Freegle Tech Report 19-03-31
Freegle Tech Report March 2019
Edward set up a study to see if we could predict who was likely to be reliable and who wasn't, using machine learning of their writing style. Various people also did some helpful manual work to to sanity check the automatic results. After mulling it over for quite a while even though the results were encouraging (in terms of whether it worked), it was decided we didn't feel comfortable with penalising people based on things they haven't actually done, so have dropped the idea.
Jacky, unofficial keeper of our Wiki has added http://Media:wiki.ilovefreegle.org/Group_Polls after a discussion about choosing an alternative to Yahoo polls for our Moderator groups. It is agreed we no longer need to have one built into the group we use as there are several available free. If anyone has experience of a good free online poll facility other than Doodle, let Jacky know and she will add that to the page.
Edward has made some changes to streamline freegling multiple items a bit. As most people freegling multiple items, will be using the same location, and email address it's a waste of their time asking them again for info. So once you make one offer, if you click the "Give something else" button, then it will skip straight to the screen about the item. That cuts out a couple of stages for people posting multiple offers.
The group or location can still be changed by clicking on the Give icon in the menu bar instead.
At the moment, when you ban a member, you ban them from a specific group. Other groups will need to decide themselves whether to ban them, and the member can still post on the newsfeed or contact other members via chat. Any mod can delete from posts on the newsfeed at the moment, and any member can block someone on chat. We might think that once someone is banned, they shouldn't be able to contact people on the same group privately. On the other hand it gets more complicated when you consider that they might both be on some other group where the person isn't banned. We definitely have members where different groups have different opinions about them. This could result in a perfectly good member on one group being effectively blocked from the platform because another group didn't think they were a good member.
We are not sure there is a good way to deal with this as it's a consequence of group autonomy. Views Welcome?
A few mods have experienced members, who failed to receive the address for collection even though they were receiving other messages. It could be that they are being blocked as spam because of the content, but we have not been able to substantiate it yet. Please let us know as much info about the member and your own ID to Support if you get a complaint, so that they can check.
Q. I've been trying to chat with another member but I'm finding that the messages are being truncated and obviously this frustrates both the member and myself.
A. It does seem that the complete message is sent via email and turns out to be due to some special characters in the message; the fix for this has messed up line breaks a bit, which will get fixed.
Q. I have a member on Coventry who is having problems with chat. She is using a laptop and the browser. I can't quite figure out where the messages are vanishing, maybe you can understand her description. “When l try to write a text in the bottom right hand corner, it just disappears before l can finish! Can you see if my messages process is faulty please?
A.I'm not sure what you mean. What page are you having difficulty writing on? Do you mean the post page where you add a description? A lot of members ask for things, then cut off contact when they change their mind. All you can do is reoffer the item. Perhaps ask her to check on Settings what her email is, and also exactly how she is blocking as there is nothing on the email address given .
Q.If someone deletes their account with us, should their posts disappear from the group messages? I have an ex member who was happily posting to the group and the Newsfeed about how wonderful everything was who’s then deleted her account. Presumably anyone trying to reply wouldn’t get through?
A At present we keep the messages so as not to mess with the stats, but we ought to hide them. I'll fix that.
Q. I blocked a member but he was still able to email me direct. I am not sure how he’s done it - I thought he might have been able to click on my wee pic where I was dealing with him as group owner to send a DM - I didn't like the idea that he could do that, whether I'd banned him or not, I like to keep personal and modding a bit separate but if he'd gone out and found me on the newsfeed that seems a bit sinister. Separately, I've had a complaint about something that started on the newsfeed going over to direct messages and getting a bit out of hand - something and nothing but ended up with my member threatening never to ask for stuff on Freegle again! A. If you are on the newsfeed - you can be messaged from there. Before we had this we had members wanting to take their chats off the Newsfeed , for instance to give out an address or phone number. I agree though that users shouldn't be able to click on your profile pic in that kind of chat, to contact you so I'll fix that.
Q. Is there any chance of being able to identify more than one recipient? There are some occasions when I have had more than one of the same thing to offer and have split them between two or more members requesting them. At the moment I am asked to identify who has received - limited to one - and the others get a Sorry it's Taken message. I usually tell the others who have received the items they will get this and to ignore it because we can only identify one member as recipient.
