Best Practice

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Freegle Groups promote reuse. In doing this we:

1. Keep goods that still have life in them out of the waste stream.

2. Promote community spirit by sharing between local people.

3. Provide people with an opportunity to help the environment.

We want to do all this as well as we can, so we need to make sure that using Freegle Groups is as quick, easy and enjoyable as possible for us and our members.

Many of us started our Groups several years ago. Reuse was a brand new idea in 2003 and the rules and ways of working that evolved were aimed at trying to keep groups safe from possible problems, and we didn't know much about how people behaved online. Since that time internet use has increased substantially and we have learned a lot more about online behaviour. There have been many developments which mean that members now expect to be able to do things very quickly. There are also now many other ways of reusing items via the internet. We now know that if a Freegler encounters barriers they are likely to be put off from using our Groups, so we need to strike a balance between ‘protecting’ our Group, and making it welcoming for new members. Experience shows that groups who have restrictive rules are unlikely to thrive, so all mods should think carefully about these best practice suggestions.

The intent of this is to support Freegle, especially our members and our reputation. All the advice below is within the context of the Basic Requirements of a Freegle Group#Local Rules.

In order to help reduce barriers there are some questions that owners/mods might like to think about.


What is a new Freegler’s first impression of your Group?

Best practice advice:

Your Group is individual but clear identification as a quality Freegle Group will help you with publicity.


  • Using the official Freegle logos. These have been designed by the Freegle Graphics Team for your Yahoo Group and Facebook home pages
  • The Graphics Team will help you with photos or other pictures you may want to upload to customise your Group.


How many steps are there from a new Freegler clicking on the link for your Group to other members receiving an Offered or Wanted post from them?

Best practice advice:

The less time and work there is for a new Freegler to use your Group, the more likely it will be that they will be a contributing member.

  • Do you approve new members?
  • Do you ask for location before approval?


  • Open membership with new members being moderated (that picks up spammers, especially if you use the ModTools).
  • Writing to members whose first post is out of area and giving them the details of their nearest Group.
  • Sending only one joining message with the Disclaimer and deleting the standard Yahoo message.

How many members do you have on moderation?

Best Practice advice:

Put members who correctly format their messages on Group settings.


  • ModTools makes this very easy - http:/
  • You can always put them back on moderation if they slip up.
  • You will lessen your workload.
  • Messages will be posted more promptly on your message board, which is good for the person posting as well as those that respond.

How long does it take for a Freegler to see the message they have posted appear on the Group?

Best Practice advice:

Ideally, moderation of messages needs to be every few hours. Moderating once a day is the minimum for a Group to survive.


  • Have a rota for moderation so that all the team know who is doing what and when.
  • Ask Mentors for holiday/emergency help.

What rules do you have?

Best Practice advice:

Keep rules to a minimum to enable the smooth running of the Group known to all your members. A lot of Groups impose rules that members have no idea existed! Try to apply them fairly with flexibility where appropriate.


  • The fewer rules you impose, the less work it is for you to moderate your Group.
  • No-one is keen on reading or remembering lots of rules, so too many just means that your members don’t know what they are.

Do you restrict the number of Wanted posts?

Best Practice advice:

People that want other’s unwanted stuff are essential for your Freegle Group to work, so encourage people to think ‘reuse’.


  • Difficult economic times have increased the number of members who are in a situation where they can offer very little e.g. students setting up house, people on benefit who cannot afford to buy new stuff etc.
  • Wanted posts are as valid as Offer posts in keeping things out of the waste stream. Encouraging people to Freegle even when they have little to offer may lead to them thinking of Freegle in the future when they do have things to offer.
  • People go through different phases in life - at some times they may post a lot of Wanted posts, and at others a lot of offers.
  • People - including us - overestimate the number of Wanted posts. Most Groups have more Offers than Wanteds.

How many messages do you reject?

Best Practice advice:

Members have made the effort of posting a message, unless it contravenes the basic rules (free and legal), try not to reject it. Helpful, friendly, personal mod messages can be more effective than standard replies. The experience of Freegle mods is that members who post messages that are rejected often do not post again. No one likes to be rejected, particularly as part of the pleasure from freegling is the satisfaction of choosing to give an item of yours away. Some members will feel hurt at being told they have not used the right words to offer their personal possessions. They may never consider freegling again.


  • Do messages need to be rejected or can they be dealt with in other ways?
  • Personal messages from mods explaining exactly which rules they have broken and why your group has these rules are more effective than sending out lists of rules.
  • Promoting Freegle Direct by placing a link on your home page for people to join and use Freegle Direct. This provides a way of posting that won’t need correcting.
  • Promoting the Message Maker with a link on your home page to it and link in message footers. This also results in a way of posting that doesn’t need correcting.
  • Using ModTools to edit subject lines of messages, then sending a note afterwards to help the member get it right next time.

