Freegle Tech Report 16-05-31

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Freegle Tech Report May 2016

Posts 17210-17418

Members 105


Earlier this month we saw parts of the server crashing, and later have had several bugs in Modtools. At the moment Edward is working on the behind the scenes stuff for the new platform, and so the only bits you see of that are when it breaks. Please be patient.
Most of the month on Tech we have been discussing the new format the rewritten user interface will have.
Chris wrote a script to show open OFFER and WANTED posts broken down by category: Select your group. You can then remember the link if you wish, eg: You can choose a date range to show, from today to 3 months. To see any more details, you'll have to click the Freegle Now! links.

Direct v2

Discussion of the new unsubscribe address as some had forgotten it. Media:

Please do not broadcast it as it could be abused, but is handy for those moderators not using modtools, or to give a member on an individual basis, if you are unable to access membership records to remove the member.

Problems sorted.
It was no longer warning members when they failed to fill in all the boxes on the message form. This was reported and fixed.
There was a bug in FD which meant that some users couldn't delete alerts. That should be fixed now.
For a while now, since Yahoo started eating mails to the -owner address on a regular basis, we've had not had a reliable way of contacting all Freegle groups. From now on any mails sent from Direct will go to any email addresses we have for moderators of a group. This will result in some mods getting it more than once.

  • Q. Is the part in a repeat message ‘Last sent on 11th of December’ generated by FD? It appears on a post that has been posted every month since.

A.If they click on the same chase up link each month then yes.

  • Q. When a message is posted, the window that appears tells you it is being posted and to wait a few seconds. Then another window appears and tells you it has not worked and to try again later, but it seems it did work.

A. I have found a bug in this today, which I think may fix it, I will be implementing it this afternoon.

  • Q. If I use the facebook option, does that mean my messages will appear on my facebook page?

A. No you get asked each time you post if you wish to post to your page.

Direct v3

1 We ran a poll on the group to see if it would be acceptable to show all our posts on our preview pages, social media sites etc. to non members. 2/3rd of the groups agreed it was although we would like to ensure there were no personal details shown. At present Yahoo group members can opt in to this, but their posts aren’t automatically shown. Remember that all Direct members can choose to be anonymous unless a group chooses to refuse this option. 'Do you agree that group posts can be made public to non members?( some of these posts could have personal information) but non members would have to join to reply?’

2. A heated discussion about the whether to switch from an email model to a chat/instant message model. Using the site purely by email causes a lot of extra complexity, and limits what users can do, so Edward would like to drop that - but for now he has agreed to retain a backup email function although this will affect the streamlining of our service.

3. This is the shape the new platform will probably take.
For users:

  • Two-way replies by email, but probably with a steer towards replying on the web to encourage people.
  • Part of this is easy sign-in/remembering.There will be some weirdnesses, e.g. with out of office messages and footers. We can get rid of some but not all of these.
  • The preference is to get rid of this route - so it will be revisited when numbers are available about what members actually choose to do.

For moderators:

  • The interface will remain web-based, as per existing ModTools.
  • Email notifications to nudge moderators when there's outstanding stuff to do which has been hanging around for a while will be implemented.
  • There will be one website, and it will be much more focused on making it very easy and simple for newcomers to do their first freegle operation, than the current approach we have of presenting people with a bunch of things they need to understand, (what are these different groups, I thought it was a single site), and things they need to work out or decide (which group do I use? what area does it cover?)
  • Longer term we would have a system where a user posts once, and then the post automatically becomes visible on neighbouring groups at the interval selected by them for reposts from adjoining groups.

4. Platform Optimization.
A discussion was held between the Geeks on the best way to get Freegle results to the forefront of searches. Several clever suggestions were discussed but it will be some time off before any are implemented. Maybe you can help with this?

Q & A.

  • Q. What if a Yahoo groups uses TN, can you direct them there with a link?

