Cafes and Modsquads Unite
Being an owner or a moderator of a freecycling group can at sometimes be both an onerous and an unforgiving task. You may find perhaps your group is flooded by wanted posts. On other occasions you may need to find new moderators, or even the owner may wish to step down. Perhaps a specific member is giving you a very hard time.
“Normal” freecycling groups on the other hand will often find that members are wanting to post outside the normal boundaries of what is considered freecycling. Perhaps they may wish to find a recommendation good plumber, or discuss wider eco-issues, for example how to recycle certain items, say plastic.
For both of these freecycling support groups are the best answer. And fortunately there is a great model for both. For normal membership the concept of a Cafe can work very well. This is where one moderator takes the initiative and creates a group called a cafe which is named after the wider locality that serves a group of groups. More on what I mean by a locality in a minute.
For group moderators and owners the concept of a ModSquad covering probably the same locality is useful. This is where group owners and moderators can discuss any moderator issues they wish.
There is a great guideline from TFN that is that moderators and owners should be local. Unfortunately the TFN “should” has been turned into a “must”, and that is a bad thing in my mind since it creates friction in times when a particular owner-moderator team is struggling. What any owner-moderator team needs from time to time is support. The best support comes from a pool of experienced moderators, and ideally a group with local connections.
The same is true for the Cafe concept. Only local people understand the issues that pertain to their locality. And certainly no one wants a plumber travelling 1000’s of miles to fit a new tap washer!
What is a locality?
There is no need to get too hung up on the definition of locality. It is what suits you and your groups. It may be that an area is actually split by a large river or sea so you may decide to work as an East and a West groups. Perhaps it reflects local government boundaries.
The main thing is if you have a formula that is beginning to work then continue down that road. Don’t think that you need to reform your groups simply because your local government has redefined boundaries. Reflect your community and work with that.
Once you have a cafe that will help engender a wider community spirit that extends outside the freecycling agenda into a wider eco-agenda and into more community spirit values. The modsquad then becomes a self support group where a pool of temporary or even permanent mods might be found to help any one group out.
The key is to have a self-supporting and self-supportive group of groups, both at member level and echoed at moderator level. There is then a chance of local moderators across these groups might actually meet occasionally, sharing a beer or wine whilst sorting out issues. They might look at how local government or companies may be approached to provide nominal funding to help support any promotion initiatives, who knows?
With a support group of a ModSquad, problems such as finding new moderators and owners, becomes easier since you have a pool of people that you have a longer relationship who are working through similar problems themselves. Helping each other can only be a good thing all round.
Underpinning everything is that only locals can understand and appreciate what works locally. So do not be dictated to from outside. Yes, if you find a useful opinion from elsewhere then take it on board. But any final decision must be internal to the cafe and/or modsquad.
One rider. If you find one or more local groups do not wish to participate in either or both your cafe and modsquad, then there is nothing you can do about it. Just move on without them. If they want to run a separate Cafe or ModSquad there is nothing you can do about it so just get on with doing what you do best and ignore them as best as possible.
For my money this invitation would extend to TFN groups. The proviso with any TFN groups is that a) they will not be allowed to dominate and drive a TFN agenda, and b) they must accept a non-compete and fully supportive arrangement. And given TFN’s track record I would ensure that TFN’s TPTB are not allowed to drive any agenda. Again this is controlled best by a “keep it local” guideline (which is guideline, not a rule).
The “local” modsquad can then gain support from other modquads covering other localities and from International groups such as fcnext and intlfcms. It is also sensible to have national modsquads which all local/regional modsquad members are entitled to join.
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