Tiger piranha mama kitty ROWR (ouch)

I am not always good at keeping my temper in check. It is a real failing, not the kind of faux failing-that's-actually-a-strength you bring up in a job interview when you're asked, "So what is your greatest weakness?" I've always been aware that the JeffSpouse is a weak spot where my temper is concerned.

For those of you who don't know where this is going, I refer you to Freecycling in Huntsville, Alabama: now with moderator insults! for the account of Jeff's run-in with the moderator of the Huntsville, Alabama Freecycle group.

Be a jerk to me, and I'll fume and sulk and mostly get over it. Being a jerk to Jeff is not advised. Given that he is self-effacing and decent and caring and just plain NICE -- far nicer than I fear I'll ever manage to be -- it sets me off. Setting me off intentionally is a bad thing. See the title of this entry.  My mother had a saying:  "eight feet tall and bulletproof." Ouch. Yeah. That's me when I'm mad.

So -- I wrote an entry. I have a module set up on domesticat.net that auto-notifies ping.fm, which in turn notifies facebook, plurk, my private twitter account (@domesticat), and livejournal. I realized my private twitter account is a walled garden, though; I like having some small vestige of privacy.

I looked at my public twitter account (@amyqmc) and I decided to post it there, too. I first tossed something out with a #Freecycle hashtag and then checked the stream -- turned out it was full of people mentioning they were doing Freecycle donations, or where to drop them off, or where to pick them up.  Then I realized the national Freecycle office had a twitter account.

@Freecycle Is this really how your moderators should be acting toward prospective members? http://ping.fm/euo8n

I heard back from the national office within three hours with a request for more information and contact info.

As it turned out, Freecycle has a person monitoring social media, and he was responsive and helpful. He made certain we were contacted by the person over the Alabama Freecycle network.  We forwarded copies of the entire exchange to the national and state organizations, and while we had their attention, passed on some of the problems that Wendy had had with our local group during her short moderator tenure. We didn't hear much of anything, and we wondered whether or not the issue had been dropped.

I've been making a point to stay off of my laptop at night, so I didn't see this message sent to the local Freecycle group until Jeff forwarded it to me this morning:

Dear Gang,
It is with a heavy heart and deep sadness I approach you this evening. It has been brought to my attention that there are members of this group who are not happy with the work I perform. I do not wish to impeed the mission of the group, so I must step down as owner, so that the valueable work we do may continue. I have been dedicated to this cause for a great number of years now, and had thought I had shown my care, support and concern to you. It seems I have failed miserably according to some members. I will miss you and will be close if you need me for anything.
Most of you have already come to know Kim. She has been one of your moderators for some time now. In the event she has to leave town for an emergency I will be filling in until her Mom's health concerns are resolved. She will become your new leader.
I want to thank my loyal supporters for the great things we have accomplished here in my 3 years with you. It is my feverant desire that you keep building on the work we have already completed to further this mission to the fartherest limits that may be reached. Keep Freecycle working! It works for you!

Thank you,

I would have preferred to see Jeff receive an apology, but this resignation greatly lessens the possibility that other members hoping to join the group will get the same treatment Jeff did. I'll accept that. It's not a total victory, but it's a start. The national Freecycle office gets major kudos from me for using social media to be responsive to its users, as well as for addressing the problem.

Moral #1 of the story: not everyone wants to subscribe to every email that a group sends out. Yahoo's web interface for group messages is preferable for some people, especially those who are infrequent contributors.

Moral #2 of the story: Don't be a jerk to Jeff. He's nice. His wife isn't.

We'll have our next round of Freecycle donations ready to go in a few weeks.


Since I don't want the former moderator to get away with painting herself as martyr, I want to make it clear that I did not ask that she be removed, nor did I complain about the "work" she has done.

The "Group Outreach and Assistance" contact for Alabama emailed me and said, "The moderators response was inappropriate, and I will be in touch - there's no question to that." The "meat" of my response to her follows:

I think the moderator could take care of a lot of these complaints and concerns if she restricted herself to responding to situations by referencing only the Network's guidelines and not her personal or religious beliefs. I think that there's probably a very large overlap between those two, so most of the time it would make no difference in her decision. In those few cases where she cannot justify her choice based only on the Network's guidelines, then that would seem to be an excellent way for her to know when she is stepping outside her mandate as a moderator. Her offensive comments to me are a perfect example of this. Had she discussed the situation in the terms you used instead of invoking her personal opinions about my generosity (or lack thereof), I don't think we would be having this conversation right now. Best of all, choosing this course should avoid offending those who do not share her beliefs.

I appreciate your response and your assurance that you will talk to the moderator about my situation. However, I think my situation really is a single example of a pattern of behavior that has legitimately offended more people than just me. I hope you will consider discussing that larger pattern with the moderator and what actions are appropriate for responding to any legitimate offenses which have been committed.

In response, the Freecycle leadership apparently found it appropriate to ask her to step down as group leader.

Quite honestly, I wouldn't be surprised if they asked her to tone down her religious tone and she reacted by point-blank refusing to "compromise her beliefs."  I have no proof of this, but it would make sense why they are essentially removing her as moderator.

(By the way, I re-applied to the Freecycle group - specifically saying I was a former moderator, although not saying why I was booted - and was reaccepted.  And I did it with the web-only option.)

FYI: The Alabama GOA explained to me the policy about the "web only" option:

As for being set to web only - that is a Freecycle (tm) guideline. However, she's not to remove members who are on Web Only, she's to set them to special notices.  That's a requirement all Freecycle (tm) groups have so that all members are always clear on any main guideline changes. No group should be using Special Notices more than once every other month or so, so it's the same effect as web only, but allows us t o know you'll still be in the loop.

I'm now using the "Special Notices" option, which suits me just fine. I don't mind getting occasional administrative emails.

Hail, conquering warrior! [raises glass of McNulty's chai in salute]   Everybody needs a tiger piranha mama kitty in their corner...

I'd love for this faux-martyr former moderator to retreat into a quiet corner, sulk for a bit, then turn to actual self-reflection -- and to learn from this experience.  I'm saddened because I have no expectation that she actually will learn any lasting lesson from finally -- at long last -- being called on her behavior... she presented herself as the sort of person I've met far too many times: self-righteous, judgmental and revoltingly comfortable in her own ignorance and indifference.

Now, back to the business of doing good... :-)