A Yes

  • Q. Would it be possible to include a warning at the point of posting that any personal info they include like a phone number or address might be publicly visible?

A Yes

  • Q. I would like a record of someone's activity pre-registering so we can easily advise if there are questions.

A I'm hoping that I will be able to offer a video replay of what a user has done. It is a lot of data to store, even for a brief time, so it depends if we can cope with the load.

  • Q.If the nearest group is only on Yahoo, this system would have to bypass it, this is fine if they come in from looking at a post, but somewhere could an email be sent out once they joined up, to let them know their home group was on Yahoo with a joining link?

A Yes for those we would have to be able to get them posting now if that is what they have come to do, but make them aware that their local group was on Yahoo and point them there. What we don’t want is to have to confuse all visitors with the various complexities of our local groups.

  • Q. Will people still be getting copies of group posts by email or would they be expected to check the site for posts?

A.Yes, they'll get them by email.

  • Q I think feedback for users to let them know that a message has been seen would be useful.

A It's nigh-on impossible to do for email . Read receipts aren't reliable, and using tracking images isn't either; but something will be done at some point.

  • Q. Will there be a way way of telling all respondents that an item has gone.

A Yes

  • Q. Does the messaging system need a way of having more attachments eg photos etc?

A Probably, particular in the case where you are replying to a WANTED.

  • Q. I presume there's no problem with people taking their discussion to email if need be?

A We won’t stop them, but the more people do that, the less possible it is to do things like telling all respondents that an item has gone, so we won’t encourage them either.

  • Q. Is consideration is being accessible to those with vision problems etc.

A This has been considered at length but it looks at present that the effort required to do a proper job of accessibility is beyond our resources. If anyone would like to pick up this baton and lead on finding a good contact point at RNIB who can offer concrete help, then that would be lovely.

Mobile App

Various stats on the mobile app are here:

Total downloads are 25,972. The average rating is 4.00 over 71 ratings.

There have been 2 in-app purchases this month.

The Android and iOS app are on v0.80 and the Amazon app is on v0.79.

Sometimes offers put on with extra or incorrect brackets store the wrong location for future posts. Edward is looking at a way to stop this.
We are also still having loading problems sometimes.

  • Q. On the NEW platform, will you be arranging it so that all communication between mods and users is done via the web (or equivalent). And will the system will work like a mail client ie searchable etc?

A I don’t think we will have the resources to keep all the records and make them searchable. You'll be able to easily see messages to an individual moderator and I may add something to send copies to an individual account later

  • Q. I tried adding a group to my modtools and got this message We're afraid you're not allowed to join this group’ I am on several group have I been blocked?

A Yes I will unblock you.

  • Q. I have not logged in for a couple of days but see posts I approved on Yahoo yesterday being queued for action.

A When you approve the message, it will create an item of plugin work, and also mail Yahoo. If it can't do the plugin work for a while, it will sit there until it can. If the message has been approved by the time it tries, it'll notice that when it performs that item of plugin work and drop it.

  • Q. I am anonymous on Direct but see my name on my posts when modding.

A You see stuff on modtools so that it can see and join up email address and posts from the same member. It is not visible once posted on the website.

General Questions and Answers

Q. How can I contact only Yahoo group members? I would like to send an admin to our Yahoo users to encourage them to move to FD (I can do this with an admin to everyone but would rather just send to Yahoo users.) Any suggestions of an easy way to do this: Is it possible to add a bulk op to Modtools?
A Not at present on Direct but it will be coming. If you set it up as a file in the Yahoo group to go out at a set interval, it will go to just Yahoo members. You can then delete it or turn it off.
Q. Has the website crashed I am getting The Freegle website / Freegle Direct appears to have crashed. This site can’t be reached’s server DNS address could not be found on all my computers.
A No. That's an issue at your end. If you're on Windows, you could open a command prompt and try:ipconfig /flushdns. Sometimes a router can act as a DNS server.

Jean Freegle Tech May 2016

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