Freegle Tech Report 18-06-30

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Freegle Tech Report June 2018 Messages 25396-25632 Members 115


We have a perennial problem with people who reply to an OFFER saying they want it, and then don't reply further (or in a reasonable time frame). It was suggested that we could deal with this is to try to weed out the replies from people who (for whatever reason) aren't going to be good at communicating, by holding replying from members who had not responded before, until they had confirmed their interest via an automatic email. A bit like new member moderation, but for whether or not someone will respond.Although many would like things to be improved it was felt this would be a step too far.

We were informed of a course that is currently running on Wednesday mornings at TechResort. Although the description doesn't explicitly say it, it seems that they can teach you and help you create an animated advert for your organisation. No previous experience or knowledge required and the course is entirely free. If you are interested you can sign up at Just look for the adult education coding course and ignore the description as it can be adapted to people's requirements. It is a 6 week course with the first one being last week so there are only 5 more sessions left.

We got our first monthly payment of £1744 the other day (for a few months ago - there's a lag). Our chart shows a slump around the 6th of May when we changed to ads on the bottom, but increased back again since we put the banner ads with a threshold and some other changes.


A change made to make it more obvious how long people take to reply (or if we don't know that). At the top of the chat window you'll see a bar saying that slides down when the chat opens, then disappears after a minute. It also slides down again when you send a message, in case you didn't notice it. So this should give people a better idea of how long they can expect to wait, without making too much of a fuss about it.

Q. Would it be at all possible to default the item you're promising to be the one in the title of the post or anything? At the moment it seems to favour the last thing you posted. I'm starting to lose count of the amount of times I'm promising the wrong thing to the wrong person...... and I'm supposed to be someone who knows what they're doing ;)
A What it tries to do is to default to the last item referenced in the chat you're promising from. Saira has found a problem with that - a fix is on the way.

Direct Website

Problems with the IP address sending stuff to spam was a result of a fix for something else but should be okay now.
Some members type their email addresses incorrectly when joining or logging in. Something has been done which checks against a list of common email domains, and then if you type something which isn't a common domain, looks for domains which are close to it and offers them as suggestions. Hopefully this will reduce the number of typos, and hence people who don't get emails (or have to correct them when we notice the email address is bouncing). We’ve run through existing members and corrected some emails.
Q. Are members able to edit their posts on Freegle Direct after they have been posted?
A Not yet, I will do this once all groups are off Yahoo.
Q. As far as I can see there is just a blank space at the top instead of an ad anywhere. If I click the blank space it takes me here I'm using gmail and chrome with the ad blocker disabled for gmail..
A.The aim is to show the minimum number of ads which still raise (in total) a decent revenue for us. Better if the ad slot is blank if it isn't going to raise very much, otherwise we are providing cut-rate advertising to cheapskate businesses.
Q. This is just an observation and i guess results are constantly being tweaked but I have been seeing some peculiar ads lately, even in foreign languages, would where I am affect this, as I am abroad just now or does ad criteria require an adjustment?
A.Your IP address determines the ads you see.
SMS Alerts
Twilio are the leading way of sending SMS messages. I've registered Freegle with their charity programme, which gives us $500 of credit, and a slightly discounted price of $0.03 per SMS compared to the standard $0.04. That means we have 16,666 free texts to play with before we'd start paying.
Experiments with a few things are ongoing, to see which if any members like. I've added SMS alerts for when you have a chat message you've not read (at the same point we'd send it out by email). You'll get an SMS with a link to visit the website. It’s an experiment - we will see whether freeglers use them, and whether we can afford the cost. When you turn this on, there is a prompt to donate.

Some people conversing on the newsfeed have been looking for the ability to DM someone, for example to give them a phone number. At the moment the only way to open a chat to someone was by replying to their post. I've added a "Message" link on the newsfeed, and also from the profile popup. I'm not entirely happy with the terminology, but that's what Facebook call it.
We'll monitor this. If it gets abused then we may need to add a setting to prevent people messaging you in this way.

Q. A member has asked how she gets a colourful tile instead of a grey man icon. What's the difference?
A We create one of the funky ones (if we can't get one from Facebook or somewhere) for people on the Newsfeed, to make it look more interesting and distinguish posts from people. I've made it so that if you click to view someone's profile, it creates one then. So now she has one.


