Fighting for freerecyling

Within, without, keep moving

One question that has arisen from the beginnings of individuals and groups leaving the fold of those who follow Mr D. Beal, is whether they should continue to work from within or without the TFN organisation. Perhaps the full weight of this is exemplified by the two most prolific groups that provide unmoderated discourse on freecycling. They are IntlFCMS and FCnext.

Both groups are aimed at moderators of free recycling groups who wish to exert their freedom of expression. Typically much of that vent is around subjects close to the heart of this blog, viz the issues that pertain to the TFN oligarchy.

To be a member of IntlFCMS, however you must be a moderator of a TFN compliant group. There is a refinement to that membership qualification. This is that a group may have been deemed by TFN as fully compliant with TFN and yet TFN may since then have “disagreed” with the owner and moderator team in some way and thus delisted, astroturfed and the rest.

On the other hand, FCnext has no such complications.

The main external perception of difference of debate between the two is whether TFN as an organisation can be reformed, or whether it is better to ignore it and “move on”. On the ground however the debate still works on very similar themes.

From my perspective is that there is no right answer here. Working from within as a kind of 5th column may seem attractive. You can perhaps illuminate new people who have risen up through the ranks to replace you and are now attempting to ask exactly the same questions that you asked. You can also glean inside information that explains where the corporate road-show is heading today, almost at first hand. You may also perhaps have the hope that by staying “inside”, somehow you will have influence to affect TFN for the better.

Very few FCnexters hold out such hopes. They tend to damn everything that Mr. D. Beal’s powerbase does, citing the vociferous actions that TFN hierarchy made from the early days back in 2005 and indeed continue to make unabated, as ample evidence for corruption that is unlikely to change.

The continued assertions that come from TFN that it is not going to change, especially when mixed with evidence are very interesting. There is no evidence to support TFN devolving its control away from one single person. There is no evidence of TFN allowing any form of internal critique process.

On the other hand the evidence is piling up that the kind of acts that some might ascribe in an over the top moment as “man’s inhumanity to man” will not stop.

TFN has lost one battle. That was for its finder email id which harvested personal data from groups all across Yahoo Groups. Finder is dead and long may it stay buried. Later this month the US Ninth Circuit will come to its decision on TFN’s main tool for control – its trademark claim. Another battle which TFN is losing is ErsatzFriend, which it has abused. And so the list goes on.

Where does it end? Interestingly no matter how many groups leave TFN the statistics portrayed by TFN of staggering growth of membership goes on unabated. The staggering free publicity which freecycling groups all over the world give the freecycle brand obviously work their magic.

So it is unlikely that TFN will die. Why should it and arguably no-one wants it? Mr D. Beal is welcome to run his company they way he sees fit. If group’s find that the ways of TFN are “difficult”, then Mr Beal is on record several times, of stating that they are free to leave.

For me, the only end-point is The Freecycling Charter. The Freecycling Charter will be the standard bearer for organisations that enable free recycling groups to operate in a healthy atmosphere. Against its yardstick both TFN and all other free recycling groups will be measured. And those that do not measure up – well they will be named and shamed.


September 5, 2007 - Posted by | finder, freecycle, intlfcms, yahoogroups

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