Contributed by Colin, a new video from RealCycle explains to potential members what freecycling is all about. A very nice contribution.
Many mods worry their heads over a little thing called “belonging to freecycle”, as if somehow they will either get more members that way, or at even lose members. Nothing could be further from the truth, as this from Stockport Freecycle as they moved through the 11,000 member barrier demonstrates:
“Woo hoo! When we moved to Freegle we had 10,827 and we were at first losing
them quicker than they joined and went down a bit. Steady growth since then,
approx 300 new members in the just over a month since we moved which I’m
more than happy with! Long may it continue!”
Instead what happens is that, as group owners and moderators you begin to take full responsibility for you and the community you serve.
You know it seems a bit rich to me when Beal accuses Freegle of being undemocratic. He is cited in The Guardian of saying, “If anyone had shown themselves to be undemocratic it was those who founded Freegle.”
However if you look at the facts, TFN shown almost no democracy in each of its 6 long tortuous years. What is worse is that any shred democracy disappears further with each minute that rolls by.
Am I talking rubbish? Let us look at the TFN credentials on democracy:
- Firstly Beal holds all the strings of power as he and his wife are the only real directors and shareholders.
- By shunning Neil Morris, looking back the only other director of Freecycle UK Ltd he has effectively killed any fragment of influence from the UK over their own affairs.
- The creation of MyFreecyle technology has always been about the use of public and grant money to centralise control away from the grass-roots movement. Even the term “group owner” no longer exists in the TFN vocabulary.
- Attempts in 2004 by moderators to add democracy in terms of polls are quashed as Beal bans Yahoo polls from all moderator groups.
- Attempts by any moderator to ask any question of the organisation, no matter how innocuous, leads Beal to put them on moderation. From that moment he, directly or indirectly approves or blocks all their posts before anyone else reads them. Any unwanted posts that “get through” are deleted. So the OIDG (Organisational Issues Discussion Group – a real misnoma if ever there was one) is cleansed of posts that do not discuss meaningless blabber.
- Secret rules have been at the heart of the organisation with Da-Hub being a law unto itself with no published rule book.
- TFN maintains a secret database on its moderators, logging any notes of dissaffection. It then uses this same database to control and even oust moderators, using insinuation as its primary weapon.
And this is a charity!
It used to be that there was a seemingly unstoppable press juggernaut in favour of Deron Beal’s freecycle network. Somehow the thousands of moderators would generate enough press to keep a big smile on Deron’s face. However now the their is a measurable change. Whether you count it in tweets, blog posts or serious journalism right now that juggernaut has found itself wanting with serious signs of it running out of steam. The alternative networks have, perhaps sparked by the Freegle breakout, found their voice. Thus collectively the are a clear match for the headlines. Will this trend continue?
So often I am amazed to find yet another set of groups disillusioned with TFN so much that they break free. They are so tired of the oppressive regime that Deron Beal has created they just want to do what they do well, and get on with it – with no politics, no interference. Doing their own thing – which is remarkably similar to what we all do. Just SAYING NO TO TFN.
So last year a number of Scottish groups broke away and formed themselves under the “recycle” brand. These groups include
Central Scotland ReCycle Cafe – http://groups.yahoo.com/group/CentralScotlandReCycleCafe
Cumbernauld Recycle – http://groups.yahoo.com/group/cumbernauld-recycle
Falkirk recycle – http://groups.yahoo.com/group/FalkirkReCycle
Grangemouth Recycle – http://groups.yahoo.com/group/GrangemouthReCycle
Stirling Recycle – http://groups.yahoo.com/group/StirlingReCycle
Do you run a freecycling group? Then why not visit Rusers website and add your group. It is all free, just enter your group details.
I am sure that some people read this blog and want it to become a much more impartial player in the freecycling world. It is sometimes asserted (in comments on this blog) that the numbers I produce are incorrect and possibly inflated, and possibly on one side of the debate.
Well, I make no apologies that I am interested in promoting “free” freecycling, and that is at complete odds with everything TFN stands for and has done ever since Deron started down his trademarking route.
As for the numbers, providing good statistics is a big effort. Let me take one example. If you search on Yahoo Groups for groups that have been taken away from Yahoo and migrated onto MyFreecycle a good search term might include the words “freeyccle” and “moved”, and right now that returns 369 groups. So you might decide that 369 groups have moved.
In truth however only a proportion of those groups have been moved. There are some groups that are hardly anything to do with freecycling on that list. There are also freecycling groups that simply have those words in their text. And finally there are also stub groups created by TFN, by Freegle and other networks in a kind of group name gold rush.
Now if you were able to analyse all all these pluses and minuses you would come up with a truer answer, that is correct. However I doubt if you went to Deron and asked for his number that you would ever get the same answer. Statistics just don’t work out so tidily.
And so to my numbers? I worry not so much about absolute numbers, providing I can back up each number, publicly with the method by which it was achieved such that others can replicate it. Not only that each can criticize it for its strengths and weaknesses, they can also offer alternative and better strategies for unearthing the “truth”. then that is fine by me.
And that is what this blog is about – stimulating debate about a very important subject.
Richard Wallman, the architect behind MyFreecycle complained on his blog about Neil Morris, one of the ex-Directors of Freecyle UK. He said that he did nothing, not even write a job description. Not very complimentary, I guess.
Whilst on the Telegraph, Neil is reported as saying, “We were not allowed to make our own local decisions and the incredible amount of energy that was around for developing the UK was being blocked.”
Being blocked, hmm. That says to me that Neil was attempting to do things but was being stopped in his tracks. Was it in fact the same Richard Wallman, as a stooge for Deron that was stopping Neil from doing things? I think we should be told.
Freegle continues to grow its groups. From Richard Wallman’s own group in Birmingham to one that I modded until TFN got nasty, Cherwell Valley. So now the largest Freegle group is over 27,000 members and if you ignore the stub groups, there are around 190 real groups.
The Birmingham conversion to Freegle is most interesting. According to Richard this is a hijack by other moderators. Obviously his opinion was not too popular within the group, however definitely worth a read is Richard’s ramblings, including castigation of Neil Morris, the ex-UK director for doing absolutely nothing for the last four years.