ramblings from the noisedoctor

January 29, 2009

WANTED: a heart

Filed under: freecycle, no good deed goes unpunished, soapbox — Tags: — noisedoctor @ 10:38 am

That’s what I’m tempted to post to our local freecycle group. I’m not looking for a heart for myself, but for our “tin-person” moderators. Let me explain. Over the past few weeks, there have been a series of arson fires in a nearby town–including one that cost 8 or 9 families everything but their lives and the clothes on their backs. Several people posted to the county freecycle group to solicit donations to help these people out. To which one of our moderators posted:

ADMIN: Donations for victims of [town name] Fires
Several members have made posts asking for donations for the victims
of the [town name] fires. While we have sympathy for those affected
by the fires, we must remind members that Freecycle(TM) is not a
charity organization. This is not the appropriate venue for
coordinating a relief effort.

Information posts are not allowed on this group, but may be submitted
to our chat site:

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/%5Bgroup name]

Thank you for your cooperation,
The Moderator Team

Yes, I know freecycle isn’t a place for a relief effort. However, it is a grassroots movement. Therefore, it should be very much tied into local events, especially tragedies. But, let’s take a look at the freecycle mission statement.

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.

Let me break down these posts seeking help for these fire-impacted families as I see it:

  • gifting movement: yes definitely encourages gifting
  • reduces waste: no
  • saves precious resources: yes/perhaps I would argue that it does by easing the burden on the Red Cross, etc.
  • eases the burden on our landfills: no
  • enabling our members to benefit from the strength of a larger community: most definitely yes

I’ll admit, that doesn’t result in a resounding yes towards meeting the mission, but it’s far from a responding no either. I can respect the moderators wanting to keep the groun on-topic and keep the “junk” messages to a minimum. But, chastising people for seeking to help a group of families which just lost all their earthly possessions is just cold and heartless.

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1 Comment »

  1. I would actually even argue that the two that you marked “no” are really (at worst) “perhaps”. There’s stuff that I wouldn’t even bother offering on FreeCycle (“who would want that?”) that someone who lost everything would actually want.

    Your admins aren’t simply heartless — they’re actually violating the FreeCycle mission. Too bad there aren’t some muckety-mucks that they can be reported to.

    Comment by brendt — January 30, 2009 @ 10:04 am


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