How To Use Freecycle
- 1 The Basics
- 1.1 What is the basic layout of My.Freecycle?
- 1.2 What are the basic rules?
- 1.3 How do I Join Freecycle.org?
- 1.4 How long will it take to approve my membership?
- 1.5 How do I post on My.Freecycle?
- 1.6 How do I see replies to my post?
- 1.7 Can I edit a post?
- 1.8 How do I respond to posts on My.Freecycle?
- 1.9 How should I choose who to give to?
- 1.10 How should I arrange pick-up?
- 1.11 What happens once I've given away/received the item?
- 2 Your Membership
- 2.1 Why do some groups have to approve new members?
- 2.2 I'm going on holiday - how can I stop the mails?
- 2.3 I'm getting too many mails, what can I do?
- 2.4 How can I change my password?
- 2.5 How can I change my username?
- 2.6 How do I leave the group?
- 2.7 My email subscription settings keep changing on their own. Why is this happening?
- 2.8 How can I keep mail from Freecycle.org from going to my spam folder?
- 2.9 Why are my responses being returned as undeliverable?
- 3 Other Questions
- 3.1 Where can I go for additional help?
- 3.2 How can I post a photo?
- 3.3 Can I post a message to more than one group?
- 3.4 Can I repost a message?
- 3.5 What can I do if someone doesn't turn up?
- 3.6 How do I report spam/scams?
- 3.7 How do I contact the moderators?
- 3.8 What's moderation?
- 3.9 Can nonprofits use Freecycle.org?
- 3.10 Is it really worth OFFERing this?
- 3.11 Isn't that WANTED request too greedy?
- 3.12 Are offers or wanteds for pets allowed on Freecycle?
- 3.13 There's no group in my area; can I set one up?
- 3.14 Can I volunteer?
What is the basic layout of My.Freecycle?
When you log in to My.Freecycle, you are taken to a page with green and orange tabs and two green buttons.
- All Items -- shows all posts on the board. Clicking on a specific post gives you the opportunity to REPLY TO THIS POST or REPORT AS INAPPROPRIATE.
- Offers -- shows only Offer posts
- Wanteds -- shows only Wanted posts
- Group Info -- includes the description of the group, a list of the group's files that are shared publicly, and relevant links to other websites.
- My Posts -- this page shows all of your posts made on My.Freecycle. There are three choices under MANAGE:
- Upload image
- Cancel and remove
- Mark as Taken and remove
- My Groups -- this is a list of all the groups you are a member of through My.Freecycle. Under each group name you have several choices:
- My Info -- Choices here include:
- Change password
- Change My Freecycle email address
- Change My Freecycle email language preference
- Delete account -- deletes your My.Freecycle account. If you really want to delete your membership, PLEASE LEAVE ALL GROUPS FIRST before deleting your membership.
ADMINS -- Important messages from the moderator.
Green action buttons:
- Make a New Post -- opens up the message maker.
- What type of post is this -- Choose Offer or Wanted from the drop-down menu.
- Post to -- choose the group you want to post to. Most members belong to only one.
- Short description -- The "headline" of your post
- Approximate location -- For Offer posts, give enough information for someone to know if the effort is worth it. Never give your street address.
- More details -- a brief description. You also have the option of uploading a photo.
- Search Posts -- Before posting an Offer or Wanted, use this option to see someone else has or wants the item you are looking to receive or give away.
What are the basic rules?
When you join your local group, you'll receive a copy of the rules by e-mail. Please read them - there aren't many, but following them will make life easier for you and the Moderators of your group.
Although the precise rules will vary from group to group, click on Required Group Guidelines to read the common ones.
How do I Join Freecycle.org?
How long will it take to approve my membership?
Most groups automatically approve new members. If your local group moderators require you to live in a specific area to join the group, you will receive an email with a short questionnaire. Make sure to keep an eye your spam folder if you don't hear from the group. Here's how to contact the moderators if you need to inquire about your pending membership.
How do I post on My.Freecycle?
To post an Offer or Wanted, login to my.freecycle.org and click on “My Posts.”
Click "Make a new post" and use the drop down menu to choose either Offer or Wanted.
Fill in the required information and click "Make the Post" to post your message. If you are posting an Offer, you can upload a photo by clicking "Choose File" on the lower right side.
- Please note: If you're new to the group or if your membership is moderated, your post may need to be approved by a volunteer moderator before it appears on My.Freecycle, so there may be a short delay. Please be patient -- remember that Moderators have something resembling a life, which means they can't always be looking at the group.
- If your post violates the group guidelines or is unsuitable for some reason, you may get a message asking you to modify and resend it.
