I am sure that some people read this blog and want it to become a much more impartial player in the freecycling world. It is sometimes asserted (in comments on this blog) that the numbers I produce are incorrect and possibly inflated, and possibly on one side of the debate.
Well, I make no apologies that I am interested in promoting “free” freecycling, and that is at complete odds with everything TFN stands for and has done ever since Deron started down his trademarking route.
As for the numbers, providing good statistics is a big effort. Let me take one example. If you search on Yahoo Groups for groups that have been taken away from Yahoo and migrated onto MyFreecycle a good search term might include the words “freeyccle” and “moved”, and right now that returns 369 groups. So you might decide that 369 groups have moved.
In truth however only a proportion of those groups have been moved. There are some groups that are hardly anything to do with freecycling on that list. There are also freecycling groups that simply have those words in their text. And finally there are also stub groups created by TFN, by Freegle and other networks in a kind of group name gold rush.
Now if you were able to analyse all all these pluses and minuses you would come up with a truer answer, that is correct. However I doubt if you went to Deron and asked for his number that you would ever get the same answer. Statistics just don’t work out so tidily.
And so to my numbers? I worry not so much about absolute numbers, providing I can back up each number, publicly with the method by which it was achieved such that others can replicate it. Not only that each can criticize it for its strengths and weaknesses, they can also offer alternative and better strategies for unearthing the “truth”. then that is fine by me.
And that is what this blog is about – stimulating debate about a very important subject.
Over the last months an earthquake has been building within the UK Freecycle movement. The first overt rumble was the resignation of Neil Morris, who until then was the lead person in the UK in more ways than one. At the same moment the entire UK lead team also resigned. The Freecycle Network reacted by putting in place an interim lead team, which subsequently has been elevated permanently to replace Neil et al, headed by Janice.
Neil and many others in the UK moderation fraternity then set about creating IAFCMods, a pressure group to promote the needs of UK moderators within TFN. The succeeded wholeheartedly in creating IAFCMods. They did this with full democratic process, even to the point of Neil not being the automatic lead person.
And then they set about trying to work with TFN to get IAFCmods recognised. Well all hopes and efforts have been either totally ignored or rebuked. Time and time againg UK moderators tried to get The Freecycle Network to listen and react positively.
The reaction can be summed up in the following email sent by Deron Beal to Neil yesterday, published with permission:
“Arrived home tonight to find the following email in my inbox. The email below from Deron demonstrates and confirms the autocratic policies that I have been fighting to change for a considerable period of time. I think the email and actions speak for themselves.
I give full permission for this to be forwarded anywhere.
Begin forwarded message:
> From: Deron Beal <deron@…>
> Date: 8 September 2009 19:32:26 CEST
> To: Neil Morris <neil.morris@…>
> Cc: EastMidlands <eastmidlands@…>, “ukgoalead@…
> Janice” <ukgoalead@…>, NptonNorthCentralFreecycle@…
> Subject: Your volunteer role with Freecycle UK
> Dear Neil,
> We’d like to thank you for your efforts in keeping your local Freecycle group going. Your volunteer efforts have been greatly appreciated.
> However, we no longer feel that it is a good fit between yourself and The Freecycle Network at this time and would ask that you step down from all Freecycle volunteer roles.
> If you could please demote yourself from your local group as a mod or owner and unsubscribe from all leadership groups that would be appreciated.
> I’d ask that any fellow local volunteers wishing to continue volunteering contact me at this time.
> Please approve the interimmod@… address and promote them to Lead Mod of your group before stepping down yourself.
So, up yours Neil is the message. However Deron has spoken to other UK moderators in the same vein. And now the IAFCMods have reacted, again this is public domain information:
> From: ****
> Date: 9 September 2009 11:00:03 BST
> To: <email@example.com>
> Subject: [UIFMS] Breaking News – IAFCM
> Reply-To: IntlFCMS@yahoogroups.com
> We the IAFCM Committee committee no longer see any way to negotiate
> with TFN or achieve our aims in the current Freecycle Network. Most of
> us are now moderated and believe we are targeted for removal from our
> TFN positions (and some are already removed). We are sorry we have
> failed to achieve our preferential aims..
> We no longer feel we can ask you to stay in the Freecyle Network.
> For this reason we will now focus the attentions of IAFCM Mods going
> alone, standing on our own two feet and launching a New UK led and
> democratically led successor Network. We have received many messages
> from member moderators urging us to prepare against this eventuality
> and have a successor Network ready to launch.
> The proposed network will not follow the organisational model of The
> Freecycle Network. It will be led by a consensus, have free
> elections and polling of group members It will be looser than TFN and
> groups will be free to choose their own names for their groups, but
> may, if they wish, choose to use the the network name to increase
> their visibility in the search engines and have a higher profile as we
> promote it.
> Thee may well be some groups that wish to stay in the Freecycle
> Network and if so we wish you well. We wish to be inclusive and we
> wouldn’t mind you having a dual affiliation but it we know it would
> result in you being kicked out of TFN so we wish you you well for the
> There will be a short delay before full instructions on how to
> establishing full links with the Network and cut the ties with TFN are
> We are aware this is a big step and is not exactly what we had in mind
> when we first started with IAFCMODS and though many members are
> “raring to go” others may feel a bit pressured and need time and space
> to voice any reservations.
> We wish everyone to feel comfortable and we are aware that the
> committee were working under constraints where we could not consult on
> this as much as we wanted.
> However such constraints are now lifted and there can be open
> discussion on on IAFCMods in which committee can fully participate.
> Fuller instructions as to how to safely rename your group will follow.
> Please regularly read messages on IAFCMods group for information.
> We will also be posting admin notices you can use to communicate
> with your group members.
> Now it’s open to everyone can help modify and polish up admins etc.
> Please use this group as we used to use modquad in the past to develop
> best practise and to freely comment on proposals – but lets think
> outside the box as we don’t want to repeat TFN mistakes.
> Post here if you are asked to stand down or your group is threatened
> in any way and we’ll support you in making the necessary changes.
> Carol, Caroline,David, Edward, Mark, Saira and Seb
> Your Interim Committee
Are you a lead moderator of a Freecycle group, especially in the UK? I just wonder at what point do you draw the line.
In my personal opinion I would not think it amiss if all UK groups – every single one of them – disassociated themselves from TFN immediately. I mean, Neil a total stalwart of UK Freecycle, who has tirelessly worked over many years to promote freecycling in the UK is now totally and clearly snubbed.
In my personal opinion any non-UK group should also consider its position.
If you are ready to leave The Freecycle Network check out the Yahoo group readytoleaveFc for resources to help you in the process. I recommend also the FCnext yahoo group for open debate on the subject.
When a group is created on Yahoo the creator has to select a category in which to place the group. For freecycling groups this is a mess. There is no standard, no obvious category that makes sense. The kind of categories that are used include:
- cultures and community
- a geographic place such as a town or city
- and probably many others
So if you thought that browsing Yahoo categories was a way to find the best freecycling group for you in Yahoo then I am sorry you are mistaken. There is no standard. I had vaguely heard that at one time there was a “freecycling” category. Given the huge number of freecycling groups if anyone can confirm this then perhaps we could put pressure on Yahoo to reinstate this.