Freegle Tech Report 17-06-30

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Freegle Tech Report June 2017 Posts 22566-22724 Members 114


This month has seen Edward throwing lots of different ideas around resulting in some new functions. Chris had a major problem with changes made by others affecting our app. He has had to spend a lot of time reworking the build system as one it the tools he used stopped being available at the end of June. A couple of new features have appeared and are been trialled (newsfeed, address book) and seem to be going down well. The newsfeed is hoped to be a more modern replacement for cafe groups. Some of these features are put live quickly as we do need to see if local members will find them useful, before deciding whether to advertise them and continue.


For members who've used Facebook to log in, and who've posted previously, there is now a monthly popup to ask them to share to Facebook and tell their friends about Freegle. Roughly 6% of people we ask do share out to Facebook, and those shares have started to generate some new members.

Q. What do I tell a trashnothing member to do when they are showing as bouncing? A If you have another email you can mail that one and ask them to log in to their TN email and reset, if you have Yahoo you can see if a similar name is on there. Otherwise contact Andrew.

Q. I have had a complaint that when she clicked on promise an old post came up and she could not alter it. A The list of posts that you see when you click on Promise is a dropdown - there's an arrow on the right hand side to indicate that, and you can change it by clicking on it.


It can be a pain when you're arranging collection of items giving people your address especially if you are clearing out a number of items or need to provide some additional instructions about how to find it.
There is now a button on the chat interface which brings up an address book so you can enter a new address by putting in the postcode and then selecting the building after this it sends the address in the chat:
It will also go out by email. Once in your address book, you can send it and the instructions with a couple of clicks.
At the other end, the person can click on the map. This works particularly nicely on mobile, because (at least on Android) it opens up the Google maps app, which then makes it easy to get directions.

Q. We keep getting chat from a member who has been removed from the group.
A They are posts, I suspect if I stopped this, they will just rejoin. If you leave them they will get fed up.


Q. I had some trouble finding the stats page once I was logged in on FD. There does not seem to be any obvious link there. Could it be added to the "Help" option?
A Most members are not interested in Stats so I don’t want to use space on links. They are available on Modtools there is also a link from the Export page.
Q. The stats page shows an amount raised of £186 out of a target of £150. I am thrilled that we have exceeded our target but having just posted a TAKEN, I see that we have only raised £56 . So a bit of a contradiction.
A Good spot. I changed the overall donation appeal (not the per group one) to have a monthly target/raised rather than yearly, to see if that prompted more donations (as they're down this month). That accidentally broke the per group target. Should be fixed now.


Q.When you enter an event and want to put in multiple dates, the add date link brings back the original date that you've updated. If you then amend it and add another date - it happens again to the first date.
A Fixed now.
Q. Some events have several dates, but only the first date appears in the roundup. Can we get all dates in the roundup?
A Yes I will do this.
Q. I can't cancel an event neither can the member.
A The dates on it have passed that's why you can't see it - it's history


This has been designed by Edward for use by members to take the place of Cafe groups for Direct/Native members. Although most Yahoo groups are dead a demand for the type of stuff that was on them is shown by features on Facebook groups, Nextdoor and other chat groups. People used to Facebook or similar sites expect to see everything in the same place, in a newsfeed. So Edward put together something which lets you see things within a certain distance of where you live (you may need to change the dropdown to anywhere to look at it just now as there may not be much near you yet), and you can post, comment etc. Included are some recent community events and volunteering opportunities, to give it a bit of life.
This was trialled, commented and put out to test on members. This may be a bit glitchy, and there are lots of things that can be done to take this further, e.g.
Allow you to compose posts, events, volunteering ops from here.
Add the OFFER/WANTED posts into it (but try not to flood the feed).
Add photos.
Add the Facebook publicity stuff that Cat produces.
Notifications when people interact with your stuff, a la Facebook, including some kind of email notifications.
Update when stuff changes (at the moment you have to refresh the page).
Send Digests
A red count on the Notification icon when (for example) someone has commented on your post. This is similar to Facebook.
A one-off notification was triggered to encourage people to try out this section, these only occur at present when you have interacted with the News section, e.g. posted, loved, commented.
A blue count on the News icon when there are nearby news items which you haven't seen. This acts as an encouragement to people to take a look.
Request email notifications will be added for the red count, so that if there is a notification which you've not seen for 24 hours, we mail you to remind you to look. This is also similar to Facebook.
A per-user setting on Settings and by email will be added to allow you to disable this stuff.