How do I see replies to my post?
Replies will go to the email you used to join the group. You will receive replies even if you have opted out of receiving other emails from Freecycle.org.
Please check that address regularly, including any junk or spam folders in case replies get filed in there.
Can I edit a post?
Unfortunately, no. You'll have to remove it and then repost. Click here to find out how to remove your post.
How do I respond to posts on My.Freecycle?
How to respond directly from My.Freecycle
If you are viewing the posts on My.Freecycle and wish to respond to a post, click on "See details" and then click on the green button "Reply to this Post." This opens a text box where you can write a polite request asking for an Offered item or respond to a request for a Wanted item. The response goes directly to the member's email.
How to respond from a Freecycle.org email
If you receive emails from Freecycle.org containing information about items posted on the group, you can respond directly from the email. The "Reply Online" link takes you directly to the post on My.Freecycle.org. Clicking "Reply by email" opens a window in your browser to send an email from your email address.
General guidelines for responding to posts
- If you are an EBay seller, thrift store owner, or a reseller of any kind, FULL DISCLOSURE OF YOUR INTENTION TO SELL ITEMS RECEIVED FROM FREECYCLE MEMBERS IS REQUIRED UP FRONT. You MUST disclose your intent to sell either in your original Wanted post or when responding so the gifter can make an informed decision with all the details and facts. Members have the right to inquire as to the intended use of any item they offer. See the Reseller Guidelines for more information.
- NO TRADING!!!! Bartering has its own set of laws and regulations and such transactions are taxable and reportable to the government. Freecycle is simply not set up for that sort of activity. However, there are webs sites and groups for trading/bartering out there to be found if that interests you.
- Do NOT contact folks in response to a want they posted and offer to sell them something! If you are not willing to give it for free at this time, please don't bring it up. Repeat offenses on this rule will get you banned from your group.
- DO NOT request money for your offers. Freecycle means FREE, folks!
- If you have responded to an offer this is no guarantee the item is yours until you hear from the offerer and they tell you it is! Give your personal information (privately, not on the list) to one potential gifter / recipient at a time, and ask for their phone number in return.
- Once you are set to give or receive an item, make arrangements as you like but please practice common courtesy in accommodating people's schedules.
- DO NOT take more than you were promised! If someone agrees to leave an item on the porch for you, don't rudely take advantage and swipe the things left for others!!
- Mailing a small item is perfectly fine if both parties involved agree to it, someone is willing to pay the postage AND the item still remains FREE. If you promise someone you will repay them for the postage, be a good citizen and make sure you do just that. However, BEWARE OF DELIVERY SCAMS! If you are the recipient of an item you want to have delivered by a third party, you should arrange the delivery yourself and make sure you know in advance how much it costs.
How should I choose who to give to?
Pick whomever you like! That's half the fun. But here are some things to bear in mind:
First-come-first-served is often not the right choice.
- Some people pounce on items and send a quick "I'll take it" just to get dibs, without really thinking about whether they actually want it. If they change their minds, they might just not show up.
- It doesn't give people who don't sit in front of a computer all day a chance, and you might get a later reply which makes you wish you'd not decided already.
So if you pick the first response, you're more likely to have trouble. It makes sense to take time to evaluate your responses for at least a few hours, if not for a whole day. Many groups encourage this.
If someone takes the time to reply politely and explain why they want an item, they're much more likely to show up, or at least let you know if they can't. You might also like to consider giving a local charity preference if one should respond.
How should I arrange pick-up?
After you have picked someone, let them know.
- Please arrange pickup with one person only, rather than "it's outside, whoever gets here first gets it." Otherwise you'll become unpopular pretty fast with your fellow Freecycle group members.
- It's better not to send your address until they respond again. If they take the trouble of sending you emails back and forth, they are very unlikely to stand you up.
- Once you've told someone they can have an item, please don't just change your mind and give it to someone else, unless arrangements fall through; if you do change your mind, please let them know.
One option is to exchange phone numbers, so that you can contact each other. However, this is not necessary. Reasons to exchange numbers:
- This helps if there are problems (e.g. you have to go out unexpectedly, or they're lost and can't find you).
- But it's better to only give your phone number to one person at a time, otherwise you'll get swamped with phone calls.
- Some groups do not allow phone numbers and addresses to be posted on the group due to safety concerns for their members.
What happens once I've given away/received the item?
On My.Freecycle, click on the green tab labeled "My Posts" and click the green "Manage" button next to the post.
- If you posted an OFFER and the item's gone, select "Mark as TAKEN and Remove."
