Freegle Tech Report 17-12-31

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Freegle Tech Report December 2017 Posts 24270-24448 Members 116


We have a new volunteer Geek, Nick, who has kindly offered to do some work for us. With significant help from Nick , Edward has been changing the part of our code that runs in the browser, which is now using some new and standard technologies, primarily webpack. This has a number of benefits which should speed things up, and also makes it easier for other geek volunteers to get involved.
Nick knew of a system we can use for free which helps us diagnose errors on members browsers and devices Problems are now automatically reported back to us, and we get a lot of good information about what's gone wrong. It also batches things up nicely so that we can easily see what the most common problems are. We are now using this, to try to sort out some of the more common problems. For example, there was a problem that showed with uploading photos which was happening on Internet Explorer v11, which wouldn't have been seen otherwise.
Checking whether freeglers prefer to use email or chat on the website to reply to people it was found that over the last 6 months, 59% of people used the website. So, broadly half and half, but with a tentative trend towards the site rather than email.
For a visual demonstrations of what we do there is now a map which shows people offering, people replying, and then picking up - it's easier to click and watch than try to figure out what I mean: [1]
All work changing over to the New server has now been done but small errors may still be found. For instance short links were just found not to have been changed. If you notice anything let Geeks know please.


Q. I have a message trapped by the spam filter which seems to relate to a totally different group.
A If it's the chat spam then messages show there if the member is on any group that you also moderate - we have no way to interpret the message automatically to work out which group it's about.
Q. A member is getting messages from a non member of a type she does not want. What can I do?
A Report as a spammer - then their chat will be blocked. We accept messages from emails that aren't on any group. because members quite often reply from a different email than they joined with.
Q. A member has joined lots of groups and seems to be letting other down and failing to collect or reply. Did I hear we could ‘Quietly drop members posts to other members,’ so we could still keep their account details with notes and not have them just rejoin with a different email
A We had a discussion about this here: [2] It was a bit controversial, and so we would probably need to implement it similarly to the spammer list, where You propose someone for muting and that gets reviewed before approval. It’s on the list, but not imminent.


Website Loads of tweaks this last month, and minor problems having been created by moving servers have been found and rectified. A few of them which you may notice are:-

  • Delay photo upload processing to improve apparent render speed
  • Fix JS error for clicking on signin buttons before Facebook SDK has loaded
  • If stats page doesn't work, give an error rather than just an empty page
  • Move some images around as not loading on Yahoo group home pages
  • Remove fade which scrolls with volunteering/community events and obscures them
  • Moderation work email notifications (7 days ago)
  • All mods to set holiday status (7 days ag
  • Subjects not showing on live map (5 days ago)
  • Promise sometimes doesn't work from within chat (7 days ago)
  • Losing focus every 30 seconds when we have a modal open (19 hours ago)
  • Focusing on newsfeed post box on mobile. Rework webpack code not to use window object, and expose genuine window object for access to viewport size.
  • Increase limit on posts that show on My Posts from 100 to 200.
  • If you have multiple sessions as the same user, including from Freegle Direct and ModTools, then chat messages can wrongly be marked as read.
  • Image upload doesn't work on IE11. Switch to later version of fileinput code, which does
  • Allow adding of photos to the newsfeed We now ask for payment to cover the cost of sending business cards
  • Remove the "Love this" and "Chuckle" buttons from messages, as people aren't clicking on them so they're just screen clutter
  • Add animated Christmas logo
  • Add text to make clearer that by joining Freegle you'll get emails
  • Add "How you can help" to the Help section

Changes to the way we produce and build MT to FD, are now on As with MT, it's possible that bits of function will be broken that haven’t been not found. Please could Mods have a poke around, and use that for any freegling they are doing.
There's a problem which seems to be related to uploading of photos, which we could do with some help finding. It may or may not be related to switching away from a tab while the photo or photos are uploading. It doesn't seem to be related to any particular browser. We need a few people (on a desktop/laptop not using a phone/tablet): to
Hit F12 to open developer to switch to the Console tab
Upload a photo
Switch away from the tab for a minute as soon as you've selected the photo(s)
Switch back
What I'm looking for is errors in the console (probably in red) like "Maximum call stack size exceeded" or "Too much recursion" or "Out of memory". It's not clear whether or not you'd actually see anything wrong, but there's something which makes it into our list of errors.
Q. A member asked if an old post be removed from their my posts section. It was taken but still showing in ‘Old Posts’ She knows other members can’t see it, but she doesn't want to see it either!
A It isn't possible to remove from there. If we have something where people can do that, then we'll get some saying "Oh, I deleted that post, but now I need to contact that person, how do I get it back?" If she doesn't want to see it, she doesn’t have to click on Old Posts!
Q. A member mentioned that she clicked on a link in our email to log in and was sent to sign in where the Google login option was greyed out. Is this a known problem or is there a reason ?
A It sounds like a flaky connection - we load the Google login code from their site, and if the network is slow (or there's a privacy blocker installed) that can fail.
Q. A post on my group has been amended but I am the only moderator and I haven't done it. It mentioned what it had cost and this has been replaced with XXXX!
A That's what is shown to non members in an effort to blank out phone numbers and addresses. The original is shown once logged in and will go out by email.
Mail and are the same thing really, as are and There are some countries where this is not the case (see So if one of these is checked it will now cover both. Let us know if you see any issues with googlemail/gmail users.
Stopping emails
This subject keeps recurring as members and moderators are sure they have been stopped but they keep arriving.
First get a copy of a mail forwarded before asking, as it shows the actual information of where it has been sent. They could be having them forwarded, and mailing from a different account, or receiving them from an old email address they have forgotten about.
Check the type of email. Posts Events, Volunteering etc.
Stopping an email via the unsubscribe on the email will only stop the one type of email.
If they are stopping them via Yahoo then it will only stop the Yahoo ones. Also you need to check the gmail/googlemail membership if it is the Yahoo ones. If they have left the group via Yahoo and are still getting emails from Direct see if you can find out if they have another account and ask Support for help.
Q. With the latest admins we've had many lovely "thanks for all you do" replies, but also had two very angry "stop sending me emails or I'll report you for harassment" ones. Looking at the logs it seems they've been turning off emails by clicking the link and adding ranty text to the top. If seen it would make it obvious that they really wanted to leave and were having a few issues. Can we copy those emails with text back to the group or have a link for leaving as well?