A. On my wish list but not anytime soon as it requires a restructure.
Q. I just freegled some stuff this week and used the Native only for the first time. I’m getting the email notifications of chat, which is good but they don’t include the rest of the thread in the most recent notification so, I either have to keep every reply which piles up in my inbox, or go to chat which I don’t want to do. Today I replied to the wrong person because I lost track of my own replies and who I’d said yes to someone who was next in line whom I had already told were on standby. So, then had to email yet again to say sorry made a mistake . I know you don’t want all the previous stuff to go back into chat and I’m not asking for that . I am asking just for it to be in notification emails if that was possible and somehow stripped out when my new ‘comment’ was added to the chat.
A. There is a possibility that I'm exploring, where our chat messages might be more likely to be marked as spam because they are so short. So what I will do as a trial is add the previous message into the chat notification emails in a quoted way (with >), both in the text body and the HTML version. This will give you a bit more context, and I will be able to tell if it helps with spam.
Q. Edward I have a member who says she's been trying to pause her emails for ages but it wasn't working. I've checked in incognito mode and her settings show that emails are paused but the logs show that we still keep sending them. A. There was a bug. If you set your mails to be paused, then once the date they were paused until passed the mails would restart, but the display was not changed back when the date passed. Fix applied.
Study into Spam You will see some Weird formatting on email subject lines. They are unique per member (not per mail), and we are putting them in the subject line because some of the spam feedback tools only give you the subject line, not access to the headers. We have had them for a while now to see if we can remove those members safely from our database, but have discovered that some very active members and even a moderator are showing as not wanting our emails delivered. Even replying to our emails will not stop them being marked as spam if replying are done via the spam box and not moved first to the inbox.
We have had some advertising on the emails we send out which is inappropriate The person to report this type of stuff to is Neville (firstname.lastname@example.org) who will deal with it.We have had some advertising on the emails we send out which is inappropriate The person to report this type of stuff to is Nevilly (email@example.com) who will deal with it. Q. We have a dedicated email address - not used for anything -but copies of messages to and from our members. It's a mail forwarder at our own domain which forwards to each of the moderators.As far as I am aware that address has only ever been seen by the moderators of our groups but we have recently started receiving spam at that address. I'm puzzled as to how the address got out there.
A. You can check your mods email addresses at https://haveibeenpwned.com/
Mobiles Version 1.4.11 of the Freegle app has been released for Android as has version 0.2.11 of the ModTools app. This brings them both up to date with the website code. The iOS versions have been submitted for approval. Chris App hat
Q. In Group Settings what does "Show members in all groups" mean? I cannot work it out. Does it mean show all the Freegle groups a member belongs to?
A.If you go to Members->Pending, then you can choose whether or not to show just a single group, or "All my Groups". This setting controls whether a group's sending members will appear in that list. It's not a very useful setting, so I might just remove it and rely on whether you're an active or a backup mod.
Q. I have noticed one of the groups I am on has got a broken link to Twitter but I can’t seem to relink. I either get a blank login page or a we are down. Try some in the past with the same result.
A.This has been sorted for you but if it happens again we will look into it.
Q.According to my modtools screen there's an edited message awaiting approval,however when I try to access it there's nothing to see.I've cleared the cache and it won't go away.This problem persists regardless of which computer I use.Should I worry?
A.Let me know if it happens again and I will look into it.
Servers Client code changes in the last month If you have any questions about them, please reply to Geeks@ilovefreegle.org Here are the more important ones which would affect members:
Rename "Newsfeed" to "ChitChat"
...and here are the ones which are minor, or only affect volunteers in ModTools, or are internal changes that you wouldn't notice:
Streamline freegling of multiple items
Change Newsfeed to ChitChat
ask text Client can get stuck on a draft which is no longer a draft
More chitchat fixes
Merge remote-tracking branch 'origin/master'
In MT, show group shortlinks in Settings
In MT, show at bottom of Settings->Group who confirmed affiliation and when
In MT, can't open chat correctly on Happiness page
Add mention of Waste Data Flow to council toolkit
Add HWC reference to councils
Add user id to event digest mails UT fixes Sitemap broke)
Speed-ups: happiness page
Change how we send to spam test seeds to use
Only exhort in series User
Exhort function broken
Server code changes in the last month If you have any questions about them, please reply to Geeks@ilovefreegle.org Here are the more important ones which would affect members:
Can fail to submit a message if it is reedited from a draft
In chat notification emails, add the last message so that you have some context if you're just using email
Update schema or spam detection.
...and here are the ones which are minor, or only affect volunteers in ModTools, or are internal changes that you wouldn't notice
Add user id to event digest mails
Return Path tracking fixes
Speed-ups: reduce DB ops for story review count
Should be able to view shortlinks logged out
Tweeting unreviewed stories
Not returning groupid for story
Previous fix for duplicate group names not working
Shortlink history fix
Return more info for shortlink
Add call to get individual shortlink info
Add ability to create a shortlink
Add click history to shortlinks.