Facebook is requiring all apps with anything other than the very basic permissions to be resubmitted for review, even if they've been reviewed before, otherwise the permissions will be removed at the end of August. They seem to have recruited some people who don't really know what they are doing and are overloaded, so are bouncing apps back for random reasons. For users, we don't ask for any unusual permissions. For mods, we use two kinds of permissions:

  • We have sharing of the central Freegle Facebook posts to group Facebook pages. These pages are are open to anyone to like and view. Doing this helps with publicity, and we've got permissions from Facebook to continue doing this. I submitted the first set for re-review on May 5th, and slightly to my surprise, they went through ok.
  • More recently I implemented the ability to share individual messages to Facebook buy and sell groups, or Freegle groups on Facebook also a way to publicise Freegle. You could link a Freegle group to multiple groups and then you saw a list of Freegle posts, each of which had a list of buttons for the groups to share to. You clicked the button and it shared the post to the group. However they have removed the ability to share automatically to Facebook groups, and after discussion on Tech we agreed that doing it manually is too much effort to expect people to do, so Facebook Group function has been removed.


We have been experimenting with this One trial done on one group using a Facebook ad to promote Freegle, was targeted at those with an interest in bargains or home stuff. The minimum budget was £31, of which we have spent £5.55 over the last week or so. We can track what happens on the site from this ad. It generated about 2000 impressions (visible on screen), and 52 clicks. Of those 52 clicks: 8 people have signed up to Freegle. 6 people have joined the group. 1 person replied to an OFFER and has successfully picked up. 1 person replied to a WANTED offering something. I'll monitor this over time, but it does not seem it will be cost effective. For that we would need a percentage of them to make a donation.

Mobile App

I've just released new versions of the Freegle and ModTools apps, bring the app up to date with the website. The Freegle app now has a Take photo button as Add photos didn't provide this option. I've finally found why the iOS version of the app wasn't logging people in and fixed it. Both apps should have notification icons in Android and the app home screen badge count now includes the news chat count. Q. I use the Freegle app on an iphone (app version is latest version I believe - 1.3.8 - 17 May 2018). Every time I take a photo to use when Freegling something, it uploads the wrong way. It's always twisted by 90 degrees. I take the photo the right way, and it turns it round. I've noticed a member commenting about this too
A A fix has been made for this and the app will be updated soon.


Pending messages were going into spam because of shared IP addresses. A fix was made and it should not happen now. It was suggested that having a status or a tick box to show who as online, could be useful. Little enthusiasm was shown for it though. Q. I've noticed MT message saying plugin disconnected but when I click on the Wiki help it says 'Not found' and I can't remember how to fix it?
A. Google updated yesterday and it often drops them, just go to the toolbar settings click on add ons and click it on. However as you group has gone Native you don’t need the plug in, it is only to keep Direct and Yahoo updating
Q. I've set up a new moderating email address, When I go into settings on FD the email address is incorrectly showing the address I use to offer items and no matter how many times I change it and it says it's saved, when I logout and back in again it's still incorrect.
A. It sounds as if it is not logging out properly. Perhaps clear cookies, and make sure you are not logged into your personal email address when signing into modtools.
Q. I have several email addresses most are used for separate things, testing, posting modding, Some mails go to all five email addresses so I get five copies. Not normal emails but those telling me it's "Time to move off Yahoo" messages or the opening of a new group.can I stop them.?
A.It sounds as if it is those from Gat and Mentors where we try every email address we can trace for all mods on a group to be sure we have covered every base before taking active. Mail me details of the emails offlist and I'll have a look
Many people are reported as spammers because they join too many groups according to that Moderators perspective. We would like you to pause first, take into account if they have been a member for many years on one or more of the groups, and maybe just getting carried away with the easy joining process of TrashNothing etc. or joining a lot of groups because they are looking for something extremely rare, and are willing to travel for it or pay delivery. If a note is put on a members account any group they join can see it and this way a picture can be built up. Once removed as a spammer all information is lost.
There is an issue with some members getting trapped repeatedly, in spam . I will at some point be adding the ability to have a "moderation status" so that members who repeatedly get messages trapped for review but seem trustworthy, can be marked okay, and stop any others going to spam. The button is called Release and Whitelist.
Q. Can a way be found also to do something to trap all messages by a member we want to keep an eye on.
A. No. It is legal for us to trap messages for the purposes of detecting spam, and if that traps a message which breaks our rules in other ways then it is legal for us to take action on that. If we add the feature you describe that would give mods the ability (in theory) to ensure that they could intercept all messages for a member just because they wanted to. This wouldn't be desirable or legal.


