Freegle Tech Report 17-08-31

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Freegle Tech Report August 2017 23029-23402


A number of groups moved away from Yahoo this month with few if any problems.
The website behaved, during absences by Chris and Edward, and some new tweaks especially to Chat have been made.
Many questions were asked and answered and it has been decided, after a trial on a few groups, that a Chat feature for members of local groups to interact would not be used much, and that the News feature would be sufficient to meet present needs.


Merging Members. You can do this now. It's in Members->Approved; this will combine the email addresses of users so that they have a single posting history, and so on. This is useful when: You have a member who is using the system in several different ways, e.g. via Yahoo, TrashNothing, Freegle Direct, and perhaps multiple separate logins on Freegle Direct or you have someone who's a scammer who uses multiple accounts.
You can only merge members if you're a mod on a group that they are on, and you can't merge mods or owners.
Speech Recognition It turned out to be fairly easy to add speech recognition to the site. This might help people who have issues typing, or who (quite common on mobile devices) prefer to use voice commands. Where you see the microphone button, you can click it and it will start using text to speech. Pause required between boxes:
A bug was found in leaving a group on Direct and fixed.
Turning off emails is a recurrent complaint of our members. There are several reasons for this.

  • Members may get mails from both Yahoo and Direct and just turn one off.
  • They may have multiple memberships which have not been synced.
  • From Direct they come through different channels. If they turn off one kind of mail from the unsubscribe on it, it only applies to that type of mail.
  • If they send from a forwarding account they do not work, and neither will they work if they come from a Gmail account when the membership is or vica versa.

Although some mods say they would prefer a single button to turn all mails either on or off, plus a frequency for the post emails, when it was suggested both mods and members said that they want such this and that mails, but not the others.
Problem is people's preferences all differ. Whenever Edward has tried to simplify things some complain. Perhaps you have an opinion?
Q. Helping my daughter to request an item offered, she found the group, replied to the email and then got asked to log in. Once logged in she didn’t know if the email she had prepared before log in had sent or not. I sent her to look in my posts, but it doesn’t keep a note of emails that have been sent or replies. So not knowing if her mail sent or not, she sent another email. Later we found the lady had both emails from her. Would it be possible to add something for members so they can see recently applied for items in the my posts section.
A. Yes, I had a go at this a while ago, but something went wrong. I will try again.You can find them from Chat- but you wouldn't know to look at that stage..


Some speedups have been made on Modtools and on the Freegle website, to speed up the Chat loading and help those moderators who are on many groups. These are now live. There is some experimentation ongoing with various ways to try to improve the communication between members and make transactions smoother.There are two rather large issues:

  • People are not very reliable
  • Email is not very reliable-there's the issue of mails going to spam, and also that people don't check their email as often or as thoroughly as they used to.

Members can now "nudge" people from chat if they have not had a response. Other information provided to them is:

  • The average time someone takes to respond to a post.
  • If they have seen your post on Chat there will be a green tick. A grey envelope means it’s been posted out.
  • If someone is unreliable.
  • Number of items picked up by the member. This way they can see who has not yet been offered anything or if they have had lots but are reliable.

