I have direct evidence of at least three freecycle groups on Yahoo that are under attack by TFN with Cease and Desist letters. I suspect that a widespread purge of any group related to freecycling is in progress. Remember just because your group is officially listed on the freecycle organisation’s website counts for nothing. If you or your group is approached what should you do?
Well to begin with I would:
- reread the Yahoo terms and conditions
- save your membership list
- read this blog in detail
- visit the many links on the blogroll and then
- decide in your own mind where you want to go.
If you decide that TFN is right in its approach then obviously you could ask them how you could correct the situation. Typically they have not been very good at entering into a positive dialogue that will help you, but perhaps in this purge they will behave better.
If not they could join your group under a known id or under some alias and try to ascertain their own impressions of what your group is about. Elsewhere on this blog I have talked about ErsatzFriend and its issues so I won’t bore you by repeating those warnings.
Whatever you do, do not yield to pressure to allow a TFN person to become either a co-owner or moderator. If you need a co-owner create an alternative email address for yourself (always with a different email provider, eg email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org) and use that. If you need another moderator go though your normal procedures. Be very wary about taking on fresh moderators that you cannot at least verify as living locally. Do not expose your membership list to all members – ensure only moderators can see it.
If TFN takes a dislike to you and/or your group then typically anything you say or do not say, do or not do will not have any positive effects.Be very wary about joining any groups such as Ready2LeaveFC, IFMS, FCNEXT or asking any questions in any formal TFN groups. All this will do is highlight that you and your group are a bigger risk. If you need to do research and an email address is required then do it anonymously under a temporary email address and never reveal what group and country you are from.
Unfortunately while a purge is in progress I would strongly recommend that you do not run a poll of your members. If you do then it will immediately flag up to TFN that you are considering your options and they are likely to make an unilateral strike against your group. This may include
- Create an AstroTurf group
- Populating it with YOUR members list
- Adding their own owners
- Getting new moderators in
- Delisting your group and replacing it with their new group
- Instructing Yahoo to delete your group, without notice.
This will happen. It is happening now. That is a fact.
I am not listing the groups I know about because that in some perverse way may help TFN in its purge. All I can say is be vigilant for AstroTurf groups that have names like yours. You need to search daily on Yahoo Groups. If you find one then act quickly to protect you and your group.
This all sounds very paranoid. I wish I was making this up. Spread the word about this blog to other moderators and owners. You have been warned.
One gift at a time. http://groups.yahoo.com/group/waukeganfreecycle/ delisted.