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FAQ: Answers To Frequently Asked Questions

How do I change the way I get ReadingFreecycle posts?

How do I change my email address?

Can I temporarily stop ReadingFreecycle emails while I go on vacation?

I have started getting spam email - did they get my email address from Freecycle?

I'm having problems with my email getting "lost" - why is this happening?

Why can't I put my phone number or address in my post?

Why can't I post a Curb Alert?

Can I give my item to anyone I want?

I have a complaint about another member - is there anything you can do about it?

What email address should I use for questions, comments and suggestions?


How do I change the way I get ReadingFreecycle posts?

(1)  Sign into our Yahoo website http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ReadingFreecycle/

(2)  Once you are signed-in, click on the words "Edit Membership" - it's a small text link about 2 inches down from the top of the page and a few inches over from the left margin, just above the wide horizontal bar.

(3)  On the "Edit Membership" page, look for the section called "Message Delivery" and then select the option you prefer (Individual Emails of Posts, Daily Digest Email of Posts, Special Notices Only).  Yahoo has an explanation of each option on the "Edit Membership" page, so we won't repeat them here.

Yahoo also offers a 4th option (Web Only), but that option is NOT permitted in our ReadingFreecycle group (because any members who had selected "Web Only" would not receive emailed announcements, etc that had been sent by the group's Management Team).  Any "Web Only" member would be unaware of changes in the group's policies or posting formats, or unaware of other important announcements, unless they had logged into the group's Yahoo website and read ALL of the posted messages - and it may have been weeks or even months since the member last visited the site.

Hint:  If you plan to respond to members who offer items, you should select "Individual Emails" as the way you want to receive posts (and NOT "Daily Digest").  It may be many hours before the post is included in a Daily Digest, and by that time the offering member may have already given the item to someone else.

(4)  Save the new settings.  Remember, any changes you make may or may not take effect immediately (sometimes Yahoo takes only seconds to process changes, and sometimes they take hours).  If you changed your email options, don't be surprised if it's a few hours before your changes actually take effect.


How do I change my email address?

(1)  Sign into our Yahoo website http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ReadingFreecycle/

(2)  Once you are signed-in, click on the words "Edit Membership" - it's a small text link about 2 inches down from the top of the page and a few inches over from the left margin, just above the wide horizontal bar.

(3)  On the "Edit Membership" page, look for the section called "Email Address" - if you have more than 1 email address associated with your Yahoo profile, you can choose the email address you want to use for our group. If you have another email address that you would like to add to your Yahoo profile, click on the link "Add New Email Address" and follow Yahoo's instructions.

(4)  Save the new settings.  Remember, any changes you make may or may not take effect immediately (sometimes Yahoo takes only seconds to process changes, and sometimes they take hours).  If you changed your email options, don't be surprised if it's a few hours before your changes actually take effect.


Can I temporarily stop ReadingFreecycle emails while I am on vacation?

Simple - click on the "Edit Membership" options on our Yahoo website and change your Message Delivery to "Special Notices Only" just before you leave on vacation. Then when you return from your vacation, change your Message Delivery option back to "Individual Emails."

See the section "How do I change the way I get ReadingFreecycle posts" for further instructions.


I have started getting spam email - did they get my email address from Freecycle?

It's unlikely, but anything is possible.  Spammers may have obtained your email address from an individual member that you exchanged emails with (either when you were offering something, or when you responded to a post). That member may not have even known what the spammers were doing: your email address could have been "stolen" from their computer by a "virus" or "worm" that infected their computer and stole every email address in their computer's memory.

A much more likely possibility is that your email address was included in some email that was forwarded to hundreds of people (for example, petitions or jokes, etc). 

It's unfortunate, but the reality in today's world is that as soon as you send ONE email, or receive ONE email, you begin to open up the possibility of getting sent "junk" mail at some point in time in the future.  And the more emails you send and receive, the greater the chance that people you do NOT want to have your email address are going to get it.


I'm having problems with my email getting "lost" - sometimes people say they never got an email I sent them, and sometimes I never get an email that someone says they sent me. Why is this happening?

We are not surprised whenever members report problems with email, in large part because of the many different email filters (with their seemingly-infinite adjustments and tweaks) that are used by individuals, companies, Internet service providers (AOL, NetZero and others offering dial-up, cable or DSL service), and email service providers (like AOL, Yahoo and Hotmail).

These filters occasionally intercept and block or delete good emails, either for no apparent reason, or because a particular word or phrase was contained in the email, or it had a link to a website, or a link to a non-working or suspicious website.  We estimate that 5-10% of all emails are "lost" and never get to their intended recipient.

We have personally sent many emails that, for one reason or another, were never received.  And we have personally had people say "didn't you get my email?" - and then they sent us a copy of their original email (with the original date and time), and this time it got through the various filters with no problem.  Who knows what happened to their first email.

We recommend you check your filter settings, and that you frequently check any automated "spam" folders to make sure that no good mail was put it that folder by your filters.

Another problem may be happening if you are trying to receive or send email at work.  Your employer's computer system may block and discard incoming "suspicious" emails, and you won't even know the email has been deleted.

Other problems to watch out for:  incorrect email addresses (even the tiniest of errors will send the email off to never-never land instead of the desired recipient), "mailbox is full" errors, etc.


Why can't I put my phone number or address in my post? I'm an adult and I'll take full responsibility.

We do not allow phone numbers, or exact addresses, in posts because we are concerned with the safety and privacy of our group's members. Even if the member is silly enough to not be worried about their own safety and privacy, we are.

