Freegle Tech Report 17-07-31

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Freegle Tech Report July 2017 Posts 22725-23028 Members 114


Yahoo’s mail servers have been unreliable for many months, causing problems getting memberships from Trash Nothing and Freegle Direct.This got noticeably worse over the last few weeks, causing a backlog of members not being processed, and messages waiting to go out. We’ve done some work to improve that. Please use ModTools ( to moderate - if you moderate directly on Yahoo it is increasingly hard to make the synchronisation work.
Edward being on holiday it could not be looked at for a few days. The servers also had a wobbly day going down whilst Edward was attending a wedding but he still managed to get it back up and running. The available space on our backups was running low at one stage but the ‘traffic light’ warning system gave mods time to alert the Geeks and get it sorted. We’ve also introduced the Newsfeed, as a trial replacement for the cafe groups - lots of information about that below.


Freegle Direct communicating with Yahoo
This only applies to groups using Yahoo. Testing all Yahoo’s email servers, it was found that two of them were barely working, one of which all our mail was being channelled into. Edward has managed to find and exploit a weakness in Yahoo which has allowed him to direct the mail to one of the servers which tested really well, and the only reports of mail not getting through since have been because of Yahoo sending out delayed notifications. Andrew has done something similar on TrashNothing.
It is possible Yahoo will find the weakness and close it, in which case we may have to rethink using both systems together.
Initially this resulted in some old mails and members being processed which had failed to make it onto Yahoo in the past.
To further help work round the problem of communication between Yahoo and Direct failing, the following process has been set up.

  • If a membership request to Yahoo has been unprocessed for 48 hours, then the membership will be autoapproved on FD.
  • If a message has been pending on Yahoo for 48 hours, then the message will be autoapproved on FD.

This isn’t ideal - but as Yahoo falls apart, there's simply no way to make the synchronisation work perfectly, especially where groups don’t use ModToosl regularly (please do!). All we can do is work around Yahoo where possible and do our best to ensure a decent experience for members using FD.
If you put a hold on a post or membership it will not get autoapproved.

Q & A.
Q. I just used my phone for Freegle and the app has given me a new membership.
A. People using phones or tablets will often get logged in with the default icloud address or with whatever email they are logged into. In this case it has picked your Googlemail account to link this new membership to, as you must have been signed into that. If you have more than one email account you need to make sure you are signed out of them even on computers if you keep your devices fully synced
Q. We are seeing members post to the wrong group because they forgot to pick the right group from the drop down. Would it be possible to add something so we can transfer the post to the correct group. (I just had one with lots of items and lots of pictures that I had to reject)
A.Yes it is but will be a while.
Q. I am seeing a lot of posts that are being approved then an hour later they are back in modtools waiting again. Yahoo is approving eventually, but it is taking two or three goes for a lot of posts today
A.That's Yahoo delays sending email notifications/processing email commands-nothing we can do, I'm afraid. You could probably process directly on Yahoo though.
Q. Is there a way for members to turn off all communications from Freegle except groups posts and personal chat messages with a single button? Even when they turn them off some new stuff comes along and they start getting them.I checked in my own settings but it seems unclear from all the emails we send out now, just what you are turning off.
A. A bit difficult this one, we do need to let members know these things exist, and if they don’t get them to start with, then they won’t know if it is something they may find useful. Mainly they need to feel in control, so they need to know how to access their settings to turn everything off and the links to unsubscribe need to be clear and work.
Q. Would it be possible to include the IP address in the source of the email form on yahoo emails. I need these to detect spammers and scammers. I can only get the ip number on mod tools on my phone at the moment.
A. I feel a bit uncomfortable about putting that in, because it would allow a member of the group to find the IP of another member. Yahoo already allows that, but it undermines the privacy and for us mods, that info is available on MT. But if others think it a good idea I will add it.
Q The ability to add photos after posting does not work.
A. I hadn't noticed the image link you've found - that's not supposed to work, and I'll remove it. You can't yet add an image to an existing post, but I will be doing that. Will moderators want to moderate all of these or should we let them go straight through?
Q. A Member just posted on central re asbestos, I was wondering it the spam filters could also be used to catch posts that mention hazardous materials?
A.I’ll be adding some worry words.


Would making it easier for people to provide/request/require a contact phone number cut down on no-shows. There are a few different ways that this could work, and it's made more complicated because replies may come by email from TN/Yahoo users. We could:

  • When posting an OFFER/WANTED, ask you whether people who reply are asked to provide a contact number or not
  • When replying to a post on the site, we could ask for a number before you type your reply. You can choose not to.
  • When replying to a post by email, we send you a mail with a link to a form where you can fill in your mobile. You may or may not do so. We would delay your reply by up to 10 minutes to allow you to fill it in.

Once you've provided a number, we would pass it on automatically in future whenever you reply (we'd state this at the point you provide it).
In the replies on the site and by email, we could highlight whether or not a number has been provided.
We wouldn't do any verification that the number actually is yours, at least initially. There are ways of doing this, but they cost, and so we'd have to get people to pay, which is a bit of a can of worms (though potentially a source of income to support the site).
Q. I'm not sure if this kind of thing works in mobile apps.
A. I can get the phone no (if available) using another plugin (that requires another permission)
Q. By tapping the address icon it inserts your address without having to type it all out again. I love the feature and know it works but it doesn't work for some members. Also I have included my details which show in the chat, yet members claim not to have seen my address. Another member never responded either so possibly assumed that I had ignored her.
A. If using an iPhone the app is a little behind the Android one. This could mean that an iOS user might not see the address - not sure. I was about to release a new version at the weekend but notifications stopped working in the new build - not fixed yet.