If someone has had an item promised to them, but then it is promised to someone else instead, or marked as taken and given to someone else, then that counts as a failed collection. If someone has more than 1 failed collection within 90 days, we display a warning in the profile as part of the information you can get about a member you are thinking of offering your item to. These precise values may change as we tweak things - so don’t publish them to members.
Q&A Chat
Q.I held a message from a member in chat spam who posted again and the second went through.
A. What has happened here is that she's sent two messages; the first is held because it had a £ sign, but the second has gone through and been replied to. I have it on my todo list to hold subsequent messages to avoid confusion, but I've not done it yet.
Q. A member does not have any active memberships but their logs show various promo type emails. Any ideas of how they are contacting our members via Chat as just had a complaint about them.
A.When someone logs in they join Freegle in effect but then they should select a group or post, before they become a member of a group. We have to allow them access to chat, as many members have mails forwarded and reply from a different email address than they use to join. Also they may need to ask questions. This one has joined with multiple emails and will be getting blocked.
Q When I get an email advice of a reply to a Mod Mail, sent via MT’s, I can miss that it is a reply because they get inserted at the bottom and I think its a copy of my original message. Can the replies have the text inserted at the top please?
A.Yes I will look at this.
Q Does everyone who joins FD get an email address regardless of whether they join using Yahoo or Google or Facebook? A member has asked if his email will be kept hidden as the website says it will, but when we check his membership, his email is a btinternet one, he doesn't have an email. I just assumed all FD members got an anonymous one.
A. I've noticed some oddness here and have applied a fix - let me know how it behaves from now. They should get one when they first post. We only need the email in order to send to the Yahoo Group. So if he's not posted yet, he won't have one yet.
Q.Does the FD owner address work even if we're still on Yahoo and where do we find any mails sent?
A.Yes.They go on the Chat feed, if you don’t see them there then they will be sent to your email address.
Q. Recently, I pressed "Freegle it" multiple times while my screen was locked - and then my message appeared 3 times.I noticed then that members can withdraw offers or wants. But why can't they delete their own messages?
A. Because if they can delete them, some will delete, rather than post a TAKEN,RECEIVED, or Withdrawn, then we won't know what happened to them and won't be able to generate any statistics.
Q. As a user, I wish I could edit my old message before they are reposted automatically instead of deleting and reposting with the new message body text. A. Editing of messages after posting isn't implemented yet, but it will be. Q. Hi I seem to have stopped receiving emails from all my groups today, I also just had a member say they have stopped receiving emails.
A.Thanks, I broke mails for people on immediately. Fixed now.
Q. How do I contact a member by chat to advise her email is bouncing. How does one initiate a chat since email cannot reach her. Could that option be added?
A.If you send a message from Modtools Members it will initiate a chat. If she does not use chat though she may not get the message. Support can reset the bouncing member which will ensure emails start being sent out again though of course not necessarily delivered. If the email is wrong they can make some changes.
Q. We have received two chat messages within the last day which say they have attachments, but they are not visible to me.
A.This is in member/mod chat on ModTools. It is possible to attach a file, by selecting the camera icon. Sending to the volunteer address won't get through as that goes to chat too. If they want to just put a link in an email you will have to give them your email. If we allowed links to other sites on our platform, we would also let through some very unpleasant stuff. I don't mind trying it if people would prefer that.
Q. I seem to recall that we used to get an email notification for chat messages but I don't seem to be getting them now. I nearly missed an item I'd asked for, luckily I was looking at the chat for something else and noticed her reply. Is this email notification a figment of my imagination or did it used to happen? If it's me and it has never been that way then just put it down to my age, sorry.
A. We send out chat by email within a few minutes, but not if it's already been read on the web in the chat window (that's to stop you getting a bunch of emails if you're chatting back and forth in real time). I can see you were online at 1.00 when it was made and saw the message in chat then. You might not have noticed it, but that's the way it looks. So it wouldn't have sent it out by mail.

Maps of local groups.

Now the group areas are sorted (thanks to GAT and Support for lots of work on that), we can display them to members or potential members, to make it easier for them to understand the area a group covers. Now when you pick a group using the Explore button you will see a map of the group area. We can’t show this map on the My Groups tab, because we may get charged, and My Groups is shown more often so would cost a lot more.


There has been a change in response to moderators complaints, and now we can remember (on a particular device), which of the Newsfeed, My Groups and My Posts pages a member was last on, and then load that one by default. (If you've bookmarked somewhere else of course, you'll go to wherever your bookmark points to.) This means that if you pretty much only go on to see your own posts, and never browse or use the Newsfeed, then it'll always load the page they want.
Q. I want to put news about local stuff on groups where I don't live. It won't let me do this. Any chance of being able to select a group or area to put it on?
A I'll have to think about how to do it, without opening it up to spammers.
Q.I am loving the newsfeed option - it's sparking a lot of conversations. 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.
A.I've added this when you click the Reply button, and also the ability to type @ and then get a list of people to tag.That list is currently just those who have already contributed to the thread. It would be nice to be able to tag new people to if it can be done. Also it would also be nice to have a different kind of notification when someone tags you explicitly, rather than when they just reply to a thread that you've contributed to.