We now have 298 groups which have gone Native. There are 9 Norfolk groups which use a similar system. Just over 100 still using Yahoo. 3months to go. If you need to move mail I can also fit some on my list if you want my help. We have now a setting for those few groups left who insist on having a pending members facility before going Native.
New members. It was discussed about what to do about the joining process when a non member responds to a post on the list. Normally we automatically join them, to the group they are responding to a post from. It was decided in the end that we'd hide the reply box, and show a message and a join button instead. This means they will have to go away and then come back again later.

Q. I’ve moved one of my groups off Yahoo just over a week ago, but i don't get any email notifications for posts waiting for approval now. Is there something I have done wrong?
A. You don’t get them unless you have not been on Modtools for a set time. You can control this time in Settings->Personal Settings; 4 hours is the default. The MT app you can download for most devices which does show any waiting,

Tech Chat.

I've had to disallow the Freegle App on twitter as it has linked to my personal twitter feed not to Enfield Freegle on Twitter. None of my accounts are linked I've blocked Enfield Freegle on twitter from my personal feed. Why would the MT option to link to twitter use my personal feed and not Enfield Freegle - I also see that although Enfield Freegle is up and running on Facebook the MT settings says it's not linked?
A. Liz it used your personal feed because you probably linked it to that when setting it up, try relinking with your groups twitter feed, and make sure you sign in to that twitter account not your personal one.
I think it links to whatever you happen to be signed in to at the time so if you make sure you're signed into Enfield Freegle on Twitter then go into modtools to link you should be good.
Q. Hi There! I have Publicity post showing on Modtools, showing number #28899382, and with the normal "business card" bumph above it, but nothing between the details and the facebook groups to approve it to. Has anyone else got this problem? After several hours of watching it, I email on here and the Publicity post Vanishes! Thanks if some friendly elf fixed it, or something else that knocked it out. I'm glad it's no longer sitting there, chuckling evilly, under it's Cloak if Invisibility, whatever the reason! Thanks.
Q. We had a new member who was delighted by his experience using Freegle and the people who collected the stuff. However he could not see the items on the message board and as short on time looked through the Wanteds to find someone. I saw in the logs his item and sent him the copy. I assured what must have happened was the item had cancelled itself out as it was complete. Later his Offer arrived later in Pending messages but in red was showing Taken. Not sure what is going on? Was his messaged cancelled out because of transaction with the Wanted message? A. If you're on Yahoo still then there may be delays of hours or days until posted messages turn up for moderation. It would show in My Posts for them during that time. If they then gave it away via a WANTED they probably marked it as TAKEN before Yahoo got its act together. Q. I am curious as to how it is when I post a message on FreegleUK Central or other work groups most times it is working okay. I can only suspect it is something to with how Yahoo filters Freegle messages.
Depends if it likes you I think. We have had many Yahoo members claim they don't get the Yahoo mails or they go into spam. We have lost three mods I know of just because Yahoo stopped allowing them to moderate. I put Admins on groups directly on Yahoo and a third never get on, and another third are delayed a day or two . I now copy them and send a mail to myself in case I need to send it again. Emails I send to Tech and Central get lost quite often as well. Members have already chosen others over Yahoo, when told of the choice. All my own groups were less than 5% Yahoo users, and 2% of new joiners by the time I moved them off. A. We took particular care to ensure that any members that we knew had problems with sight were able to post via the email address before closing Yahoo - not all audio-readers can manage menus and screens. I'm only personally aware of one post coming into Yahoo since we closed it down, but our other mods may have seen others. I think that our members are happy with the new system, and most had already migrated to it before we closed Yahoo down.

Freegle Tech Report
June 2018

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