Return groupid for reviewing stories
Not always finding correct group after DPA/CGA changes
More Litmus spam testing
Add id to newsletter subject line
Show spammers on groups who don't automate removal
trip Huawei footer
Make text replies longer for anti-spam purposes.
Remove exclamation mark which is bad for spam
Tell us your story mail link goes to the wrong place Return Path seeds not getting HTML mail
Any chance of getting the "How People send messages" stats on the Dashboard going again please? It hasn't updated for ages. I like to check these periodically and to see how well we are doing compared to last year!
Edward Hibbert I hadn't noticed. Thanks - fix applied, should be back tomorrow.
Jacqui A member has left as she does not want all the mails but when she turned them off she stopped getting replies from members for her posts. She can’t find how to just get them on.
Maggie S trouble is, why so many places to have to turn stuff on/off and sometimes they are not so easily labeled to understand either
Edward Hibbert There's no option that gets no complaints. Either you have a single control that is email on/off and you get complaints from people who want to be able to turn some on and some off, or you have controls for different kinds of email and you get complaints from people who don't find the option they want. When you have as many members as we do, a certain proportion are going to complain about stuff; it's just how it is.
Jacqui I thought you may be interested in some feedback.
Edward Hibbert It's always worth getting the feedback, But like many people he is focused on getting the emails he wants and not getting the emails he doesn't, while ignoring the fact that other people want those emails. You could ask him if he wants to do a design mockup of some email settings that he thinks would be clearer, as long as that isn't just removing all the emails he personally doesn't want.
Jacqui Response from Ian,It wasn't just chit chat, what I couldn't find was any way of turning off the bulk of the emails whilst leaving necessary transactional emails turned on. Effectively, I'd turned everything off then went looking for the option to turn tractional emails to on, and there appeared to be no such option. I can understand his point of view TBH. People want to get rid of stuff or find stuff. That’s the point of Freegle. All of the other stuff is incidental.
Wanda it can be complicated for people. First as you scroll in settings you have the settings for the group(s) you belong to and there are 3 types for each group. Then next are 2 lots of incidental mail settings. Then there are 2 lots of chat settings Then below those there's the general Chitchat notifications. It could be above chat with the other incidental stuff [I missed that and only saw it recently] I think below that is FB, app and push notification stuff. You don't always see all of those, depends how you've logged in. it is a lot to be sure.. problem is if you just lumped the incidental stuff into one setting someone may be an avid chitchatterer so want those notifications. .someone may want to read stories only and others may want to know if someone is asking for something they are offering on another local group, or offering something they need. I don't think there is an easy answer to suit all except if we'd just stuck to Freegling and group setting things and nothing else.
Saira Basically what he needed to do was just go back and switch on "Wanted and Offered" posts - it's the top of the list so not sure how he missed it.
How about a story from someone who's appreciate? "I will definitely be telling people about this site we have hardly anything after my divorce I left him with everything as he was mentally and physically abusive. So we are starting from scratch . Without you and this site we would have nothing so am very overwhelmed with people willing to help. Hopefully when we are sorted I can give back to this site thank u again x" ".....and a card thanking me again for all my help and a promise to spread the word...... they like what we do and there are many more like them Wanda Yes I agree there are many who send their thanks and say how happy they are with the concept etc.. which is lovely... but, we still have to listen to those that aren't just in case there is something we can do to make it a better experience for them without making it a worse experience for those that are happy ;)
Jacqui Maybe it goes to show why so many people prefer to use TrashNothing. Offer/want - simple. Also, it’s all very well saying, “I’m not sure how he missed it”. He clearly did and took the time to tell of his experience. I’d like to think that feedback is taken on board and not just given a “shrug”.
Saira My point is only that we tend to listen to the few complaints (which we should do and help members if they need help) but not forget that generally most people are happy and I think we forget about the good stuff sometimes.
Claire Lovely when you get the thanks and great to hear the difference our work makes to some peoples lives. No service fits all, there’s always some who will prefer other services. We’re all here to help and to pass on concerns from members. Sometimes we can explain or change things to make their use better, sometimes it makes sense to leave as is.
