Freegle Tech Report 17-10-31

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Freegle Tech Report October 2017
Posts 23778-24056
Members 116


This month we have been seeing more of our groups leaving Yahoo behind. Stuff has now being implemented on ModTools for an automatic system to allow groups to confirm affiliation, as voted for in the AGM and there has been a lot of work on trying to get Groups to send out Admins at set intervals regarding the Ebay awards.
We now get a list of coding changes and tweaks weekly from our Geeks. It is a long list, so we will only include the most important in here (see below).
There has been a list provided to enable Support and Mentors mods to see which groups need to be approached regarding Native, Confirmation of Affiliation and which may be at risk of being abandoned.


We have had several discussions about what features we would like to see on Direct and ModTools.
Modals are the things which grey out the background and pop something up on the screen, like when you click on someone's name on the newsfeed. It was stated that the Back button doesn't behave nicely with these on the app. Edward has put in a change so that the Back button closes the modal. Chris will in due course see if that works in the app. Let the Geeks know if you notice any odd changes in the Back function.
It has been noticed that some groups do not send out a post to new Direct members informing them of their local rules. Although the app sends out a general message when someone first logs into the website, it is much better if local moderators have done one for members who join their group. They should also pop a picture in ModTools for use on posts and on the website. Please ask Mentors if you need help doing this.
Dual Membership We have a lot of queries from Moderators regarding members who think their posts are missing, they are still getting emails when they have stopped them, or they can’t see replies to their posts. This is usually a case of a Member having more than one membership and logging in with a different one to the one they posted from.
It is now possible for Moderators to merge memberships on their group. Just click on the Merge button on Approved Members and enter the two emails in. Give a reason and select which is the prefered email so that any emails are sent to that one. The way it works is that we know various emails, but one of them is marked as the preferred one. We send all mails to that address. So there's no need to remove old ones, and it's useful to keep them for other reasons.

Just a few of the Tweaks done this month.
Posts on several groups required several Takens to clear them. Should now only need one.

  • If someone deletes a post on the newsfeed, it now should hide the notifications for it
  • On My Posts, show when a message has been withdrawn, taken etc.
  • Added an option to chat menu to block someone
  • Change Notifications icon to be a bell in line with Facebook Messenger.
  • Stop auto-login links except for necessary stuff like forgotten password
  • Change donation request text
  • In MT, show when messages are taken/withdrawn etc
  • Change order of moderation status to be consistent with Yahoo groups.
  • Hold empty chat messages for review
  • Speed up Chat picking up new messages
  • Page for eBay voting campaign, and encourage voting in emails
  • Nudge mods to add a Facebook group
  • Introduce group settings switch, to allow native groups to be fully moderated
  • Fix users on holiday to show correctly in ModTools
  • Fix repost from chase up mail
  • Added button on Settings to display your own profile
  • Allow messages submitted from TrashNothing to be visible to non members of the group as allowed in their TOS

Q. We get a lot of queries from members who can’t unsubscribe and think clicking on links in emails should result in them leaving the group. I don’t think this is unreasonable. If unsubscribing did remove them and stop all Freegle mail, rejoining is so easy, except for the loss of the user’s history.
A.It used to do this, and we had problems with members moaning about losing all their posts, as they did not really want to leave just stop some types of emails, or just leave one group but not others. This required Geek intervention to reclaim information from backups. Unless we take a hard line of saying that you get the emails from Freegle that we want to send and that’s it (which would be unpopular with mods and members), we will always get the occasional complaint like this.

