Moderator Resources

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Now that FC3 is live, this page is obsolete. Please click here for the updated version


Members' Guide to

Using the Moderator Tools

Click here for a user guide to Mod Tools.

Promoting and building your group

Moderator Discussion Groups

Click here for a current list of moderator discussion groups.
Important: All mods need to join moderator discussion groups with at least a "Special Notices" setting. This is in order to ensure that mods do not miss important announcements or the opportunity to take part in Freecycle polls. You must also make sure to follow the guidelines at the above link in order to expedite membership approval.

Tips for groups that allow pet posts

Volunteering: How can I become more involved in Freecycle?

There certainly are plenty of opportunities. If you are committed to Freecycle and have a little extra time to spare, please send an email to your local GOA, mentioning your interests and strengths and to find out more about the [various voluntary opportunities] within Freecycle.


Click here for a list of available translations

Graphics – general, seasonal or personalized

Contact the Graphics Team for help if you would like a personalized graphic for your own group.

In your initial email please try to give as much information as possible, your group address, a reply email address and specific information about your area or ideas you have for the graphic ‐ please discuss these ideas with your co‐mods before contacting the team.

If you produce your own graphic using our trademarked logo, please contact your GOA and check that it is compliant before using it as there are lots of rules relating to this.

Your initial email may be answered from the Custom Graphics Team address but once your project has been assigned the emails will come from a member of the volunteer team. If you haven’t had a reply once you have been assigned a volunteer please check your spam folder for their reply! The requests are taken in date order and could take a few weeks if they are busy ‐ but please email the GOA if you haven't had a reply within two weeks.

Where to go if you need help

Group Outreach and Assistance volunteers ­

The Freecycle Group Outreach and Assistance (GOA) volunteers are available as a resource for mods, to offer support to groups and help them over any Freecycle issues (not just any difficulties) they may be facing. GOA volunteers have the authority and experience to be the final arbiter of any and every issue out there.

If you are unsure of how to proceed with an issue, especially a delicate or confidential one that would be inappropriate to post on the Freecycle Leadership Community, then your first port of call should be the GOA. Issues may be because of rival/rogue 'Freecycle' groups; misuse of the Freecycle name; questions about group splits, problems relating to relationship with local authorities, sensitive issues with fellow mods or neighboring groups, general concerns or requesting removal of members; or just to let them know about something good that has happened within your group, etc.

They are also volunteers just like everyone else, and may be pushed for time with many complex and sensitive jobs, so do be patient unless you are having a group emergency.

Click here for a list of GOAs and their email addresses.

Holiday and Emergency Cover: ­ How can I get help?

We encourage you to recruit a backup moderator(s) for your group as soon as possible to avoid the need to arrange cover for holidays and emergencies. With your own team in place it is much easier to run your group as it is no longer just dependent on your own efforts. It provides a natural way of having cover for holidays, emergencies and if you just want a day off! It also means there will be cover if you lose internet connection or have something happen which means you have to be away for some time.

If you don’t have a backup in place yet your GOA can arrange for an interim moderator to provide a holiday and emergency cover service for the period of time you need cover. To arrange this, please contact your GOA.

If at all possible give at least a few days notice as it takes time to get set up. If it is an emergency they will work with you to find a way. Please just contact them as soon as you know that you need cover.

I need a new moderator or two. What is the procedure for recruiting a new co-moderator?

Here is everything you need to know for recruiting a new co-mod. Feel free to contact your GOA if you have any problems or concerns.

I need to step down as moderator. What do I need to do?

If you need to pass on your Freecycle, group, here's where you would start

My group is too big or too small or needs to be renamed

  • If your group covers too large a geographic area, contact your GOA to split your group into two or more groups. Make sure you have mods in place from each of the new groups before contacting Goa. Keep in mind:
1. Moderators can only moderate one group
2. Moderators must live where the group is located.
  • If your group covers too small a geographic area and the moderators of a neighboring group agree, you may contact your GOA to discuss merging your groups.
  • If you need to change the name of your group for some reason, contact your GOA

Problem members

If a member is troubling you or another member, let your GOA know about it. If it is appropriate for the member to be removed, GOA will initiate the process.

Technical problems

As Moderator, you will occasionally encounter glitches with the system, and you will hear from members who suspect things aren't working the way they should. This section tells you where to report problems and describes the information you need to provide when reporting problems. Use the who, what, when, and where approach to analyze the error and learn where to report the error.

Always include your Group name and Unique TFN Group ID number which are found on your Information page.