Edward Hibbert Prompted by Jacqui's comment, I thought it would be interesting to look at the proportion of users posting messages who come from TN over time. If people liked TN noticeably more than FD, you'd expect that to rise. If people liked FD more than TN you'd expect it to fall.There is evidence of a very slight upward trend in TN, but most of our actively posting users don't come from there. If you look at the messages, then there are more messages from TN (though still a minority). I think this is because TN encourages crossposting of messages to multiple groups. So we might be overestimating the number of TN users because we see a lot of crossposts without realising that. I'll continue to think about whether it's possible to improve the email settings, but I do think it's a problem where some proportion of people will always not be happy with what we do, and if we change it to make them more happy we'll make other people less happy. It doesn't mean we're not listening to what they say, it means we're listening to what everyone says. Personally I would prefer a much more simple approach, for example by removing per-group settings - but I don't think that volunteers would want that.
Jeni Most of our new members seem to come via TN these days - I put this down to the header on the daily digest that says tell all your friends and family about us plus a line on the bottom of posts that says something like it's easier/better to use Trash Nothing.
This can be removed - and the only reason I actually joined TN and appointed myself owner of Hertford on there, just so I could remove it from our posts. But I still see it on on posts coming through where members are also on other Freegle groups. I think that people use TN because there is not so much on there and it seems more straight forward - but then they want to post an Event or Volunteer opportunity and then they join FD as well. There are more posts each month from TN users than FD now on our group - that's one reason I always ask for the Stats to be updated if they stop working!
Edward Hibbert Jeni - your group is noticeably above the average across all groups. And as I say, there are a disproportionate number of messages from TN because it crossposts more, but you won't necessarily notice that. Across all groups it looks that about 70% of active members come from FD and 30% from TN, and that's pretty constant over time. There's not really any evidence to show that there is a change in behaviour in either direction (though that gives me something to aim for).
Jeni I guess we don't see the whole picture - I didn't know we were noticeably above the average - in hoping this is a good thing,I shall award myself a choccy biscuit with my coffee this morning and tell my fellow moderators to do the same!
DavidEdward anecdotal historical view from Reading...I have promoted FD since you first released it and when I was helping groups move to FD last year I did notice a lot more TN members on Groups that had not moved to FD and still noticed proportionally more TN members on these groups So for example on Reading over 75% is on FD compared to if I look at all my groups on dashboard it shows 55% on TN
Noting I have a fair no of caretaker groups or new groups that only added FD at last chance So I see a relationship between when groups joined FD and no of TN Users........My main concern with us using TN is we lose advertising revenue..Also I recommend folks switch off TN Footers from TN Mod pages
Dee I love my TN members. They are in the majority in all groups but one, reaching 89% in Lambeth.They don’t ask for support, and they don’t complain about other people
. Wanda When we added FD the majority of new members were still fromTN . I too am with Dee. .Less hassle from them because they have an easier interface to navigate around so need less help .. :) Just looked at the stats for my newest group that's only been going a couple of years and was opened with FD from the get go. only 26% of messages are from the platform the rest are from the TN site or app..
Elaine Carlisle has over 78% of members using the platform, and 87% on Penrith. Carlisle was set up 31/10/17, and has 529 members, and I'm not sure why our experience is so different from yours, Wanda. Perhaps we could compare our tactics, and see if we can learn from one another! I'm anxious to double our membership in a year, from 450 on 31/12/18 to 900, so if anyone has any tips, please let me know! Edward Hibbert I just went back to TN and I notice it's changed its interface (there's a new /beta site you get sent to). Not sure whether that's old news
. Ed Checked with Andy, it's only been there a week or so. Still a work in progress, he says.
Wanda No Tactics Elaine. . Council had our old Yahoo link on their site years ago then revamped and removed it and won't even reply to any emails now.. I also get a spurt and tweet the ilovefregle link to all and sundry every so often especially slebs, proper ones too not reality people... altho haven't done that for a while and also tweet it to the council twitter too and local news and radio stations. . I also watch posts from people on FB and if appropriate pop a freegle link in their thread so they and all the people on their lists see it.. lol Bottom line people seem to find us more easily via TN than they do on the Freegle site. I think someone said that TN comes up higher than us on google search for recycling. .that was a long while back tho. Just had a look at the beta site fro TN.. Weird seeing posts for a group. .The green one's I'd expect to be offers but they are the wanteds. .the amber/yellowy ones are Offers. .Seems wrong that way around somehow.. ;)
Elaine You said you had a site that was 2 yrs old, Wanda. What sort of membership and growth are you seeing? Is anyone else growing a site from "cold"? I'd like to know how you are catching new members too!
