In Yahoo groups you can choose to have an 'open' or a 'closed' Membership. With an open membership people can just join your group by choosing their message delivery settings and the email address they want to use and then entering a code. With a closed memberhip they do this and then there is a box where they leave a comment to the group owner (this can in fact be viewed by any one with mod privs on the group). Membership is then Pending at which point it can either be approved, denied or if left it will time out after two weeks and yahoo will delete it.
It seems that Freegle Groups, broadly speaking, take three different approaches:
- Those groups that don't approve members and have an open membership list.
- Those groups that do have pre-approval but just approve automatically on application
- And those that send out a letter that the pending member needs to respond to before being approved
To pre-approve or not to pre-approve
Pros of approving members:
- Pending members can be redirected to a closer group to where they live and/or work.
- Mods can get pending members agreement upfront that they will disclose if they intend to sell items on.
- Mods can find out where people heard about the group and use this as a target for publicity.
- It is possible to see how many potential members haven't realised that they have created a Yahoo email address, but there is little that mods can do about this. (This is also listed in the cons)
- Using this method might stop spammers from joining the group.
Cons of approving members:
- It makes more work for the moderators.
- Members often don't reply to the joining email, so groups are losing a vast amount of potential members.
- The more complex the joining process is, the more potential members will be put off joining.
- People might not like being asked questions.
- It is possible to see how many potential members haven't realised that they have created a Yahoo email address, but there is little that mods can do about this. (This is also listed in the pros)
- Spammers might join anyway, so mods could be just wasting their precious time.
Pros of not approving members:
- This saves moderators time.
- Gives moderators more time to spend promoting the group.
- More potential members will join because the joining process is much easier.
- Members don't have to reply to a joining email, which means they won't be lost somewhere in the joining process.
Cons of not approving members:
- It is difficult to find out where potential members have heard about the group, which makes it harder to advertise in the right places.
- Spammers can join undeterred and harvest email addresses.
- It is difficult to redirect people to their nearest group if we don't know their postcode.