Donations.
As discussed we tried asking for donations on a group basis, using an estimate of the group activity to apportion a target. We have a bit of text to make it clear that the funds are for Freegle generally (otherwise they'd become restricted donations and we'd have to account for and track them separately). Initial results from the first few days are encouraging. We get several times more people donating (as a percentage of those we ask). The average donation people make is a bit smaller, but the overall result is that we seem to get around £60/day compared to £30/day. It's far too soon to say whether this effect will continue over the course of a whole year, though.
Although not exact as if a member makes a donation it is divided between any groups they are on. You can find your total donations set against your group at
This is not a competition what we felt was needed per year was divided among groups on a pro rata basis according to size. It is felt that giving a realistic total will encourage members to give more often.


Overlapping default posting areas When members post, the first thing we ask them is what their postcode is, and we then show a list of the closest groups. The closest group is used unless members change it - which they can if they’d rather use another group. Mods can accept posts from wherever they like. Most members will use the first group in the list, so we want that to be a sensible suggestion.

How is this list of groups chosen?
All groups have a Core Group Area which is exclusively theirs, and is agreed with GAT. You can also have a Default Posting Area, which is the area where your group is the natural one to use. This shouldn’t overlap with the Core Group Area for another group (because then you’d be stepping on their toes) or Default Posting Area for another group (because then the system will just pick one at random which might not be a great choice).

We’ve done some work with GAT to ensure that Core Group Areas don’t overlap, and we’re now doing the same with Default Posting Areas. Support are contacting groups where there are overlaps.

Mapping locations within groups
Q. There are advantages in using local authority boundaries, (no overlaps, complete coverage) and disadvantages (large areas, incomplete coverage on our map), but using one on top of the other makes the map hard to understand. If I knew what they did, I could decide whether to delete them? A When deciding which area to use for a postcode, we use the smaller ones in preference to the larger. So you may see large areas on there which won't appear in subject lines.
Basically you should feel free to delete any areas you see on that map that you don't want appearing in subject lines on your group.


It was suggested that we set up an Approve and set to group (unmod) message in Modtools. We can then do both with one click. So set up a message with Action set to approves a message and change mod status to Group

Native Groups.

You can now change text in the body of messages which have been approved.
Q. Do I need to keep Modtools as a mod on Native only groups?
A No, though it won't do any harm either.
Q. Wanted to promote a member to moderator but it seems to be locked
A. This happens if you’re not an Owner on the group. That ought to happen when you move a group from Yahoo to FD, but if it doesn’t then Edward will manually promote you.
Q. What are those of you who've gone native doing for email addresses for Twitter? I'm not keen to keep using yahoo owner addresses if we may ditch yahoo at some point.
A. Most are still using the Yahoo address but it can easily be changed to something else before closing the Yahoo group. Just click on settings on the Twitter account. Many groups do have a shared account of some sort for moderators that they can use, or can set one up.


Members can now ask to receive some address cards to hand out to others on request. Once the cards have been marked as sent out, we let mods on the relevant group(s) know. This is to help you become aware of enthusiastic members who you might want to talk to about volunteering.


We now have the facility to ask for volunteers on Freegle Direct. These are not just for Freegle groups but for other groups as well. They will be sent for moderation, for us to see if it is an organisation we can support.
Q. I have seen a few posts for volunteer positions come through now on various groups, but not one has filled out the dates and times that volunteers are required for. Maybe because many of these positions aren't just a short term thing. What happens to these posts? Do they have an expiry date where they are removed regardless, or will they stay on the FD group forever as there is no end date?
A.There will be an automatic message to require people to reconfirm regularly (possibly monthly) but it has yet to be coded.

Tech Group Report
April 2017

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