Freegle Tech Report 18-02-28

From Freegle Wiki
Jump to navigationJump to search

Freegle Tech Report February 2018 Posts 24620-24786 Members 116


The month started with a general go slow on both Platforms. This was found to be down to the disks on all three of our database servers becoming worn out. We have three database servers, in a cluster (so that if one fails we can use the others). Initially Edward shifted most of the load away from that server onto another one, and things improved. He talked to Bytemark (who give us our hosting for free) about replacing the disks or machines. Bytemark kindly gave us a brand new server within the week and we were soon going faster than ever.
We were never at risk of losing everything - each server has two disks which mirror each other, so real loss of data could only happen if they failed in the same place. We have three servers, so if one fails we'd still have the up to date, data on the others. We also do daily backups of the database to two separate places, so even if all three failed we'd only lose upto a day.


We would prefer not to have ads, but Freegle doesn’t have a culture of people fundraising via marathons etc, or rich donors, and we are not good at winning funding bids. So we don’t have many options to raise the money to pay for things we can’t achieve using volunteers.
Website advertising now seems to have been accepted by most; it should earn us around £5K / year. That is less than we hoped, and isn’t enough to make us sustainable, so this month we have trialled having them in our emails. Initially this is in the What's New emails and using LiveIntent, who are like Google Ads for emails.
It is early days, and this has caused some disquiet and much debate from both members and moderators. This is settling down, and it is earning around $80/day, which would be around £20K per year. That means we should get to the point where we are sustainable.


Edward did a fair bit of work on the Chat this month, so it is now much quicker and several of its quirks have been sorted. However there are still reports of it not yet being perfect.
Q. I'm getting notifications for some which aren't in my list of chats, so I am having to reply by email others I am not getting the notifications for. A The missing chat problems should sort with the new server.
Q. When a mod tools message goes into chat can there be something that says when it was sent please?
A Yes I could do that.
Q. I am getting chat spam messages coming through blank saying Content of size NNNNremoved. Do we know what is causing the removal? and is this what makes them come through blank?
A This is an indication that some large content has been removed to save space. Often when a member has sent a photo via chat. Members need to send them via email direct to the other member.
Q. I'm' on Dev and there is a chat spam I want held until the owner can see it. I'm not seeing the hold you said you had added though... or did I get that wrong?
A. No! I have just put in on Dev now.


This is a list of the fixes and changes which you may notice, that have been made the client code over the last month.
Make images larger on newsfeed .
Allow people with Admin rights to set Mod/Owner status from Support Tools Add hold/release for chat message review
Do Pancake doodle
Can't edit a photo on a community event
Add a poster you can download with tear-off strips to help publicise Freegle
You can see old posts upto 120 days. Add text to the help box on My Posts to say that.
Add "Show Profile" button to ModTools member info
Add Donate button after posting offer/wanted
Tweak donation appeal to get stats on whether 'charity' helps
Support Tools->Find Group; improve display and show correct emails
Allow group owners and Support to control whether a group is visible on the site on not, which is useful for group launch Merge remote-tracking branch 'origin/master'
If a user withdraws a message while it's still in pending, then it now deletes it.
On the newsfeed, if there is a link preview in the top-level item, and also in a reply, then clicking on the link in the reply opens the top-level link
When marking an item as TAKEN/RECEIVED, ask to choose who took or gave it so that this information is reliable.
Move rotate function into message zoom in ModTools, as it is in FD
In Support Tools, show messages which are still in Pending; this helps with queries from members about why their messages haven't appeared.
Wrongly promoting/re-adding to a native group if you're a mod on Yahoo.
For groups on Yahoo, and for members directly on Yahoo, ModTools suggests that we will send FD digests to them, which we won't so changed.


We put out a volunteer opportunity for someone to help us get nicer-looking emails. A guy called Richard Welsh in Oxford has responded and been very helpful. He's done an improved version of our Welcome mail which is the first one to get a makeover. For those interested, this uses a framework called MJML which Andrew Trusty recommended, which is a nice way to write emails without having to worry about different email clients. Other email improvements will follow.
Few members use email programs any more - they use webmail or phone apps. Thunderbird, for example, is just 0.7% of users (see So the focus is on making the mails look right in those clients. It's likely that you will see some oddities if you use one of the more obscure clients.
Q. I am trying to leave a group. Each time I have left, two minutes later I get a welcome email from ilovefreegle and I am joined up as a moderator again.
A.You need to demote yourself to a member first.
Q. A member clicked on the link to repost but when he arrived at the website his posts weren’t there.
A This can happen if they posted from a different email than they have left logged in, or who have mail forwarded. Ask them if they have any other email addresses.
Q. Would it be possible to not strip images out of mail sent to the native owner group addy’s please?
A It is a question of not stripping them out, so much as actively extracting them. I'll look at it, but not soon.
Q. Is there anyway this new members username can be changed as it is a bit unsavory? They have made posts so I don’t want to remove the posts.
A I will change it.
Q. If I click My Groups and select the group I see the posts but no way to leave it.
A No you need to leave a group via the Help button which takes you to or from the settings tab (top right) where there is a bin shown next to each group you are in.
Q. I posted an Offer which went to a group I didn’t choose from the list and am now joined to that group which I don’t want to be with FD.
A This is probably a problem with the group mapping feature. Check the location is correct in your Settings and if so look at the group mapping on Modtools and amend or ask support.


