Fighting for freerecyling

A change in TFN’s terms and conditions

I have just realised the full implication of what Jami Heldt, Groups Community Manager for Yahoo on his Clarification on Yahoo! Groups Guidelines post when she says, “If moderators want to add the Freecycle Finder email address to their groups, and that address is then used to re-post messages to any other site, the moderators need to get consent from every group member whose content is being re-posted, per our guidelines.”

Not wanting to teach Jami her job, it seems to me that Jami is ignorant of the detailed way a freecycle group operates and is rather restating Yahoo’s general policy.

To really understand this you need to understand how a freecycling (aka free recycling) group operates.  Consider a person called Tammy joins a free recycling group at 12.34pm.  At 12.36pm she posts an offer of her old sofa on the group.  At 12.38pm that post is distributed widely across the Internet automatically via the finder email address and the auspices of  Tammy is totally unaware of the existence of this reposting.  As far as she is concerned she has just posted to the group’s members.

Tammy has never been asked – as Jami demands she should.  And so The Freecycle Network is in flagrant abuse of Yahoo’s terms and conditions.  I would argue that for each and every post that is ever made on a group that has the finder email address that TFN is totally in abuse of of Yahoo’s T&C.

What made me think of this was recently rewatching The Firm, original story by John Grisham and a famous film starring Tom Cruise. The storyline is one where Tom’s character Mitch is in a power-play between the Mafia and the FBI. If he goes one way he gets shot, if he goes the other he goes to jail. His solution which I will not spoil here could be said to have similarities to TFN’s problem with finder and with every owner and moderator who continues to have finder in their members list.

I have blogged before that one way round this is for the group to run a poll of members very hour, day or week. But really I cannot see Tammy ever understanding the question andd potential impact of the poll never mind actually participating. No, the only way is for groups that are forced (as many are) to use finder, or use finder out of choice is for them to formally ask each new and existing member the question, “Do you wish to allow your posts to be splattered across the Internet?” If they answer no – then membership of any freecycle group simply MUST be rejected.

Yes, this must become part of TFN’s terms and conditions.  It must become part of each group’s terms and conditions.  Each and every existing member must be asked.  Every new member must be asked.  Anyone who says no – must be ejected from the group and if they have posted already then ALL their previous posts removed.

Of course that is not what TFN will do.  What they continue to do is to force groups to use finder, or if they do not use finder then delist them – or even worse instruct Yahoo to delete them.


August 21, 2007 - Posted by | finder, freecycle

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