There are some confused folk who make posts on there. Mods will see an option in the dropdown menu on the right that will add something asking them to make a post.

Q. Can people advertise stuff in there? Seems the foreign post could arguably be an ad for ugly dolls. In this case we wouldn't know if it's an ad or a hospital service.
A It can be used how you would use a cafe group. Most cafe groups allow members to post messages about their business or requests for a local plumber etc.

Volunteering Button

A reminder for requests for volunteers will now go out every month.


There is now a message about FreeStock on ModTools to try to get more and new people to come. You can see it on the Dashboard page.
A note has also been put on Modtools about the automatic removal of members using Domains which have been discontinued. These now bounce everything back.
At the moment, if a message is picked up as possible spam, and held for review, other later messages on the same chat can still get through. I've seen a couple of examples where this has led to confusion when it takes a mod a while to do the review, because messages have (from the point of view of both parties) just got lost in the middle.
It was agreed we should change it so that once a message is held for review, all subsequent messages are held too.

Business cards. Q. Usually I like to put a name on the letter which I copy from the request as it looks better but sometimes we just get a huge long id number. Is it possible, practical or appropriate to request a last name from the member when they request cards?
A Edward is trialling the inclusion of the requesters email address in the information we are given to send these cards out. The application process does ask for the requesters name but it defaults to their login name as that is all the system can see however they can alter this themselves before making their request.


Chris found a workaround for the Google sign in problem, he has also had to revamp the way the mobile app is built in order to fix a problem, which will be caused when a tool he used in the build stops supporting app builds .
There’s a lot of work involved and a newer Mac had to be purchased for testing. Both the equipment and time will incur some cost to Freegle.
Without using the separate CrossWalk tool: the Freegle app size goes down from about 40MB to 16MB which is excellent for those on restricted data. Unfortunately the new app simply doesn't work on 4.2 devices and it would take a lot of time and effort to even try to get it too. This will mean about 10% of Android devices will not be able to use the app. Members will still be able to access us online, it is just the mobile app which will fail and we agreed it would be nice if we could fund it, but realistically it would not be worth the cost.

New Groups

Now the mapping has been completed, we can now find places where we don't have groups, but perhaps ought to. When people use the site, they put their postcode in. Together with the mapped group areas we can find postcodes which are not within the core group or the default posting area for any of our existing groups. Some of these might be quite close to existing groups (in which case perhaps the CGA/DPA needs tweaking) If we see a cluster of postcodes which are close together but aren't inside an existing group, then it's worth looking at those areas for a new group- because we clearly have interest there.

This is the result of some number crunching. (Click onto the Map of geometry tab) For example, we currently have no group in Southampton - but there are people there who are coming to us.
Where we can we can start new groups, or maybe a neighbouring group could take one on.


Thinking about a variety of ways to encourage our members to promote us more - because that's how we sustain ourselves and grow, Edward came up with an idea he was unsure of which was "Share to unlock", which means that you can only get to see what you want to see after you've clicked a button to share/like. The idea is that people are "paying" to see stuff by promoting your site. This is the kind of idea which might or might not work (which is something we could test) but which volunteers might find really annoying (which means it is pointless doing the work to test it before discussing it).
It was decided that it was too annoying so we won’t be doing this.


There are still a fair number of posts not getting sent out by Yahoo. Many mods do not use the groups but rely on notifications as does modtools to some extent. We do need to check our Yahoo groups from time to time as some posts are getting stuck there. This seems to affect some groups more than others.
If you are expecting a reply to a post from a Yahoo member or from a Group don’t take it that you would have received it, if it was sent.

Freegle Tech
June 2017

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