Freegle Tech Report 18-05-31

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Freegle Tech Report May 2018
Posts 25104-25395
Members 117


An extremely busy month. We had a couple more slow downs of our servers but everything kept working. Edward has reorganised stuff so that instead of running with a single web server, and having a back up, the load is shared between two and adjusted as needed. We still have a third for non real time tasks..
Ads have been experimented with. We reached our running costs after putting them at the top of mails, but moving them to the bottom (mods’ preferred option) halved the amount they were bringing in. Edward is now experimenting in balancing the income vs the irritation.
If you have an email client where the new format emails (like the What's New mail) look funny, please let us know asap as we have taken out a months subscription to to test any changes. It is too expensive to use it permanently..
We’ve added some monitoring on the MT dashboard to make it easier to see when we are having trouble sending to particular email domains. We’ve worked with BT to improve things for them. Lastly a student from Brighton offered to do an accessibility review of the website for us. That's very useful as this is an area which we feel bad about not doing a better job on, but don't really have the expertise or capacity to do better.
There was also a poll to see if we were interested in having some video chats.

Data Protection

We have had lots of members mailing asking for all information to be removed off our database in response to the publicity around GDPR Many are BT users who obviously forgot they were ever on Freegle and were annoyed by the sudden influx of messages.
Our new feature on the website which tells members what data we hold about them is being accessed a couple of times a day.

Freegle Direct

New feature:. arranging collection times this was tested and is now live and being used by 50% of members, accessing Chat, so it looks to be successful. We also now show how long people take to reply a bit more prominently in chats, so that people know what to expect from the people they’re talking to.
Some messages were being caught in spam because it did not appear to have a valid content when it did . If it was replied to via email, and written below the original content after the >, it was missed. A fix has been made to spot these now.
The box you type into in chat is now a bit larger
We’ve added buttons to Settings to allow you to get to your Address Book and the new Availability function from there, as well as from chats.

We’ve revamped more emails to move to the newer format which works better on different devices, and looks nicer. Part of this has been experimenting with ads within the mails, which raise valuable income. By early May we were generating enough income from this so that combined with other sources we meet our current expenditure, which is good news.
We’ve moved the position and size of the emails around a bit. Putting them at the bottom of the mails haves the income from them, so we’ve moved them back to the top of the What’s New mails, but as a banner which doesn’t use as much space. This also has a price threshold on it, which means that it will only appear if we're going to get a decent revenue from the ad. We’ll experiment more with this.
At the top of What's New mails there is a list of the posts in the mail so members can scan down to see whether to bother scrolling through the whole email. A user asked if they could be clickable links so it now takes them to the relevant post in the mail. This doesn’t work in all email clients, so the text tells people to either click or scroll down; This isn't ideal, but it's a useful feature where it works. We’ve also added a link to take you back up to the top.
We’ve also done some testing of the "spamminess" of our mails using tools like and . We’ve made various changes for this - for example it showed that if the text version and the HTML version are very different, you're more likely to be considered spam, so we’ve changed the text version of What's New mails to make them more similar to the HTML versions.

Q. I have received the same notification 11 times so far.
A I can see a bug which would cause the same mod to get notified multiple times if they had multiple memberships on Yahoo. I'll look into that asap.
Q. I have reports from people who can't work out how to delete an old photo from a post - it keeps popping up again on new posts.
A. There is a fix for that now, which will go live in a few days. There will be a new button to clear out a draft (any photos, title and description), and also the delete button you see when you zoom on a photo will work properly in that case.
Q. I am trying to place a photo from my library or even taking a picture but it is always upside down - I have tried rotating the picture but it does not hold
A. After some fiddling, I have a fix for this on . It would be good if a few people could test photo uploads from different devices held in different orientations.
Q. Does the search cover offers and or wanteds when you are posting? I can see my message. It is just that when I have posted an offer in the past the system has 'responded' with people looking for items with similar key words. A. It should search the corresponding items. It used to search all but was fixed.
Q. Gmail is chopping off the what's new emails after 2-3 messages then I have to "click here to read the entire message" which I invariably don't do. The ad is in the clipped bit and not being seen by most.
A. That's not under our control - google clips when it wants to, and other systems do similar things (or don't). So the only choice I have is whether to put the ad near the top.
Q. I am seeing incorrect formatting in some mails. (Forwarded.)
A. This happens when someone replies by email and we fail to strip the quoted text out entirely because it has been put in by their email client in an odd way. I'll have a look at this case and see if I can improve it.