List of known tech issues

Before reporting an error, take a moment to find out if it's a known issue.

Where to report an error

First, choose the appropriate site for reporting your problem. There are four choices:

  1. Tech Discussion Group/(formerly known as FIOD) -- You can post any technical problem or question on FIOD and get a quick response by other moderators. The tech team also monitors FIOD and will take care of problems that need attention. Click here for more information on how to join.
  2. For members only -- If your error involves a member experiencing anything you don't know how to fix, nor does anyone on FIOD, Here is how your member can contact us.
  3. For Moderators only -- If the error can't be resolved through FIOD, contact Always include your Group name and Unique TFN Group ID number which are found on your Information page. Please don't give the SiteModhelp address to members.
  4. Any other issue that doesn't fit into the above categories -- please refer your member to our Support team for help.

Please note: If you are a member of a team, please report technical issues to your Team Leader rather than going through FIOD or SiteModHelp. See your team's wiki for more information.

How to report an error

When reporting an error, a proper who, what, when and where error report must include the following.

These are mandatory:

  • The group name or number.
  • The User ID or email address.
  • Post ID (if relevant)
  • The name of virus protection being used.
  • The name of ad blocker being used.
  • The web browser being used.
  • The operating system being used.
  • The name of the internet provider and if it is dial up, or broad band, or a wireless hot spot Wi-Fi, or Satellite, or FIOS, DSL
  • The URL of the page the error happened. Example: or etc.
  • Which computer is being used, example, a work computer - a library computer - a smart phone (include brand, i.e. iPhone or Windows or Android)

These are helpful and may be asked in follow up emails:

  • Describe (or provide screen shot) of error message displayed on screen
  • Describe what steps you have already tried. Example: I used a different browser - I shut down the computer using the Ctrl + f5 key for a fresh restart - I closed and reopened the browser - I tried a different browser - I tried a different computer - I tried a different ISP provider - I cleared the browsers cache - I cleared browser cookies - I cleared browsers temp internet files - I removed saved passwords from the browser - I removed bookmark and typed to get the newest cookie then re-bookmarked the newer page

For Members With Problems Signing up or Signing in (My.Freecycle)

First give them the following step-by-step instructions:

There are two steps to joining a group. First, you must create an account on, then join the local group or groups of your choice. The steps for both are outlined below: First, create a user account:
  1. Go to
  2. Enter your desired User ID
  3. Enter your desired email address
  4. On the next line, create a password that is easy to remember
  5. Enter the password again to confirm accuracy
  6. Click on the "I'm Not a Robot" Captcha box
  7. Toggle the terms of use box on the right, then click the Sign Up button
  8. Once you click the Sign Up button you will be a member of Now you need to join your local group
  9. Click on the MYGROUPS tab.
  10. Enter your local group name or postal code into the search box and click search
  11. Click on JOIN this group on the far right
Repeat steps 8-10 to join other groups nearest your home or workplace. Some groups choose to approve members. If that is the case with the group you have chosen, you will be contacted by a moderator for more information before you are approved for membership. Otherwise, you will now be a member of and also the local group of your choice.

If a member continues to have problems signing up or signing in, please share the Support contact information.

For Members with Password Problems

If a member forgets or loses their password and requests a new temporary password, keep in mind that the new password is case sensitive. Our system always uses uppercase and passwords are 8 characters long. Tell the member to enter the password exactly as it is sent to them, using copy and paste if possible. Temporary passwords are only good for one log-in and expire after 24 hours.

Noisy or inappropriate ads on

If you or a member of yours has noticed a particularly annoying ad on with sound and you'd like to report this for removal please take the following steps:

  1. Do a screenshot of the page showing the exact ad.
  2. Quickly right mouse click on the ad and then on "Inspect Element". On some browsers it might say simply "Inspect". Scroll down in this code to where the SOVRN or OpenX part starts in the "code" and screenshot that too (this code line may also be green or highlighted).
  3. If this does not work, hover over ad, right click and copy link location.
  4. Email both screenshots to

For mobile device users:

  • Android: In the Chrome browser, go to the website you want to inspect. In the address bar, type "view-source:" before the "http" and reload the page.The whole elements of the page will be shown.
  • IOS: From the Safari menu bar click Safari > Preferences then select the Advanced tab. Select Show Develop menu in menu bar. Now click Develop from the menu bar, click Show Web Inspector.

Pop-up ads

Click here for information on how to deal with persistent pop-up ads or other malware.

