Tech Group Report 2013-01-31

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Freegle Tech Report January 2013
Messages 10994-11390
Members 94

If anyone is interested in this stuff you are welcome to join us, even if you only want to dip in and out. Mods who are willing to try out new stuff and make comments are always welcome, as are those who look at stuff purely from an end user angle.

Main Website and Servers

Increased Traffic

We had a huge increase in traffic as a result of publicity - up to 5000 simultaneous connections. We just managed to cope with a lot of overtime, including loss of sleep, by Edward and the purchase of extra nodes. =====

Changes to servers.

Since then Edward has now split the main server making that which serves the main
website separate from that which handles Freegle Direct:
All functionality was set up again.
This changes were made just before problems at for a couple of hours caused one of our servers to go down. The main website was able to keep going and put up an apology for FD users.
Conversely if the main website server goes down, then the FD server can take over its role. These failure cases require a little manual intervention still.
If and when there is time and money, we would like to have multiple servers handling the main server, and multiple FD servers and the master database could moved into yet another server or two thereby reducing downtime to a minimum.

Freegle App

Given the rapid increase in the use of mobile devices, it is highly desirable to have a Freegle app for iPhone, Android etc. although it was pointed out that not all members would bother downloading it. One Moderator suggested it may be better to develop our website and Freegle Direct with response website technologies such as the ‘Twitter Bootstrap framework’ - which enables a website or web app to display appropriately in a phone, tablet, laptop or PC.
Chris and Edward have already done some work on displaying our stuff okay on the most popular phones. If you see a problem with your newish phone then let us know. Someone who could sort this out would be much appreciated by our overworked team.
There are some reasons why a native app is preferable though - for example you may be in the basement or garage with no signal. We would prefer to have an app which used a cross platform toolkit such as PhoneGap. Any experience with this? Then by all means come and join us.

We also discussed whether we should use a framework such as Bootstrap for our sites. Mark will report back on his experiences with Bootstrap, though it is not clear that FD would be a good candidate for it.

Ilove Website

Generic Posters

It was pointed out that members sent to the wiki to print out posters could be put off by all the warnings.
Chris has now set up a page on the main website to carry some generic materials which allow the moderator/member to download and make changes easily.
Other stuff will be added later.


Chris has done some work on the group finder to match group names and localities and also to list named views. The 5 nearest groups are still listed, with the map centred around the found point. If you get reports of a place within your area not bringing up your group, contact Jean at and she will add it to your group list.

Freegle Direct.

The preview page says, “To see more and reply, join the group. If you prefer you can use this group from Facebook or Yahoo, with links to each. Some members who are given the link to this page to join up are being confused.
Some Mods would prefer if it wasn’t there as they want their members to join Direct. It could be reworded, less prominent or removed. Have an opinion? Then come on over and give it.

Duplicate Posts

When the app or Facebook is a bit slow, some members are resending the same post.
Edward has added something which stops duplicates appearing on FD if they are precisely identical.


Some info on a couple of posts has now been tagged to the subject line, to encourage members to open them. Eg. Subject: [Oswestry_Freegle] What's New (6 messages) - 2x Zing Zillas soft toys, working TV for xbox...


We were asked if it would be possible to put a Parking and or Disabled Access option on?
Edward has agreed to add these fields,, but they will be optional..

Incorrect Email Addresses.

We get a lot of members trying to join and putting in incorrect email addresses.
Mainly typos or .com instead of .
We have accumulated a big table with a lot of addresses in it and should be able to spot popular and therefore genuine domains. if someone could write some PHP code which:
1) Takes a list of emails and produces a list of domains, and
2) Takes that list of domains and checks and email against them to spot
typos, transpositions etc?
Chris may be able to share the app he has done to correct message maker errors. This is on his to do list.

Reminder mails.

The ability to edit them was requested and implemented, but was found to be a problem by some groups, so it was decided to revert to not allowing member editing.

My Posts page

A mod felt it would be useful if there was some form of highlight or asterisk when a reply is received. Edward has now made it show in bold when there is a new reply.

