Fighting for freerecyling

Issue No 2: What is a Freecycling member?

Can I ask you a question, what is a member? When one joins a Union, a company, a school or university or a charity as a worker, one signs a contract. This is a legal document between you and the organisation. This is true if you join a political party. But the key is that the contract is between YOU and the ORGANISATION.

This is not the case with TFN. No-one ever joins TFN. In fact it is an explicitly goal that TFN has no members outside the board. Let me repeat that. No one has been allowed to join TFN, no-one.

The ONLY contract you electronically sign as a Freecycling member is with Yahoo Groups. And if you look at their terms and conditions you will see a distinct absence of the words “freecycle” or “TFN” or anything remotely like them.

It may also be implied that since you join a specific group then you accede to their Terms and Conditions, and I would expect Yahoo to support this position, that is the owner(s) define the shape of a group and it is up to members to agree with that shape.

So if a group’s owner signs a contract with TFN, then it would make sense that by association a member is legally linked to TFN. Has anyone seen such a contract? I think not, in fact I know not. If a contract between TFN and its groups was created then you can guarantee it would be debated until the cows came home.

The only linkage between a group and TFN is what appears on the home page, and the name of the group. Well both of these can change in an instant and therefore one would have to define a moment in time when the home page was such and such. But what does the home page say? It says that Freecycle is trademarked. Well gee whiz.

And even if TFN claimed some legal position, what about owners and moderators? You would expect them as very hard workers (albeit voluntary) to have a contract. This is not the case. Again, had there been it would be subject to great debate and everyone would know of it.

The only contract I know of is when as a moderator you join one of the moderator groups – and then the terms are to keep the discussion private to that group only. This makes sense and one that I applaud and try to uphold.

Anyone who does not agree simply leaves. Even owners and moderators can leave at any instant and be done with the community and organisation.

And then we come to Freecycle UK (Ltd). This is interesting. Because it actually shows an interesting point about what is going on. UK related freecyclers also see the UK company on their group’s home pages. So what? They may as well have mention Microsoft (UK) Ltd. It is just another irrelevant and independent company to which they have no association.

If you want proof positive that Freecycle UK acts independently then just look at their recent UK Climate Change Bill submission. This is signed by the “Directors of Freecycle UK”. Any attempt by members to influence the submission were largely ignored. Yes, the submission was watered down but it still went ahead – and that was against the express wishes of many, many moderators and owners. In this heated debate it was clearly stated by Freecycle UK that they could and would act independently, and that they had the right to so do.

The main purpose of TFN related company(s) is about tax “management”. It is about offsetting expenses. It is a pigeon-hole for any grants donated. It is an accountants dream. It is nothing to do with membership and it will remain that way until a proper contract is debated, agreed and signed.

And I can guarantee that if TFN tried to foist one on members without significant debate then no-one would sign and absolutely everyone would leave instantly, everyone.


June 27, 2007 - Posted by | freecycle

1 Comment »

  1. hmmmm…very interesting!
    Thanks google

    Comment by dact | January 15, 2008 | Reply

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