- If you posted a WANTED and you've got what you wanted, select "Mark as RECEIVED and Remove."
- If you just want to take a post off the board, select "CANCEL and Remove."
You will be brought to a new screen that has a default message, which you can edit if you choose. Click “Send." Your Offer/Wanted will then be removed from the board and your Taken/Received message will appear on the daily email digest.
Why do some groups have to approve new members?
Some Groups have taken the decision to approve all new members to the Group. This can delay an application, but is done for several (very good) reasons:
- known spammers can be rejected
- people can be directed to a Group that's more local to them
- make sure your ID is family friendly
If you receive an email from the Group moderators asking for more information (or just to confirm you're actually a person and not an automated computer program!) then please follow their instructions - they're not being difficult, they're just protecting the list members (of which you will soon hopefully be one!)
I'm going on holiday - how can I stop the mails?
You can change how many emails you receive. Click here for more information. If you're on holiday for a while, change your settings so you don't receive anything but special notices from the moderators. You can change it back when you return.
I'm getting too many mails, what can I do?
You can change your email delivery options. Click here to find out how. If you're getting too many mails, consider switching to "Email Digest" or "None apart from Admins."
How can I change my password?
How can I change my username?
It's a few steps to take to change it but if you REALLY want to, here you go!
- Log in to My.Freecycle with your current ID and password
- Cancel all your open posts.
- Leave all the Freecycle.org groups that you're a member of.
- Once you belong to zero groups, click on the green "My Info" tab and click on "Delete account." Confirm delete on the next page.
- You can now sign up again as a new user with a different user ID.
Note 1: Make sure that you remain on each page after the save to allow the system to save the deletion for each post, group, and then the membership.
Note 2: Wait a bit before rejoining to allow the system to refresh and remove all previous footprints.
How do I leave the group?
To leave a My.Freecycle group, log in and click the My Groups link at the top right. Next to the group you want to leave, select "Change settings."
Clicking the button "Leave the group" removes you from your local Freecycle.org group. If you want to completely delete your My.Freecycle account, login and click the green “My Info” tab under the My.Freecycle link at the top right. Then click the green “Delete Account” button and follow the prompts to leave the site. Please leave all groups you are a member of before deleting your My.Freecycle account.
My email subscription settings keep changing on their own. Why is this happening?
Here's what happened to your email settings: if your e-mail account bounces email messages from Freecycle.org, our server starts backing off on deliveries to your account to keep from being overwhelmed with bad email addresses.
- Bounce 1. If a member on individual mails bounces, they are set to Digest
- Bounce 2. If a member on Digests bounces, they will be set to Admin Only.
- Bounce 3. If a member is on Admin only and bounces, their account may get closed.
If we left the member's setting on "One for each post" and continued sending email to bouncing addresses, it is seen by some providers as spamming attempts, which can cause us to get blocked from making any deliveries to them. A spammer flag at their can cause a huge impact to both members and our infrastructure.
Also, please note that a bounce detection can take one of 2 forms:
- The Remote mail provider issuing us with a bounce notification.
- The user has clicked a 'mark as spam' or 'delete as spam' button against a mail we sent them.
We recommend people with problems with their subscriptions getting changed to consider getting a free Gmail.com account. We have had almost zero delivery problems with Gmail.
To find out how to change your email settings back to where they were before, please click here.
Please read the next section to learn how to keep Freecycle email from being identified as spam.
How can I keep mail from Freecycle.org from going to my spam folder?
If a Freecycle.org email winds up in your spam folder, please do not delete it directly from your spam folder. Please remove the label "spam" or click "not spam" before deleting the email from your inbox. Then you can take the following steps to make sure Freecycle.org emails go where you want them to go.
- In Gmail, click the gear icon in the upper right hand corner.
- Go into "Settings"
- Click the tab "Filters and Blocked Addresses"
- At the bottom of the page, click "Create a New Filter"
- In the "From" field, put Freecycle.org
- Check the box next to "Never send it to spam"
- Optional: create a label if you want a separate folder for Freecycle mail
- Click "Create filter" to save your filter.
- In Yahoo mail, click the gear icon in the upper right hand corner.
- Go into "Settings"
- Click "Filters" on the left side.
- Click the "Add" button
- Give your filter a name
- In the "From" field, put Freecycle.org
- Optional: choose another folder if you want to bypass the inbox
- Click "Save" to save your filter.
- For added measure, add these names to your contact list
- *@posts.freecycle.org (make sure you include the asterisk)
- Click "Account Settings"
- Click "Junk Settings"
- Uncheck the box next to "Trust junk mail headers set by..."
