How To Use Freecycle

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Contents

The Basics

What is the basic layout of Freecycle.org?

Your Dashboard is the control center for all of your Freecycle.org activity.

How do I make a post?

Click here to learn how to post to a Town group or your Friends Circle
Tip: Before posting an Offer or Wanted, use the Search Posts option to see someone else has posted the item you are looking to receive or give away.

What are the basic rules?

Although the precise rules will vary from Town Group to Town Group, click on Required Group Guidelines to read the common ones.

How do I Join Freecycle.org?

It's easy! Here's how to join Freecycle.org. Once you have joined Freecycle.org, here's how to find a Town Group to join.

How long will it take to approve my membership?

Most Town Groups automatically approve new members. If your local Town Group moderators require you to live in a specific area to join the Town 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 Town Group. Here's how to contact the moderators if you need to inquire about your pending membership.

How do I post on Freecycle.org?

  • Please note: If you're new to the Town Group or if your membership is moderated, your post may need to be approved by a volunteer moderator before it appears on Freecycle.org, 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 Town Group.
  • If your post violates the Town 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?

There are two ways to view and respond to replies to your post: online messaging and email. Click here for more information.

Can I edit a post?

Yes! From the Dashboard or from My Posts, click on Manage Post and select Edit Post. When you're done with your post edits, make sure you click the green button at the bottom to save your edits.

How do I respond to posts Freecycle.org?

You can reply to posts either online or by email. Click here for more information.

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 Town 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 Town Group.
  • DO NOT request money for your offers. Freecycle means FREE, folks! ALSO BEWARE OF DELIVERY SCAMS. If you are the intended recipient of an item, never provide money for postage/delivery. This is a common scam.
  • 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 take things left for others!!

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 Town 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 Town 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 Town Groups do not allow phone numbers and addresses to be posted on the Town Group due to safety concerns for their members.

What happens once I've given away/received the item?

  • If you posted an OFFER and the item's gone, under Manage Post, select "MARK AS TAKEN."
  • If you posted a WANTED and you've got what you wanted, under Manage Post, select "MARK AS RECEIVED."
  • If you just want to take a post off the board, select "CANCEL POST."

Your Offer/Wanted will be removed from the board and will show on the daily email digest as having been Taken/Received.

Your Membership

Why do some Town Groups have to approve new members?

Some Groups have made 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 Town Group that's more local to them
  • make sure your ID is family friendly

If you receive an email from the Town 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?

Here's how to change your password.
If you forgot your password or have problems logging in, [password click here.]

How can I change my email address?

Here's how to change your email address.

How can I change my username?

It takes a few steps to change it, but if you REALLY want to, click here to learn how.

How do I leave the Town Group?

If you don't want to be a member of a particular Town Group anymore, here's how to leave without deleting your entire Freecycle account.

If you want to stay a member of the Town Group but get less email from them, change your email preferences.

If you want to completely delete your Freecycle.org account, click here for instructions.

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:

  1. The Remote mail provider issuing us with a bounce notification.
  2. 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.

Gmail

  1. In Gmail, click the gear icon in the upper right hand corner.
  2. Go into "Settings"
  3. Click the tab "Filters and Blocked Addresses"
  4. At the bottom of the page, click "Create a New Filter"
  5. In the "From" field, put Freecycle.org
  6. Check the box next to "Never send it to spam"
  7. Optional: create a label if you want a separate folder for Freecycle mail
  8. Click "Create filter" to save your filter.


Yahoo

  1. In Yahoo mail, click the gear icon in the upper right hand corner.
  2. Go into "Settings"
  3. Click "Filters" on the left side.
  4. Click the "Add" button
  5. Give your filter a name
  6. In the "From" field, put Freecycle.org
  7. Optional: choose another folder if you want to bypass the inbox
  8. Click "Save" to save your filter.
  9. For added measure, add these names to your contact list
  • email_relay@freecycle.org
  • *@posts.freecycle.org (make sure you include the asterisk)

Thunderbird

  1. Click "Account Settings"
  2. Click "Junk Settings"
  3. 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_relay@freecycle.org 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.

Other Questions

Where can I go for additional help?

Here is how to contact us.

How can I post a photo?

FC3 allows you to post up to three photos. You can add photos when you first make a post or you can add or change photos later by editing the post.

How can I change the language I see on Freecycle.org?

Freecycle.org is now available in English, French, German, Greek, Italian, Hungarian, Japanese, Portuguese, Romanian, Spanish and Turkish. Click here to learn how to view Freecycle.org in another language.

Can I post a message to more than one Town Group?

As a protection against spam, Freecycle.org requires you to post messages one at a time. Additionally, some Town Groups have guidelines against cross-posting and request that you wait a day or two before posting to another Town Group.

Can I repost a message?

This is a local decision. Please read the guidelines set forth for your specific Town Group that you will have received upon joining. For more information, refer to the ADMIN files which are posted at the top of your Town Group's Freecycle.org 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 Town Group volunteer Moderators.

If for some reason your local moderators can't help, here is how to contact us.

What is moderation?

This is when your posts need to be approved by a moderator before they go to the Town Group. If you've just joined a Town group your posts may be moderated. This means that they don't immediately go out to the group - they go to one of the volunteer Moderators to be checked first.

How long does post approval take?

This depends on the Town group, and also on what the Moderators are doing. It varies from half an hour up to about a day. Remember that moderators have lives (some of them, anyway) and so they might not be looking at the posts all the time.

Why are posts moderated at all? Several reasons:

  • To stop spam. Often spammers will join groups and then send spam. Moderating posts from new members allows most of this to be stopped.
  • To stop inappropriate use of the group. Freecycle is about no-strings-attached gifts of physical items which would otherwise go into landfills. Moderation helps ensure that it stays that way.

Are all posts moderated? No. The proportion varies from group to group.

What do I do if I have a complaint about the moderators? It's usually best to resolve your problem with the moderators themselves. If that doesn't work, here is how to contact us.

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 Town Groups restrict WANTED posts for expensive items, and some Town Groups just let their members decide whether they want to respond to a request. Please respect the policy of your local Town 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 Town Group allows posting for pets or not is up to that Town 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 Town Group.

There's no Town Group in my area; can I set one up?

First, go to My Towns and look at the map view for Town groups in your area. If there really are no nearby Town groups, click here to learn how to start one. Starting a Town group means committing to moderate it as well.

Can I volunteer?

The first step in volunteering for Freecycle.org is usually to become a Moderator for your local Town group. If you are already a Moderator or if you have a special skill to offer as a volunteer, read about the opportunities available to you here on our volunteer page. This page didn't answer your question? Search our Knowledge Base.

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