A Forwarding would generate a lot of emails to mods. What may help is to add this to the confirmation we send back to them when they turn off one type of emails something like:

You can change which other emails you receive from <a href="$settingsurl">Settings</a> or leave groups from <a href="$unsuburl">here</a>.

I'll do that.

Mobile App

Some updates made to the code that loads the newsfeed to make it load faster. I've updated the mobile app code in version 1.2.10 of the app. This is starting to roll out to Android and is waiting for review at iTunes so it shouldn't be too long.


Changes in code has been tested on and is now on In time they will go to and The changes are quite significant and might break stuff, so I really want to know if you see strange things happening, because that might be a bug that I need to find and fix before I release the same changes to Freegle Direct.
New notifications On native groups it will notify for pending messages, pending members, spam messages, pending events, pending volunteer ops, chat review. It won't send for pending messages/members, but it will send for other stuff like events, volunteer ops, chat review. You can turn it off in the settings.
Q. For the past few days I keep being told that the plugin is disconnected,I'm logged into Yahoo groups,the plugin is installed.When I click on the help button I am transferred to Mozilla's pages and am told my connection is not secure. Any ideas?
A. Remove the plug in and re-install the latest version.
Q. I am seeing some posts in Modtools marked at withdrawn. I see the member probably withdrew a post and reposted it but curious to see this in pending . I have held it as the replacement has gone through should I delete it?
A. Yes if it is a Native group.
Q. Could all volunteers be given the privs to set a member to no mail via the holiday setting? We seem to get a few auto replies at this time of year, which can be a pain when all posts are returned back. I would like to set my members to no mail after their first auto reply.
A MT already shows the holiday status on Members->Approved, but as read-only. I've made it editable and put the rest of the code in place to make that work. This is on; it won't be on for a day or so but if you change the setting here it will take effect on whether or not they get mails.
Q. At the top of my modtools in red I am seeing
"Some pages are not being pre-rendered. This may affect Google search results. Please make sure the Geeks are aware."
A This is just a warning :Let Geeks know if you see it though. Google loads automatically an earlier page to speed up what a member sees when they first log in, so they don’t have a blank page then it fetches the current one.
We’ve made some changes. If weird stuff happens, do Ctrl+Shift+R; if weird stuff still happens, please let me know right away.
These changes are confined to for now; in time they will go onto, and then to and The changes are quite significant and might break stuff, so I really want to know if you see strange things happening, because that might be a bug that I need to find and fix before it gets used more widely.
Here are the more important ones which would affect members:

  • If you use Alt+Enter in a newsfeed reply box in the middle of text, it doesn't insert the line break in the right place
  • If you post an OFFER to two groups, then mark it as TAKEN on both, it stays open on one of them
  • If someone deletes a post on the newsfeed, hide the notifications for it (3 days ago)
  • Remove padding round icons which leads to previews of links to Freegle site on newsfeed having very small image* On My Posts, show when a message has been withdrawn, taken etc.
  • Change "recent" to "last 90 days"
  • Add option to chat menu to block someone
  • Don't show both nudge and info tooltips in chat at the same time
  • Change Notifications icon to be a bell rather than a globe, now that Facebook Messenger has done so.
  • Add button on Settings to display your own profile


People can now upload photos when they post on the newsfeed, or comment. If someone abuses it, then other people can report the post using the drop-down menu, much as they can on Facebook. For now that will hide the post. The report function has only been used twice so far, so we don't really need to worry too much about people abusing _that_. If we get more reports then I will add something to allow us to review them.


Because of cost we now ask members and moderators to make a payment to cover the costs, and we don't send them out before that payment has been received. We've had a few people start that process but not complete payment. It's a quiet time of year so that might just be natural drop-off, but it would be good if someone could test whether it works for them next time they see it. (We can refund the £1 if need be.)


Q If a member posts an event on FD, I presume it is linked to the Twitter account for that group. Can the frequency of these events on twitter be changed ? It is for an event on Saturday and they are being tweeted every 4 hours and it's flipping annoying.
A I'll drop it from 4 to 8 hours. I'm not sure why it would be annoying though Twitter isn't like email where you have to read everything - it's very ephemeral and repeating stuff is very common.
Freegle Tech Report
Dec 2017

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