How To Use Mod Tools

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Even though is now on FC3, we are still using legacy modtools while FC3 modtools are under development. Some of the features work differently on FC3 and some of the terminology is different. Groups are now called Towns and Files are called Notices.


Log into Click on the M at the top of the page.

This takes you to the Mod Home page:
Mod Home page

Clicking the group name takes you a page with these options on the left side of the page. Click them to find out what they do:

Mod Home
MyF Home

Info and Options
Group Options
Manage Zip Codes
Change timezone
Edit description
Message Maker Prefs
Hotword Management



Group Files

Group Links

Group Activity



Info and Options page

This page provides a snapshot of facts about your group, including the URL, the group’s email addresses, and the unique TFN number for your group, which you will need if you report a problem. There are also statistics on number of members and posts, which moderators can use to track how their group is growing.

The most important item for a moderator is below the information box. Here is your prompt that there are members and posts pending. That means you need to take action on these items.


Mod Tools are listed on the left side of the Info and Options page. These are described fully in the following sections.

Mod Home - Takes you to a list of the group(s) you moderate

MyF Home – Takes you out of Moderator Tools and to the group you have selected as your "home" group

Preferences – This is where you set your preferences to receive notifications on pending members and pending posts. You can also set your preferences on how many posts you would like to see at a time.


Note: If you have more than one moderator in your group, each moderator has to set these preferences individually. These are your individual preferences, not group preferences.



Click on Group Options in Mod Tools. This is where you will start to make Moderator decisions that will affect the entire group.

Group Options


  • Does this group have to approve all members? Default setting is No.
We don't recommended restricting membership. Freecycle offers moderators hotwords management so that moderating individual members is not needed. Some moderators may still choose to approve members, though members must be removed from moderation in a timely manner.
If you still feel you must restrict membership, you should also set up an auto-send email requesting postal code or local cross streets as membership criteria. When the pending member replies, you will either approve/disapprove the membership. If you disapprove, you should reply to them with an explanation why you took that action. For information on how to approve new members, please click here.
  • Are all new members automatically moderated? Default setting is No.
Moderating new members can help you by being able to look and approve/edit/reject each new member's first post. As they post in compliance with your group rules and guidelines, you can immediately decide if you want to release the member from moderation. Note: Full moderation (having a large percentage of moderated members) is not allowed. If you choose to moderate new members, you must be prepared to change manually the moderated status for each new member. For information about how to unmoderate a member, please click here.
Special note for large groups: It is not possible to sort membership lists by join date if your group has over 10,000 members. If you choose the option of having new members on moderation, you will need periodically unmoderate the entire group and then place problem members back on moderation.
  • Default email delivery option for new Members. Choose one of the three options from the drop-down menu: No emails, Individual emails, or Digest. Default setting is Digest. Members can set their own email preferences for each Town group in My Settings.
"No emails" is just that. A member will need to check the site manually to read posts. "All emails" means a member will get a copy of every post made to the group. The emails will have links back to the site so they can respond to the post. The member MUST be logged in to link to the post. "Digest" is a compilation of 25 posts per email. For every 25 messages posted in a day, one email will be sent. For very busy groups, a member may receive 2 or 3 digest emails per day. Each post on the list has a link back to the original post. Again, the member must be logged in to click through. After you have made changes, click SAVE THESE OPTIONS.
To change email settings for an individual member, use the drop-down menu in member search results.

Note: There is no group option for all moderators to receive notifications about pending posts or pending members. Each moderator must set those preferences individually.



Postal codes and zip codes are no longer used in FC3



Click on Change Timezone in Mod tools.

Change Time Zone

Select the correct time zone from the drop-down menu.



Click on “Edit Description” in Mod tools. You will see a big entry box where your description goes. This is the description that shows up under “Town Info” on your group’s My Towns page.

Group Description

There is a pre-set description, but you can change it somewhat. All the legal stuff needs to be there, but you can personalize some of the group description.

At the bottom of the page is a list of codes and the meaning for those codes, which can be inserted into your HTML code box. When you use these codes in your description they will be replaced with computer generated/updated information specific to your group.

Example: If you want the current membership count to be shown, you add %%nummembers in the description and the latest figures will be updated to the screen.

Click here for group description (Town Info) templates for all languages supported by Freecycle.



Not used in FC3. Message maker prefs are now set centrally.


Click on Hotword Management in Mod tools.


Hotwords trigger moderation of a post even if the member is unmoderated. A post that contains a hotword will trigger moderation of that post, but it will not reset the user to moderated.

The system itself has many hotwords built in. In addition to system hotwords, any post with a Web link will trigger moderation. Because the TFN master hotwords list covers most situations, you may not need to add hotwords except for those that reflect your local policies.

Add new hotwords in the box at the bottom right side of the page. The wildcard characters (* and ?) help you match different forms of a word. Use of wildcards is explained at the bottom of the hotwords page.

