Tech Group Report 2012-02-29

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Freegle Tech Report
January 2012

Present membership 80

This is a report for the activities on the Tech group [1]for February  2012. It covers messages 6999 to 7583.

Freegle Server

It was reported that Edward was starting to setup our backup server at a (different) data centre in Amsterdam. This server is taking over some of the processor intensive
background tasks, and will also be available to serve as a replacement main server if the live
site goes down. The databases will be constantly replicated from the live server to the backup server. Actual switching will be a manual task, and will need a geek to do it.

Edward worked on this and has now finished the initial phase. There is still regular work to do to monitor and improve the performance of the main server.

We were asked to keep an eye out for blips caused by this work.

  ILoveFeegle website.

 Random  Tips & Doodles

Chris (Penrith) suggested that we have random tips/tweets on it and also eventually doodles. He carried on working on it, and has now done a mock up here
One doodle and several tips can be scheduled to appear for a day. There's a flexible range of criteria to determine when a tips or doodle should appear.
We now need someone to maintain the list of tips - we will ask on Central when the new home page is complete.
These tips could also be used in other places automatically, e.g. as part of FD messages or as automatic tweets.

  Home Page

Our home page was getting a bit cluttered. Chris has created a separate awards page with only the latest award on the home page.

Mail addresses

Chris asked if we should have a separate mail address for “Doodles” but as we are limited in how many we are allowed, it was decided to stick with using the Graphics one.

  Website needs  updating

Chris brought up the need to go through some of the pages on the website and update them, especially as we now have the Direct and Facebook elements.

This will be added to the take list.

  Contact details for groups.

  Chris added an envelope icon at the side of each group on the Find a group page after it was pointed out members had no opportunity to contact groups directly. They can now do so which we hope will mean less work for the mailbox team..


They have asked about having a page on our main website for their region, to assist with talking to councils etc. They are willing to do most of the work themselves if they were given access.
The Geeks feel this is possible and that we should allow it. This will be done in a way that means we should be able to offer this for other regions too. Esther (Coventry) feels Coventry and Warwickshire could benefit from such a page.


Each group can now have one or more tags. These can be used to group groups together, e.g. those in Northamptonshire.


Each group can now also have two associated links, i.e. a cafe URL and a support site URL. These are currently not used anywhere.



Cat (Brighton ) Set up tweet deck so she can automate inspiring tweets to
just happen from the thisisfreegle account. She asked for some tips to include!
This is now up and running .

Unlinked Accounts.

Cat also mentioned some groups whose Twitter accounts were not showing their posts.
Some of these have since been sorted. Please if you have one of these, and would like help linking it contact:

Facebook & Direct.


Edward was reminded about having a category for Transport.
It's on his list to do, but he needs to figure out how to change them without losing all the training information.

Like Box

Edward raised the issue of getting members to click on the FB like box, now they can access the app without doing so. He has added it discreetly on the digests, and asked about having it on the Message maker. Chris said it was possible. We had a ballot and the majority of votes were in favour, however a couple of dissenters felt it was unfairly representative so the issue was raised on Central. It has now been implemented with an opt out for groups. Contact the geeks if you wish this FB like button removed from the MM for your group.

 Increasing posts.

Edward raised the following ideas for increased post. looked W


Edward raised the possibility of have trending stuff choosing the current most requested/offered items. It was received with some reservations and remains unresolved.

Freegler of the month

It was asked if we would like a top freegler of the month on digests. It was decided that most prefer not to have it.

Direct Digests

Edward had received a couple of requests to include all the posts in the digests instead of the just the headers and links. It was discussed and a majority were in favour of expanding it. Default is set for on, the new digests have now gone out, and members seem happy with them.

Landing tabs.

A question was raised about it being difficult to redirect members from a Yahoo group to a group whose landing tab was Direct as short links now took them to Direct.
It was discussed at length but felt it was the best option, as it reflected the group owners preference and it would be wrong to not let them be the ones to choose.
A question was asked about taking out Facebook as an option as no one is now using it. However it was decided to leave it as some may wish to have it in the future


Group Numbers

It was brought up that group members joining via Direct could not see member numbers. It was pointed out that you could see them on Find a group if you hovered on the Group name.
It was felt it should also be on the Direct page somewhere. This has been added in the sidebar for groups on Direct, using the number from the Yahoo Group (which includes Direct members).

 Facebook Groups unaware of  recent changes.