There have been problems reported by some members trying to load photos. Some of the problems have been found and sorted but a couple of older model devices have been found to no longer be able to use the photo upload.
Q. A member told me they kept trying to add a photo in an event but they couldn't do it. I said to send it to me and I'll edit it in. It looked fine when I added the photo, but when I click "save" it disappears.
A I made a fix for this on the 14th, but I don't think it's live yet. I'll be doing a release this morning, so should be okay later.

Facebook Pages

Most pages became unlinked in modtools this month. Facebook does this from time to time and Admins need to relink them via the setting in Modtools. Jean and Mentors went through relinking the majority but if you are an Admin of yours check it is showing as linked.


We now have 178 Native groups which is less than half of our total groups. If you want help moving your group off Yahoo then ask on Central and someone will offer to help you. Not used Modtools yet for moderating? Please start using it and again ask if you need help.


A discussion was held about support changing a map for a group outside of the area of the group which requested the change. It was agreed if we know we will notify the other group first so they can change anything within their boundary if they wish. The mapping is not exact unless you have done a really tight job of mapping your group, and there are often spaces between groups where a member may find they get their posts sent to the wrong group or given the wrong location.
Support do changes for many Moderators who ask although the basics are fairly straightforward.
Use place names which are on the map, or informal ones which are recognised locally.
Delete those which your members don’t use or attribute the name for a small area to a large polygon.
Notice and act when members' posts say that their location is at odds with the heading given.
Polygons should not overlap, although it isn't the end of the world if they do.
In built up areas, at least, polygons should fill the space available. If you leave gaps, software will allocate a name for it which could be incorrect.
If you would like help with this, then contact Support.


For anyone who wonders what dev. is it is a mirror website to Modtools where any changes which may break stuff are tested before going live
Q. I just got 10 messages saying the same thing @ 08:11 today. Is there a glitch to be fixed or was it a one off?<br\> A Hopefully a one off. It was a glitch now fixed


Reports of it being worse than usual. Scrolling , blank pages , unable to edit files. This may be temporary or just affect some groups, but the consensus is nothing is being done, to fix anything, and Yahoo are just allowing it to fade away.
We do have to move our groups this year as voted for in our AGM as it was becoming too time costly to use our resources in keeping it in tune with our own website, and causing too many delays for members.

Tech Chats.

A lot of stuff is now posted to the Chat function instead of group members logging into the group, so each month this report will copy thought may be relevant to mods generally.