Named Views

It is now possible for single category groups to be set up for groups on Facebook & Direct. You just need to fill in the request at the bottom of your group settings. These then go to GAT for approval who will send you the links.
Grow your Own is the first one to be formed, and uses the Gardening category. If anyone wants to trial it please do and let us know if you have any difficulties.
There's a form at the bottom of the FD group settings which allows you to request a named view.
Different ones can be done if there is a requirement for them..
The sub-groups are listed in the region lists below the groups main group and so far consist of Penrith, Eden, Edinburgh, Oswestry and Ely.


Facebook blocked the Freegle Graffiti app, which meant that no group posts were republished to the groups’ Facebook page. We were able to find a contact in Facebook who resolved this for us around 7pm on 1st February.

It also meant that if you have a Facebook feed on your Yahoo page no posts would be showing. We have our own app for this at which you can replace it with. Please read first. If you want help mail sueandjean @

NB. Facebook have now reinstated the Graffiti app 1st February. 


A page has been created showing the members app page. This could be improved if someone wants to redo it otherwise it will have to wait a while? .
It is intended to do one for the settings page as well. The idea is that you can send the page link to members who are struggling to know where to find things. Also for Moderators who don’t themselves use it but need to understand it to help their members.
If you think anything else would be useful just ask me for it to be added.

Yahoo groups

Email Members

They stopped accepting new email members for a couple of days whilst we were in the middle of increased usage. Groups not on Direct would have lost many new members as a result.

Home page code

Groups with the official tag can no longer just go in and make simple changes, without losing any iframe apps they have put on. Please before you make any changes read the wiki first. group|Official_group#Yahoo_has_changed_the_way_in_which_it_displays_coding_on_the_groups_descriptions.

Problems outstanding.

Access to Freegle Direct using IE9 sometimes gets the message "Sorry, you can't join this group right now. Please try later." It seems to be intermittent and may be tied to Facebook. If anyone else encounters this problem please could you contact support @ with screen shots?

Problems resolved

As a result of Yahoo groups not accepting new email members for a while, Edward quickly wrote some code and sent out lists of FB memberships to each group for invitations, so that they could keep operating. He also mailed each member who was unable to join, and joined them up as soon as the memberships became available.
The bottom bit of the MM on Facebook stopped being visible one morning . A fix was supplied which mostly solves the issue. However Facebook is a bit flaky with the way it shows iframes, and sometimes it does still miss a bit of the bottom off.
Chase up emails stopped going out for a few days, but was fixed as soon as it was reported.
Members would get multiple alerts for the same post if the keyword was used in the subject line several times. A fix has now been applied.
Scammers/Spammers. We got our first national scammers on Direct. Edward has now done a fix so that any which make it to the spammer list will now.
1) Remove memberships for any emails on the spammer list who have joined via Freegle Direct.
2) Delete any messages from people on the spammer list from Freegle Direct.
In future he will enhance the modplugin to delete messages from people on the spammer list from Yahoo.
The idea is that once someone is approved onto the spammer list, their stuff gets hidden.
If you want to ban someone locally or not yet on the spammers list, just block them in settings/advanced options of your FD settings.

Q. Are FD spammers coming off the Yahoo group list even if they don't use the plug in?
A. Yes unless you opt out in the group settings, when you will be informed instead. This may mean messages go out in the meantime though.
Q. Will messages come off the Yahoo group?
A. Not yet but I will be adding something to the plug in which will allow this for groups which use it.


Q.My Twitter account is not publishing my posts.
A. Have you connected it? See
Q. Can the wording which comes up when you hover over the direct message maker be made configurable?
A. Yes I will put it on my list.
Q. A member has put the wrong date on a community event. Can he change it?
A. No but moderator of a group on Facebook can.
Q.Do members who have paused their emails still get special notices.
A. Yes.
Q. I just left a group’s FD page and got a Yahoo unsubscribe email. As I was owner on the group I did not want to leave. When does this happen?
A.That'll be because you were a member of the group via Yahoo before you were via FD. In that case it links up the two memberships. They should just ignore the Yahoo unsubscribe.
Q.Can we can provide confirmation emails when a post is accepted?
A. No. They will see the post appear or have a red message on their page saying it is waiting for approval.
Q. Can we add a Group Admin feature to Community Announcements
A. Not a good idea as it may stop members reading the Events. It would be nice to have a monthly newsletter groups could adapt and add to. Could anyone undertake this task? The Freespout team are all fully stretched but maybe you could volunteer there initially.

Freegle Tech

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