Because spam filtering algorithms have no ability to whitelist a domain like Freecycle.org, it's best not to trust these filters for your Freecycle email account.
Why are my responses being returned as undeliverable?
Make sure your email response is not addressed to email@example.com because the emails sent to that address will be returned as undeliverable. If this happens to you, look at the main body of the email you are trying to respond to. Find the the email address of the sender and then copy and paste this address into the "To" field of your response email.
Where can I go for additional help?
How can I post a photo?
Can I post a message to more than one group?
As a protection against spam, Freecycle.org requires you to post messages one at a time and also requires differences in the wording so that you're not posting identical messages. Additionally, some groups have guidelines against cross-posting and request that you wait a day or two before posting to another group.
Can I repost a message?
This is a local decision. Please read the guidelines set forth for your specific group that you will have received upon joining. For more information, refer to the ADMIN files which are posted at the top of your group's My.Freecycle page.
What can I do if someone doesn't turn up?
There are occasional problems with people not showing up to collect items or changing their minds. If you're getting stuff for free, it's only fair to be polite and thoughtful about the pickup arrangements - as most of us are. So please make sure you are absolutely going to show up when you say you will.
If you're not sure if you can or will show, then let someone else take the offer. Remember, people talk... and if you become known as a "no show", then members will pass you by for someone else. Sure, sometimes last minute emergencies pop up; life happens... but if you can't turn up, it's courtesy to let them know - if you were staying in waiting for someone, you'd want them to let you know if they couldn't come, right?
When you post an OFFER, you can choose who gets it however you like. There are always going to be no-shows - but you can reduce the chances of it happening to you by choosing people carefully. See here.
Remember that not all no shows are deliberate. People get lost, have car troubles, run late from meetings, or have one of many other reasons for not showing up on time. But sometimes after all this, the person can still be a no show. So save the replies you received just in case, so you can move on to the next person who wanted it.
And because, one day, you might find that you can't pick up something when you said you could, try not to get too annoyed at people who do that to you - they may have good reason.
How do I report spam/scams?
Contact the moderators to report spam or an inappropriate post.
How do I contact the moderators?
The best contact for getting help is your local group volunteer Moderators.
From My.Freecycle, sign in, click on my groups, and choose the group you're looking for. Then click on "Contact moderators". It's really that simple. Here's a visual for you:
If for some reason your local moderators can't help, here is how to contact us.
This is when your posts need to be approved by a moderator before they go to the group. See Moderation for more information.
Can nonprofits use Freecycle.org?
Yes, absolutely. We would even encourage members to give preference to nonprofits. By way of background: The Freecycle Network itself is a nonprofit charitable organization and we know that local nonprofits are often in need of basic items for themselves or also for the community individuals they serve. Freecycle was originally a program of RISE Recycling which helped Tucsonans in need with transitional employment doing recycling and eventually helped them find housing / move out of the shelter, etc. We only started Freecycle after the items we were getting donated from our recycling clients went beyond the needs of those we were serving.
Is it really worth OFFERing this?
You'd be astonished what things get taken on Freecycle, even if they're damaged, broken or just plain weird. Some people don't mind having damaged items - if a sofa has a big stain on it, they can put a blanket over it. Other people like taking broken items and fixing them up (sometimes to offer back up on Freecycle). Also, you can never predict what people will want for an art project.
So rather than decide that something isn't worth OFFERing, why not offer it up and see if anyone wants it?
Isn't that WANTED request too greedy?
Some groups restrict WANTED posts for expensive items, and some groups just let their members decide whether they want to respond to a request. Please respect the policy of your local group.
- If the guidelines you got when you joined ask you not to post WANTEDs for some items, then please don't.
- If there aren't any such restrictions, then please be aware that something you might think is a ridiculous request might be something someone else was quite happy to give away.
- Before posting that WANTED post, use the "Search Post" feature to see if someone has already offered it.
- Avoid overly general WANTED posts. If you find that you're in need of many different things, make sure your email settings are set to "One for each post" so you can find out about items as soon as they're posted.
Are offers or wanteds for pets allowed on Freecycle?
Whether a group allows posting for pets or not is up to that group. There are arguments on both sides, and people often have strong feelings one way or the other. Please respect the policy of your local group.
There's no group in my area; can I set one up?
First, make sure there really is no group in your area. If there is, it, of course, has priority. See How to find my local group for how to check.
Once you're sure there's no local group already, see here for more details.
Can I volunteer?
Freecycle seeks to ensure equality of opportunity for all sections of the community in its own affairs and in access to its facilities. If you would like to join us as a volunteer, read about the many different opportunities available to you here on our volunteer page.