Other Member Problems

For member problems you are unable to solve, refer them to:

  • For all member questions and issues, including username and password help, help using the website, taking a complaint to the next level, and any form of special assistance (pre-approved use of logo or trademark, press contacts, etc.), please refer your member to Support.

Spammers and Scammers

Local moderator decisions

Ideally mods shouldn't be limiting what members offer over and above the basics within the required guidelines. 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

Approving new members versus open membership --­ pros & cons

One of the decisions you will have to make as a moderator is whether you will approve new members for your group or allow everyone who applies to join the group. This is one of the Group Options in Mod Tools.

If you decide to go with the approval method, it's enough to ask for cross streets, postal codes, or area of town. Do NOT ask for personal information such as full names, addresses, phone numbers, social security numbers, etc. It is an invasion of our members' privacy and is not needed to keep a local group running smoothly. 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 info, we don't risk it being accessed and something happening (robbery, stalking, you name it). Sharing such personal information also makes potential members uneasy. You can find more information in the Moderator Manual. For help on using the Moderator Tools to approve new members, please click here.

If you limit your group by geographic area, you will need to set up a file to go out automatically to ask them to reply with their postal code or landmark (or whatever). For information on using the Moderator Tools to create group files please click here.

Pros of open membership

  • Does not slow the joining process.
  • Much less work for the mods.

Pros of approving new members

  • Allows checking that an appropriate ID/Email address is used, keeping in mind that appropriate is a subjective term.

Having new members on moderation -- pros & cons

As regards moderation, we ascribe to the motto of "Less is more." That is to say, always try to do the least amount of moderating, be it of new members or posts. You'll find there are good mechanisms in place for members to report spam to you directly, local and global hotword lists, and there is a central Spam Control team. As a result, we have very few issues with spam. On the other hand, we do have a problem when groups are 50% moderated and members leave because they can't get their posts approved in a timely manner (which for most people, honestly, means right away).

Pros of not having new members on moderation:

  • Hotwords will flag most inappropriate posts and they will get caught in pending post queue.
  • Less work for the mods.
  • Does not hold up posts that are appropriate.
  • Some members never post and stay on moderation indefinitely.

Pros of modding new members:

  • Reduces risk of that a spammer will post before Spam Control can remove them
  • Ensures that all new members' posts meet local group guidelines

Be aware that if you do have new members on moderation it won't be long before your moderation percentage creeps up to unacceptable levels. To avoid this, it is necessary to either manually unmoderate all new members each month, which is a very slow process, or be prepared to do a full group unmod periodically. Click here for more information about unmoderating your group.


‘Hotwords’ is a mod tool that filters only problem posts from unmoderated members with certain specified words in the title, location and body of the post into pending. By using an effective hotword list you do not need to rely on moderation which filters all posts (good and bad) into pending. The advantage of hotword over moderation then is that hotwords reduces the number of posts requiring approval thereby improving our members’ experience and reducing the amount of time/effort we spend moderating.

To add hotwords go to 'info and options' and select the bottom option 'hotword management'. At the bottom of the screen (when your list gets long you may have to scroll down), is a box to add new hotwords. Just type a word in the box and click the 'add new hotword' button. If you make a typo, just click the delete button next to the incorrect word and then click 'back to hotwords' and scroll down to find the box again and retype the word.

You can also add/remove words as you go along and as problems arise. This way over time your hotword list will become specific to your group.

What are hotwords and how can I use them?

  1. What does the Hotwords tool/list do? It enables you as the local moderator to add terms to a hotwords list which causes any post with that word to automatically default to being moderated/approved by you regardless of whether the member is set to be moderated.
  2. What kind of words should I add to the list? Spam, primarily with recurring terms such as "iPhone." But it's also handy for local groups with special local pet/animal rules to have all posts with "cat" or "dog" or "breeding" be automatically set for moderator approval. Terms like "drugs", or "money" might also be handy hotwords.
  3. Where do I find the list? It's in the Mod Tools section of the website, left-hand column.
  4. Why don't you do this centrally instead? We do happen to have a central hotword list which is carefully monitored and updated. We can't share these words with you as it would clue in the bad guys/spammers though. The local lists just give you each a way to add your own terms locally too. Terms that appear in greater number in local groups will also send up international red flags for the central list too, of course. This is a general list of hotwords many on My.Freecycle are utilizing. Pick and choose those which are important to you!

For detailed information about adding/editing Hotwords using Mod Tools, click here.