NOTEː Overuse of HOTWORDs can be construed as full moderation, so please remember they are to be used sparingly.


Clicking the Members link in Mod tools opens the Member Information page with statistics on the membership, including numbers of members in each category and percentage of members who are moderated. The Member Information page also includes a member search feature which will be discussed later in more detail.

Use member search if you want to send a message to a member.

Member Information Page


On the left side of the Member Information page are links that allow you to open lists of members by category.

Types of members

“All Types” includes Moderators and Lead Moderators as well as regular Members. Clicking on “Members” opens a list that excludes Moderators and Lead Moderators.

Clicking on “Moderators” or “Lead Moderators” opens a list of members who fall under those categories. Lead Moderator is the highest level you can reach on groups. With Freecycle there are no group owners as there are in Yahoo Groups. Moderators are the initial contact for each group when there is communication between the various levels of leadership in the organization. Locally, you can discuss and decide if the Lead Moderator will take on certain responsibilities in addition to moderating. This is generally based on the size of your group and the number of co-mods on the group.

Click on one of the member types to display a list of members. You have the option of sorting the list (ascending or descending) by User name, Email address, Invitation/Join date, or Membership level. Note: This feature may not work for large groups over 10,000 members.

Member list (member details omitted)


This is the section of Moderator Tools that you use to find a specific member’s membership record. Often you will receive email from members asking questions about their membership, asking to change their email delivery options, or sometimes to remove them from the group. Here's where you would start.

From the Member Information page, copy and paste the member's email address or username in the search box and the system will bring up the membership record for that person. You can broaden or narrow your search using the Membership Levels checkboxes.

Member Information Page


The member search results bring up the membership record with an ACTIONS drop-down menu. Actions you can take include moderate/unmoderate member for posting, setting email preferences, removing member from the group, promoting/demoting to moderator, and sending an email or a file. See below for more detail.

Member actions drop-down menu


Use the member actions drop-down menu to set a member’s email preference to “All mails,” “Digest” or “None” and press GO. Note that "none" means no post emails. In FC3 there is a fourth option, "Never receive emails" which eliminates more types of emails. This new email setting is not currently available for moderators to change.

Members can change their own email preferences under My Settings. Click here for more information.


Use the member actions drop-down menu to select “Moderate member for posting” or “Unmoderate member for posting” and press GO.

Other ways to moderate/unmoderate members:

  • When you approve a pending post choose the option “Approve post and unmoderate member.”
  • Change your group settings to moderate/unmoderate all new members.
  • Use the “Unmoderate Entire Group” button on the Member Information page. Careful – this can’t be reversed.
  • Use the “Enable emergency full moderation” button on the Info and Options page to temporarily moderate the entire group. Please note: Full moderation of all members is not allowed except in emergency situations.

If you are searching for posts by a specific member, you need to do that under “Posts” rather than under “Members.”


If you use this option to send an email, it sends your message as a "Do not reply" email with a link to the "Contact moderators" page. Other Moderators also receive a copy of the email.

Important: The email contains the link to Contact Mods in the legacy site. Until this changes, please include reply instructions on emails. "Please reply via the Message Moderators link on this page: "


If new members are automatically approved to your group you will not have go through the steps for approving any members. For information on how to set your group’s options, please click here.

If any members are waiting for approval, you will see a notification on the Info and Options page:

Info and Options page showing pending member

Click “Pending” to see a list of pending members.

Pending members

ACTIONS. Select one of the following actions on the drop-down menu on the right side: Approve member, Reject member, Send file. Click GO to finish. If more than one pending member appears on the list, you can approve them all at once by clicking “Approve all pending Members.”

Moderator actions such as approving/rejecting members show up on the Group Activity page.


This no longer works


Clicking on “Posts” in Mod Tools in the Info and Options page opens the Posting History page.

Posting History page

The Posting History page has statistics on your group’s posts and offers several different ways to search for posts.

The Mod Tools section under “Posts” allows you to look at listings for the different types of posts: Offers, Wanteds, Takens, Receiveds, and Pending. Note: If you want to look at “Taken” or “Received” posts, you must change your list criteria to include Closed posts or you will get a null result. When you’re done, hit “Submit.”

Change list criteria


Posts are sent to pending either because you have the member on moderation or because hotwords or other items in the posts triggered moderation.

If you have any pending posts for your group, they will show up on the Info and Options page. The post type “Pending” will also appear in the Mod Tools menu.

Note: FC3 includes the reason a post went to moderation, indicated as "Post reject reason." If a post is still open, it hasn't been rejected. Rejected posts always show up as "pending closed."

Info and Options page showing pending post

Clicking “pending posts” brings up the list of pending posts, with the details on the first one in the lower left column.

Pending post details

Beneath the list of pending posts is a drop-down menu with the following choices:

  1. Approve this post
  2. Approve post and unmoderate member (this is a very useful option)
  3. Reject this post and send message
  4. Reject this post and send group file.
  5. Delete this post. Please use Reject instead of Delete for posts that don't follow the rules.
  6. Delete this post and remove member. This only removes the member from your group. Click here to read how to report spam.