@Elaine.. .Just checked and it was opened in Feb 2017 so 2 yrs 1 month old with 1326 members lol I haven't done anything about promoting it, it filled a gap between Luton and Bedford to the north and, some groups to the east and west of the gap, it's pretty much rural with small villages and a couple of small towns.. Usually local groups can help by ending an Admin out when another group opens in a gap in their wider area.. Didn't get any of that when we opened altho I did send one to my Luton members. Depends how other GO's feel about that sort of thing as to whether that happens... ;) I just scrolled down the newest 50 or so members and all but about 6 were from TN... so it's TN that are doing it for us not anything I am doing ;)
Jo I'm on a few new groups as a caretaker so not able to do much about local publicity, some seem to just take off and others not so much. I have 2 new Essex groups which are strongly supported by the council, one, with a smaller town, seems to be picking up and ticking away nicely, the bigger town seems to have found it harder with a lot posting to an older group (which I also run so point them to the new group, and no differences in how groups are run). I think success builds success, so once a group gets going it should build. I think isolated areas where everyone knows everyone else seem to pick up less. I think it's important posts don't wait too long though I see people still using groups that are auto approving so there's no firm rules. I think there tends to be more TN users on groups later to FD. I'm not a great fan of it, it frustrates me that the only dodgy locations now are TN members. I've set my groups not to x post everywhere which also annoyed me. But if people prefer it and it brings them to our groups then it's a good thing. Not sure if people don't complain because it's harder to reach us though!
Wanda it's not harder to reach us from TN there is an option to write to the group Owners same as there is on FD. Not promoting TN here but I will refer people there if they really struggle with our site and many do. Rather they stay with us even if not directly on our Platform but via a portal.
Elaine It is odd, isn't it! I go about talking about Freegle to everyone I meet, or even talk to on the phone, at any minor opportunity, and I know I get members for other groups, but that's besides the point! I ought to be in competition with the old, disaffiliated Carlisle group, which has almost 4k members, but the last member's post was last August so it seems we are getting the new, actively Freegling, people, along with a few that I recognise from the old group. I have been trying to get the local press interested in us too, and even tried to tack our story onto Cat's win, but so far, no interest has been shown! Still, we might get there, eventually! I use business cards, to save people having to write the address, or make them google the name, and it also acts as a reminder when they see it a day or so later, clearing out their handbag or pockets! Giving out my number on hand-outs has also helped a few, more nervous, people, and on one occasion I spent more than 20 minutes explaining how to post to an elderly gent. Before ringing off I asked him where he was living, and it turned out he was in Birmingham! His nephew had given him our handout, and he thought I was the national Freegle helpline! You're Welcome, Birmingham!!
Wanda Not urgent Ed but when in chat and I click on the profile avi I don't get the pop up info box. Am on Dev and in MT's chat. Not checked it on FD as never use chat on there.
Edward Hibbert That's a bit deliberate, to stop members who are chatting to mods being able to see their personal profile details. Someone (Saira?) didn't want that to happen. I could make it more complicated so it worked on MT, perhaps.
ok. .whatever is easiest.. it's just today I had two where I wanted to check something in support tools first and had spotted the chat so while I was in here was trying to get the member info but had to check the email notification instead and come back. .No problem ;)
Freegleconvert Can members delete chat messages ? I seem to remember the answer was no ?
Wanda yes they can, click the down chevron and select delete. It will reappear if the same person responds to them at a later date tho.it just gets hidden
Maggie S why do freegle messages and replies from chats always go in the junk folder, even replies from same person, even though its marked as not spam, its so annoying to keep missing the chat messages :
( Edward Hibbert Yes, it is annoying when that happens. I'm doing stuff to improve it, but our messages include short badly written text about free stuff, so they look a lot like spam to some mail services. Which email service are you using?
Elaine I have received a spam message into chat. Is there a way to delete it completely, so it will not be on any mods screen, and also not on the members history?
Maggie S I use yahoo, but I have lots members saying the same, that they missed messages from other members
@Ed Edward Hibbert @Maggie - they're the ones who complain, of course, so you don't see the ones who get their mails just fine. Spam is one reason why people miss messages, and I'm doing some work on that; roughly 95%+ of mails go to the inbox. But it's impossible to remove completely, so there will always be some complaints. People often also miss messages because they miss them, or don't check, or forget, or use it as a white lie.
Elaine, not really, you can remove a whole chat or report someone as a spammer but not remove an individual message. If you're especially concerned about it, I can do it. Your members can avoid missing any messages by a) installing the app so they get notifications or b) configuring a mobile number in Settings so that we send them an SMS.
Peter Hi I was wondering if there is any possibility of providing a block button to members using chat. Peter # Westminster Freegle @Peter There is a Block person already. Click the down chevron and there is a block member option on the menu.
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