Freecycling in Huntsville, Alabama: now with moderator insults!

Y'know, I try to not post here when I'm steamed, but this time I'm steamed and I'm posting. What is here is a transcript of emails between the moderator for the Huntsville (Alabama) Freecycle group and my husband Jeff, posted with his permission.  This is bad, judgmental moderatorship, and the religious overtones included in it make me even angrier, especially considering that we've donated a ton of items through Freecycle. The moderator just doesn't know it because Jeff and I use different domain names for our email addresses, and have different surnames.

For those of you who are unfamiliar, let me quote from on what Freecycle is:

Our mission is to build a worldwide gifting movement that reduces waste, saves precious resources & eases the burden on our landfills while enabling our members to benefit from the strength of a larger community. (



So let's see what happened:

#1: Jeff requests membership in the Freecycle group.

Jeff, was there anything that you had to fill out?  Did you say anything in the email? The long and the short of it: Jeff requests subscription to the Huntsville, AL freecycle group but requests not to be emailed.

Update from Jeff:

The web form which I had to fill out to apply for the group included a field which asked me to briefly introduce myself and say why I wanted to join the group. I don't remember exactly what I wrote, but it was pretty short. Basically it was simply that I was a Huntsville native and that I wanted to be able to read the group posts to look for items being offered.

#2: Moderator's first response

On Thu, Feb 11, 2010 at 8:47 AM, AJ <tagsgirl07 [at] yahoo [dot]com> wrote:

    If you would like to adjust your status to daily difest I will be happy to approve you. The status of no email is a sign of spam and that you truly do not wish to be part of the group for the purpose of keeping things from the landfills.
    Saved by Grace,
    HuntsvilleALFreecycle [at] owner/moderator
    HuntsvilleAreacafe [at] owner/moderator

#3: Jeff's reply

(I should note that the Panshin quote at the bottom of Jeff's email is his boilerplate footer quote; he's been using it for years. I find it eerily appropriate at this time. -- Amy)

From: Jeff McClure <jeff [at] slidingconstant [dot] net>
To: AJ <tagsgirl07 [at] yahoo [dot]com>
Sent: Thu, February 11, 2010 9:33:40 AM
Subject: Re: Freecycle membership

I can easily explain my wish to not receive emails from the group. I am interested in one or two very specific items, and I can easily look for those items by searching the emails on the Yahoo groups site. Receiving a daily digest means I will get emails for a lot of items in which I have no interest.

I have no intention of sending any emails to the group offering or asking for any items. Given that, if you want to make absolutely sure I cannot spam the group, you can feel free to disable my ability to send any emails to the group. I won't be needing it. I will only be looking at the group web site occasionally for the few items I'm interested in. However, I am not interested in receiving any of the message in my email account.


"It appears that the ground of being which underlies
and sustains us despite our various inadequate and
conflicting stories must be extremely tolerant, generous,
and forgiving. All things considered, it wouldn't hurt
if we were, too."

--Alexei Panshin

#4: Moderator's second response

From: Adrienne Hone <tagsgirl07 [at] yahoo [dot]com>
Date: Thu, Feb 11, 2010 at 11:32 AM
Subject: Re: Freecycle membership
To: Jeff McClure <jeff [at] slidingconstant [dot] net>

I am sorry to tell you then Jeff but you will not fit the criteria for Freecycle. It is just as blessed ot give as it is to recieve. If ever you become less self-centered and more concerned about our plant,our society and each please reapply.
Saved by Grace,
HuntsvilleALFreecycle [at] owner/moderator
HuntsvilleAreaCafe [at] owner/moderator
P.S. We just last month deleted everyone from the group for no email, so you are in no way being singled out.

#5: Jeff's wife's response

Having read that, here's what I have to say, and I'm saying it publicly.

Hi, I'm Amy, and on behalf of Jeff and myself, I've been handling our repeated donations through Freecycle for some months now. I post my items correctly, unlike many of the people who post to the group, and I have never, ever missed a pickup. I follow the group's rules to the letter, and in addition to that, I have repeatedly gone above and beyond the group's requirements by making a point to photograph my items available for donation to ensure that the person who gets them is not surprised or disappointed.  Want me to unlock the photos of my previous donations on flickr? I'll be happy to do so.

The only reason I've been the one doing the donating instead of Jeff is because I work in a well-known publicly-accessible building downtown, so it makes more sense for me to handle the pickups.

Your email is insulting, judgmental, and unprofessional. You disregarded a valid, reasoned request and responded with insults.  "If ever you become less self-centered" -- are you kidding me? The fact that you did it to someone who has been quietly contributing to the cause that you supposedly endorse makes me even angrier.

I'm not redacting your name or your email address. I'm prepared to stand by my words when they're available for the world to see. Are you prepared to do the same?

#6: Update.

See for an update on what happened after this entry.


The Freecycle group for the Big Island was set up so that posts by new members would be held for moderation to make sure they weren't spam. After a handful of "good" posts, you'd be set to be unmoderated. As far as I know they didn't care if you received email.


It sounds to me like the Huntsville group needs to be set up the same way, but something tells me that the moderator either won't understand how to do it or will just say 'no' out of principle.

(response to Amy's question in her post)

The web form which I had to fill out to apply for the group included a field which asked me to briefly introduce myself and say why I wanted to join the group. I don't remember exactly what I wrote, but it was pretty short. Basically it was simply that I was a Huntsville native and that I wanted to be able to read the group posts to look for items being offered.

I've updated the post with what you said here.

And I didn't see anything on the FC website about how you're not allowed to lurk. I think your moderator is having a bit of a powertrip.

You know, it IS just as good to give as to receive, which is why, in exchange for her judgement of Jeff, we now all get to judge HER. Harshly.

That explains why my account was suddenly terminated last month - I just got a notice that I was booted, no reason given *rolls eyes* What an idiot. I'm with Jeff: I'd rather get on the Yahoo page to look for what I need that scroll through a digest or wade through posts all day. my inbox is full enough. Tacky, very tacky - and most juvenilely judgmental.

Just to be fair and complete... I have not yet actually been removed from the group.

 It's just a matter of workflow - some people prefer searching through a website to find messages of interest, others prefer to peruse them individually in a desktop (mail) application, others prefer to scroll through one long message 


Canspice, IN THEORY the Huntsville group is set up the same way.  The local rules state that after three correct posts, each member is supposed to be moved from moderated to unmoderated status.  This is partly because the national body's rules SPECIFICALLY PROHIBIT having "all-moderated" lists.


In practice, 95% of the posts are still moderated.  There's no easy way to tell who has made three good posts before (other than going through each poster's profile page and doing a search), and during my (brief) tenure as local co-moderator, I had barely gotten though the A's in one month of doing it the slow way.  I was booted from the moderation team for being "not Christian enough" (her words).