Fighting for freerecyling

The Good, the Bad and the downright Ugly of Finder

Let us revisit finder. What was finder and what were the issues with it, and what was its history.

Well, finder was a function created by TFN with visibility on their website and what it would do is allow someone to look for items across groups. Unfortunately, as has been blogged here, the whole thing became a conflict with Yahoo’s TOS and the project was brought to a halt.

It is sad that finder is gone. It fulfilled a need – and that need is that any person who wants to keep their eyes open for an item on a freecycling group. We do however have to understand what we mean by that, and the best way is by example.

Assume Jane posts an offer of a TV on ABC freecycling group at 10.40 am. What happens next? Well obviously the TV post is distributed around all freecyclers, isn’t it. Wrong.

Some members are on daily digests, so they won’t receive the offer until they get their digest. Some members say they don’t even want to receive daily digests, so they only way they will find out is by visiting the freecycling yahoo group. And of course if you are not a member then you will never know that the TV offer was posted.

Of course some people have their computer switched off, or otherwise they are not doing anything to do with freecycling. Well you cannot win them all, so we will leave that group (for this post anyway).

Essentially keeping aware of what is freshly posted, and becoming aware of anything that interests you is a challenge. Anyone who is skilled with the Internet and computers probably has a better chance of getting items, simply because they can establish filters and alarms from their email system watching for certain emails with certain content. Their own private finder, you might say.

One thing that was “bad” about the TFN Finder was that it allowed non-members the ability to see what posts were being made. This was because the Finder project was linked inextricably to the new website. This would not be so bad if it wasn’t both against Yahoo’s TOS and also an invasion of privacy. I want to expand on the privacy issue in another post, another time. Right now these were the main criticisms.

However it turns out that the most active group of moderators voted against finder in a previous era. In those days it was known as FreecycleWatch. The problem with that was that it was an initiative of a separate individual or company and they wanted to charge $5 per person per month. Well this initiative got the goat of TFN, and particularly Deron Beal since the creators did not approach him. Rather they were trying to find freecycling groups that would take up the initiative.

I do not know the technical design of FreecycleWatch but there are still some web pages about that talk about it. As far as I can tell it too would have worked against Yahoo’s TOS and would therefore not be “legal”.

It turns out that TFN even had an official poll to decide whether FreecycleWatch was ok, or not. I do not know the exact result, but do know that it was voted out. One of the people who spoke vociferously against it was Deron Beal.

So we do have to ask, why did Deron Beal change his mind? Why was Freecycle Watch so bad, and Freecycle Finder so good? Well, apart from another company trying to gain a few dollars, I feel it was a “not invented here” prejudice. I could be wrong, but that is how I read it.

I would certainly wish to be put right on the technical differences between Watch and Finder. Obviously there is a time difference, the Watch project goes back to early 2005. Whereas Finder was announced as a “benefit” of the new website.

I have no idea why moderators generally agreed with the poll against Watch, and then how Finder suddenly found credibility. My guess is that Finder was promoted by Deron Beal, and therefore it was accepted. Hmmm.

So you now have a good feel for the history, including a magical about turn. Anyone who spoke against Finder saying it was the same as Watch became a bad person and then de facto 2 strikes and they were out. Thus no-one inside TFN really questioned the merits of Finder any more.

At least not until Yahoo got to understand Finder in all its gory.

October 13, 2007 - Posted by | freecycle

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