Amy Guy

Raw Blog

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Moderating Edinburgh Freegle

I'm now officially a volunteer moderator for the Edinburgh Freegle group.

I love Freegle (/Freecycle) and have used it for years.  I've got rid of stuff I didn't need and given a loving home to many unwanted things.  Things I love about Freegle are:

  • Saving items from landfill.  The environment says thanks!
  • Getting stuff for free.  My bank balance says thanks!
  • Giving stuff away.  Other peoples' bank balances say thanks!
  • Knowing there's a network of like-minded, environmentally conscious people out there, and every now and again getting to briefly meet them.
  • Seeing more of the city!  Unless it's outrageously far or outrageously raining, I always walk to pick something up.  I've seen a dozen parts of Edinburgh I would never have explored otherwise, and discovered a multitude of cute little independent shops that I would have remained disappointingly ignorant of.
Possessions I have gained thanks to Freelge include:
  • An under counter freezer.
  • A futon mattress.
  • Clothes.
  • An electric citrus juicer.
  • Ten empty tins for transporting cakes and stuff.
  • A yoga mat.
  • Duvet covers and throws.
  • A kneeling chair.
When I met the other moderators a couple of weeks ago to become officially trained in the process, I had no idea how much goes on behind the scenes.  Well, I had some idea, but actually there's loads more.  Edward Hibbert is behind it all.

At it's core, Freegle still runs on Yahoo Groups.  This means it's possible to interact with it through email alone.  Thus, moderation takes place through the Yahoo Groups interface, but hugely enhanced thanks to Edward's moderator Firefox plugin.  (It means I have to moderate using Firefox or suffer the consequences, but it's not so bad.  One day maybe we/I'll port it to a Chrome extension).

However, there's also a super high tech front-end at  Check it out.  The web interface helps people get their subject lines correct and keeps track of various user stats.  It detects where people are posting from from the subject line and plots it on a handy map; it categorises posts by picking out keywords from the subject line too, and usually gets it right.

There's definitely more to write about here, but I'm going to save that for another time.

Meanwhile, if you're not part of your local Freegle or Freecycle group, change that!  Check out to find yours.  It's an easy and amazingly beneficial way to help the environment and interact with your local community.