Whichever you choose, remember to click DO IT.

To the right of the post you are working on are that member's last 10 posts, which you can check to see if the member has been posting in compliance with your group’s rules. It will also show posts that person has made on other groups.

The post can also be edited if changes are needed to conform to the rules of your group. Click on the Post ID, make changes as needed, and SAVE POST EDITS. Click APPROVE and then click DO IT. Reject ONLY as a last resort. Moderator actions such as approving/rejecting pending posts show up on the Group Activity page.


You have the option to search for posts by User Name, Freecycle user ID, email address, or Post ID. You can search for all posts or limit your search to a specific type of post (Offer, Wanted, etc.). You can further broaden your search to include searches for other groups, as well as pending and closed posts. Broadening the search by checking all the boxes is a very good way to see a member’s posting history to find out if a member is a spammer or multi-joiner who places Offers to entrap other members’ email addresses.

Post search

If you want to take further action on a post that shows up as result of a search, you can edit the post by clicking on the Post ID on the left side or remove the post by clicking the Actions drop-down menu on the right side.

Post actions



Admins are no longer used. Admins and files have been combined into a new category called Notices. Public files show up under Town Notices. Click here for more information.


Group files are now called Notices and appear on the "My Towns" page. There is one required file, the Guidelines and Disclaimer file, to be sent upon joining. Feel free to use this welcome file or edit it to suit.
In modtools, the Group Files tool assists in the creation, maintenance and management of the group’s files. Group Files are those which are (a) required by; or (b) used by the group to communicate a message consistently. It also provides the means to send specific files automatically upon certain events, such as upon a member joining, membership approval, or leaving the group. Moderators also send group files periodically to remind members about’s rules and etiquette. Additionally, moderators may choose to create group files to send to members when they violate the group’s rules.


We're asking mods to please download a copy of any files or admins you'd like to keep as we'll be uploading a brand new standard "Welcome & Guidelines" file/notification for all groups. In order to do this we have to delete all existing files as a preliminary step. This means you'll lose anything not backed up.

There are two ways to keep copies of your files.

1) Download files from the Group Info tab.

Group info files circle.png

Click on the file name and then click Download This File.
Download file.PNG

Find the files in the download folder of your computer and click to open.

2) Copy and paste from the File menu in modtools

Click on “Group Files” in Mod tools. This opens a list of your group’s files.

Group file list

Click View/Edit Details, copy the text and paste into a new document on your computer.


Group files now appear under Notices on My Towns

To access a file in the group files list, click on “View/Edit details” next to the file name and description. This opens a window containing the title, description, and text of the file. You can restrict who gets to see the file by choosing one of the options under “Accessible to.” Only files set as public files are visible to nonmembers. Moderators can choose whether the general public can see a file or if Except for files that are restricted to moderators only, group files are accessible to members on their My Towns page under the Notices tab. The Guidelines and Disclaimer file should be set so members can view it, whereas most other files don't need to be accessible to members.

At this point you have the option of editing the file, changing the accessibility of the file or deleting the file. SAVE CHANGES when you’re finished. Note: The option to send a file to all members has been disabled, but this ability will be restored in the near future.

Edit or send a group file

If you want to send a group file to one member, use the member search tool. You also have the option of sending a group file when you reject a pending post.


Click on “New File” from the Group File page.

Creating a group file

Enter the file name and description and choose who you want to have access to the file from the drop-down menu.

Choose “Plain text” for type of file. Enter the text in the File Contents box or copy and paste from a Word or text document. Leave off all quotation marks, as they don't stay formatted. The New File menu also offers options on uploading a file from your computer or using HTML. When you’re done, click “Create New File.”

Note: If you opt to upload a file, it must be a plain text file. Do not upload .doc or .pdf files.


This feature allows you to automatically send files to members as they join or leave the group.

Click on “Automatic sending” from the Group File page.

Sending group files automatically

You can choose to auto-send files at the following times. The first two apply only to groups who have chosen to approve all new members under Group Options.

  1. Files sent to a Member after applying to join (only for groups who approve new members -- this will be a group-specific file asking for additional information)
  2. Files sent to a Member upon membership approval (only for groups who approve new members – required file is "Guidelines and Disclaimer")
  3. Files sent to a member upon joining (for groups who automatically approve new members, required file is "Guidelines and Disclaimer")
  4. Files sent to a Member upon leaving the Group (use of farewell files is no longer encouraged)

If you wish to add an additional file to an event, use the drop-down menu to select the file and click “Add this file.”



Group links are no longer being used in FC3. You may include these in a public file if you wish.


Click on Group Activity in Mod Tools on the lower left side of the Info and Options page. This tool displays a list of actions performed by the moderator(s) and identifies which moderator approved/denied members and posts.

Please note that posts that are edited and then approved don't show up in Group Activity.