Monday, June 01, 2009

It's a shame...

I recently left my local Freecycle™ group. I have participated in Freecycle™ for a LONG time. I started in Augusta, and was a moderator there for a year before I left to go to Germany. There were no local groups in Germany, but when we got to KS, I joined Freecycle™ right away. I emailed the owners and offered to moderate the group if they needed it. Not long after my offer, I joined the "modsquad" and enjoyed my time there.

I was quite sad to leave my Freecycle™ group. I made friends through that group, and not ONCE did I have a "bad trade". People were fantastic about coming to pick stuff up. People were amazing with the things they gave away. I even posted a few wanteds and got a breadmaker and a stand mixer! As a moderator, I, along with the other mods dealt with a lot of crazy people...and some people who just needed a little guidance.

So...of course, the first thing I did when we got here was join the local Freecycle™ group. And I posted offers almost immediately (of moving boxes and packing paper...lots and lots and lots). And waited patiently to hear from someone. Anyone. What?!? No one wants boxes? REALLY? Found that quite odd...I'd not heard anything for a few days. So...I reposted my offer. Again, nothing. Now...generally I post my messages through email, and get all the posts that way too. Much easier to manage, etc. But I went to the boards to check for my messages. The first one...the FIRST ONE...had only just been posted (I know because I changed the wording to be sure I knew which message had gone through). It took entirely too long.

Okay...I know, I KNOW...moderators are volunteers...they don't LIVE at their computers waiting for messages to come in from moderated members. And I totally understand the need for moderating the members at first...I DO. Remember...I have been a moderator. But not once in my many years of Freecycling had I ever experienced that much delay (except for when we had the tornado and everyone lost power). So...I emailed the owner and asked about it. I was gracious; I offered my assistance and knowledge as a moderator. I said I was a SAHM, so I had access to a computer all the time.

I heard nothing. NOT. A. THING. Okay, whatever, let it slip. I posted some more boxes, some kids' stuff, a lot of other miscellaneous things we'd moved and didn't need. Again, a long delay in getting messages posted. I began to get frustrated. Of course, being a moderator, I knew I could go to the main Freecycle™ page and contact a GOA (Group Outreach Assistance) volunteer. So I did. I expressed my concern at how the group was being handled. I was assured that she would be watching and making sure the owners/moderators complied with the general Freecycle™ rules.

After the past few weeks of seeing posts like "Desperately Wanted - mom going through cancer treatment needs some clothing. Just casual wear stuff. no high waisted stuff, I like my pants low...sparkly tops would be best, v-cut especially" etc, etc....and people posting that they'll PAY for stuff (HELLO??? FREE is the KEY in FREECYCLE™). People posting about yardsales, sending messages about events, just posting "hope you're having a good day" stuff...well, I got frustrated and contacted the GOA again (seeing as it would be highly unlikely that my messages to the owner would get answered).

Shortly after I received a lukewarm response from the GOA (local groups do set some of the rules, and we're keeping an eye on this group, but we have so many to deal with...blah, blah, blah...), a message appeared to the group: CONTACT THE OWNERS AND MODERATORS NOT THE S.C. GOA (never mind the fact that we do not use punctuation between the abbreviated letters of the states...). The message was "not aimed at anyone in particular". was just a big co-inkie-dink that you sent this message after the GOA contacted...meaning she'd likely contacted you as well.


I sent a message to the owner, calling her out on this. I told her that I'd be leaving her group, but that she could have contacted me directly. Likely as not she probably remembered me from the emails I'd sent before. And for the record, I've spoken to many people on this group who'd had the same frustration with the group. Being kept on moderation for months...messages not getting posted or getting "lost", never hearing from the moderators/owners. So it's not just me.

To be honest, I'm done. There's another group (that I do moderate) and people are quite willing to drive half an hour to get stuff, so I'll be posting there...or to craigslist...or word of mouth to people as I give stuff away. It's a shame though, because in these times, there is a HUGE need...and I would love to fill one if I had something to offer. But it drove me crazy, so I am gone. Buh-bye Lexington Freecycle.


Carline said...

Linda, grace to you and thanks for sharing your experience. I just launched this new web application, that offers enhanced Freecycle features which I think you will appreciate. It is a real application instead of just Yahoo groups and addresses many of the Freecycle deficiencies. It can be used in conjunction with Freecycle or independently. I would love to work with you in starting a group in your area using ToolzDo. Toolzdo is not a posting site like Yahoo groups and craigslist, it is a tool to help build community. I share your passion to bring the Truth and the Good News to others. The vision is to provide a practical tool to reach out to our Jerusalem (Acts 1:8) and it is my hope that God will bless this work. Just register for free and reply to my welcome email or use the contact us of feedback links.

Bob-kat said...

I do not blame you for switching groups at all. This owner/moderator is clearly not doing the job properly and yet you are supposed to feel bad for complaining?! Go where you're appreciated I say :)

The Mrs. said...

My freecycle seems to be pretty good but still, I'm blown away sometimes by the WANTED post.