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Wednesday, 8 August 2007

Community cycling...

I've just found out that my local Freecycle group has changed affiliation. They are now part of Realcycle. The local group has left the Freecycle network for a variety of reasons indicative of a breakdown of community. I can see Freecycle's point of view - they want to "upgrade" the community to a centralised network. It's fairly inevitable that they will lose people on the way - it's a natural consequence - not everyone will agree with the ethos of the new community.

Groups that do not agree have every right to split off and find their own way. I must say I do also see the local group's points as well. A concept that started in America is probably not going to be right for British communities in the end.

For community managers it is a message to manage volunteers very carefully. If you give the members ownership of their community, then they must be consulted and a democratic process must take place. If policies and structures are imposed then individuals and groups must feel free to reject them by rejecting the whole concept.

The departing group say:

  • Many moderators are concerned about the recent Freecycle response to the DEFRA invitation. We do not believe that Freecycle UK should adopt a political stance other than its own remit to keep landfill waste down.

  • Those moderators, who stated their wish that the Directors ofFreecycleUK should not take it upon themselves to put forward views that purport to represent the UK Freecycle membership (currently at 770,000), have been ignored.

  • Freecycle is currently developing a new website. It is widely believed that this new website will centralise Freecycle groups so that the community aspect is diluted or even lost altogether. There may be no local point of contact, i.e. local moderators.
    We are told that the transition to the new website will be entirely voluntary. Perhaps in the beginning, yes, but Freecycle will eventually insist that all groups migrate from their current Yahoo platform to the new site or lose their listing on the directory.

  • Throughout the Freecycle global community any moderators who question or offer an alternative viewpoint have found themselves on permanent moderation on Freecycle discussion groups or even had their groups taken from them.

  • Freecycle is in a state of disarray and confusion at the present time. Many groups have been locked down, moderators removed from their groups (bear in mind that all mods give their time voluntarily and many have spent several years building up their groups in order to benefit their community) and there is no one central source of information.

  • TFN's (The Freecycle Network) main sponsor in the U.S. is a company called Waste Management Inc. This company has, in the past been guilty of (and fined for) several incidents involving the illegal dumping of toxic waste.

  • Possible breaches of YahooGroups terms of service.

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posted by Helen Whitehead 3:50 PM

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Helen Whitehead's blog of e-learning, digital literacy, online writing, and digital creativity.

Which methods and techniques using new technologies are of real use?

Writing in the digital age is so much more than delivering information, or traditional stories and poems electronically. Digital forms of literature can include text, hyperlinks, multi-linear plots, superlinear narrative, graphics, interactivity, animation... and so much more.



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