Moderator Manual:Common Issues

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Common issues encountered by moderators

Ideally mods shouldn't be limiting what members offer over and above the basics within the main rule. The more freedom we can give the members the better. As a moderator your job is to make sure things are free, legal, and appropriate to all ages.

When we start limiting things we potentially leave ourselves more open to legal issues. If you say something can't go through because it is unsafe, then let something else through, by implication you are saying that item is safe. When in doubt, we can disallow specific posts.

Moderators should also not forbid Wanted posts or require members to post an offer post before a wanted post

These are common scenarios that moderators often encounter, along with links to relevant notices.

UK specific site: DEFRA (Department of the Environment, Fishing and Rural Affairs) website http://www.defra.gov.uk/
  • CAR SEATS. You might want to send out the following statement: "If you are receiving a baby/child item, it is your responsibility to check for recalls and safety." The following links provide excellent information and you may also want to add them to your links page:
  • CHARITY ORGANIZATIONS. Local charities are especially welcomed. Charities need to follow the same rules as individual members. We encourage members to give preference to nonprofits.
  • COURIER SCAMS. Sometimes a member will offer to arrange a courier for delivery of an item, upfront payment requested, for the sole purpose of fleecing members. Click here for a sample Admin to warn your members about such scams.
  • CROSS-POSTING. Posting the same thing on two or more Freecycle.org sites at the same time. Some groups try to control this and forbid cross posting, but it is almost impossible to enforce a no cross-posting rule for members who are not on moderation. Rather than not allowing cross-posting, we suggest waiting 24 hours to approve a crosspost when you see it.

  • CURB ALERTS. Please do not allow curb-alert posts. Click here for a rejection note.
  • EMAIL ADDRESS OR ID IS OFFENSIVE. Please contact your GOA before rejecting an offensive email address or ID.
  • EMOTIONAL DETAILS. Posters do not have to justify any Wanted requests made, and sometimes it just needs to be stated that some posts are over the top. Click here for sample notices.
  • FOOD. There is no official policy on whether or not food can be offered on Freecycle. USE BEFORE dates are generally important dates after which there may be a risk to the consumer, whereas BEST BY dates are manufacturers' suggestions usually without significant safety concerns. However, some members may have a use even for expired food.
  • FREECYCLE.ORG IS NOT A CHARITY. Many members misunderstand our purpose. It is a recycling organization dedicated to keeping stuff out of the landfill by re homing it. Members may give their items to anyone they please. It is not based on who needs it most.
  • FUEL/Diesel/Gas/Petrol costs. Members may not ask for reimbursement for fuel costs.
  • GARAGE SALES, YARD SALES, and BOOT SALES. Members may post the free remainders from their garage sale if they don't include the time of the sale. The Sale itself cannot be advertised.
  • INAPPROPRIATE RESPONSES TO POSTS. Members will occasionally receive inappropriate responses to their posts. Always ask them to forward the email to you for verification. Inappropriate responses include such things as:
  • Responding to a Wanted post with an offer to sell the requested item. These are often from well-meaning members who are willing to part with an item, just not for free. One warning is usually all it takes, but if it happens again, remove the member from your group and contact your GOA.
  • Responding with profane, abusive or obscene language: Remove the member from your group and forward the email to your GOA.
  • Responding with spam: See section on reporting a spammer
  • IS A POST APPROPRIATE FOR FREECYCLE.ORG? This is NOT a required rule but a lot of groups use it to decide the answer. “Is it a tangible item that can be saved from the landfill?”
  • MODERATOR INFORMATION SHARING. Some groups with multiple mods share information about moderated members using a shared spreadsheet with columns for ID, email address, Date, Reason, Notes, by moderator, comments or whatever categories are appropriate. Then other mod/s can see why they are on moderation and if it should be permanent or temporary.
  • NO SHOWS. No shows are a problem throughout the worldwide Freecycle Network. Sadly, there are people who pounce on every item that looks remotely valuable and immediately send a quick "I'll take it" just to get dibs on being first. Click here for sample notices.
  • PROBLEM MEMBERS. Consult your GOA. The GOA has the authority and experience to handle problems with members.
  • RESELLING. It is required by TFN that intention to resell must be announced up front, either as a response to an Offer post or in the original Wanted post. See Reseller Guidelines for more information.
  • SERVICES. Advertising or soliciting services is not allowed
  • SPAMMERS. Anyone sending a spam message to be posted on the group needs to be dealt with firmly. This includes sales people, social networking sites, etc. Any attempt to make a post that has nothing to do with the Freecycle.org purpose is spam. Sometimes good member’s email gets hacked and spam sent that appears to have come from them. If it is a regular member, you can act accordingly, by placing them back on moderation and writing them a letter about it. But if it is a new member who has just joined to send spam, please report them to Spam Control.
  • STRANGE STUFF. Some medical supplies should be researched to determine if they need a prescription or are safe to pass on used. Anything that requires a prescription cannot be posted. Not a clue? Ask your GOA or on the Freecycle Leadership Community.
  • WEAPON. What is a weapon? Just use your good common sense. A gun is a weapon, a case knife is not..

Sample ADMINS

The admins/notices are one-time notes that you might send out on occasion to the whole group as a specific situation arises.

Didn't find the one you were looking for? Click here.
For required files, please click here.




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