Keeping Groups using the app up to date on changes.
Because the stuff is constantly revolving many groups are unaware of all the additions and changes.
Chris and Edward are working on something to select and mail groups about changes relevant to them.

Giving Direct a more local feel.

Chris raised the question of how we could achieve this, and Edward first arranged a setting where groups could have their own coding. Next he also realised that once joined they would not see the page again and has arranged another setting for groups to code for the left side column on the posts page. Next Edward came up with some code which pulls the photo and mod links from the Yahoo group and has default text in.

Question about no photo or logo on posts which were on Direct. This is now enabled to pick up photo from the Yahoo group.

Problems Fixed

a .Posts not going on wall or feed this stopped for 24hours, until it was brought to Edward’s
attention. He found the problem, and fixed it, and will put in a warning system for the future.
b. Server went down again because the disk became full. Edward moved stuff to make more room.
c. A moderator could no longer get in her group settings. Edward fixed the problem for her.
d. Several groups wanted advice on changing to direct and were helped.
e. Some groups had problems changing to Freegle Graffiti and were helped..
6d Move of data to the backup server.
. Errors as a result of moving stuff over to new server and having to unravel some strings.
. 403 Error on Direct url. It was reported and fixed.
502 Error on links in posts. Reported and fixed.
404 errors on links from Find a group. Reported and fixed.
Mass identical posts. Reported and fixed
Emblems on Find a group page missing as a result of caching. Sorted itself out.
Mapping of post went into overdrive. Reported and fixed
6e Comments on Facebook walls.
The solution was very complex before, but now Edward has done some coding which picks up any posts and informs the poster how to contact the group owner. Groups where there’s an active mod on Facebook can disable this if they choose.

Reasons for increase in membership on some groups over the last month.

New Members doubled on some groups, over the last four weeks. Was it linked to changing the landing tab to direct? Was it just a sudden increase or had there been some publicity? It was discussed and no common cause could be found. It was decided it was probably some of each.

Request for a Freegle Doodle for Valentines day.

We did this and it appeared briefly on the site. More generally we would like to have more of these, like Google does. Talk to Chris if you’re a design whiz.

 Questions raised and answers.

Several questions were raised related to Members; experiences. Some were answered, some answered offlist when screenshots etc. sent, and some remain unresolved as insufficient information given.
Q. How to change a groups landing tab to direct was asked?
Q Asked about adding Facebook to a group already on DIrect.
A. Answered and it was done and Wiki will be updated shortly .

Q Reports of reply boxes being absent.-
A. They were fine on checking.
Q. If a member leaves the Yahoo group are Direct digests turned off automatically?
A. Not unless you use the latest moderator plug in and have synced it to update
Q. If you use “Requested “ instead of offer in the Yahoo group message maker it will change to offer in Direct.
A. You can change the settings on Direct to accept Requested.
Q. About difficulties a couple of mods with multiple ID’s and groups have with knowing which ID they are posting from.
A. After some discussion and finding there are ways to distinguish, it was decided to leave it as it is.
Q, Is there an automatic way to remove photos stored on the Yahoo group?.
A. No, it would have to be done by the mod plug in and that will be a long time off.
Q. What is the difference between two chase up’s.
A. One is for asking members to post a Taken/Received and the other which is preset to remind idle members to make a post can be used for anything else. Eg A link to posters, asking if they would ask a friend to join, Spring clean campaign?.
Q. Do I still need to put the quick join box on?
A. Yes for now, but Edward intends to upgrade it soon.
Q. Can I remove RSS app now.
A. Yes if you are not using it anywhere.
Q. Use of disposable or anonymous addresses for members.
A. Advice was given and it was pointed out that a gmail account with Direct would be the easiest option.
Q. can a member join Direct and forward to a mac account.
A. Yes if the group has the trial digest function working, so they can respond through the links in the posts.
Q. Mapping is showing the wrong locations for members posts..
A. App uses a mixture of what is on their subject line and what is put in the my settings tab.for locations. Accuracy depends on the groups posting requirements, and is only supposed to give a rough idea, so members can spot if an item is too far away to request.i
Q. If three offers for the same thing are put on will a single taken remove them all.
A. No! You would need to do three.

Jean agreed to do a regular monthly update, instead of us depending on Jackie doing them when she gets frustrated at them not being done:-).

If anyone is interested in this stuff you are welcome to join us, even if you are technically challenged.

Back to Tech Group Report 2012-01-31

Forward to Tech Group Report 2012-03-31