Fighting for freerecyling

Top Posts 11: Rochester 5, Tucson -1

Every now and again you read something and you feel there is unerring ring about it that speaks not just from the heart but from deep experience. This posting was crafted by Char Hess, when Rochester NV was delisted back in August 5th. What stands out in this one in part is not only the context in which the event happened, but also the audacity in which TFN inculcates Yahoo into its schemes to not dominate the freecycling world.

I use the word “not” advisedly. It is often asserted by TFN that they are waging their trademarking war to protect the word “freecycle” from bad people, or some such. They say they are worried about some other person or organisation dominating the word freecycle. The fear, uncertainty and doubt they initiated and continue to spread is that some organisation, I don’t know, say Microsoft is going to trademark the word freecycle and reserve it for their own use.

So let us look at this, because it is the fundamental plank on which TFN bases all its actions. First up is what the affect of TFN is doing in waging its own war. Well, that is clear in that it is setting the scene for TFN to implode. That effect could be seen from the start as TFN started down the road of disenfranchising groups and individuals the world over, and all in the name of trademarking. The effects of this trademarking war were a predictable outcome that anyone with half a brain could have foreseen. Sadly anyone inside TFN and their advisor team had their eyes blinkered at the time, and have continued to do so ever since.

I mean if you take a group extremely hard working volunteers and, I am trying to think of a polite word here, and dispose of them in no uncertain terms then what do you expect them to do? If you repeat the same process with other volunteers,time and time again; preventing them from asking questions, acting behind their backs as a matter of normal business practice, again what do you expect the consequencs to be?

This is the how and why the ImodUncensored group was created, this was the how and why the ukmodsquad-unmoderated group was formed, that is why the darkersideoffreecycle mushroomed from nowhere, that is the how and why fcmodstories was begun, that was the whys and wherefores of fcnow, that was the seeds of freecycle-group-whiners.

I could go on to list another 20 or 30 Yahoo Groups each one a separate testament to the unethical business practices that TFN seems to enjoy. This is not an indictment of individuals in TFN, so much as the business processes they use time and time again, past, present and sad to say future. I could go on to list yet another 20 or 30 groups on other Internet social systems such as Google Groups or ning, or facebook.

I could go on to list the 100s if not 1000s free recycling groups that state on their home pages “we are not affiliated with TFN”.

You may say, “oh, Andy is biased.” But can the same be said for ALL these groups, ALL these people? Are they all inherently bad eggs? Did Deron consider them as bad eggs when he appointed them to positions of power and control inside TFN?

They all, absolutely all love the concept of free recycling. They all, absolutely all hate the war that TFN wages in the name of trademarking. So much for the internal effects.

Let us now turn to that threat that some other individual or organisation might abuse the word “freecycle” by trademarking it themselves. It is a subject that I have covered before, and will cover again and again.

To understand this fully you really need a law degree in trademarking, which I for one do not have. But there are many excellent resources, including the Volokh Conspiracy pages that can go into much detail that is worth reading and re-rereading. But my simple brain says that if you use a word generically (as Deron Beal did before his lawyers got to him) and you also have an Internet domain name such as and you have possibly 5 million users worldwide in around 80 countries with references blazened across nearly all news feeds, including established names such CNN and the BBC.

What chance has anyone got of trademarking a word that is used regularly as a both a verb and a noun in all its forms, and has been from the beginning?

What chance has any company of stealing that name and using it for their own nefarious purposes. I mean just exactly how much bad press would a company get by taking on one of the largest and skilled online communities that ever existed?

Sadly that bad press was engaged in an internal direction before I had ever heard what now seems a swear word – freecycle. Sadly TPTB does not even consider engaging in open debate on the subject, preferring to make empty pronouncements that “all the answers exist in some non-existent FAQ.”

Well, no such FAQ on TFN’s behalf exists. I repeat there is no FAQ that anyone has ever seen that addresses even the basics of the questions and concerns that any critic has ever raised. I have previously asked for anyone to verify the existence of such a FAQ, no one has ever confirmed it.

Instead the concept of a FAQ is used to defray people who are asking valid questions. To make new people feel safe, “oh we can ignore the critics because TFN have already given answers to their questions so we do not need to bother ourselves with that.”

Well, you do, because if their is one lie you can verify for yourself it is whether a FAQ actually exists that addresses many of the concerns of the criticisms. Go on, just ask.

September 18, 2007 - Posted by | freecycle


  1. There is a FAQ that answers some of the organisational questions on the OIDG Group.

    I will not expand on that here for confidentiality reasons.


    Comment by Martin Pike | September 19, 2007 | Reply

  2. Mike, thanks for that. I hope that others find the faq useful.

    Comment by andyswarbs | September 19, 2007 | Reply

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