Moderator Manual:Mod dos

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Do's and Don'ts for Freecycle Moderators

Congratulations on becoming a Freecycle Moderator!

Since The Freecycle Network began in Tucson, Arizona in May 2003 the movement has circled the earth, and as of the 15th of March 2016, there are 9,178,773 members in more than 5,283 Freecycle groups - WOW!

Freecycle groups are running incredibly smoothly, peacefully, and successfully - keeping some 40 tons a day out of the landfills, thanks to you and to the many mods who have been working hard on Freecycle all along. Naturally, though, questions have been raised, problems encountered, and solutions found.

We're all part of an evolving organization, and THE best way to keep track of what's going on is to join moderator discussion groups, where moderators of Freecycle groups help each other solve problems, debate policies as well as posts, and contend with issues as they arise. (We joke around from time to time, too!)


Do keep it free, legal and appropriate for all ages

This means, for example, no pornography, alcohol, tobacco, drugs (legal or otherwise), firearms or other weapons. Two strikes and you're out of the group. This is our main Freecycle rule to live by and it's a pretty easy one at that.

Do require that resellers announce their intention to do so

For more information and suggested notices, see the Reseller Guidelines.

Do keep the Guidelines and Disclaimer file in your files section

This sample welcome file includes the required Guidelines and Disclaimer. Feel free to adapt it to use as a Welcome file for new members

Do stick to the Moderator Oath

The most important rule of Freecycle etiquette for moderators as well as members is "Be nice." As moderators, you want to want to encourage good manners in terms of scheduling pickups, and being punctual. Leaving someone hanging is never a nice thing.

Do live where your group is located

We ask that all moderators live in the area that is served by the group. Only a local resident will know the needs of the community and the available resources, such as local recycling facilities, community events, gathering spots, compatible non-profit groups, etc.

Moderators may be lead moderator on only one group. Moderators may be back-up moderators on other groups if necessary. A back-up moderator is one who is on a group simply for emergencies. The back-up moderator does not participate in the day to day running of the group and has limited privileges to approve members and messages in case of an emergency. However, we encourage all groups to find enough local moderators so that a back up is not necessary.

If you would like to do more for Freecycle beyond moderating a single group, please check out the Volunteers page for more opportunities.


Don't allow politics, proselytizing, spam, money, personal attacks or rudeness

Freecycle policy is 'two strikes & you're out', i.e. moderators are expected to unsubscribe members after two inappropriate postings.

Don't allow advertising of 'For Sale' or other commercial sites

Once someone starts planting the 'try to sell it first' seed locally, it really changes the paradigm of what we are about. We are not for or against selling items. Instead, we simply have no ties whatsoever to it - be it mentioning other sites or asking for money or offering money.

We don't strive for personal gain first through encouraging people to try to sell items. We only encourage magnanimous giving with absolutely no strings attached. You may however choose to encourage members to go to local nonprofit trading or bartering organizations as an alternative - we tend to find that local barter groups are kindred spirits and, while not directly gifting, they are doing lots of good in their own way.

With Freecycle, though, there are no strings attached. Folks just give stuff away!

Don't 'forbid' WANTED postings as a category from your board for ANY period of time

be it a day or a weekend, etc...

WANTEDs serve a valuable purpose, one that becomes clear when you meet the first appreciative recipient whose WANTED post you fulfilled. They remind potential givers of things they might be ready to let go of, and they *really* help local nonprofit groups ask for what they need rather than having to take what they get.

So reinforce how great OFFERs are, and instill in your members the importance of paying forward, but never put down WANTEDs. That's the juggling act we all have. If you do this you'll find that with as your group grows, it will have as many or more Offers as WANTEDs - it's the nature of the beast. We bipeds are basically caring and giving individuals, with just a teensy bit of *positive* reinforcement.

That's what we mods inject into the formula -- positive stuff. "Inject negative karma into the group and ye shall receive unto yourself negative karma." (Someone famous said this at some point, or surely at least thought it). The beauty of our job is that it forces us to always respond in a non-confrontational, non-accusatory, positive, and respectful way. It's good training for the non e-World, too. And it's a great karma boost to boot.

You may find that it helps to limit the frequency of individual member WANTED posts, however, as well as the frequency with which members can post the same WANTED, say once a month or once every couple of weeks.

Don't require that members MUST make an OFFER post as their first act of membership

People react better to asking them rather than telling them if you feel it is a good philosophical issue.

So, you could ask them: "Please consider getting the ball rolling by first making an offer to the local group. It's good fun and no offer is too small!" We can't require new members make a gift first as it endangers our charitable status.

Don't fully moderate your group

Most posts should appear on groups without having to go through moderation. In addition, the vast majority of members in your group should not be on moderation. Moderation of new members' posts is fine - just remember to take the folks off moderation within a week or two so that these don't pile up. Important: The moderation of troublemakers is highly advised.

You may ask your GOA what percentage of your group is moderated. If the percentage is too high, your GOA will ask you to fully unmod your group.

Don't ask for personal information when approving members

This includes full names, addresses, phone numbers, social security number, etc. It is an invasion of our members' privacy and is more than is needed to keep a local group running smoothly. If you limit your group by geographic area, it's enough to ask for cross streets and/or postal codes.

We also don't ask for this information as it exposes local volunteers and the organization overall to the risk of having and maintaining such information. If we don't have such information, we don't risk it being accessed and something happening (robbery, stalking, you name it).

Sharing such personal information also makes potential members uneasy : why does Freecycle need this info? Unfortunately, in today's world, we have to be extremely careful about personal info.

Don't moderate a group with competing aims to Freecycle

Yes, please don't moderate a group with competing aims while moderating with The Freecycle Network. This can lead to conflicts of interest.

Don't be a dictator

Remember, the group actually belongs to the members, and our role as mods is just to make the group run smoothly and safely for them to use.