These have to be updated by Edward personally at present. We are not quite reaching our targets. Edward is still trying different ways to try and increase them so sometimes they may not show the correct figure.

News Feed

There has been a lot of discussion on this subject
When you logged in at, or start the app, you now get the Newsfeed page. Although we will always be about the giving and getting of physical items for free, to do that, we need people to come to the site and use it. There are various ways to do that - advertising, publicity, word of mouth, emails to remind people that we exist. People need these nudges. If we have interesting stuff on the site when people aren't actively looking to give or get something, then it will encourage people to stay connected to us, and may result in more items been freegled. A very small percentage of members now join the Cafe groups which are mostly dead or fading fast. The newsfeed approach, because it's geographically aware and localised, is a way of creating a local community feel which engages people. It adapts, so as more people get active, it shows stuff from a smaller more local area.
Events and volunteer opportunities sections have been pretty popular and we could maybe benefit from having a focus of interest - like Mumsnet does, in a way - where you can chat to strangers about a general area you're interested in. The best example of that so far is our Facebook post about Plastic Free July, which got 2 comments on Facebook, and the automatic post of it on the newsfeed got a real discussion going.Have a look at [[1]]
There's a possible gap in the "market" for this local stuff at the moment, because Streetlife was bought by Nextdoor and closed - losing a lot of members, either because they didn't re-register with Nextdoor, or they tried it and didn't like it, or they read bad stuff about privacy policies. is trying to capture that local community activity in the UK in the aftermath, but it's early days.
There are some other reasons too.
Facebook = newsfeed. Something people are familiar with is easier for them to use. It also potentially opens the door to more engagement with councils. Leeds council have an app that reminds people which bins to put out when - but people have to actively choose to use it. Councils might value being able to communicate information about waste/recycling to their residents - we know that Slough council was very active on Streetlife. They might pay for that, which would sustain us, or failing that it might give us a better relationship with them which would pay off in publicity and so on.
So this is an experiment - can we get our members more active and keep them more active by providing more of a community resource to go alongside our primary focus of the physical items? We'll see. It might not work - some people might find this confusing or irrelevant. Undoubtedly some will. We'll need to see what happens to the activity numbers.
Comments from moderators on it have been mixed. Some moderators suggested we could just have a volunteer checking these messages for the moderators, it could be a way to draw them in. These volunteers could push Facebook and Twitter more for groups as well.

Q. How do we report spam on the newsfeed?
A.If you're signed in as a mod you'll see the delete option. If just a member, there's a Report option from the dropdown for posts - but not for replies, so I'll do something about that.
Q. I am loving the newsfeed option - it's sparking a lot of conversations but would it be possible to provide an @so_and_so response when you reply to someone by clicking on the reply link in their message? Like in Instagram or Twitter. At the moment it sticks the reply on the bottom of the thread, which is fine, but you need to manually write the person's name to indicate you're replying to them - and sometimes they're quite hard to spell.
A. Yes, I intend to do that. It's a bit hard because you might want to tag anyone, not just someone in the thread, so it has to be pretty zippy.
Q.There is inconsistency in the referrals to OFFER/WANTED or GIVE and FIND referrals to the tabs: The "Give" route takes you through posting an OFFER, but the "Find" route takes you through searching first to see if what you want is already available. That simplified friendly flow is the one for people who are either new users or can't cope with anything more complex than clicking on a big obvious button. Is it possible to provide a button to give for offerers as well as wanters?
A.I will look at simplifying.
Q Will it be possible to add photos to the feed, or is it now? A member posted an offer of a picture of his stolen bike asking people to look out for it. I pointed him in the direction of the newsfeed, but obviously he can't currently add a photo.
A.Yes, it will be possible, but isn't yet. I've just added an Edit feature.


The new version 1.2.0 of the Freegle app for Android now released - and the iOS version will be reviewed and released shortly. The releases will be rolled out gradually over a few days (manually for Android or automatically for iOS).
The main change is that there is an option to share your latest post (or an old post) using the native device sharing facilities, ie whatever you have installed, eg typically Share to Facebook or Twitter but could be to WhatsApp if you have that - or email, etc. The code includes all Ed's latest goodies including the newsfeed and profile photos.
Q. I can't get in today from either iphone or ipad using the app and a google log in. The error message is "No serverAuthCode"
A.Please try uninstalling it and then reinstalling.
Q. A member is trying to add a photo to his post, but everytime he posts the photo is wrong. Looking at the posts, the photos are only coming through as links, no preview on his posts and when I check the link I am getting this type of error on some of them.
A.This reminds me of a problem that happens occasionally and is cured by restarting one component, so I've done that.


Bouncing Members Some users have been wrongly marked as bouncing. A few of these were reported and Edward has found a bug in the software we use for mailing, postfix. Geeky bug details at This can cause messages to get non-delivered because postfix tries to send them to the wrong place which can then cause a user to get marked as bouncing (which the user can reset from Settings when they see the alert). A change to work around this (geeky details: disable connection caching). Is now in place.
Q.Please can you send Admins in for moderation. I always forget to select the group I am sending the admin to and have sent one to the wrong group.
A. I can easily make it not default to a group, which will force you to choose. That should have the same effect. I'll do that.
Q. I added link to Ascot to my Reading Group settings and can't find a way to unlink it.
A. You can try again choosing the correct group, if that fails contact

Freegle Tech.
July 2017

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