Q. I have a member who says she had an email from us saying her offer would be reposted, but it hasn't gone on to the group. My settings show that the offer posts will be reposted after 3 days, but her post was made 4 days ago and hasn't reposted.
A.It does not get reposted at present if there is a response to the Offer waiting. This is to stop something getting reoffered when someone is in the middle of arranging a collection.
Q. I checked posts for a couple of groups yesterday on Direct. Of 21 posts on Yahoo, only 8 are on FD., I only checked two groups and both have posts that are not making it to FD.
A.You need to be logged in to the group to see all the posts as we can only show posts to non-members if they were posted on FD - for posts from Yahoo we don't have permission. TN posts were also ignored but their TOS will allow it so I will be including them soon.
Q I'm puzzled by some odd happenings on FD. I've approved messages that haven't appeared and other messages have appeared on the group that I have no knowledge of and were seemingly not approved by anyone and at a time when I was nowhere near a computer. Has anybody got a logical explanation?
A.Some messages won't appear on FD because they have been withdrawn/taken/received. You also won't see messages from TN users on FD if you're not logged in. Some are oddities relating to before you switched to native. A couple of those you sent are because a Received was posted this morning and it causes it to be bumped up to alert TN but we don’t actually show the post.
Q. I am viewing a message on my computer, it is cut off the viewing window is too narrow.
A.I'd like our emails to display better, but it's quite difficult to do. I've recently put out a volunteer request for someone with experience , and have got one promising reply. Q. A Member complaining about her Posts not going on yet but they are on My Posts.
A.That is usually because FD is still trying to join the user to the Yahoo side and it is taking time to respond . They don’t come through to the group or pending until Yahoo has accepted the membership. It has been one of the queries we see in support a lot, if you have the members FD username you can try speeding it up by doing an invite as email only member on the Yahoo group side.


At the moment we ask people to donate when they mark something as taken/received. If they don't do so, then we switch to asking them if they want business cards for a while, so as not to annoy them in case they have several posts on . There are some cases where we now know who received an offer, because the offerer tells us that when they mark it as taken (defaulting to our best guess if they don't change it). This means that we could potentially also ask the person who we think received an offer if they'd like to donate to help keep Freegle running. We'd probably do that by email. Obviously we'd have to it that in nice language which made it clear that they didn't have to and it was an automated mail. It is pretty clear from our experience on the site that a) quite a lot of members are prepared to donate and b) they're not complaining in large numbers about being asked - so I don't think we need to be scared about doing this.

I also appreciate that some volunteers are not thrilled about us asking members for money - but this is the only way we have to support our tech and media work, so if people aren't happy with that, then I'd encourage them to be personally active in other forms of fundraising or finding volunteers with those skills instead. I intend to trial this in a little while to see if it does result in donations.


We now have a system via modtools where we can join other Facebook groups a local Free stuff group, or maybe a Mums group post to them with a click from modtools. To link and post to them you have to join the other group which must be set to Public, and be an Admin your Freegle groups Facebook page. You use ModTools to link them. Do not put every post on as Facebook will block you from sharing for a few days if you overdo it. People interested have to sign up to Freegle and will join your group if they reply - so this is really just a way of advertising for us. You link the groups from Modtools, Settings->Group Settings - down at the bottom there is a button to link to a Facebook Group. Use the second "Facebook Groups" option. You want to choose busy groups, because then we are reaching more new people. You can search for groups from Facebook - search for buy, your area or Free you'll probably see some. There has been some discussion about what may end up on your timeline or being shared onto friends, as usual you need to check your settings you could set up a separate Facebook account for doing this. Make sure though you use a plausible name Alan Freegle say and add a bit of info. Facebook are liable to close down accounts which seem to have made up names.

Mobile App.

This month Chris has produced two update releases to keep pace with the changes on the main website, both which should by now have been rolled out.
If you find you have a problem with it like slow loading, try removing and reinstalling the app and that seems to cure it.


There is now a switch in ModTools Settings->Group Settings to allow you to make a group fully moderated. What this means is that all posts (from the web or via email) should come through to Pending for moderation, irrespective of what the member's settings are. We had a discussion about "Group Settings" vs "Unmoderated". While Unmoderated would be a better name, I do not want to make this change while we are still supporting Yahoo, and where the standard thing to do "take a member off moderation", including in a ModTools standard message which might be used on both native and Yahoo groups, is to change them to Group Settings. If we drop Yahoo, then I might rename the setting at that point. On ModTools, you can only see when a user is a member of a group when you are a mod on the group. Similarly, you can only see logs relating to a group when you are a mod on the group. You can see recent applications to any group, to help spot spammers. We were asked if we should look at this again and perhaps allow membership of a Freegle group to be visible to any Freegle mod. The kinds of things which this would cover are:

  • Group membership for a member
  • Mod mails to a member
  • Mod notes on a member
  • Which mod approved/rejected messages/members

So far it has been unanimous that only the first item should be made visible to all moderators.
There is now a pop up on which will appear once a year for all groups to click on to confirm affiliation. If you click ‘Not Now’, it will "snooze" for a day. It will show once a day, for a random group which needs affiliation confirming - that way it won't be too annoying for people who are on lots of groups, or where you need to discuss things with other mods.