If you put private information like your phone number or exact address in a freecycle posting, the ENTIRE group's membership gets your information (and our group has over 4,600 members).

Also, after a post is sent by email, the post remains on our website for many months. That means your phone number and address are readily available to anyone at all who is currently a member of our group, or any stalker or criminal who chooses to join our group just for the purpose of finding potential victims, or getting information that may help them in the theft of your identity.  Remember, there is absolutely no screening process involved in joining this group.  The vast majority of our members are decent, polite, friendly, helpful law-abiding citizens - but why take a chance on that vast majority being anything less than 100%?

And consider this:  Do you really want to make it possible for someone to call you at all hours of the day or night, days, weeks or even months after you have given the item to someone else?  Or to come knocking on your door days or weeks or even months after you have offered the item?

That's why we don't allow phone number or exact addresses in posts.


Why can't I post a Curb Alert?

There are over 4,000 Freecycle groups around the world - some of them allow Curb Alerts and some don't.  We have chosen to prohibit Curb Alerts in our group - we don't allow them, and we wish ALL Freecycle groups would ban them.

At first glance, "Curb Alert," "Spotted" or "Come And Get It" postings seem like a good idea - postings that tell people a specific item is out at the curb at such and such address; sometimes the item might even have a "free" sign on it.  The alert tells anyone who is interested in that item to hurry and get it before the trash collection picks it up.

But even though Curb Alerts seem like a very good idea (because the items will end up in a landfill if they are still there when the trash trucks come), we think they are actually very bad for the environment. We hate the thought of the extra air pollution and all the gasoline wasted by lots of people rushing to the location to pick up the item.

Curb alerts are also a huge waste of time and gas money for most of the people who would be rushing to the location, because the item will be probably be long gone by the time they get there.

We also considered the possibility of two or more people arriving at the same time, and then getting into an argument or confrontation over the item.  Far fetched?  Read the papers - stranger things happen every day.

And long after a curb alert item is gone, some brazen people will even go up and knock on the door saying something like, "I'm here to pick up the sofa you had on Freecycle."  The occupants of the home may not have even heard of Freecycle; a member might have posted a curb alert that said, "I just saw a really nice sofa in front of 12345 S. Main Street with a free sign on it."  Would YOU like your privacy violated by someone knocking at your door because YOUR address was posted by someone on the Internet?

For all these reasons, and more, we do not allow curb alerts on Reading Freecycle.


Can I give my item to whoever I want?

Yes!  But in our ReadingFreecycle group we ask that you PLEASE give every member a fair chance to respond to your post - you can do this by waiting 24 hours before deciding who to give your item to.

You have already made the decision to give your item away - but you will feel that much better about giving it away when you give your item to someone who really NEEDS it (as opposed to someone who just WANTS the item).

Some items on Freecycle are very much in demand, and you will get a lot of responses if you offer them - things like working computers, TV's, refrigerators, freezers, washers, dryers, dishwashers and air conditioners (especially in the summer), and most furniture, beds etc that are in good condition.  It is not uncommon for 15 or 20 or even more members to respond to you when you offer one of these items.

It's true that no matter who you give your item to, you will be helping the environment by keeping the item out of a landfill.  But wouldn't you rather HELP someone by giving your item to someone who really wants and needs it for their own personal use?

Remember, people read their emails and postings in the MESSAGES section of our website at many different hours of the day.  By waiting 24 hours, you'll be giving everyone in our group a fair opportunity to respond to your offer.  Then if you get more than one response to your posting, you can choose who you want to give your item to.


I have a complaint about another member - is there anything you can do about it?

If you think the problem is very serious, you can send all the details, together with copies of any emails that were exchanged to:  readingfreecycle@gmail.com

However, be aware that unless the problem involves theft, deception, or other obvious clear-cut violations of our Freecycle policies, there is little that we can or will do.

Keep in mind that have over 4,600 members, and remember that the "management team" of this group (the list owner and moderators) are unpaid volunteers who provide a service to the community in our "spare" time.  We cannot possibly monitor the thousands of "give and take" transactions that take place between the members of our Freecycle group, and we can't possibly arbitrate disputes, say who was right and who was wrong, or play judge, jury and executioner.  We just set the policies and formats for postings, try to keep things organized and try to protect everyone from spammers and inappropriate posts.

Of course, we would love for every single transaction to be perfect, and we would love for every member to be happy with every aspect of every transaction.  We would love it if members offering items never experienced a "no show" (members who failed to keep their promise to pick up an item), or that every member who received an item was always totally pleased with the item.  And we would love it there were never any "he said, she said" disputes, and if there were never any cases of lost or misunderstood emails.

Unfortunately, there will always be misunderstandings and disagreements, even between good and honest and well-intentioned people.  That's life.  When you find yourself in one of those situations, we encourage you to give your fellow member the benefit of the doubt and remember that you yourself are not perfect and occasionally make mistakes.

Sometimes it isn't easy to do, but what often helps me (the owner of the ReadingFreecycle group) is to try to keep these two sayings in mind:

1.  "Life is too short to get all worked up over something this."

2.  "I don't sweat the small stuff - and this is small stuff."


What email address should I use for questions, comments, suggestions and ideas?

Here is the email address for the ownership of the Reading Freecycle group -  we appreciate any comments or constructive feedback you send us.  It's OK to disagree with us about anything, but please keep it friendly!

readingfreecycle@gmail.com