Giving it all away

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Freecycling is basically giving stuff that you don’t want away. Direct to those who want or need it. Good for the environment, good for your emotional health too. Birmingham Freecyclers hang out here.

For historical reasons I assume, it’s based around the fairly clunky Yahoo Groups system — basically an email list with a web interface. That’s not the easiest of systems – and email groups are prone to SPAM if they’re not kept moderated. There are also rules, which the moderators enforce (things like no asking for stuff until you’ve given, that sort of stuff) — which makes moderation a fairly big job. If it seems like a job that you’d like to help out at, then they’re looking for a few people to help out.

Last time the call went out I was surprised at the way it was handled — basically asking for a small number of people to do a lot of work, instead of the much more web efficient lots of people to do a little bit — maybe any offers are going to be greatfully received this time.

Personally I’ve found it great for getting rid of stuff, although sometimes the tone of emails (as with any systems, message boards, forums) is a bit harsh — it’s still nowhere as annoying as selling on ebay (“will you split it up into two packages”, “how much to post by snail to the Outer Hebrides”).

Go and have a look, you might find that Pannini Football 87 sticker you’ve been missing.

3 comments for “Giving it all away

  1. dp
    13 May 2008 at 1:09 pm

    You are spot on that it’s a good place to get rid of stuff: send an email, get swamped with replies from people, some of whom will even make the trip to collect your unwanted stuff.

    It’s not quite so effective if you are trying to acquire stuff. The appropriate descriptor is ‘lottery’. There’s also an enormous bad will towards recipients suspected of being professional traders. It gives the site an underlying hypocrisy: it’s fine to give, but not to receive.

    This could be fixed by using a different infrastructure. Ditch the Yahoo, make a bespoke website with more safety features and better methods of organising and sharing information. Such a thing was rumoured to be in the works, but two years on nothing’s appeared. Given the inertia of an existing service it seems unlikely that anything will change. So it goes. Rant over. For now.

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