  • For a while we’ve had a setting (and a popup) for whether you're ok for members to see that you're a volunteer. This shows in My Groups to logged-in members. It may be added to the pages that non-members would see (e.g., to help get across the point that we're volunteer run. Views? We’ve also added it to the newsfeed - the little leaf thing that shows on your profile picture.
  • There is now a one-off popup prompt on the chat page to encourage people to install the app. The idea of putting it on the chat page is that it's linked to something they're actually doing at the time, as well as the standard banner at the top of a mobile screen saying there's an app. This has increased the rate of app installs a bit, though not massively.
  • We send mails like "MODERATE: 3 things to do" when there is stuff to do on ModTools for a group you're an active mod on. This setting is controlled in Settings->Personal, and defaults to waiting 4 hours to mail you. I've enhanced this so that if you are a backup mod, it also mails you, default is 12 hours though. You can change this in Settings->Personal.
  • We had a problem with a deluge of spam in French, and probably also other languages Our spam filters are better at spotting spam that's in English, and appears to have a soft spot for "voulez vous coucher avec moi ce soir". We have added some code to put chat messages for review if we think the language is unlikely to be English. This may have the unfortunate effect of trapping people who communicate in other languages, but remember that would need both parties to speak the same non-English language, and also have noticed that. It might also spot text speech. This should be rare but please let Edward know if you see a sudden significant increase in chat spam to review which isn't spam, or non-English messages which get through.
  • From Members->Approved there is now a filter for “Most Active Web” to show the 20 members who have been most active over the last week for your group. It might be useful to spot your most enthusiastic members (who we ought to know for our groups), or people who could be potential moderators, or occasionally to spot people who are traders. The way this works is that we record when a user is active within a particular hourly slot. This finds the users who are active in the most hourly slots over the last week, whether or not they’ve been posting. After a week we delete the user aspect of this data, because we can't really justify keeping it indefinitely. We retain info about how many users were active in the hourly slots, so over time this will give us some information about what times of day/week/year freeglers are most active.
  • We had a lot of discussion about the process of chat review, where reviewing potential spam/scam messages causes a delay in passing it on. Although there are strong feelings about this, it affects a tiny proportion of messages, and checking this the median average time to review an item in chat spam across all groups, it is just over an hour, and therefore doesn’t cause too much delay.

Mod Chats
Some groups did not know or could not find their modchats .
They are in with the Chats on Modtools. Put in the first bit of the group name in the search, wait for a while and it should appear at the bottom of the list if it has not been used. It will have a crown next to it denoting you are a mod or owner.

Q. Does anyone know how I find my groups shortlink?
A. It will be The group name will include any hyphens or underscore but not the word Freegle so if two place names or just Barking if it is only one. Usually a separate shortlink is also done for each place name in the title.
Q. A member joined and has made 20 posts over the last two days and they are still showing as pending.
A. Check his membership has been accepted by Yahoo if not send an email only invite to the user email address. Posts are also at the mercy of Yahoo accepting them, we can’t do anything if they do not put them on.
Q. Croydon Council has put a recommendation to use Freegle on the bin collection calendars which go out to every household. Their recycling officer wanted to know what effect it had. I have no comparative stats to offer now we are Native.
A. Email Edward or Geeks for comparison stats for now.
Q. Not sure how it happened but my private account has got linked to my Freegle one. I can’t see a purge option.
A. Mail telling them the one you want removing or checking how it happened.


Version 1.3.8 of the mobile app was released on Android. And finally some certificates so the iOS version was approved today and will also roll out over the coming week.
0.1.5 of the MT app is now available on both platforms.
I'll be looking at including adverts in the apps as well.
IBold text would also like a general option to make the font bigger as everything is a bit wee on mobile; I realise that this might throw out some layout.
On Android 8, apps can show Notification Badges on the device phone screen. I haven't got A8 but it seems that a dot appears by the app icon; when you tap on it, a notifications box appears with a count beside it. On iOS a straight forward number appears on top of the app icon.
If anyone else has got Android 8, can you see a notification dot and count? Initially try in the current live version 1.3.8. And then for the debug version v1.3.9k available from here:
Q.I'm seeing copy paste options on the FD app. Nothing I do gets rid of them. Screenshot attached. (I hope)
A. What you see is "select all copy share web search" which is what normally appears (one way or another) when you "long press" on text. On my devices it disappears if you tap elsewhere.