Q. There is now a count against Facebook groups with posts to share but it is only on the main menu. Could the counts be added to the individual groups as well. I have 41 counts showing for posts to share, but I can’t see which groups they are on without just clicking all groups. Then they are all mixed together
A.Yes will do this
Q. Is it possible to show which Mods on a group have sent Admins to FD members, in the bit where you can see the list of admins sent previously?
A.Yes I have done this.
Q. I have received a post from a member who is shown as bouncing I can’t see how to unbounce her.
A.Did you just check the logs and happen to see some bounces listed? We only mark the member themselves as bouncing if the error message we receive indicates that it's the member rather than the message, which bounced and after we have received a few of them. She is not showing as bouncing now.


A group just gone Native was not pleased to find a fully moderated for members option was not available and after discussion, Edward has agreed to provide one in view of the fact that all groups are required to go Native over the next year.
Q. I can’t find anything which says what email address members send posts to the group.
A.All groups do have an email address which is the same as the volunteer one but minus the word volunteer. However the platform is not designed to be used via email so best not to encourage members to post that way.
Q. Please can we have some way of letting people know why we've rejected the inclusion of someone onto the spammers list? The past couple of days we've had a multi joiner but only one specific area of the country, and only posting to one group. Another who is responding to every post in German from an autoresponder, which needs a newish member to be educated rather than banned. There is no way for us to explain why we have not removed them.
A.Yes, that would be useful I'll do that.
Q. A relatively new mod has mailed worried she hasn't been seeing any messages. I just checked and she doesn't show as a member let alone a moderator. I usually reckon the loss of mods is down to Yahoo but this time it can't be.
A.This is a data cluster error and quite a subtle problem which happened to occur during merging. I think I have a fix though it'll be a little while before it goes live.

Support Group

This is still fairly quiet, and could be more fully used. This is good because it means most of our members are not having problems.
Many questions on other forums especially those which mean including details of a members email address and circumstances would be better sent to for them to deal with though.


Q. I am dealing with a member who posted offers and takens via TN, but the Offer posts have not cancelled out. Maybe she changed the subject line too much. However she logged into FD to see but the posts weren't in her my posts section. When she logged in to us to check the posts, she logged in using ilovefreegle and it confused her because it was a different membership she logged in with. Is it possible to add a log in with Trash Nothing option so that people who are having difficulty on the TN platform can see their posts on Freegle?
A.I have discussed this with Andrew, and it is too complex a problem to fix.

Q. I saw this in Chat Spam is it possible for us to do something similar
'The member joneswellac has been identified as a scammer and has been blocked.The records show that you may have communicated with this scammer so please make sure you don't email them again.
The scammers attempt to trick people into paying for items that they have offered on the groups (usually by asking for delivery or courier charges). They do keep signing up with new email addresses after they are blocked so remember that you should never pay in any way for items offered on the Groups.
A. It is automated. I found that enough people continued communicating with the scammers through other means (whatsapp, kik, alternate email address) that simply blocking the scammer didn't actually prevent some people for falling for the scam because you can't block the other communication channels or tell when someone has switched to a different way of communicating.
Andrew Trusty
A.Edward Yes I will add something


For anyone that hasn't seen the news relating to Yahoo and the infamous hack of 2013 the latest headline is that that all 3 billion accounts were probably compromised:
Although it happened long ago the fact it keeps being made fresh in people's minds it puts more people off using Yahoo and adds another nail in its coffin.

Tech Group Report.
October 2017

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