Hi. I've had a member query why they can't select the user that collected their item on the drop down when posting a taken. She says "Hi, This was taken a few days ago by someone who answered through the Freegle system. However, in this email from you, I’m not able to enter that he took it, the only option is “taken by someone else” This is a bit odd: in other Freegle groups, the names of people who answer the ads appear in the “Taken by” box, so you’d be able to tell how many things someone had been given in the past. Something wrong with the system? Just thought I’d flag it up."
Jean Ask her to promise the item to the person who took it, then mark as taken (She hasn't promised it to anyone yet) That will link the taken with a person from the myposts tab
Liz Just had this message 'Hello, Liz. You don't have the browser plugin installed.' I've logged out and back in but still getting the message. Do I need to do anything thanks?
Dee Liz you are now native hosted, so can ignore the browser plug in warning a month ago
susan Moderating Facebook repostings: If I delete FB repostings as they appear on ModTools (for a back-up group), will they remain visible / repostable for the main group volunteers who are members of the associated Facebook groups? I don't really want to join dozens more FB groups than I already have done, in order to repost for every possible group I volunteer for because I am a back up vounteer for quite a few. I would like to occasionally approve a message or answer a query, so I don't want to make the group invisible to me. But I don't want to delete reposting messages if that means that other volunteers cannot repost them. a month ago
Saira I guess the main question there is "does anyone else repost them or is it just you?" There is only so much you can do on your own. I know the publicity posts are hidden for everyone but no idea about those sorry. I'd guess they would also delete for everyone though. a month ago
susanThe fact that certain FB comes up means that the feature has been set up by another mod, so I am optimistic. I'll ask, just in case it's not being done by anyone. :-)
Jean I probably do them, I click away on a lot of buttons will check when I can.
Wanda @Neil you need to be sparing with the posting to buy and sell groups, a few people have had bans for that for 'spamming' .. Jean and Sheila may be able to elaborate more on that. I don't use that facility partly because of that but also because it posts as my personal account too.
Neil Thanks Wanda. That was my impression. Surely this can be managed so we don’t put our moderators in such a situation.
Wanda @Neil It's a Facebook thing and if mods are aware then they can be sparing with what they choose to share and how often. I think that was discussed at the time on tech when it was introduced.. Ed's still fixing stuff so maybe ask for that to be put on the list of things to do?
If you check the Central chat in here [MT's] another Mod has just posted to say she has been banned for a few days for 'over posting' to the buy and sell groups.. I'd stick to one 'special one' every couple of days or so. It's really to entice them to sign up with Freegle anyway... The same doesn't happen for Facebook pages because we are the Admin and can post whatever we want as many times as we want . .unless we posted something naughty of course ;)
Liz Hi folks I contacted a member regarding his area and first part of postcode as Palmers Green N18 which is incorrect asking him to post it again with the correct information. However it comes up with the wrong one again.
Dee Please send the correct postcode to Support, and we will fix it.
That applies to anyone who has mapping which does not match the situation on the ground. Mods can fix it themselves in Mod toolsSettings
25 days ago Saira I **think** there may be an issue where if you mark posts as read on modtools it also marks chat messages from ilovefreegle (which haven't been read or seen) as read..... either that or chat notifications on FD just aren't working properly. I haven't done much testing yet but I missed replies 3 weeks ago when I was Freegling and I've missed replies just lately. Has anyone else noticed anything?
23 days ago Dee I have noticed that messages are not being duplicated on ModTools and ilovefreegle (thank you, Edward).
23 days ago Saira @Dee @Edward Yes- if you mark messages as read in Modtools it also cancels any chat notifications on Freegle Direct. Any chance they can be separated a bit further? If not then I guess we just need to let Freegling mods know that they need to keep a hawk eye on chat rather than waiting for notifications to appear 23 days ago
Dee At the moment I get chats about items I am Freegling on ilovefreegle. These are member to member communications Freegle Tech discussions, like this one, and the FreegleUK-Central Discussion are on ModTools So are member to group and mod to member chats presumably initiated through the Help and Contact Community Volunteers buttons
23 days ago Ruth Can anyone have a look what happened with message #44093477 on Porthmadog Freegle? The Offer bit, and the location are both repeated. It didn't come in for moderation.
19 days ago Wanda @Ruth It looks like they copied a post they made the same time last year... so possibly copied the subject line of the original into the new post hence the duplication
horozonmorningblueI have just been setting up a mod so they can use modtools. They are using Chrome. Everything seemed to go well with the installation. The plugin was installed as well and they signed in with a yahoo membership. The new Barnet group showed up. Then we went to set up things so it was possible to join Kentish Town. I invited them to join up as a member on the group.That went okay. Then we had problems finding the Barnet group. It disappeared...Not sure why? Not sure if I should go to modtools discussion for this.
Wanda Are they native only Peter? If not check they are on yahoo and try a resynch. If they are is it possible they signed into MT's with a different account so can't see the original group or the promotion to Mod didn't stick on the first one and they need promoting again.. .they check in personal settings for email address signed in with on MT's.
18 days ago horozonmorningblue Thanks Wanda. I think the issue was the email address they were signed in on Kentish Town had not been added to Barnet Freegle . sorted now. #Peter
18 days ago Just thought I would let you know that the facility to take a photo while listing an item doesn't seem to be working. I have used this before because it was so easy. Now you have to take the photo and then choose it from your gallery. Also the photos appear squashed is thus because we are choosing them from our galleries rather than using the app photo facility?
Wanda It's been changed David, you have to take the pic first as the guy says. .can't recall why but it's been removed from the app ..think there were problems.
15 days ago You can still upload as you do them if you use a browser and not the app. Wanda what's a 1+1 or a 1+5? .. Just curious lol
14 days ago Steve Hi - I've had a query about message 44502722 , a large rug It is marked as withdrawn, which makes sense as they say it has been taken. They query why they still keep getting emails about it, and I notice on Yahoo Groups it still shows as available. That all makes sense,. I decided to look further at using the modtools. I went to logs and searched for message 44502722, but nothing gets returned, nor does anything get returned if I search for "large rug". My question then is, using log files, should I be able to enter a message id in the search box and expect to see everything to do with that message? I'm thinking actually - this is more of a question to put in the modtools yahoo group?
Wanda @Steve I am not definitely sure but I think withdrawing a message may delete it so that might be why you can't see where it was posted originally. Best to check on MT's group tho and Ed can confirm. Also posting queries like that on MT's group and the subsequent answers may help others using MT's too. Not all access the chats on here. ;)
Steve Thanks @Wanda - MT group is the way to go I got the feeling once I had typed all that. I didn't have much free time last time I wanted to get more involved, that has changed a bit now so I might see if I can get a bit more involved :)
6 days ago Edward If it is a Native group you have delete them. I will do something to do this.'
Q. When a member sends a picture via chat it is getting stripped out.
Response I usually add a mod note to say if they want to send pics they have to get a direct email address to send them to as our system strips out any images in emails for storage and security reasons.

Freegle Tech Report
February 2018

Back to Freegle Tech Report 18-01-31  Forward to Freegle Tech Report 18-03-31