Fighting for freerecyling

TFN has no complaints process

I remember around 20 years ago, or more, coming out of a meeting and “discussing” with a colleague whether the number that was agreed on was 5 or 7. This was no more than five minutes later than the debate took place. We could not agree and needed to ask another attendee to confirm the exact number. Fortunately for my ego I was right in that instance. I am sure that if my ego let it I could find many more instances when I was in the wrong, but that is not the point.

What is interesting about this is how two people can get into a debate over a relatively simple fact: by way of contrast one has to ask is history rewritten by TFN or one of its “moderators gone bad” or is it just people being blind-sided by events.

Whatever there is a very common thread with a wide range of moderators of groups that TFN has had issue with over the years. Each one, according to TFN a moderator:

  1. went bad
  2. stole their group
  3. badmouthed TFN

There is a common thread across all of these, now let me see what it is. Oh, yes it is TFN. I hear no such accusations of any moderator of any other freecycling network having such problems – absolutely none.

So surely it is only reasonable to ask what it is about TFN that engenders this sort of problem. I cannot for the life of me believe that Deron started out in early 2003 thinking, “I will build a worldwide corrupt organisation.” He certainly did not. His aims were quite open and above reproach. These were to help remove items from landfill by propagating a freecycling network on yahoo groups and to a large extend he has followed through.

However what is patently true are a number of things:

  1. TFN is very ready to believe the worst in people
  2. TFN believes – without question – the opinions of those closest to the epicentre of power
  3. TFN has no complaints process
  4. or if there is one it is so well hidden and private that it has no credibility

For an organisation that spans 76 countries, in several languages, via 4000 groups reaching an audience of around four million people that to me is totally unacceptable.

I am not saying that every member of TPTB in TFN is corrupt, many if not all are very well meaning people. At the very least, by the law of averages some of the criticisms levied at TFN must be valid. Sadly the only reaction from TFN is to close ranks and protect.

One thing this blog does not address, by an large is the wider criticisms levied by members, instead focusing on those made by moderators. But every comment that is made in this posting that is argued regarding a lack of a credible complaints process is equally well applied to each and every complaint made against moderators of groups.

I blogged on this very recently in their Two Strikes and You are out Out policy. This is the only way TFN knows of how to deal with a complaint, and that is so totally unsatisfactory that it is incredulous.

You may ask why this posting and why now. Well, despite repeated protestations from Deron Beal that once someone and/or some group has left TFN that they are left on their own and “good luck to them,” that is patently not the case. Instead TFN is a close-knit private clique that chases anyone that disagrees with it – and with a vengeance.

The most open example of this is the SLAPP suit issued against Tim Oey, which has been thrown out of the Ninth Circuit Court so badly that it is very embarrassing to TFN, imo. Given the number of industry pundits who largely agree with that analysis then there must be at least a seed of truth in that perspective.

Sadly and painfully what TFN enacts in a court of law, in the name of greater good of freecycling also goes on behind the scenes each day. I say painfully because if you personally receive one of their Cease and Desist letters, if you find your name and reputation slighted – without the chance to clear your name, ever – then you just become a bit cynical, until eventually it wears you down.

For some people they get to the point of having to seriously rethink their themselves and their lives. The question is has ANY organisation the right to get people in to this state? I would argue that had TFN a credible complaints process then problems like this would be nipped in the bud, and a blog like this one simply would not need to exist.

I am not going to name names. Those reading this will know that I am writing about these people (yes this is not just one person). Simply I implore any moderator of a TFN group to put pressure on TFN to institute a complaints process, and follow with one that has a serious amount of credibility. To my mind that can only be done if enacted by an externally managed and audited complaints handling process. I leave you with a web page that has food for thought.

October 10, 2007 - Posted by | cease and desist | , ,

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