What impression do your messages to members give of you and Freegle?

Best Practice advice:

You are providing a service which is helping your members get in touch with one another to keep stuff out of the waste stream, so be a good host.


  • Friendly, helpful messages are far more likely to get the response you want.
  • No-one enjoys (or can be bothered) reading long messages, so keep things brief (but polite!).
  • English may not be the first language for some of your members, clear straightforward messages will make it easier for them to understand how to use you Group.
  • Members have often put time into posting a message and having it rejected may either get their backs up or make them feel freegling is an obstacle not worth bothering about.
  • Sometimes members feel they are being told off or punished for a genuine error. Messages that are helpful, polite and appreciative that people are using your group are more likely to encourage members to understand rules and guidelines. For example, when you put a member on moderation it may help to explain it is so you can help the member and advise on how to avoid the error in future. When you send a reminder or a return a post make it clear that it will probably help the member if they follow the appropriate guidelines.
  • It may help to ask someone neutral to read your standard messages to see how they come across.
  • Yahoo terminology can be offputting to members. It can be changed though in ways that are more friendly.
  • The word ‘reject’ isn’t good! Try the word ‘return’ instead in the subject line of rejection messages.
  • Signing off as “Freegle Volunteer” is a better description of our role than “Group Owner”

How do you deal with problems?

Best Practice Advice:

Handling problems and complaints from members can be one of the trickiest jobs for a moderator. Finding the balance between running the group how you would like it to be run and how members would like you to run the group is not always easy.


There is a wealth of advice in the Wiki that has been compiled by experienced Freegle moderators on dealing with issues and complaints



Member Complaints

How many potential Freeglers do you lose?

Best Practice advice:

Check, with an open mind, your rules, guidelines and working practices on a regular basis to ensure that interested people are not put off being an active Freegler.

Libraries, many public bodies and work places do not allow the use of Yahoo Groups.


  • Installing Freegle Direct and opting for the Freegle Direct page to be the first page that a new Freegler sees. This opens up Freegle to people in your community who may really benefit from your Group. There are clear links from Freegle Direct to your Yahoo Home Page if Freeglers prefer to use that route.
  • Are any rules you have about reposting, crossposting, and limits on numbers of posts simple and very easy to remember?
  • Replying to emails to the owner address within 24 hours.
  • A friendly leaving message for Freeglers who do leave your Group with a link to the Find a Group page on the Freegle website.

Do you have emergency arrangements for your Group?

Best Practice advice:

Put in place some back up so if there is a problem with your availability, all your hard work doesn’t goes to waste as service can be maintained for your members.


  • Having a back up owner, so that if something unexpected happens to you there is someone that can take up running it in your absence, either temporarily or permanently.
  • Your back up doesn’t have to be an active moderator, just someone, maybe a friend or relative, who has the privileges to let someone run the Group in an emergency situation
  • Giving your back up owner(s) the mentor Group address as a contact so they have access to some help themselves.


  • Groups run 365 days a year so having a back up active moderator to share the burden, cover holidays and discuss issues with is also very helpful.
  • Moderators don’t need to be able to do everything. Some Groups find it helpful to have mods for certain aspects of running the Group, eg publicity, tech etc.
  • Yahoo can close any account at any time. Is there a way to recover the group should you lose your Yahoo account?

What tools do you use to make it easier to run your Group?

Best Practice advice:

Yahoo is not the easiest platform for you or your members, so don’t be afraid to take up some of the helpful tools that Freegle makes available.


Do you know where to turn for help?

Best Practice advice:

You are not alone. All Freegle volunteers are in this together, we have a shared mission, so take advantage of others’ experience and advice.


  • Freegle Mentor Group

One to one help from experienced mods for new Groups Assistance for struggling Groups and mods


  • Freegle Central

Sharing experience, information and helping each other

Freegle Media/Freegle Growth

Asking for help on media matters, sharing publicity tips, discussing and putting into place ideas on how we can help Groups grow and thrive.

  • Support helpline

Help with problems or questions

Email /

  • ModTools Group

Help with problems or questions

  • The Freegle Wiki

Full of useful information on all aspects of running your Group, publicity tips and how you can help Freegle nationally

Would you like to socialise with other Freegle Mods?


  • Freegle Rock

Online social chat

  • Freestock is the annual summer meet up for Freegle Mods

  • Organising a meet-up of your local Groups.

Back to Running Your Group