Q. The stats on FD are all good but could we have a fixed monthly count of posts somewhere please? We use these to see if a group is being modded regularly’. If a group stops getting posts at all we can see that easily, but if unmoderated stuff is still going on it can make it hard to tell.
A. It is on my to do list


A new version 1.2.6 has started to roll out on Android, with Ed's latest, including nudging and collection info. I've submitted the iOS version for review so that should follow soon.
App hat
Q.Signing in with Google to Freegle direct from my iPad browser works . Doing this using the Freegle app gives this error: No server AuthCode Is this a temporary glitch? App version 1.2.0 A.This is a problem which is solved by removing the app and reinstalling.
Q. Hi getting error code 963 on android and it's not updating David
A. A quick search found this and others like it to try
Q. I wanted to share a post I saw with a friend who was looking for a particular item. I was viewing the message on my smartphone so it was simple to tap "share", and then select my friend via whatsapp. But the message I forwarded via WhatsApp reads "I've posted this on Freegle - interested? It was not an item I posted, so slightly misleading. So maybe change the message to say something like "I saw this message on Freegle and thought it may be of interest to you".
A. Good to know that sharing works. I'll update that message soon.


Thanks to a report and team viewer session with a moderator a bug was found in the changing member settings from their posts page.
Q.I am having problems with a member application.The member is on multiple groups and not especially local.I have rejected his application for both groups I run but he keeps reappearing in the pending queue. Can anyone tell me what might be causing this problem and if there's a fix. All done via Modtools and not Yahoo.
A.This is a result of Yahoo having a slow day and not dealing with requests. Delete directly from Yahoo. Won’t happen if your groups moves to Native.
Q. Do we need to use coding for the messages we put on the Direct website and send to new members.
A.Welcome mail is text only. Description uses HTML - but you don't need to understand HTML to put it in, as there's an "Edit HTML" button under the box which you can use to bring up an editor.
Q I made a mistake and found it hard to edit the code.
A. I don't make it easy to edit the HTML directly, because someone could then put invalid HTML in, and break things. If you are trying to edit a link, like mailto, the simplest way is probably to delete it and add a new link using the button (looks like a little chain).
Q I think mods should be able to unbounce or reactivate a member.
A. Sorry you will have to do it via Support because at present the only way we can reactivate the email addy is by impersonating the member which understandably is not available to all Mods This member's email has been put in incorrectly and we can amend those as well in Support if it is an obvious one.


On Yahoo, the two most common settings for member moderation are:

  • Moderated - usually the default for new members
  • Group Settings - usually the Group is set to unmoderated, but it can be set to moderated. This provides a Big Switch to control the group in emergencies.

For Native groups we have:

  • Moderated - always the default for new members
  • Group Settings. At the moment there is not actually a group setting yet, so in practice this always means unmoderated.

We could for Native groups add a setting for the group, of Moderated/Unmoderated, defaulting to unmoderated. That would mean that the term "Group Settings" actually makes sense for native groups, and the situation was similar to Yahoo.
However, several mods think we should scrap Group Settings for Native groups, and just have Moderated and Unmoderated. That would mean we didn't have a Big Switch, and we'd need to decide what to do on native groups. I am not in favour of this -but the Group Settings thing has always caused a bit of confusion. So I could be wrong. What do people think?
Q. I noticed a mass of unsubscribes today mainly trash nothing but we’ve not had FD for that long. Wonder if these are old ones that were hiding somewhere?
A. cluster of unsubscribes is most likely to be Yahoo acting on a bunch of them all at once, or people who have left over time generating plugin work to remove their Yahoo memberships which only gets performed when someone is next using modtools.


Coming soon is the ability for your members to easily see who the volunteers are on a group, because a lot of them won't even realise that you exist. And yes, this will be optional, because some people won't want it. More ideas, please.
A moderator wondered about the possibilities of a pop up for new members after their first post, asking how they found out about Freegle. It was trialled for their group but results were:
Shown it to 107 users. Of these:
95 have done nothing (ignored it, not noticed it, etc)
2 have said "can't remember"
3 have said "search engine"
1 has said "word of mouth"
1 has said "other" and then said a friend told them about it
5 have clicked to hide the question
Not enough useful informations to make this worthwhile. Something will be tried as part of the news feed.


Q. I've hunted everywhere for the option to run and remove bouncing members on the Yahoo group and I cannot find it. Could someone tell me where to find it and if FD members are included?
A. Modtools in the Config. settings and no it does not yet include Freegle Direct memberships.

Tech Group Report
August 2017

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