' Q. I am taking my group Native and it says we need to schedule some new text files. How do we do this?
A. You don’t hold files as you do in Yahoo. In Modtools, you can set up Admins. I usually do them as I send them first time. It saves them once done so you can reuse them. More important though is to set up a Welcome email in group settings, giving your group guidelines, these go out as people are joining your group and several groups don’t have them.
To get a list of standard messages you can import a batch from another group, or do your own set. Click on settings and scroll to the bottom to ModConfig Settings If there is none for your group name, but one used by a backup mod say, you can copy the config, then rename it for your group if necessary. Just amend it to suit. Or start a new set from scratch. I find I send very few messages on Native groups, so you could do them as you need them. You could start by copying the Welcome mail into one and label it Rules to send to anyone who flouts them, or perhaps to TN members if you don’t want to set up your own Admin on there.

Tech Chat.

I just had to logged in to mod tools with my Gmail account to check some stuff with that address instead of my Yahoo one and the sign in with google button threw an error but I used the sign in with Freegle button instead and that worked
Were you on dev? The google login doesn't work there
Yes I was
We had a post from the Worthing group which is near Brighton posted to Westminster Freegle, The person posting it had no idea why it was sent to Westminster Freegle. I also notice quite often when navigating from Freegle Direct groups page to the London page. It shows a list of groups for the whole of the UK with London groups mixed in. I have to reload the page to load the London borough groups
Yes I see that it initially loads the map for all UK but then shows just the local groups when I refresh and or wait and or click on say one of the London groups. If a member needs help and has picked up some stray posts or groups just let support know and they can try and see what happened
Edward Hibbert Mail me about the mixed in groups so I don't forget. Most people don't come that route though. Mostly through the Find or Give flows, where they enter their postcode and then that chooses a default group for them based on the group areas we have set up.
Is it possible to merge a members email addresses - I have a member who has been unable to log into his account (he says) so he's opened a new one. If this is possible would that allow him access to any previous offers/requests that he has made?
Yes - on Members, Approved there's a merge button near the top. There might be more to this issue of a members location being wrong than changing the polygon If you look at the section from the wiki. There appears to be some local confusion about the locality. N14 is both Osidge and Southgate.
Freegle uses the whole post code to map members, then displays part post codes and or locations according to the group's settings. But if the residents are confused, then what hope have we?
Anyone here having any problems accessing Yahoo after accepting their new GDPR page - now no matter what I try all I get is a blank Yahoo page? I have a member with a problem so I will email Edward direct with a screenshot, I was hoping to have gone through Tech Group but no can access Yahoo
I have managed to access Yahoo groups since accepting GDPR, however I cannot sign into modtools using my Yahoo ID since doing so (not sure if related or coincidence). Now back in Yahoo Groups, had to change my password ????? Weird !!!
This just in from a member "Hi i have not received any emails on my ipad since last Wednesday but am still getting them on my iphone.I have not altered settings so don’t know why this is happening.I don’t use my phone very often so just noticed still receiving emails on there"
If they're still getting them on their phone then we're still sending them. Either they're signed in to email on their iPad with a different user from the one they're using on their phone, or there's something wrong with their iPad.
What is the latest status with the connections from Modtools to Facebook? I don't seem to be able to link groups at the moment.
Bold text Ed did a teamviewer with me yesterday and knows of the problem and will be fixing it soon. He did a fix for FB log ins on Freegle Direct and the Mod Tools one is following as it appears to be connected to the FB log in problem.. I’ve been Freegling a great deal over past weeks and it’s been a real challenge due to the amount of people who do not receive my message offering them an item because it has ended up in their junk mail. It has been really disheartening. Is there anyway that I can ensure that all messages automatically include a reminder to check junk mailbox and how to change message delivery settings from Freegle?
I think that's a good idea Susan. With that and the amount of chat messages that go into spam because they include a phone number or email address because people are trying to get around the problem of messages going into spam
I agree Susan it is a huge problem, alongside the non delivered ones too, and I think an auto insert to any notification of a message sent first time to the group should say check your spam for replies if you respond to this in a prominent position
Edward Hibbert Reminders like that work least well for the people who most need them. But I'm looking at this kind of area at the moment - see some discussions on Tech, including one I'm about to start. Also remember that if you click on people's picture or the info button you can see how long they take to reply.

Freegle Tech Report

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